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Witness Interview: Peggy LeClaire, Worked for the Victim

Thursday, December 7, 2000 - 5:49 p.m.

Ms. LeClaire was contacted by Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's detectives, based on the December 7, 2000 interview of Mallory Benson. The interview was conducted by Detective Ted Armstrong at the Sheriff's Office.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
PL = Peggy LeClaire

TA: Would you please state your full name and address for the record?

PL: Peggy Madeline LeClaire, 224 North 18th, Oxford.

TA: Ms. LeClaire, thank you for coming in today on such short notice.

PL: What is it now, Detective? I'm sure I don't have another thing to tell you.

TA: We have information that you own more than one gun. Is that correct?

PL: I turned in my gun, at your request, for testing.

TA: I'm asking you if you have another weapon in addition to the weapon you surrendered to the Sheriff's Department.

PL: If I did, don't you think I would have turned it in?

TA: So, you don't have a second gun?

PL: You'll never find a second gun of mine. Is that all?

TA: No ma'am. When was the last time you saw Boyd Forbes?

PL: Boyd? My heavens, I can't even think when the last time I saw him. Years and years. When I was young and foolish. I wouldn't even know how to reach him. No idea where he is.

TA: He's actually in jail right now. We can contact him if we need to.

PL: Well, why would you want to talk to Boyd?

TA: Maybe he gave you a gun. The last time you saw him.

PL: Why on earth would he have given me a gun? What a notion!

TA: Well, you do presently own a gun. Don't you? You gave us your gun that is registered in your name, isn't that right?

PL: Yes. But I got that gun for myself. For protection. I'm a single woman living alone. This is a dangerous world, Detective, in case you haven't noticed. Why is that so strange to you?

TA: Never said it was strange, ma'am. So, if we do go up and see Boyd, he's not going to tell us about a .25 Beretta he gave you some years back, as a back up?

PL: I have no idea what he might tell you. I can say that he is not the most honest person you will ever encounter. As you said, he's in jail. I can guess it's not for a traffic violation.

TA: You think he'll lie to us?

PL: He lied to me. Many times. He is a charming man, at least he was, but he has no conscience. He has no room in his heart for God. Without that, you don't have much besides your own selfish need.

TA: What do you think he'll lie to us about?

PL: Anything and everything. He can spin a good story. That's a fact. If you want to waste your time and go on to whatever jail he's stewing in, ain't none of my business.

TA: Anything you'd like us to tell him, when we see him?

PL: Tell him to read his Bible and maybe then he won't burn in Hell!

TA: You take the word of the Bible pretty literally? Don't you?

PL: It's the Lord's word. Should I take it casually, Detective? That's what's the matter with the world today - people think they can be cynical and mean-hearted and it won't make a difference. But they're wrong.

TA: Like Ms. Chase?

PL: What about Zoe?

TA: She was pretty mean-spirited and cynical from what I gather. You think she is burning in Hell now?

PL: I think the Lord is sitting in judgment of her and He will determine what her fate is in Eternity.

TA: So, your view is we all get what we deserve?

PL: In the end, yes, I guess we do.

TA: Tell me about your new coat.

PL: My new coat? What do you mean?

TA: The coat you're wearing. Looks pretty new to me. Pretty snazzy, brown suede - must've set you back some.

PL: Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, it is nice, isn't it?

TA: When did you get it?

PL: I don't know exactly, a few weeks ago I guess.

TA: What prompted you to get it?

PL: The one I had was old and beaten up. I thought it was time to replace it.

TA: So, it wasn't to celebrate anything? You win some money on the lottery or anything like that?

PL: No, I'd been saving up for it. I had my eye on it for a long while. When I saw it on sale, I figured I should just go ahead and buy it.

TA: Where'd you get it?

PL: I got it at Neilson's Department Store.

TA: Okay. Do you remember how you paid for it? Credit card? Check?

PL: I don't believe in credit cards. And I rarely write checks. Like I said, I was saving up the money. I keep a jar on the kitchen counter and toss in change and such in it and when I get a little extra, you know? So it doesn't feel like I'm depriving myself of a lot of cash at once.

TA: Uh-huh. Mind if I ask you what you paid for it?

PL: I think it was about $250. Plus tax.

TA: That's a lot of loose change.

PL: Well, loose change adds up, right?

TA: I suppose so. I want to talk to you about Ms. Benson's book.

PL: What book? She's written several.

TA: The one you claimed Ms. Chase stole from her.

PL: Oh, that one. What about it?

TA: Made you pretty angry, didn't it? When you learned what Ms. Chase had done to your friend?

PL: Well, of course I was upset about it. Nobody likes to see their friends cheated and used.

TA: You're pretty protective of your friends?

PL: I don't like to see anyone get abused.

TA: You have a particular reason that upsets you?

PL: Like I said, it's a cruel world and there are a lot of cruel people in it. Bad people get away with bad things all the time. If a body can step in and do something - even a little something - they owe it to their friends.

TA: Is that what you did? Step in?

PL: Well, I offered Mallory sympathy and support. Tried to give her some advice...

TA: What kind of advice?

PL: I told her to finish her book reconstruction and to send it to Kathy Silverman. Then Kathy would realize that Mallory was the true author - not to mention how much better it would be without all of Zoe's changes and distortions of the heart of the story.

TA: How do you know that Ms. Chase distorted the heart of the story? Did you actually see the finished manuscript?

PL: Of course I never saw it. As I told you many times before, she didn't have me type it and she certainly wouldn't ask my opinion on it. I just know is all.

TA: How do you know?

PL: Because that's what she did with everything! She had to make sure everything had her touch on it! And usually that touch came from her own distorted and immoral views.

TA: The advice you gave Ms Benson was your idea of getting even?

PL: I didn't say anything about getting even. I simply encouraged her to stand up for herself and her work. There was no guarantee that anything would come of it, but at least Mallory would have tried. You know? Stuck up for herself. And maybe Zoe wouldn't do it again.

TA: Well, with Ms. Chase dead, I doubt she'll be able to do it again, as you say.

PL: What's your point? I'm just trying to tell you that people need to stand up for themselves.

TA: And what if they're not able to? Then what?

PL: Then Detective, the Lord will see to His children.

TA: With a little help from His messengers?

PL: I'm sure I don't know what you mean. Maybe you should go to church more often yourself, Detective.

TA: I'm sure I'll get more time for that later, ma'am. Right now, I'm trying to solve a murder.

PL: Maybe the Lord could help you with that too. Honestly, I'm not here to debate religious issues with you. Are there any more questions?

TA: Not at this time.

PL: In that case, I'll be leaving, as it is I'm late for choir practice. Good evening, Detective.

TA: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for coming in.

End interview 6:17 p.m.

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