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Witness Interview: John Lawton-Taylor M.D., AKA "Mr. X"

Wednesday, November 29, 2000 - 2:13 p.m.

This witness contacted the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office through his attorney, Laura LeDeaux. Dr. Lawton-Taylor and Attorney LeDeaux came to the Sheriff's Department for the interview.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
JLT = Dr. John Lawton-Taylor
LL = Laura LeDeaux, witness' attorney

TA: For the record, would you please state your name and address.

JLT: John Lawton-Taylor, MD. I live at 7786 Poplar Pike , Germantown, Tennessee.

TA: We appreciate you coming into town for this, Doctor. We'll try not to keep you too long.

LL: Haven't you forgotten something, Detective?

TA: Ah yes. Let the record reflect that Dr. Lawton-Taylor's attorney, Ms. Laura LeDeaux is also present and serving as counsel.

LL: Yes, and let the record also reflect that the scope of your questions are limited and that an agreement exists between this witness and the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department that there will be no public disclosure of his identity and the personal nature of his relationship with the deceased.

TA: Acknowledged. With the understanding that, should we need the doctor's testimony in a court of law, we will have no way of protecting his privacy.

LL: Detective...

JLT: It's all right, Laura. Let's just settle down and get this over with. Detective, you have questions?

TA: You contacted our office, Doc. Why not tell us what information you have?

JLT: I knew the deceased, Zoe Chase.

TA: You drove all the way from Memphis to tell us that, sir?

LL: I have to object to your tone, Detective. Dr. Lawton-Taylor is a busy professional...

TA: Okay. What was your relationship with the deceased?

JLT: We were lovers. As you already know, I am married and have children. Naturally, discretion is called for here.

TA: How is it you decided to contact us then?

JLT: Naturally, I saw the articles in the newspaper and there was a small amount of coverage on our local news. Zoe was a celebrity of sorts.

TA: But Ms. Chase was killed several weeks ago. Why wait so long to contact us?

JLT: I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. But that's not the reason. I just didn't think I had any information that would be of use to you. And my wife is unaware of the relationship and I saw no reason to...

TA: Get yourself in trouble? Okay. Then why call us at all?

JLT: Apparently, a local tabloid had gotten ahold of her journal entries. They were there in black and white at the grocery check-out stand, for God's sakes.

TA: So you figured, eventually we were going to come to you and that maybe it'd be better if you came to us?

JLT: I suppose you could put it that way...

TA: How did you meet Ms. Chase?

JLT: We were at a fund raiser for some charity - children's literacy, I think - at the Hilton. Zoe was there too. I couldn't take my eyes off her from the first moment I saw her.

TA: And when was that?

JLT: Must be... a year and a half ago, maybe longer.

TA: And you two were... seeing each other regularly ever since then?

JLT: Yes.

TA: How often did y'all get together?

JLT: About once a month or so, depending on our schedules.

TA: Are you one of the men Ms. Chase wrote about in her journal? Are you Mr. X or Mr. XX? Or the big bad wolf?

JLT: Sounds so sordid when you say it out loud that way.

TA: Sorry, sir. Those were her words, not mine. Did Ms. Chase refer to you by any of these names?

JLT: Yes, I was Mr. X.

TA: Any particular reason she called you that?

JLT: I'm sure there was in her mind, though she never told me. Zoe just got a kick out of being secretive and having secret names for people.

TA: What about the other names? Do you know who they belonged to?

JLT: I believe she called her actor friend the big bad wolf. Guess he liked to role-play a little himself.

TA: How about you? Did you like to role-play too, sir?

JLT: Well, don't we all? Okay, okay, so we dressed up in little costumes from time to time. So what? She had a thing for uniforms.

TA: What kind of uniforms?

JLT: Cop uniforms, military uniforms... you know things that represented power.

TA: Was that part of the foreplay, you having power over her?

JLT: I won't deny I handcuffed her to more than one bedpost. But it was totally consensual. She wanted me to do it.

TA: It ever get rough? Rougher than putting her in shackles?

JLT: I didn't put her in shackles... they were handcuffs from a costume store. They didn't even lock.

TA: Any other "accessories" you used with Ms. Chase?

JLT: No sir. Just music, champagne... jewelry... she liked to wear all her jewelry during sex. Said it turned her on to see it sparkle in the candlelight.

TA: Anything else? She like to have other participants involved during your trysts?

JLT: She talked about having us all there... you know... her actor friend and I guess Mr. XX. But it never happened.

TA: Why not?

JLT: I wasn't interested and I suspect neither were the others. I think sometimes she just said it to see if it would bother me or to taunt me or something. I don't know, maybe she thought it would make me jealous. That got her turned on too - men being jealous over her.

TA: Just men?

JLT: I don't know. Maybe she just liked everybody to feel jealous of her. It did seem to thrill her when people envied her, so maybe you're right.

TA: When was the last time you saw her?

JLT: Early October. We were to meet the night she died. But as you know she never made it.

TA: Where did you two meet when she came to Memphis?

JLT: At a place I have down at Olive Branch. I go down there to play golf or just to be alone.

TA: Your wife doesn't mind that?

JLT: My wife... My wife is busy with her own things. She probably wouldn't even notice I was away if it weren't for the kids.

TA: Then why are you so concerned about her finding out about your relationship with Ms. Chase?

JLT: It's one thing for my wife and me to have our own... independent interests, but it's something else entirely to have them brought out in the open for everyone to see. Divorce would be very expensive for me and I'd just as soon not have to deal with that. You understand, Detective?

TA: Uh, sure. Did Ms. Chase call you the night she died or that day?

JLT: Yes, that afternoon. She said she'd be there late because of her meeting so she was going to stay at a hotel near the salon she got her nails done at. She was supposed to come to Olive Branch early Sunday afternoon after her appointment at the salon.

TA: Ms. Chase's phone records don't show any calls to Memphis.

JLT: She always called from a phone booth. Used one of those pre-paid telephone cards.

TA: Seems like a lot of trouble to go to.

JLT: Like I said the secrecy thrilled her and I was concerned about my wife learning the details...

TA: So, guess you both got a kick out the secrets then, huh?

JLT: Detective, I am trying to help here. If you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you forewent the character assassinations.

TA: Did Ms. Chase ever express to you that she was worried about anything?

JLT: The deal for the novel worried her.

TA: Why's that?

JLT: She was just superstitious about it, I guess. Jittery. Worried it wasn't going to go through.

TA: She ever tell you that she stole the story from anyone?

JLT: Not in so many words. No.

TA: Something she did say that made you wonder?

JLT: Not really anything she said. Just how she acted. She was just real possessive about it. She wouldn't let me read it or any part of it. Or anyone else for that matter, except for her agent.

TA: From what I hear about writers, that's not so unusual.

JLT: Well, it was for her. She liked attention - needed it. Anything she could use to get it, she did. She always made me read her columns, sometimes even her letters to her parents. But when it came to that book it was a different story. See what I mean?

TA: Anybody ticking her off that you knew of?

JLT: Sure, everybody. She ticked people off pretty regular and they ticked her off just as often. I'm sorry. I didn't really pay any mind to that sort of thing much. I did at first, tried to give her advice but she wouldn't have any of it. Then I realized she just liked being ticked off and having people ticked off at her. Part of who she was.

TA: Do you know if she had a gun?

JLT: I seriously doubt it. She was scared of guns. She got mugged once when she lived in New York. The guy stuck a gun in her face and she was terrified he was going to rape her. But he just grabbed her purse and ran.

TA: For some women, that would inspire them to get a gun and learn how to use it.

JLT: Maybe, but not for her. For all the crap she stirred up, she didn't really like confrontations. If somebody really stood up to her and looked like they might blow their top, she got scared. She was mostly talk when you get right down to it.

TA: Did you ever give Ms. Chase jewelry?

JLT: Yes, a Cartier watch. Last Spring.

TA: What was the occasion?

JLT: It was Valentine's Day.

TA: Where were you on the night of October 14th?

JLT: Down in Olive Branch, as I said.

TA: Can anyone verify that?

JLT: I stopped for gas at the Chevron just as I headed out. I called my wife when I got settled in Olive Branch.

TA: What time was that?

JLT: About 9-9:30. You can check the phone records if you like.

TA: Do you own a gun, sir?

JLT: No.

TA: Anything else you can tell us?

JLT: I don't believe so.

TA: Okay sir, thank you for coming in. If we have any more questions, we'll contact you.

JLT: At my office. You have the number at my office, yes?

TA: Don't worry sir, I'm not going to be the one to tell your wife about this. But if you have any sense, you will.

End interview 2:56 p.m.

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