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Witness Interview: Howard and Marion Neidelmen, the Victim's Parents

Monday, October 16, 2000 - 11:00 a.m.

The Neidelmens contacted the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office early Monday morning to let them know they had arrived in Oxford. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy immediately made an appointment with them for an interview at the victim's residence later that morning.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
HN = Howard Neidelmen
MN = Marion Neidelmen

TA: For the record, ma'am, sir, could you please state your names and address?

HN: Howard and Marion Neidelmen, 1500 Bay Road, #3408.

MN: Miami Beach, Florida.

SM: We want to thank y'all for meeting with us today. We know this is a very difficult time for both of you.

HN: We want to do everything we can

MN: to make sure whoever did this to our precious daughter

HN: is brought to justice.

TA: Well, we appreciate it. When was the last time -

HN: Do you know who did this terrible thing yet?

MN: We read in this morning's paper that

HN: it might be a car jacking. We didn't think

MN: you had that kind of thing here.

TA: Yes, well, we do have some leads we're following up. But what I was about to ask -

HN: So was it?

MN: A car jacking?

SM: No, we don't think so. There were too many things at the scene that were inconsistent with a car jacking. Frankly, it was the media that came up with the car jacking theory. We didn't have anything to do with that.

MN: What does that mean?

SM: It's really too early in the investigation for us to speculate.

TA: Could y'all tell us when you last spoke to Zoe?

MN: It was...

HN: Friday night.

MN: Yes, Friday night. She called to tell us she had spoken with her agent and she thought she would be signing the contract for her new book next week.

HN: This week.

MN: Yes, it would be this week now.

SM: You said she thought she'd be signing the contract this week. She wasn't certain?

HN: They had been negotiating that contract

MN: for months now.

HN: Nancy always fought to get everything she wanted.

MN: Zoe, dear.

HN: Yes, Zoe. I still forget sometimes.

TA: Forget?

HN: To call her Zoe.

MN: Since she changed her name.

HN: It's been... what?

MN: Five years.

HN: But she was Nancy

MN: for thirty years

HN: before she changed it.

SM: Did you talk about anything else during that conversation Friday night?

MN: You mean, did she say

HN: she thought someone was going to kill her?

MN: Of course not! We talked a little about our bridge club.

HN: And she mentioned something about Dani.

MN: Oh. Yes. Dani.

SM: Dani?

HN: Dani Bonner.

MN: Her so-called best friend.

TA: So-called?

MN: She's no friend, if you ask me.

HN: She got Zoe into a lot of trouble back when they were in college together.

MN: Might still be getting her in trouble. We just don't hear about it now.

HN: Marion, the woman is married with two children now. I don't think -

MN: Don't pretend to defend her, Howard Neidelmen. You know you don't like her any more than I do.

SM: You said this woman got your daughter in trouble? What kind of trouble?

HN: It wasn't anything too bad.

MN: She has a cruel sense of humor, that Dani. Always tricking Zoe into helping her play mean practical jokes on people.

HN: They got in trouble with the university administration a few times, but -

MN: But nothing. The girl is a bad influence, plain and simple.

SM: You think she could have been involved with your daughter's death?

HN: No, I don't think so.

MN: No, probably not.

TA: You said Zoe mentioned her in your last conversation. What did she say about her?

HN: Something about the twins.

TA: The twins?

MN: Dani's daughters. She always flaunted them in Zoe's face to show off that she had her own family and Zoe didn't.

HN: Zoe always wanted to get married and have children, but now...

MN: She'll never have that chance.

SM: Would y'all like to take a break?

MN: Just give us a minute.

HN: We'll be all right. It's still so hard to believe

MN: she's gone.

[Interview suspended for 5 minutes.]

SM: Are you ready to continue?

HN: Yes, let's go ahead.

MN: We want to help you, if we can.

TA: Okay. Do you know if Zoe was having trouble with anyone in her life?

MN: Trouble?

HN: What kind of trouble?

TA: Any kind. Any arguments with anyone? Anyone she didn't get along with?

MN: Zoe gets along with everyone.

HN: She's quite a charmer, my daughter.

SM: Do you know if she was dating anyone?

MN: Zoe always has lots of dates. She's very popular.

HN: There's Jack.

MN: Yes, he's the only one she ever mentioned by name.

SM: Did she tell you Jack's last name?

HN: Jack Swanson.

MN: Yes, that's right.

TA: Have either of you ever met him?

MN: Oh yes. We both have.

HN: When we visited Zoe for her birthday.

MN: That's when we met him.

TA: And...? Did you like him?

MN: Oh yes, he's a very nice young man.

HN: He is a little young for Zoe...

MN: Oh Howard, don't be so old-fashioned. So he's a few years younger. So what?

SM: How much younger, Mr. Neidelmen?

HN: About ten years younger, I think. That's too young for her, in my opinion, but Zoe always does whatever she likes, so who am I to say anything?

SM: You seemed to be saying earlier that your daughter was dating other men besides Mr. Swanson. Do you know who they were?

HN: No, she never told us about anyone else.

MN: But I know she did go out with other men occasionally.

TA: You didn't meet any of them when you were here?

HN: No, we didn't.

MN: She only introduced us to the man she really cares about, if you ask me.

SM: I see. Did Mr. Swanson know she was seeing other men?

HN: He must have.

MN: Zoe wouldn't keep that a secret from him.

HN: I'm sure he did know.

SM: How did he feel about her seeing other men? Was he jealous?

HN: Not that we heard about.

MN: He must have been a little jealous. Zoe casts quite a spell on people. They all love her.

SM: Do you think Mr. Swanson might have been jealous enough to want to hurt her?

HN: No, I don't think so.

MN: He's a very nice young man.

HN: I can't imagine him wanting to hurt her in any way.

TA: Is there anyone at all you can think of who might have wanted to hurt Zoe?

HN: No.

MN: No one.

HN: Zoe gets along with everyone.

MN: No one can ever stay angry with her for long. She's always been that way.

TA: I know y'all just got in last night, but you folks have any idea how long you'll be in town?

MN: Oh, we don't know yet. We have a lot of

HN: arrangements to make.

MN: We haven't decided when we'll go back.

HN: We'll probably be here several days.

MN: Maybe until the end of the week?

SM: In the short time you've been here, have you run across anything in your daughter's belongings that might give us any leads?

HN: I don't know...

MN: There's the safe.

HN: Oh yes, Zoe has a safe in her bedroom.

MN: And you're welcome to look through her notes and things, if you think it would help.

SM: It certainly might help. If we find anything that looks useful, would you object if we took it away with us?

HN: No. That'd be fine.

MN: We will get anything we give you back eventually, right?

SM: Yes, ma'am. If you would show us the things you mentioned, we'd like to take a look at them now. And if you don't mind, we have a consent form here that we'll want you to sign, just for the record. We'll write down the item or items we'd like to take into evidence and then you can sign it to show you gave us permission to take them. Okay?

MN: That sounds fine.

HN: Oh, Detective? Before we do that, there's just one more thing.

SM: Yes, sir?

HN: For Zoe's birthday this year, we gave her a ruby and diamond cocktail ring. And last Christmas, we gave her an antique Rolex watch. We didn't find either of them here.

MN: We found her pearl and gold ring, her diamond pendant, her ruby bracelet, her diamond and ruby earrings, and her Cartier watch. They were all in her safe.

HN: But we didn't find the cocktail ring or the Rolex. Was she wearing them when...

MN: you saw her?

SM: I'm not sure about that, but we'll check on it as soon as we get back to the Sheriff's Office and let y'all know. Will that be okay?

MN: That would be fine.

HN: Most helpful.

TA: No problem. We're glad to do it. Now, if you would show us Zoe's safe and where she kept her notes?

HN: Of course.

MN: Right this way.

End interview 11:38 a.m.

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