Mary Jones interview
Sunday, May 2, 2021 – 3:01 p.m.
Mary Jones and her daughter have been good friends with the Dubois family for years and attended the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival pageant to support Barbara.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Mary Jones
Detective Murphy: Good morning, Mrs. Jones. How are you doing today?
Mary Jones: I'm okay, I guess. Thank you. I've been better. The last couple of days have been very … difficult.
Detective Murphy: I understand. Will you please state your name and address for the record before we go on?
Mary Jones: I'm Mary Jones. I live at 1622 Pierce Avenue here in Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: Are you employed, Mrs. Jones?
Mary Jones: Yes, I'm a manager at Village Tailor, and I design and make specialized clothing.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean by specialized clothing?
Mary Jones: Mostly formal wear for pageant participants. Barbara Dubois was my first and my best customer. I'll sure miss her.
Detective Armstrong: Because she was such a good customer?
Mary Jones: No, because she was a special friend to my daughter and me. She was like family.
Detective Armstrong: I see. I understand you were the one who made the 911 call to report Ms. Dubois missing. Can you tell me how that came about?
Mary Jones: Well, I heard a pounding on my door early yesterday morning. It was Susan—Susan Dubois, Barbara's mother. She was in a panic because Barbara wasn't in her room and her bed hadn't been slept in. Susan thought I might have seen her, or she was in my room … or … I don't know. I guess I was just the first one she thought of to help her look for Barbara.
Detective Armstrong: So what did you do?
Mary Jones: We knocked on some doors in our wing, but no one had seen Barbara since the dinner the night before. I decided not to wait and called 911.
Detective Armstrong: What time did Mrs. Dubois first contact you about her concern at not finding Barbara in her room?
Mary Jones: It was about 6:35 or 6:40 a.m., I think. We knocked on a few more doors, and then I called 911 about ten minutes later, I guess.
Detective Armstrong: Can you remember who you specifically talked to after Mrs. Dubois alerted you?
Mary Jones: Yes. I went to Ingrid Freeman's room and Rachel Webb's, and I knocked on Bill's door right after I called 911. That's Bill Lamar.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. Then what happened?
Mary Jones: Then we all spread out looking for her. I tried to keep Billie Jo with me because I was getting scared, and I wanted her close to me. I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Detective Murphy: Where were you when Mr. Lamar found Barbara?
Mary Jones: I was with Susan. We were getting ready to go out and look around the grounds when someone told us Bill had— Bill found her. I'm sorry. I just can't get used to the idea she's gone.
Detective Murphy: Can I get something for you? Coffee or water?
Mary Jones: Water, please.
Detective Murphy: Can you go on now?
Mary Jones: Yes, I'll try. Sorry
Detective Armstrong: That's all right, Mrs. Jones. We know how upsetting this must be. Just take your time.
Mary Jones: It's such a shock. She was like family, especially since I lost my Elliott last year. She was so good with Billie Jo. Billie Jo idolizes— idolized her. I'm worried about how she's going to handle this.
Detective Murphy: Whatever you tell us is strictly confidential, Mrs. Jones, and it doesn't mean you're right, but who do you suspect could have done this?
Mary Jones: I know the beauty pageants are cutthroat, but it's hard to believe any of the other girls could have done something like this. Of course, Rachel had a lot to lose if she lost this pageant. She is getting near the age limit, I think, and she was counting on the pageant to get her out of small-town life—and away from that witch of a mother of hers.
Detective Murphy: Which witch is this, Mrs. Jones?
Mary Jones: Erma Webb, Rachel's mother. She completely runs Rachel's life. That poor girl has no more control over her life than— well, she just has no control, period. Now there's someone who might harm Barbara: Erma Webb. I wouldn't put anything past her. I've heard her say she'd do whatever it took to get Rachel the crown.
Detective Armstrong: Anybody else you can think of?
Mary Jones: Well, as long as we're talking about the competition, there's always Ingrid Freeman. There certainly was no love lost between her and Barbara, from what I could see. Barbara was always courteous to her, but the look in Ingrid's eyes … you know, like they say, "if looks could kill"?
Detective Murphy: What about Bill Lamar? He found Barbara pretty quickly, didn't he?
Mary Jones: Bill? Oh, poor Bill. I don't know. I just can't believe he could hurt her. They loved each other so much when— but then he hadn't seen her for a long time and…
Detective Murphy: And what?
Mary Jones: I know there were … some hard feelings when he went away. I don't know, though.
Detective Armstrong: Who can you say definitely did not do it?
Mary Jones: Susan, of course. And me. I loved her like a sister.
Detective Murphy: When was the last time you saw Barbara, Mrs. Jones?
Mary Jones: Let's see. It must have been in the dining room after the dinner, I guess. She went off for a photo session or something. I don't think I … let me see. No, I didn't see her again after that.
Detective Armstrong: You're sure?
Mary Jones: I'm as sure as I can be in troubled times like these, detective.
Detective Murphy: Did Barbara mention she had any concerns about the pageant? Or tell you she was worried about anyone or anything?
Mary Jones: No. Of course not. Why would she be?
Detective Murphy: You tell us.
Mary Jones: Everyone loved Barbara! I don't— It's just—
Detective Murphy: It's important that you tell us everything you can think of, Mrs. Jones.
Mary Jones: I understand that. But you have to understand. I'm the only one who knows— who cares about Billie Jo. I've always kept her safe. I'm the only one left, really. And now this. It's been horrible for her. I feel so responsible.
Detective Armstrong: But you didn't commit this crime, did you? And you didn't help anyone to do so?
Mary Jones: No, no, I would never. How can you ask?
Detective Murphy: I'm sorry, Mrs. Jones. It's our job. Who are you afraid of?
Mary Jones: Whoever killed Barbara! They could come after Billie Jo!
Detective Murphy: Why might they do that?
Mary Jones: Because— I don't know, but they could!
Detective Murphy: If someone threatens you or your daughter, we can protect you, but you'll need to help us.
Mary Jones: I've told you all I can, really. And I know I haven't been any help. I'm so sorry.
Detective Armstrong: Let's talk about Billie Jo. We understand she was out roaming the halls all night unsupervised.
Mary Jones: She wasn't out all night! About 11:00 p.m., I—we—went to bed. Maybe a bit afterwards. I was exhausted. I must have been sleeping very soundly. The little imp snuck out on an autograph hunt. The next thing I know, it's after midnight, and she's trying to sneak back in. I was so mad, but at the time, I understood.
Detective Murphy: What was she doing out that late?
Mary Jones: She really wanted autographs. She's a strong-willed child, and when she has her heart set on something, she follows it. But I lit into her when she came in. I threatened to take her home then and there. The only thing that gave me any peace that night was that the hotel looked like a safe place. But now, I mean, she could have been hurt!
Detective Murphy: Could we have your permission to talk to Billie Jo?
Mary Jones: She's just a child.
Detective Armstrong: She may have seen or overheard something that will aid our investigation.
Mary Jones: I don't want to put her in any more danger.
Detective Murphy: She'll be much safer when we catch Barbara's killer, won't she?
Mary Jones: Yes, yes, of course. All right then. But not right away. The poor child is still in shock.
Detective Armstrong: We'll be conducting a thorough investigation, and we may want to speak to you again. Do you have any problem with that?
Mary Jones: Oh, of course not. I'll be glad to help any way I can.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you, Mrs. Jones.
Detective Murphy: One last thing, Mrs. Jones.
Mary Jones: Yes?
Detective Murphy: What size shoe do you wear?
Mary Jones: Well, really, I mean— size 6. Why do you ask?
Detective Murphy: Just routine. Thank you, Mrs. Jones. You've been very helpful.
Interview ended – 3:38 p.m.