Billie Jo Jones interview
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 – 3:03 p.m.
Seven-year-old Billie Jo Jones is Mary Jones' daughter and a friend of Barbara Dubois. She attended the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival Pageant with her mother.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department with her mother's permission.
In accordance with regulations, the court appointed a psychologist and an attorney to represent the minor's interests. Both appointees were present during the interview.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Billie Jo Jones
- Nancy Carson, psychologist appointed to the minor, Billie Jo Jones
- Andrew Drummond, attorney appointed to the minor, Billie Jo Jones
Nancy Carson: Hi, Billie Jo. I'm Nancy Carson. Like I explained earlier, I'm here as your representative, sort of like your mother would be. And Mr. Drummond is going to help me do that. We asked your mom if you could talk to Detective Armstrong here and Detective Murphy over there as long as we stayed with you, and she said it was okay with her. Did she explain that to you?
Billie Jo Jones: Uh-huh.
Nancy Carson: We're all your friends here, Billie Jo. There's nothing to be scared of. The nice detectives are going to ask you some questions to help them find out who hurt your friend, Barbara. Is that okay with you?
Billie Jo Jones: I guess so.
Nancy Carson: I'll be right here. If any of the questions make you scared or too sad, let me know.
Detective Murphy: Hi, Billie Jo. I'm Samantha Murphy. We're talking to everyone in the hotel who knew or saw your friend Barbara on Friday night, and we could really use your help.
Billie Jo Jones: Okay.
Detective Armstrong: And I'm Ted Armstrong. You are such a grown-up young lady. How old are you, Billie Jo?
Billie Jo Jones: I'm seven. I'll be eight in October. I'm adopted, you know.
Detective Murphy: No, I didn't know. How do you feel about that?
Billie Jo Jones: No big deal. I've been adopted long as I can remember, so it doesn't make any difference to me. Mommy… and Daddy until he… well, they always told me I'm special. They chose me 'cause I'm special. Some of my friends wish they were adopted so they could be special too.
Detective Armstrong: I have a granddaughter just about your age. What grade are you in? No, don't tell me. Let me guess. You are in… the second grade?
Billie Jo Jones: That's right.
Detective Armstrong: Good. I'm a good guesser. Now, Billie Jo— is that what you like to be called? Not just Billie?
Billie Jo Jones: Billie Jo, please. Billie sounds too much like a boy. Or a goat.
Detective Armstrong: Okay then, Billie Jo it is. You know, we really need your help. The best way you can help us is by telling us what you did and saw Friday night. We understand you were out looking for autographs late that night.
Billie Jo Jones: My mom already grounded me for that. And no TV too!
Detective Murphy: I understand, Billie Jo, and we aren't trying to get you in trouble, but we sure need to find out what happened around the time Barbara… got hurt. Can you help us?
Billie Jo Jones: I will if I can, but what can I do? I'm just a kid!
Detective Armstrong: I'll bet you have good eyes and ears, though. And being a kid, you might notice things a grown-up wouldn't.
Billie Jo Jones: Yeah. Lots of times, people act like I'm not even there.
Detective Murphy: Now, Billie Jo, tell us what you saw and heard Friday night. Do you know what time you sneaked out of your room after your mother went to sleep?
Billie Jo Jones: Oh, I fooled her! She thought I was asleep, and I heard her talking to someone on the phone. She kinda whispered, but I think she was talking to Auntie Barbara.
Detective Murphy: What makes you think that?
Billie Jo Jones: Because I heard her say "Barbara."
Detective Armstrong: Could you hear what they were talking about?
Billie Jo Jones: No, I just heard Mommy say, "I'll meet you there right away." Then she came over to tuck me in. I pretended I was asleep. I do that sometimes just to play a joke on her.
Detective Murphy: Did she go back to bed then?
Billie Jo Jones: No.
Detective Armstrong: What did she do?
Billie Jo Jones: She tiptoed to the door and went out.
Detective Murphy: Do you have any idea what time that was, Billie Jo?
Billie Jo Jones: I don't do too good on telling time yet, but it was right after we got back to the room from the photoshoot downstairs. I remember asking if I could stay and get some autographs, but my mom said it was 11:00 p.m. and already way past my bedtime.
Detective Murphy: So when your mother went out the door, what did you do?
Billie Jo Jones: I waited a little bit, and then I put my clothes back on. I got my autograph book and a pen. Then I opened the door real quiet-like and peeked in the hall. There was nobody out there, so I closed the door softly and went down the hall to the elevator.
Detective Armstrong: Sounds like you would make a good detective, Billie Jo. Looks like I'll have to watch out for my job in a few years.
Detective Murphy: Did you get on the elevator?
Billie Jo Jones: Yeah. I went down where they'd been taking the pictures to see if anybody was still there, but they'd all left.
Detective Armstrong: So then, what did you do?
Billie Jo Jones: I wandered around down there, looking for someone to sign my autograph book.
Detective Murphy: Did you see any people around?
Billie Jo Jones: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: Can you tell us what you saw, Billie Jo?
Billie Jo Jones: I don't want to tattle. Miss Carson, what should I do?
Nancy Carson: It's up to you, Billie Jo. If you think it would help the police find out who hurt your friend, I don't think you would be tattling. You say what you're comfortable with. Just tell the truth.
Billie Jo Jones: Okay… well, I was walking around when I heard a funny sound in the room they use for the pageant office. I peeked in, and somebody was spray painting! I got out of there quick before they could spray me!
Detective Armstrong: Could you see who was doing the spraying?
Billie Jo Jones: Heck no! I got out of there in a hurry!
Detective Murphy: Then what did you do?
Billie Jo Jones: I decided to go back to our room, but when I got up to the second floor, I walked up and down the halls hoping somebody would come out of their room so I could get their autograph.
Detective Murphy: Did anybody come out?
Billie Jo Jones: No, but I heard a bunch of yelling and cussing, so I peeked around the corner to see what was going on. It was that Denny guy and that guy named Bill.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know them, Billie Jo?
Billie Jo Jones: I know that Denny guy from when Auntie Barbara dated him. I don't like him. He's a jerk.
Detective Murphy: What makes you think he's a jerk, Billie Jo?
Billie Jo Jones: That's what Auntie Barbara called him. She said he wouldn't take no for an answer, and she couldn't get rid of him. She and my mom were talking like grown-ups. You know, like I wasn't there.
Detective Armstrong: What about Bill? Do you know him?
Billie Jo Jones: I met him at the pageant dinner. He seemed nice. He smiled at me and shook hands and looked at me real close. Then he asked me how old I am and what grade I'm in, and he really paid attention when I answered. You know, like he was really interested. Not like a lot of grown-ups who ask but don't listen when I answer.
Detective Murphy: I'll bet your mom was surprised to see him.
Billie Jo Jones: Not really. She seemed real glad to see him. Gave him a big hug. But Auntie Susan looked surprised.
Detective Armstrong: What were Denny and Bill making all the noise about?
Billie Jo Jones: I don't know. I didn't wait to find out. I don't like it when people talk in mad voices. I went downstairs again and looked around to see if I could find anybody interesting there, but all I saw were a couple of older ladies at the bar or lounge or whatever you call the place where grown-ups go to drink.
Detective Murphy: Did you recognize anybody?
Billie Jo Jones: Nobody I knew. I saw that lady that walks with the cane. She was sort of wandering around like she was looking for someone or didn't know which way to go.
Detective Armstrong: Then what did you do?
Billie Jo Jones: Then I…
Nancy Carson: Are you all right, honey? Do you need to take a break?
Billie Jo Jones: No, I just get sad when I think about what happened to Auntie Barbara.
Detective Murphy: That's okay, Billie Jo. You're doing great. Just take your time. Would you like a Coke or something?
Billie Jo Jones: Oh, yeah. Do you have any Dr. Pepper?
Detective Armstrong: I'll go get it. You keep going, Billie Jo. I'll be right back.
Detective Murphy: What did you see after you saw the lady with the cane?
Billie Jo Jones: I was walking… down the hall going to Auntie Barbara's room to see if she was still up, and I heard something funny.
Detective Murphy: What did it sound like?
Billie Jo Jones: Kind of a thud and a gasp. I got hit in the stomach with a kickball once, and it sounded kind of like that.
Detective Murphy: What did you do when you heard that?
Billie Jo Jones: I ducked in a little nook there where no one could see me. I heard some other sounds, but I don't know what they were. Then I heard a door open, and a few minutes later, it closed. I was getting scared, and I was afraid to look out there. I didn't want them to see me.
Detective Murphy: What did you do then?
Billie Jo Jones: I waited 'til I thought the coast was clear, and then I peeked out. No one was around, so I went up to the door of a closet and… and I saw…
Nancy Carson: Are you all right, Billie Jo? Do you want to take a break?
Detective Murphy: Take your time, Billie Jo. Here's your Dr. Pepper.
Billie Jo Jones: I saw Auntie Barbara on the floor. I ran over to her. She wasn't moving. I sort of shook her to wake her up, but she didn't move. I knew… something was wrong. Then I ran back to my room. I wanted Mommy.
Detective Armstrong: That's okay, Billie Jo. You're doing great. Just a couple more questions. Did you touch anything else?
Billie Jo Jones: A trophy. It was on the floor. It was broken, and I cut myself on it, and I was bleeding. I was afraid I'd get in trouble, and I was worried about Auntie Barbara. I didn't know what to do.
Detective Murphy: It's all right, Billie Jo. Did you see anyone after you saw Auntie Barbara on the floor?
Billie Jo Jones: No. I ran to our room, but I couldn't get in. Then Mommy came to the door and pulled me in. She was real mad at me.
Detective Murphy: Did you tell her what you saw?
Billie Jo Jones: No. I was too scared. I was afraid somebody would think I hurt Auntie Barbara. But I didn't! I just want her to be all right and here with us again. I'm sorry I didn't tell anybody. Are you going to put me in jail?
Detective Murphy: No, no. Billie Jo. You aren't in trouble. In fact, you've helped us a lot.
Nancy Carson: I think it's time to stop, detectives. We don't need to upset her any more now, do we?
Detective Armstrong: Thank you, little lady. You did a really good job. Any time you want to become a detective, just let me know. We could always use your help.
Billie Jo Jones: Did I really do okay?
Detective Murphy: You sure did. We take all the things that people tell us and put them together—sort of like a jigsaw puzzle—so we can find out who hurt your friend. Thank you for helping us, Billie Jo.
Billie Jo Jones: Oh. You're welcome. Can I go now? I'm kind of tired.
Detective Murphy: Of course. If you remember anything else you think we should know, you can call us anytime, okay?
Billie Jo Jones: Okay. Goodbye.
Interview ended – 3:49 p.m.