Rachel Webb interview
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – 2:45 p.m.
Rachel Webb was one of three finalists in the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival pageant and was a close friend of Barbara Dubois.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Rachel Webb
Detective Murphy: Thanks for talking to us. How are you?
Rachel Webb: Howzit? I'm doing good. I'm not sure how I can help you, but I'll do what I can.
Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name and address?
Rachel Webb: My name is Rachel Webb. I live at 2215 Jefferson Davis Drive here in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: And your occupation?
Rachel Webb: I take some classes and work part-time as a teller at Oxford University Bank. As I'm sure you know, I'm quite active in the pageant circuit, so that takes up most of my time.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know why we wanted to talk to you today?
Rachel Webb: Well, I guess that you're looking into what happened to Barbara.
Detective Murphy: Why do you think you were selected to be interviewed today?
Rachel Webb: I guess because we were friends. Mom said the police would probably talk to all of us. We competed together and knew each other for a long time.
Detective Murphy: How do you feel about talking to us about our investigation?
Rachel Webb: I'm fine with it, I guess. I don't know what I can do to help, but if I can do anything, I'd be glad to.
Detective Murphy: Why don't you start by telling us about the night Barbara died?
Rachel Webb: I went to the gala event. All the finalists were required to be there, and most of the rest of the competitors were there too. After it was over, I hung out a little. Just talked to some of the girls, and then I went to my room. I remember I was disappointed because I couldn't find anything good on TV.
Detective Armstrong: Most everyone else we've talked to partied that night. Or at least it seems like everyone was hanging out, roaming the halls. Sounds like a fun night. You stayed in your room?
Rachel Webb: Yeah. I don't stay out very late. My mom doesn't like me hanging around and staying up very late. I don't compete very well when I haven't had plenty of sleep.
Detective Murphy: So you didn't leave your room at all?
Rachel Webb: No.
Detective Murphy: Is there anyone who can corroborate that?
Rachel Webb: I don't guess so. I had a room by myself. It's not like someone was in the room with me—although my mom had them give her a keycard to my room.
Detective Armstrong: Did you talk to anyone during the course of the evening?
Rachel Webb: Just my mother. She came by around 11:15 to check on me. Then she called to tell me goodnight around midnight. That was it. I didn't talk to anyone else until the next morning, when all the trouble started.
Detective Murphy: How did you wake up?
Rachel Webb: Mary Jones came and got me.
Detective Murphy: And what did she say?
Rachel Webb: She said they couldn't find Barbara, that she was missing from her room. So I went to Barbara's room, and there was no sign of her. Then somebody called the cops—Mary, I think—and we went downstairs to the front desk to meet them. Then the cops came, and then the manager got a call, and then they found Barbara.
Detective Armstrong: So you went upstairs with the uniformed officers?
Rachel Webb: No, my mother stopped me. She was very calm and methodical. I knew something was wrong. She has this manner that takes over in difficult times. She would be a great ambulance worker or something. She's very calm, very in control when things are going crazy. She told me that I should get my things together because we would be leaving the hotel soon to go home. She said there was going to be a lot of commotion, and we should try to avoid that.
Detective Armstrong: Avoid it?
Rachel Webb: Well, I don't mean that in a bad way. She wasn't trying to run away. It wasn't like that. She just thought we should stay out of the press and stay away from all the photographers and thrill-seekers. Anyway, after I put my stuff in my bag, she told me.
Detective Murphy: What did she say?
Rachel Webb: She told me to sit down on the bed because she had some bad news. Then she goes, "Something's happened to Barbara." I knew then. She didn't even have to finish her sentence. As soon as the police let us, we checked out of the hotel and went home. Mom wanted to go right away, but the police said we had to stay. She was real relieved when they finally let us go.
Detective Murphy: What do you think worried her so much?
Rachel Webb: I don't know. She gets real upset, though, when things don't go exactly her way.
Detective Armstrong: Did you talk to anyone that morning?
Rachel Webb: No. We packed up, and as soon as we were pau, we went home.
Detective Murphy: Pow? What does that mean?
Rachel Webb: Oh, sorry. Pau. That means "done" in Hawaiian. Like saying, "I was doing homework, but as soon as I was pau, I went to the beach."
Detective Armstrong: We don't often hear Hawaiian spoken here in Oxford.
Rachel Webb: Mom tells me I shouldn't keep slipping back into that slang—she didn't like the way so many people talked pidgin—but I still slip up.
Detective Murphy: Tell us about your relationship with Barbara.
Rachel Webb: I really liked her. No, I loved her. Like a sister, you know, only maybe closer in some ways. She was so nice, and yet she really was strong and in charge of her life. I wanted to be just like her. She seemed so centered, so in control. It just always seemed like she could be anything she wanted. Anything was possible for her.
Detective Murphy: Did you resent that?
Rachel Webb: No. I wasn't jealous of her. It's just that— well, I shouldn't say this.
Detective Murphy: Go ahead. We can take it.
Rachel Webb: Mom wouldn't like me talking this way, but the fact is that I hate this stupid town. I want to get out of here. Barbara just always seemed like the type that could go anywhere and succeed. She could go to New York City and be great.
Detective Murphy: You don't think you can do the same?
Rachel Webb: I'm not sure. My mom has traveled all over the place, and she says I'm not really strong enough or mature enough to go somewhere like New York by myself. Maybe she's right, but I'd love to try.
Detective Armstrong: Would your envy make you think about doing something like hurting Barbara?
Rachel Webb: I would never even consider doing something like that. That's crazy!
Detective Murphy: What you say here is strictly between us. You're not necessarily going to influence our investigation. But who do you suspect could have done this?
Rachel Webb: I really don't know. I mean, I know Ingrid really hated Barbara. Talk about jealousy! I'll admit that I was envious of her—Barbara, I mean—but envious in the way you look up to a big sister or positive role model or something. Or when your closest friend succeeds, you know. Ingrid was jealous in a crazy way. She burned to beat Barbara.
Detective Murphy: Anyone else?
Rachel Webb: Maybe that creep Denny Buchanan. Everyone in Oxford knows he's a spoiled jerk and that Barbara broke his heart. Well, I don't think he has a heart, but she definitely hurt his pride. I'm no detective. I can't make any judgments on things like that, but I'd look at those two.
Detective Armstrong: Ingrid told us about receiving money from your mother. What can you tell us about that?
Rachel Webb: I don't know. You'd have to talk to my mom about that.
Detective Armstrong: You don't know any reason why your mother would give Ingrid Freeman money?
Rachel Webb: No. I mean, Ingrid is always running on about this stupid business of hers and how she needs investors, but I don't know why my mom would want to get involved.
Detective Armstrong: When we searched your room at the YCCC, one of the things we found was a bottle of ipecac. Is that something you typically have with you?
Rachel Webb: I have stomach trouble, and it helps with that.
Detective Armstrong: I see. Who else knows you have it?
Rachel Webb: Who else knows? I don't know. No one, I guess.
Detective Armstrong: Your mother doesn't know?
Rachel Webb: I don't know. Maybe. You'd have to ask her.
Detective Armstrong: Who else could've had access to it?
Rachel Webb: No one. I kept it in my room.
Detective Armstrong: Didn't you say your mother had a key to your room?
Rachel Webb: Yeah. I guess she… what did you say? Had access. So what? Why do you care? What does this have to do with what happened to Barbara?
Detective Armstrong: It's just something that came up in our investigation. How did you like the chocolates that Sam Tuttle gave all the contestants?
Rachel Webb: I'm sure they were delicious, but I didn't eat any. Mom makes me count every calorie.
Detective Murphy: You didn't try even one? You must have some strong willpower.
Rachel Webb: You think so?
Detective Murphy: Sounds like it. By the way, what size shoe do you wear?
Rachel Webb: My shoe size? A four, but I don't understand why you'd want that.
Detective Murphy: Just routine. Ms. Webb, we're going to be conducting an extremely thorough investigation here. We may need to talk to you again.
Rachel Webb: That'll be fine. I mean, I guess it'll be okay. I don't think my mom will care. You may have to talk to her to schedule it, but it shouldn't be a problem. No worries.
Detective Murphy: Great. Thanks for your time. We'll be in touch.
Interview ended – 3:19 p.m.