Lucille Ruffin-Moore interview #2
Friday, May 7, 2021 – 10:36 a.m.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore was an outspoken critic of the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival Pageant. In light of recent developments, the detectives wanted her to clarify some of the information she'd given them previously.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy re-interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Lucille Ruffin-Moore
Detective Murphy: Thank you for talking to us again, Dr. Moore. We appreciate your help.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Of course.
Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name and address?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I am Dr. Lucille Ruffin-Moore. I live at 2238 Lee Loop here in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Doctor, do you remember when we spoke before?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Of course. It isn't often that I sit down with the local constables.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember what we were investigating?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Of course. You're investigating the murder of that beauty pageant contestant. I'm afraid I can't recall her name, but that's the investigation we spoke about during our last conversation.
Detective Murphy: Her name was Barbara Dubois.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Oh yes. I do remember now. Such terrible things in the world these days. And how can the authorities ever know what is true? I just saw on Fox News—I do enjoy that Sean Hannity. He can be a bit—
Detective Murphy: Doctor, we're here to talk about the beauty pageant and Barbara Dubois.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Oh yes. Certainly. You may proceed.
Detective Armstrong: When we spoke the first time, you said you remembered seeing a woman without her shoes. Can you remember any more details?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Well, I'm not sure I can recall that much. It was surely just a trivial sight to see.
Detective Armstrong: It might not be trivial to us, ma'am. Please try.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Do you know the story of when William Faulkner was working in Hollywood, and he met Clark Gable?
Detective Armstrong: What does that have to do with—
Detective Murphy: Just let her tell the story, Ted.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Faulkner ended up with a group of men hunting. Now, he was just a lowly screenwriter, and he was far from famous. And Clark Gable was there, and he asked Faulkner who the best writers were. Faulkner replied— oh wait, I mean, Gable asked who the best living writers were. That's it. So Gable asks Faulkner who the best living writers are, and Faulkner replies a couple of names, including Hemingway and Willa Cather. He mentioned John Dos Passos, but I've never been that much of a fan myself. But in this group, Faulkner includes himself and says that he is one of the best living writers in the world. Gable says, "Oh, do you write?" To which William Faulkner replied, "Yes, Mr. Gable. What do you do?"
Detective Murphy: That's a funny story, but what does it have to do with our investigation?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Well, it shows Faulkner's incredible ego. Justified, of course, but he was arrogant. Why, when he finished Absalom, Absalom!, he told someone to read it, and when they asked what it was, he said, "It's the best novel yet written by an American." So the Clark Gable story shows his ego—
Detective Armstrong: But what does the story have to do with us?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I'm getting to that. My point is that artists and scholars aren't always the most observant people in the world. We're so focused on our work that much of what's going on around us is ignored. William Faulkner didn't know who the biggest actor in the world was—or else he knew and was just trying to take Gable down a few notches—but either way, he was oblivious to the man's fame and stature. Likewise, I'm so focused on my own work and studies that I am oblivious to many things that you might think are obvious.
Detective Armstrong: So you don't remember.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I do, but not perfectly.
Detective Murphy: Just do your best.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I believe the woman was in her late fifties. Around my own age, although it can be hard to tell sometimes. And she was dressed very well.
Detective Murphy: What was she wearing?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I don't remember exactly. You'll have to forgive my memory.
Detective Armstrong: But you say she was dressed well?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Yes. I definitely remember thinking that she was dressed well. I'm sorry I can't provide you with more details. But I remember thinking she must be some important person with the pageant. What I mean is, she wasn't working at the hotel. I hate to be rude or judgmental, but she was dressed too well to be a hotel employee. I remember having that notion in my head, even though I can't describe the specifics of her outfit.
Detective Murphy: But this woman definitely had her shoes off?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Yes.
Detective Murphy: How did you interpret that sight?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: At first, it caught my eye, this well-dressed, well-put-together woman walking around with no shoes on. But then I thought to myself that it was late, and she had probably been at the beauty pageant activities all night and was simply tired. I do that myself sometimes. After I've worn heels for long periods of time, my feet just start pounding, and I'm aching to remove my shoes, so I do. It feels great just to be able to relax—
Detective Murphy: Doctor, would you recognize this woman if we showed you a picture of her?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Possibly. I can't guarantee anything, but I would certainly be willing to try.
Detective Murphy: Armstrong, do you have those photo arrays?
Detective Armstrong: Yeah, here.
Detective Murphy: Take a look at these pictures, Doctor. Do you see that woman?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: No, I don't believe so. The woman I saw had darker hair.
Detective Murphy: What about this array?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: My goodness! Have you been showing my photo to people like I'm some sort of criminal?
Detective Murphy: Sometimes we just need another photo to fill out the group. It's nothing to worry about. Is the woman you saw that night in this array?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: That woman there is very close. I can't say with total certainty, but yes, I'm pretty sure that is the woman I saw.
Detective Armstrong: Dr. Moore has identified photograph #1 of Photo Array #1. Do you know who this woman is?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: No, I don't know her.
Detective Murphy: This is Allie Lamar. Do you recognize the name?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: No. Is there a reason I should?
Detective Murphy: She's an important businesswoman in Oxford.
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Well, that certainly confirms that I wouldn't know her. I'm afraid that I don't know many people in Oxford who are not part of the university community. Of course, I know my physician, and I know the good folks at Square Books, but beyond that, I have no reason to socialize with business people.
Detective Murphy: But you're certain this is the woman you saw that evening with no shoes?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: As I've said, I can't be completely certain. We could sit here and look at photos all day, and I would be unable to reach a completely certain judgment. But upon first glance, that photo definitely seems like the woman I saw.
Detective Murphy: Where did you see this woman?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I believe I saw her towards the back of the hotel. I had gotten turned around—as I confessed to you last time, I believe I quite had possibly had too much to drink—and I was trying to get out of the hotel. I had ended up toward the back and saw this woman.
Detective Murphy: She was walking out the back door?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: I don't believe I can make that assertion, detective. I don't remember specifically, but it doesn't seem like I saw her coming in or going out. I believe she was just by the door when I saw her. I didn't dawdle about to see what her intentions were.
Detective Armstrong: Can you think of anything else?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Of course. It reminds me of when I was examining the 1932—no, I believe it was 1931—novel Light in August around the time you're discussing. No, I was right the first time. 1932. Definitely 1932. Anyway, the opening scene of that novel focuses on Lena Grove arriving in town with no shoes on. She's remembering going to town as a young child and waiting until the last minute to put her shoes on. I could have mistaken that research for something at the party. Very similar.
Detective Murphy: Can you think of anything else that might help us in our investigation?
Lucille Ruffin-Moore: Oh, the investigation. No, I cannot. I would love to assist you, but I have no clue what I can bring to the table. I've been reading up on my Miss Marple since we last spoke in an attempt to help me understand what you do, but I can't think of anything I can offer.
Detective Murphy: Well, you've helped a lot already. Thanks for your time, Dr. Ruffin-Moore.
Interview ended – 11:10 a.m.