Bonnie Daniels interview
Monday, February 24, 2020 – 11:15 a.m.
After receiving notification that preliminary DNA test results and dental comparisons indicated that the head found in Yoknapatawpha County belonged to Laurie Daniels, Detectives Murphy and Armstrong returned to the Daniels residence and notified them of the findings. The Danielses were then separated and interviewed individually.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed Bonnie Daniels at her residence.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Bonnie Daniels
Detective Armstrong: Please state your name, age, and address.
Bonnie Daniels: Bonnie Daniels, 51. 1305 Mesquite Drive, Oxford. I am self-supported. Shoot.
Detective Murphy: It's okay, Mrs. Daniels. It's just a little spilled coffee.
Bonnie Daniels: This is… What a mess!
Detective Murphy: It's no problem.
Bonnie Daniels: I need more. I— I can't do this.
Detective Murphy: I'll pour you some more. While I do that, could you tell us about Laurie?
Bonnie Daniels: I don't know her. She… she became someone different than the wonderful child I knew. This is all too sudden. I'm still coming to terms with it, trying to….
Detective Murphy: Tell us about the Laurie Daniels you know.
Bonnie Daniels: The one in my heart?
Detective Murphy: Yes.
Bonnie Daniels: Well, she was a good Laurie. She loved her mother. She confided in me, and that always made me feel good. She looked at me as a friend, and we respected each other. We talked about what a good grandma I would be one day. She liked to talk about me being a grandma.
Detective Armstrong: When did Laurie leave home?
Bonnie Daniels: It was in early 2013. Just after the holidays.
Detective Armstrong: Why did she leave?
Bonnie Daniels: Our home life was difficult. She missed her sister, and she wanted to find her. That's Melanie, the youngest. She left home at an early age as well.
Detective Murphy: When did Melanie leave?
Bonnie Daniels: It was before then. What? 2012, I think. It was an awful time.
Detective Murphy: Is Melanie's leaving the family tragedy you spoke of when we talked with you before?
Bonnie Daniels: I, uh— yes. Yes, it is.
Detective Armstrong: Why did Melanie leave?
Bonnie Daniels: Because she thought she was in love with some strange man we never met. He was older and in the military, and she was still in high school. It was completely inappropriate — for her and for him. We forbade her to have any contact with him. Her response was to abandon her family.
Detective Armstrong: Did you talk to Melanie about her decision to leave?
Bonnie Daniels: That was a decision she made on her own. She didn't confide in me like Laurie. She had a mind of her own, and she was at the age where she resented me. And she resented her father. She didn't appreciate what she had and thought she was better than what she was and where she came from. She was, quite frankly, wretched in her dealings with us.
Detective Murphy: Did Laurie share her feelings about her sister's disappearance?
Bonnie Daniels: Yes, quite often. She felt guilty, somehow. They weren't always the best of friends, those two, but they were sisters. They shared a great deal.
Detective Armstrong: Such as?
Bonnie Daniels: Such as space. Such as parents. As any sisters share things, they did.
Detective Murphy: We've heard that Laurie and Melanie were quite close.
Bonnie Daniels: My daughters were raised to believe that family matters should stay in the family. That included any arguments or petty disputes between the two of them. Just because they got along well in public doesn't mean they didn't have disagreements behind closed doors.
Detective Murphy: So you're saying they weren't close and didn't get along?
Bonnie Daniels: No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm simply saying my daughters weren't perfect. I'm not one of those mothers who thinks her children can do no wrong. I just want you to know that so you know I'm giving you an accurate picture of them, of who they were.
Detective Murphy: I see.
Detective Armstrong: Did Laurie talk to you about leaving home?
Bonnie Daniels: After Melanie left and after Bart got sick, everyone in our family became very insular. We were shocked into silence. We didn't share our feelings like we should have. This house became a big cluster of pent-up emotions. When Laurie decided to go, she told us that she was leaving immediately. I tried to talk to her about it, but she didn't want to talk.
Detective Murphy: No?
Bonnie Daniels: She had gotten so wound up, she just wanted to go. And we let her go so that she could get well again and grow past this. We all had to if we were ever to become a family again.
Detective Armstrong: Granted one daughter left, but your husband and Laurie's father was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Wouldn't that bring a family back together?
Bonnie Daniels: Maybe on TV it would, but that's not the case in the real world, as I learned during that time. Regardless, it was our family's business, and the way we chose to handle ourselves is our own business. It has nothing to do with why my daughter's head was found in a bucket for God's sake. Oh my god…
Detective Armstrong: Mrs. Daniels, do you want to take a few minutes to collect yourself?
Bonnie Daniels: No, I— no. I'm all right. I'm sorry. Please go on. I want to help.
Detective Armstrong: Ma'am, in order to find out who killed your daughter, we have to go back as far as we can. We need to follow her trail and find out who along the way might have harmed her.
Bonnie Daniels: She was harmful to herself. Rather than going on her journey and becoming strong, like her father and I hoped, she left home and became irresponsible. Living a vagabond's life and abusing drugs and alcohol. And Satanic nonsense. I shudder at the thought, you understand.
Detective Armstrong: Had you had any contact with Laurie recently?
Bonnie Daniels: I took a call. It must have been nearly six weeks ago now? It was Laurie. She was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of all places, and was raising money to come home.
Detective Armstrong: She wanted money from you?
Bonnie Daniels: She practically demanded, but… I was distraught. And, oh, when she talked to me. She had ice in her voice, and she said the strangest things. I– I could barely understand her. It was like a vicious stranger had taken over. I began to cry, and she got upset with me. She said— oh, I can't do this.
Detective Armstrong: Take your time.
Bonnie Daniels: She said she'd see me in hell before she asked another favor from me. Can you imagine?
Detective Armstrong: That must've been hard to hear.
Bonnie Daniels: If I sound hateful toward my daughters, well, I'm not. Not at all. I'm just angry and suffering from immeasurable grief.
Detective Murphy: Why are you angry?
Bonnie Daniels: Because I don't deserve this! I don't deserve any of this! I don't deserve to lose one daughter to a transient stranger. I don't deserve to have the police come here and interview me about my other daughter without telling me why. I don't deserve to have those same police come right back to tell me that the head found in a bucket that everyone in town has been talking about is my daughter's. And I don't deserve to then be put through the agony of discussing the details of both of my daughters' disappearances from my life. It's all too much! Too much for one person to endure! And then there's Bart, bless him. He's dying, and I'll be the only one left.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know Laurie had come back to Oxford?
Bonnie Daniels: No. But how do you know she was even here? I mean before… before you found her? How do you know that… what happened didn't happen somewhere else and then— how do you know?
Detective Armstrong: Well, ma'am, it's a possible scenario that we need to investigate. Is there some reason you think we should look for someone out of town?
Bonnie Daniels: No. I don't know. I just can't believe she'd— that she'd come home and not tell us. I just…
Detective Murphy: Mrs. Daniels, do you have any information about what Laurie had been doing since she left here?
Bonnie Daniels: All I know is what Forrest Burgess told me. He went to visit her in New Orleans probably a year ago. He came back and told me terrible things. I don't believe him. He's just as bad. If you could see this boy…
Detective Murphy: You don't like him?
Bonnie Daniels: He used to be sweet. He used to be an angel, just like Laurie. They were perfect. That's why we didn't object when they got engaged so young. But now he has those same eyes — raccoon eyes, I call them. He's blitzed on drugs and booze too. They all are, the children of the world today. The world is sinking into filth. I'm scared to be here. I haven't slept for the fear….
Detective Armstrong: What exactly did Mr. Burgess tell you?
Bonnie Daniels: He… they seemed to think she was a witch or voodoo priestess or something of that sort. She was carrying on with an older man, some kind of witch hunter or witch doctor. I don't know. Forrest can tell you more, and by all means, you should question that young man. You should put him in jail is what you should do. He's a sex-starved maniac.
Detective Armstrong: What makes you say that? Did he ever make sexual advances on you?
Bonnie Daniels: He'd never do that to me, but he has that look in his eye. Oh, God, what have we become? How could they saw up my poor baby girl like that? Oh, God...
Detective Murphy: You said, "they seemed to think" Laurie was a witch. Who is "they"?
Bonnie Daniels: Forrest and the girl he went to New Orleans with. I don't know her.
Detective Murphy: Do you know her name?
Bonnie Daniels: No, I'm sorry. I don't know anything. I don't know my daughter. I don't know what kind of life she was leading. I don't know the people she was close to. I don't know anything.
Detective Armstrong: Okay, Mrs. Daniels, that's enough for today. We'll be in touch. And if you think of anything that might help us, I hope you'll call us right away.
Bonnie Daniels: Of course. Thank you.
Interview ended – 11:57 a.m.