Callie Shivers interview
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 – 1:00 p.m.
After Forrest Burgess told them of Callie Shivers' connection to Laurie Daniels, Detectives Murphy and Armstrong contacted Ms. Shivers and asked her to come in for an interview.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed Callie Shivers at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Callie Shivers
Detective Armstrong: For the record, please state your name, age, address, and occupation.
Callie Shivers: My name is Callie Shivers. I'm 28, live at 325 CR 432 in Yocona, and I'm a professional singer.
Detective Armstrong: Where do you sing?
Callie Shivers: All around. I'm sure you've heard of my band, Kitten Sack.
Detective Murphy: Right. Would you tell us about your relationship with Laurie Daniels?
Callie Shivers: I always thought we were a pair of disenchanted souls, a couple of bare-naked butterflies floating on life's cold winds to more hopeful skies. We got matching tattoos to commemorate. See?
Detective Armstrong: That looks like one we saw on the deceased.
Callie Shivers: Laurie.
Detective Murphy: Yes.
Callie Shivers: Her name is Laurie. Not "The Deceased."
Detective Armstrong: I apologize. Ms. Shivers—
Callie Shivers: Will you please not call me that? I really hate it. Call me Callie or "hey, you" or anything, but—
Detective Armstrong: Fine. Look, Callie, we'll call you whatever you want. Just answer our questions, please, and let's not waste time haggling over vocabulary, okay? We want to know about your relationship with Laurie Daniels. Simple and straightforward.
Callie Shivers: Okay. We were friends.
Detective Armstrong: Is that all?
Callie Shivers: What are you saying?
Detective Armstrong: I'm just asking.
Callie Shivers: I thought you were trying to be respectful. Is this really necessary?
Detective Murphy: Okay, then. When did you meet Ms. Daniels?
Callie Shivers: I met her on the first day of Bonnaroo in 2014.
Detective Murphy: Bonnaroo?
Callie Shivers: It's a music festival in Tennessee.
Detective Murphy: How did you meet her?
Callie Shivers: I don't remember exactly. My band and I were touring, and I really got absorbed by the lifestyle. I can't say I liked it that much, but I was in it, and in that environment, you just bump into people. It's like a big family, I guess. In a way. I don't know. Everyone's so stoned out of their melons.
Detective Murphy: So you met her at Bonnaroo, and that was it?
Callie Shivers: No. We just really clicked. She ended up joining us on the tour for almost a year. We were never separated the whole time. We were, like, beyond soulmates. Like one soul. It was a beautiful thing.
Detective Armstrong: Did you use drugs with her?
Callie Shivers: Uh, yeah. We did. I just said that was the lifestyle.
Detective Armstrong: What drugs did you take?
Callie Shivers: Um, mainly pot and mushrooms. We took acid every now and then. Some ecstasy, coke, pills. Yeah, we did a lot. It didn't seem like it then, but it does today.
Detective Armstrong: Have you cleaned up?
Callie Shivers: Depends on what you mean by "cleaned up."
Detective Armstrong: Are you still taking all those drugs?
Callie Shivers: Look, I thought we were talking about Laurie. Do I need a lawyer or something? This is bull.
Detective Murphy: Let's focus on Laurie for now. How did long your relationship last?
Callie Shivers: On and off ever since, I guess. Until she came back here.
Detective Armstrong: When you say on and off, did you see her often?
Callie Shivers: After me and the rest of the band came back here, she stayed on the road, so I didn't see her as much obviously. I saw her a few times, and we talked on the phone occasionally, and we wrote to each other.
Detective Armstrong: You wrote actual letters back and forth?
Callie Shivers: Laurie doesn't—I'm sorry.
Detective Murphy: Take your time.
Callie Shivers: She loved sending me postcards. I would email her sometimes, but she never could keep a cell phone. She either lost them or didn't remember to pay the bill. Or didn't have enough money to pay it. So I never knew if or when she might get my emails.
Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you talked to her?
Callie Shivers: She called me and asked me to pick her up at the airport when she was flying into Memphis last month.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember the date?
Callie Shivers: Yes. She was scheduled to arrive on December 29th, and she called me the Sunday before that. Exactly one week earlier.
Detective Murphy: That's December 22nd.
Callie Shivers: If you say so.
Detective Murphy: What did she say during your phone conversation on December 22nd?
Callie Shivers: Let's see. She was wigging out of her mind. I hadn't heard from her in like nine months, and she calls me out of the blue, telling me that she had to come back to Oxford. It was an emergency.
Detective Murphy: Do you know where she was when she called?
Callie Shivers: She said she was staying with a friend in Pittsburgh, some guy who knew her sister. He obviously must've told her some horrible stuff about her sister, but she didn't go into it over the phone. Anyway, she was coming back and needed a lift from Memphis to Oxford. She emailed me her travel information.
Detective Murphy: Do you still have that email?
Callie Shivers: I don't know. Maybe.
Detective Murphy: Would you look for it when we finish here? And forward it to me, if you do have it?
Callie Shivers: I guess so.
Detective Murphy: You can send it to me. Here's my card. It has my email address on it.
Callie Shivers: Okay.
Detective Armstrong: So did you pick her up?
Callie Shivers: Well, no, because she called up like a couple days later and left a nasty message on my voicemail about how she didn't need a ride and didn't want to see me.
Detective Armstrong: Why did she do that?
Callie Shivers: I don't know. She'd really gone off the deep end. See, we had been fighting before all of this, so it was really weird to get all these schizophrenic calls from her. To be honest, I really just didn't think about it after that. I mean, I have a career and a life I'm trying to live. I kept thinking that I don't have time to worry about some fair-weather friend and her family problems.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do instead of picking her up on December 29th?
Callie Shivers: I remember that day because, actually, I did think about her. I got up around noon and went into town to run errands on the Square.
Detective Armstrong: Where did you go?
Callie Shivers: I think that was the day I went to Austins Music to get my guitar worked on. We had a gig the next week, and I wanted to make sure it would be ready in time. I was in there most of the afternoon. And I went to Square Books after that, I think.
Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you were with Laurie?
Callie Shivers: You mean like…?
Detective Armstrong: I mean, when did you see her last?
Callie Shivers: Oh. It was over Labor Day weekend in Jackson. She asked me to come to New Orleans, and I told her no, I wasn't going back there. So she got a suite in Jackson, and I drove down and met her. We just spent the weekend together.
Detective Armstrong: What did you two talk about?
Callie Shivers: It was a big catch-up time actually, so we talked about a lot. Mainly she was telling me about how she was going to look for her sister. She told me she was going north to find her. She seemed to be losing interest in voodoo, which had totally consumed her life the time I saw her before that. She was losing interest, just like she did with the music festivals. Just like she did with Forrest, her ex-fiancé.
Detective Armstrong: Right. Did she know where her sister was?
Callie Shivers: I don't remember, to be honest. I was being very selfish that weekend. I was still pissed about that last trip to New Orleans and how she refused to come back to Oxford, and we ended up fighting half of the weekend. Can you believe it? I didn't even listen to her. I actually told her not to bother looking for her sister because Melanie probably didn't want to see her anyway. Or worse, Laurie would've wished she hadn't seen her.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you where she was going after leaving Jackson?
Callie Shivers: Didn't get that far. Like I said, we parted on bad terms. That's why it was strange getting her call. After nine months, I figured we were done for.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you why she was coming back to Oxford?
Callie Shivers: No. Just that she had to be here.
Detective Armstrong: Did she talk much about the voodoo?
Callie Shivers: I heard quite a bit.
Detective Armstrong: Tell us when you found out about the voodoo.
Callie Shivers: It was during a trip to New Orleans. Me and Forrest went down there. He wanted to see her, and so did I. God, Forrest was such a geek. Just crazy about her. I didn't realize it until the ride down there. He wouldn't shut up. God, we both loved her.
Detective Armstrong: When was it you went to New Orleans with Forrest?
Callie Shivers: March last year. Like the weekend after Mardi Gras? But we weren't there the whole weekend.
Detective Murphy: So what happened on that trip?
Callie Shivers: We get down there, and she's given me some strange procedure to meet her. It was like, go to such-and-such street and wait behind this shop. I think it was a laundry or dry cleaners. She met us there and took us on this maze through different buildings until we're on the roof, and we climb down into this window, and we're in this guy's apartment.
Detective Murphy: What guy?
Callie Shivers: Her lover, Dr. Yah Yah. I think she was living with him, and it just disgusted me. He disgusted me. They were into some sick stuff, I can tell you. Forrest split almost immediately. He couldn't take it. And I didn't know what was going on at first, but then it became apparent that they were into some kind of voodoo.
Detective Murphy: What was going on?
Callie Shivers: Well, that afternoon, this Yah Yah character is banging all these women in the back of the apartment. Truly awful and gross. Then Laurie gives him a sponge bath when it's all over. That's when Forrest bailed. If I was smart, I would have too.
Detective Murphy: What happened next?
Callie Shivers: Then they ate some mescaline or something, and we all got into different cars and had a convoy going out to this bayou or something. Somewhere out of town. I wasn't participating, now. I was just watching from the fringes.
Detective Murphy: Okay. Go on.
Callie Shivers: Anyway, we got out to this field, and they started a big bonfire and started dancing around it, baying at the moon. This Yah Yah brought out a goat and maimed and killed it. He took its heart and passed it around, and they ate it. Then everyone was dancing more, really getting into it.
Detective Murphy: What did you do?
Callie Shivers: I almost got pulled into it. I'm telling you, I've never witnessed anything so powerful. I can see how it would turn out like that. I mean, it was so powerful, these chants and dances. They just got so into it. I ran off in the woods and hid until it was over. It quite literally scared the shit out of me.
Detective Armstrong: And Laurie was participating in this activity?
Callie Shivers: Oh, yes.
Detective Murphy: Did you talk to her about it later?
Callie Shivers: I asked her in general what she was getting out of this scene, and she told me the voodoo spirits moved inside of her. She said she believed that it gave her powers she needed to cope with her life.
Detective Murphy: How did you respond to that?
Callie Shivers: I said, "Look, if you want to practice this way, fine. Do what's right for you. But don't call me down here and ask me to be with you when you're going to eat a goat's heart right in front of me!"
Detective Murphy: So, what did you do?
Callie Shivers: Then? Nothing. Me and Forrest left the next day. We were going to stay longer, but after what we saw? We just wanted to get the hell out of there.
Detective Armstrong: Were you worried about what might happen to Laurie while she continued to participate in the voodoo?
Callie Shivers: To be honest, I think that was more than voodoo. I mean, there are all kinds of voodoo folk in New Orleans, and I guarantee they're not doing that stuff. Voodoo's not like that.
Detective Armstrong: What makes you think it was more than voodoo?
Callie Shivers: These people were on some heavy drugs. And this guy Yah Yah was definitely gone. I mean out of his mind. Out of this dimension even. I would be surprised if he was human. So yes, I guess I was scared for her, but I didn't let it get me down too much. I just channeled that frustration into my music.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever see Dr. Yah Yah hurt or threaten Laurie?
Callie Shivers: He rarely spoke, except in this language I couldn't understand. It was some kind of Creole or French-sounding language. He never hurt her, but he had some kind of mind control over her. He was scary.
Detective Armstrong: Did you do anything about it? Try to help your friend, Laurie?
Callie Shivers: Well… sort of.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do?
Callie Shivers: It sounds kind of crazy, but really I just wanted to help her. To help her see the truth about what she was involved in. You know, snap her out of it.
Detective Murphy: What did you do?
Callie Shivers: I… Well, I might as well tell you. About a month after we went to New Orleans, I hired a private investigator to find out about this Dr. Yah Yah guy. I just knew if I could show her how manipulative he was, she'd see him for what he was and get the hell away from him.
Detective Armstrong: Did it work?
Callie Shivers: Well, the PI found out some stuff, but I didn't tell her about all of it. The next time we talked, it seemed like she was getting out of the voodoo thing, and I didn't want to drive her back to it by making her think I was attacking her, you know?
Detective Armstrong: What did you find out?
Callie Shivers: That Dr. Yah Yah—I don't remember his real name—was bad news, just like I thought. He'd been arrested before and stuff like that. Had a habit of threatening people to get them to do what he wanted. I think I still have the file the PI gave me if you want to see it.
Detective Murphy: We would like to see it. You can drop it by here anytime, or we can come by and pick it up. So during your last encounter with Laurie in Jackson, you say she was through with voodoo even without the information you found?
Callie Shivers: She was a different person from the one I saw in New Orleans. Definitely more herself, but still more erratic and paranoid. It was a different kind of fear.
Detective Murphy: Did she talk about Dr. Yah Yah?
Callie Shivers: She mentioned him in passing, but there was something else troubling her. I'm pretty sure it was her sister.
Detective Armstrong: Did she talk about Forrest Burgess?
Callie Shivers: God, no. She didn't care a damn about him. And he was mad over her.
Detective Murphy: Who paid for the suite?
Callie Shivers: She did.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know how she got the money?
Callie Shivers: She told me she had made quite a bit of money selling gris-gris, which I guess is like some voodoo charm. She was working with this fortune teller, I think. They were probably swindling tourists. Anyway, she must have made some nice pocket change. She treated me to meals as well.
Detective Murphy: How long had Forrest Burgess been living with you?
Callie Shivers: I'm not sure. There are always people floating in and out. It seems like Forrest just floated in and never floated out. I remember him there a lot before we went to New Orleans, and after that, he was always there. I have two other roommates. The girls in my band.
Detective Murphy: Who are they?
Callie Shivers: Elke Seghers and Stephanie Woolworth.
Detective Murphy: Why did you ask Forrest to move out of your house?
Callie Shivers: After New Orleans, he kind of went downhill. I told you he had it bad for Laurie. He became obsessed with her. He tried to understand her lifestyle, even started getting into voodoo himself. I want to say he even went back to New Orleans a few times, and she jilted the hell out of him.
Detective Murphy: You know that for sure?
Callie Shivers: No, but either way, he became progressively more insane and impossible to live with. And, of course, he quit his job and couldn't chip in on the rent. So we told him to take a hike around the middle of November.
Detective Armstrong: We hear you're acquainted with JC Strong. May we inquire about your relationship with him?
Callie Shivers: Ha! Oh, my God. I have no relationship with that primate. What a perv!
Detective Armstrong: You don't care for him?
Callie Shivers: He always seemed to turn up everywhere I went there for a while. He even came over to my house one night with one of his weird buddies, and I asked him to leave. He's harmless, though. Just hitting on me. But I told him I wasn't interested in his white trash machismo. He couldn't turn me on if he had a 12-volt battery.
Detective Armstrong: But didn't you report obscene phone calls from him?
Callie Shivers: You know, who knows if they were from him? He's nothing. He's a maggot.
Detective Murphy: Okay, then. One more thing before we wrap up. Would you be willing to give us a DNA sample?
Callie Shivers: Why do you want that?
Detective Murphy: Just so we can rule you out. You know, since you yourself told us that Laurie asked you to pick her up at the airport in Memphis—
Callie Shivers: Yeah, but she changed her mind. I told you that too.
Detective Murphy: Yes, you did. But you also knew she was planning to come to town and when, so we just need to make sure that any DNA we find on the evidence doesn't belong to you. You understand?
Callie Shivers: Hey, I told you I haven't seen her for months. You want my DNA? Fine. You won't find anything.
Detective Murphy: Thank you very much. We appreciate your cooperation.
Interview ended – 2:16 p.m.