Wednesday, February 26, 2020 – 11:01 a.m.
The detectives contacted Roy Strong by telephone at his residence in Florida to talk to him about his recent visit to Taylor and his brother, JC Strong.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Roy Strong
Detective Murphy: For the record, please state your name, age, address, and occupation.
Roy Strong: Let's see. My name is Roy Strong, 46. I live at 459 Sea Line Road here in Florida. As for my occupation, well, you name it, and I've probably done it. At the moment, I'm unemployed.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Strong, did you visit your brother, JC, in Taylor, Mississippi, within the last three months?
Roy Strong: Yes, it's true, detective. I like the country air every now and then. Lot fewer screaming wives out there in the country, you know.
Detective Murphy: What dates were you in Taylor?
Roy Strong: Hell, I don't remember dates. I got no idea.
Detective Murphy: Guess.
Roy Strong: Well, my in-laws were coming after Christmas, so I headed up to Taylor the day after Christmas, I believe.
Detective Murphy: Okay. And how long did you stay?
Roy Strong: Couple weeks.
Detective Murphy: While you were visiting, did you witness anything bizarre or unusual?
Roy Strong: Sure, I did. That's why I go to Mississippi. That's why I love it. I'm a connoisseur of all things bizarre and unusual.
Detective Murphy: Anything specific?
Roy Strong: Let's see… I saw an armadillo eating out of a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Old Taylor Road. I met a fella who told me he was throwing a party in the sewer because he and some buddies were looking for buried treasure. I met a lady who told me she lost a finger in a photocopying accident. Sure enough, she was missing an index finger. That the kind of stuff you want to know?
Detective Murphy: Let's focus on Taylor and the people there.
Roy Strong: Look, I'm not going to get into anybody's business. If I start gossiping about those folks and you police go down there harassing them, they ain't going to have me back in Mississippi. Now, if there's something specific I can tell you about?
Detective Armstrong: Did you notice anything strange near Taylor Creek?
Roy Strong: Let's see, yeah. Yeah, I guess I can tell you this. I was having a little smoke on the front porch there at JC's, and I notice this smoke rising up out of the trees over by that creek. It wasn't huge or nothing. Just looked like maybe a campfire. Or hell, maybe it was fog.
Detective Murphy: What time was this?
Roy Strong: I don't generally trouble myself with watches or clocks, but I'd estimate it was around 1:00 or 2:00.
Detective Murphy: In the afternoon?
Roy Strong: Naw, in the morning.
Detective Murphy: Did you see an actual fire or just smoke?
Roy Strong: Just the smoke.
Detective Armstrong: Could you tell where it was coming from?
Roy Strong: Hard to tell from where I was and the state I was in, but I'd say it was coming from across the street over by the creek, a good ways back from the road.
Detective Armstrong: Did you check it out?
Roy Strong: Well, I was going to walk down there, and I went inside to put my shoes on, but there was some dirty movie on the TV, so I sat down to watch a little and passed out. Next morning, I took a little walk and went down that way and didn't see nothing, but I didn't get off into the creek. I just stood by the road and looked down there. It's a beautiful creek. It really is.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever hear any gunshots in the area?
Roy Strong: No, no gunshots. Aside from mine.
Detective Armstrong: Yours?
Roy Strong: I shot JC's gun off a time or two. There's moccasins back in the pond behind his house. I got the gun and fired off a couple of rounds in there to scare 'em. I hate snakes, man.
Detective Armstrong: What kind of gun does JC have?
Roy Strong: You mean, what kind doesn't he have? Oh, Lord, I couldn't tell you. He's got a gun closet full. I'm not a big weapons man myself, but like any man, I get off on shooting those things, you know. I guess this one I was using was a .44 pistol maybe.
Detective Armstrong: Does he shoot these guns often?
Roy Strong: Aw c'mon. They're for sport. He shoots deer with them. It's like a sport, you know. I remember when we used to take his pistol down to the creek there and toss our beer cans off one side of the bridge and walk over to the other and wait for them to float by, then just unload on them. It was a game. We pretended like we were border cops shooting at illegal aliens.
Detective Murphy: Was JC with you during your whole visit?
Roy Strong: Except when he was working, yeah.
Detective Murphy: So he was gone during the day, and y'all hung out at night?
Roy Strong: Naw, he works at night, driving the mail back from Memphis. Don't you know that?
Detective Murphy: So he was away at night and with you every day?
Roy Strong: I guess.
Detective Armstrong: We understand that JC had to go back to Memphis for truck repairs back in December. Did that happen during your visit?
Roy Strong: Yeah, okay. Now you mention it, I do remember that.
Detective Armstrong: Do you remember what you did that day?
Roy Strong: Let me see. I probably slept until noon or so, and then I think I went into Oxford for the afternoon. Yeah, 'cause I met up with some old buddies there, just people I knew of from previous visits.
Detective Armstrong: Who were they?
Roy Strong: You know Marshall Pidgin? He's the one. The rest of them, I just know first names. Anyways, me and Marshall were at The Roadhouse for a better part of the afternoon just sipping cold ones and swapping tales.
Detective Armstrong: And what about that night?
Roy Strong: I ended up back at the house before nightfall and just read, I think. Watched a little TV. I was asleep when JC got in around midnight or so.
Detective Armstrong: Did JC say anything about what he did in Memphis?
Roy Strong: I think he was bragging about hooking up with some dancer he knew up there. I don't really remember.
Detective Armstrong: Now, in relation to that day, when would you say you saw the smoke near Taylor Creek?
Roy Strong: Hmm. It seems like it was maybe a couple, three days after whatever day you said.
Detective Armstrong: Did you see any cars driving down near the creek and stopping?
Roy Strong: No, don't recall any cars. I wouldn't have been able to make them out from the road with my eyesight.
Detective Armstrong: But you could tell there was smoke?
Roy Strong: Yeah, well, I smelled it too. Then I put my glasses on and could see better. It was definitely rising up out of the woods.
Detective Armstrong: What kind of smell?
Roy Strong: Like fire, of course.
Detective Armstrong: Did it smell like just a campfire or like they were roasting hot dogs or what?
Roy Strong: Hell, man, I don't know. A fire's a fire to me.
Detective Armstrong: Did JC ever mention a girl named Laurie Daniels?
Roy Strong: No. Never heard of her. He mentioned plenty of chicks but never heard of that one.
Detective Armstrong: What about Callie Shivers?
Roy Strong: Oh yeah. I met her at one of the parties. Nice-looking gal, sure, but she's a lesbian. That's a never-ending source of frustration for JC. He was just steaming about it. But you gotta understand, JC is not generally a man of action. Unless his honor is threatened, he ain't going to mess with you.
Detective Murphy: Have you ever seen him behave violently?
Roy Strong: Oh, I've seen him pissed off, like anybody. Over the years, we've had our share of brawls in bars and, hell, with each other for that matter. I ain't never seen him go too far in hurting anybody though. And he ain't never hit a woman that I know of.
Detective Armstrong: What about Forrest Burgess? Does that name ring a bell?
Roy Strong: Nope. Seems like I would have remembered a highfaluting name like that.
Detective Armstrong: What made you come to visit JC on this particular occasion?
Roy Strong: My in-laws were coming. That was the big reason. Also, I just felt stagnant here. I'd been working on a tuna boat for about two months, and I'd had about enough of the sea. I needed to get further inland for a spell, and I always like to visit Taylor. Me and JC get along just great. He don't mind me crashing on his couch.
Detective Murphy: We heard from one of JC's neighbors that a man fitting your description was seen wading in the pond behind the house. Was that you?
Roy Strong: That jackass? Hell, yeah, that was me. Some jerk thinks he's going to tell me what to do? I don't think so. I'm a grown man, and he's yelling at me not to go in the water 'cause there's snakes in there like I'm some kid. I wasn't even going to go in the water till he said that.
Detective Murphy: So you went into a pond with snakes in it just because some guy told you not to?
Roy Strong: Look, there's a lot of people around today who think they can tell you what to do, but that doesn't work on me. And it wasn't like I was swimming laps in there or nothing. I just went in a little ways and walked around some. Not like I'm scared of a snake or two.
Detective Murphy: Wasn't it a bit cold to be going in a pond, even if it was just a little?
Roy Strong: Nah, it wasn't cold. It wasn't like Florida or anything, but it must've been 70 degrees or so. Warm enough that it wasn't no problem to show that guy what a jackass he was.
Detective Murphy: When was this?
Roy Strong: I told you I'm not good with dates. I don't even own a calendar.
Detective Murphy: Was it in December?
Roy Strong: Naw, it was a couple, three weeks ago.
Detective Murphy: So you visited JC again after December?
Roy Strong: Yeah.
Detective Murphy: Any reason you didn't mention it before?
Roy Strong: I'm mentioning it now.
Detective Murphy: What was the reason for your visit in February?
Roy Strong: My wife was having a baby shower for her cousin at the house. I had to get out of there.
Detective Armstrong: And that was the last time you saw JC? When you were in Taylor a few weeks ago?
Roy Strong: Naw, he was just down here.
Detective Armstrong: He was in Florida?
Roy Strong: Yeah, just left yesterday, I guess it was.
Detective Armstrong: How long was he there?
Roy Strong: I don't know. Couple, three days?
Detective Armstrong: You two must be really tight, spending so much time together.
Roy Strong: Well, you know how it is.
Detective Armstrong: Y'all have some sort of special occasion for him to come down?
Roy Strong: Nope.
Detective Armstrong: He just missed you after not having seen you for, what, two weeks?
Roy Strong: I guess he just wanted to spend some time at the beach, fun in the sun. You know.
Detective Armstrong: Uh-huh. Okay, Mr. Strong. Thanks for talking to us. We'll be in touch if we have any more questions.
Roy Strong: You betcha.
Interview ended – 11:51 a.m.