Reggie Simms interview
Saturday, February 29, 2020 – 6:40 p.m.
After locating Reggie Simms in Pennsylvania, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy traveled there to talk with him.
The detectives interviewed Mr. Simms at his residence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Reggie Simms
Detective Murphy: For the record, please state your name, age, address, and occupation.
Reggie Simms: Reggie Simms, 30 years old. I live at 115 South Wyatt Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I tend bar downtown.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Simms, would you describe your relationship to Laurie Daniels.
Reggie Simms: Laurie stayed in the spare bedroom at my apartment late last year from right around Thanksgiving to just after Christmas.
Detective Armstrong: So she was your roommate?
Reggie Simms: Kind of. I guess you could say we were romantically involved during that time too.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know her before then?
Reggie Simms: No, I did not.
Detective Armstrong: How did she approach you?
Reggie Simms: Well, you know, being a bartender, ladies come up all the time, but I had nothing better to do, so… yeah. She showed up at the bar where I work one night around 9:00 p.m. or so and, uh, essentially seduced me.
Detective Armstrong: How did she do that?
Reggie Simms: She opened a tab and started drinking, talking to me the whole time. She asked me when I got off work, and I told her 2:00 a.m. She invited me up to her room for more drinks, so I agreed.
Detective Armstrong: Just like that?
Reggie Simms: Hey, she was a striking young lady, and she was very interesting. We were having a good discussion about the state of affairs in this country. She was telling me about some of the more upsetting things she'd seen around the country, and I was intrigued.
Detective Murphy: What sort of upsetting things?
Reggie Simms: Let's see, she talked a lot about the anger she saw in young people today and how it was misdirected. She talked about a kid she knew who traveled around with her to music festivals, some kid who was severely beaten by some other people at a concert. She said the whole thing just started making less and less sense, that things were too out of control among the mass culture followers.
Detective Murphy: Anything else?
Reggie Simms: Uh, then she told me a story about a friend of hers in Texas who basically killed himself by drinking himself to death, how he had been pent up with this anger. We talked about these ideas and possible solutions for hours, and it just spread out in all different directions. Eventually, we took the conversation upstairs.
Detective Armstrong: That's a lot of talking.
Reggie Simms: I remember it being one of the most interesting and enlightening conversations I've ever had. We must've talked for like ten hours straight. And then she got familiar with me if you know what I'm saying.
Detective Murphy: Was this the start of your romantic involvement with her?
Reggie Simms: I suppose so, although I don't know how romantic we were. She seemed to feed off of my sexual energy. She even mentioned that, told me something like I was "embossed with lusty menace." I don't know what that meant, but I liked the sound of it. I told her she was pretty good too. But I don't think she was romantic.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean?
Reggie Simms: She just wasn't that kind of girl. She was intense and kind of crazy. And as it turned out, she was using me to get the scoop on her sister, Melanie.
Detective Armstrong: How do you mean?
Reggie Simms: Well, you can imagine my surprise when, about two days after I met her, she told me that her sister was Melanie Daniels—the same one I spent a little time with down in Oxford, Mississippi, so many years ago.
Detective Armstrong: How did you respond?
Reggie Simms: I got mad, and then kind of freaked out. It seemed like it could be a scary, demented thing like maybe she was some kind of Fatal Attraction psycho woman.
Detective Armstrong: What did you say to her?
Reggie Simms: Well, you know, hey, every guy wants to do sisters, so I just kept going. I'm a pushover when it comes to a pretty lady—psycho or not. Laurie was just the kind of freaky babe I was looking for at the time. I thought it was best to stick it out because the situation was getting interesting.
Detective Armstrong: She didn't ask about her sister right away when she first approached you?
Reggie Simms: No. I guess she was toying with me or something. It was strange how her mind worked, but that's what I liked about her. She was out there.
Detective Murphy: So you did, in fact, have a relationship with Melanie Daniels some years earlier, correct?
Reggie Simms: Right. Well, it was more like we hooked up, you know? I mean, I was a kid then. I was coming back from training for the Air Force. Me and some boys took a trip to New Orleans when it was all said and done, and on the way back, I stopped in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Why?
Reggie Simms: I had a friend once who lived there, and I wanted to see if he was still there, but he wasn't. I liked the town anyway, so I stayed a few days. I was at a bar there, and this cute little girl comes up and sits in my lap and is all playful.
Detective Murphy: This was Melanie Daniels?
Reggie Simms: I didn't know her name until later, but yeah.
Detective Murphy: You didn't notice she was too young to be in a bar?
Reggie Simms: She looked a little young, sure, but it was a college town… I didn't know. I mean, she did get in the bar, right?
Detective Armstrong: Okay, so she came over and sat in your lap. Then what?
Reggie Simms: Yeah, so she tells me about herself while I'm steadily buying her beers, and she's getting wasted. I ended up taking her to my motel room, and she conked out right there.
Detective Armstrong: And then what?
Reggie Simms: Nothing. Next morning she was gone, and she left me her phone number. She wanted me to call and take her out the next night, so I called her, and her father answered. He was none too pleased to hear my voice. He basically told me to go to hell, that he didn't like the sound of me. So I thought that was that, and I was all ready to pack up and head home.
Detective Murphy: But you didn't go home?
Reggie Simms: No, I was just about to go check out when she showed up at my door. She was going on and on about how she'd never made love and wanted me to show her. I let her in, and she started talking about her family life. A real screwed-up household.
Detective Murphy: And then what?
Reggie Simms: She took me to this big overpass outside of town where she liked to hang out, and we sat underneath it while she cried and talked my ear off. And we messed around a little, nothing much. I can see more on a basic cable show than I saw that night. You could show everything I did with Melanie on TV and not hear a word from the FCC.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Mr. Simms, before we get off on a tangent here, let's focus on that night in Oxford. You were under the bridge. The two of you messed around. Then what?
Reggie Simms: Then nothing. She went home. I went back to the motel, and I left town the next day.
Detective Murphy: Did you have any contact with her after that?
Reggie Simms: Yeah. Not a week later, she's calling me up telling me she's pregnant with my baby. Don't know how she got my number, and most importantly, don't know how she got the idea it was my baby. We didn't even do anything except kiss and fondle. I barely touched her, and that's the truth.
Detective Armstrong: You never had intercourse?
Reggie Simms: No way. She was too messed up, crying and everything.
Detective Armstrong: And that stopped you?
Reggie Simms: I think I was really just upset by her whole predicament. It wasn't like a sexy weekend affair or anything. For whatever reason, these sisters have—at two different times in my life—felt compelled to confess their weird, sad lives to me. Don't you find that kind of strange?
Detective Murphy: And why was that, you think?
Reggie Simms: Maybe it was because I could identify with them, coming from an abusive home too. Only my brother got tired of dad beating on us every day when we got home from school, so one day he brought home a pool cue and beat old Daddy down. Killed the old man in his own living room. Now my brother's doing life in the penitentiary in Trenton. So you see? We all been down in it. Just some more than others.
Detective Armstrong: From talking to either sister, what sort of abuse did you believe had gone on in their household?
Reggie Simms: Hatred. A lot of hate in that family. I remember one time when Laurie was talking to me and playing mind tricks with me, and I asked her how she could have such a slippery mind like that, and she told me, "Years of psychological, family freeze tag." Now, I don't know what that means exactly, but you can imagine. And what family doesn't play games with each other and act weird? We're all weird. But I think, personally, she was repressing some really bad experiences.
Detective Murphy: What made you think that?
Reggie Simms: Little things she said and ways she'd react when I touched her a certain way, she'd been handled before by somebody. Her baby sister was like that too, and that's all in that letter she sent me. That's why I don't care to recall it, you see.
Detective Murphy: What letter is this? Did you have more communication with Melanie Daniels after she called you and told you about her pregnancy?
Reggie Simms: Yeah, she called several times, just talking crazy. Then she sent me this big letter that told everything about her family life and about her wanting to run away to me.
Detective Murphy: What did the letter say?
Reggie Simms: She said her parents were blaming her and me for having a kid, knowing damn well it wasn't mine. It scared me to death. 'Cause, like a fool, I had given her my address. I had told her to come visit, but all that was before she started talking about carrying my baby. I didn't know if the girl was going to come up here and make me marry her, or go to the cops, or God knows what else. But before I had a chance to find out, I shipped out to Afghanistan.
Detective Armstrong: Did she say anything else in her letter?
Reggie Simms: Mainly stuff about how she couldn't take it anymore, living at home. Couldn't take the abuse. Said her dad was messed up, just not right. I really felt bad leaving her out in the cold, but it had done something to her head. We all have to walk boldly down our own paths.
Detective Murphy: Did the letter give any details about her relationship with her father?
Reggie Simms: Some. I don't remember it all to tell you the truth. But I gave it to Laurie, and after she read that, she really went off the deep end.
Detective Murphy: How so?
Reggie Simms: Stayed locked up in her room. She would get on the phone and yell at people, okay? It was hard not to eavesdrop. I don't know if I ever heard her have a civil conversation. All that anger she was talking about, it was her. She was all of those seething, violent kids.
Detective Murphy: Do you know who she was talking to any of those times?
Reggie Simms: I remember she called her mom—she had told me a few days before that she hadn't spoken to her in six or seven years—and the two of them were bickering like she'd never been away. I could hear her in the next room with the door shut.
Detective Murphy: Did you hear anything she said?
Reggie Simms: Laurie was telling her, "You're as crazy as Daddy! Why would I want to come home to that?"
Detective Murphy: Was that the only time?
Reggie Simms: She was on the phone another time talking about her dad to someone, I don't know who. It wasn't her mom, I don't think, 'cause she kept saying, "You gotta come up to Oxford and help me take care of him. This can't go unpunished. We gotta take care of him." And she wasn't talking about being his wet nurse. She meant, "Daddy's gotta go."
Detective Murphy: Do you recall any other conversations she had on the phone?
Reggie Simms: Yeah, just one. One night some guy called for her, which surprised me because I didn't think anyone knew she was here. I answered it, and he asked to speak to Laurie Daniels, so I told her, "Telephone." I hollered it through the bedroom door. I heard her pick up, so I hung up.
Detective Murphy: Do you have a landline?
Reggie Simms: No, I got a couple of those handsets that connect to my cell with Bluetooth.
Detective Murphy: So all these calls Laurie was making were on your cell phone?
Reggie Simms: Yeah.
Detective Murphy: Okay, so back to the guy who called her, did you hear anything they talked about?
Reggie Simms: Only her side. Whoever this dude was, she was arguing with him. She kept saying, "I don't need you. I don't want to see you." Something like that. I remember thinking, "What a life, to be surrounded by people trying to help you, but it's only people that you hate." But she wouldn't let me talk to her about it.
Detective Armstrong: Did she tell you why she was going to Oxford?
Reggie Simms: I didn't even know she was going back. After I gave her that letter, I thought she was going to go psycho. She locked herself up. We were having a real nice time until all that.
Detective Murphy: When did you give her the letter?
Reggie Simms: I gave it to her probably about a week or so before she left.
Detective Murphy: What did she do during that week?
Reggie Simms: Ranted and raved to herself. Made some phone calls to Oxford and to New Orleans.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know what numbers she called?
Reggie Simms: I've probably got that phone bill around here somewhere. I could look for it for you.
Detective Armstrong: That'd be great. When we're done talking. Did she ever call anyone before then? Before you gave her the letter?
Reggie Simms: No, I don't think so. Didn't show up on my phone bill if she did.
Detective Murphy: You say she left after Christmas?
Reggie Simms: Without a word.
Detective Armstrong: You didn't take her to the airport?
Reggie Simms: No way. She just up and left. Never heard from her again.
Detective Armstrong: Do you recall the exact date she left?
Reggie Simms: No. It was before New Year's. I know that.
Detective Murphy: What did she say about Melanie? Had she been aware of anything going on between Melanie and her father?
Reggie Simms: She knew, I think. She acted like she didn't, but it was something she expected. She really didn't say a whole lot, except asking a lot of cold, direct questions. Just like you're doing now. But when I gave her that letter, the questions came to a screeching halt. I guess that letter answered everything she needed to know. I don't think she spoke twelve words to me after that. God rest her soul.
Detective Murphy: You said she didn't talk to you much, but what did she say to you in those days after you gave her the letter?
Reggie Simms: One day—maybe a day or two after I gave her the letter—she asked me where the closest Walmart was. I guess someone was sending her some money.
Detective Murphy: What makes you think that's why she wanted to find a Walmart?
Reggie Simms: I don't know. I guess because it was something we'd talked about before, using Walmart to send money.
Detective Murphy: What was she doing for money before that?
Reggie Simms: I don't know. She had some, not a lot, but I don't know where she got it.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever see Melanie Daniels after you left Oxford? Ever hear from her when you got back from overseas?
Reggie Simms: Nope. Not a word. And that's just the way I wanted it. I mean, I didn't deserve any of the responsibility. I wasn't the father of that kid. I don't know what happened to Melanie.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know what happened to Laurie Daniels after she left here?
Reggie Simms: Not until you just told me.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever go back to Oxford after the time you met Melanie there?
Reggie Simms: Nope, no reason to.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know who might have wanted to hurt or kill Laurie?
Reggie Simms: I have no idea. I'm telling you, Laurie stayed at my place, and we were lovers in the off-hours. A little tender company, know what I mean? She stayed home all day while I was at work, and I can tell you some strange things were going on here.
Detective Armstrong: What do you mean?
Reggie Simms: I mean, I would come home most nights, and it smelled like wicked magic if you know what I mean. She was fond of chants and all that witchy stuff. She'd chant up a storm in her room, but it was like she shut it all off when she came to me, and I was glad of that. Matter of fact, I almost felt taken advantage of sometimes.
Detective Armstrong: Oh, really?
Reggie Simms: I mean, not that I wasn't getting my fair share for letting her stay. I just mean, well… she never really liked me much, I don't think. As much as we loved, I think it was all me, you know?
Detective Murphy: What kind of car do you drive?
Reggie Simms: Honda Accord.
Detective Murphy: What color is the interior?
Reggie Simms: Burgundy.
Detective Murphy: That's the same car you had when Laurie was here?
Reggie Simms: Yeah.
Detective Murphy: Did she ever ride in it?
Reggie Simms: Yeah, she took me to work a couple of times. I let her borrow it to run errands and see the city.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you. That'll be all for now. If we need to get back in touch with you, Mr. Simms, you'll be around?
Reggie Simms: I don't think I'm going anywhere for a while.
Interview ended – 3:47 p.m.