Tuesday, March 3, 2020 – 2:25 p.m.
Following lengthy negotiations with Geoffrey Frye, the Daniels family attorney, the detectives were able to schedule another interview with Bart Daniels.
Because of Mr. Daniels' poor health, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked to him at his residence in the presence of his attorney.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Bart Daniels
- Geoffrey Frye
Detective Murphy: Thank you for agreeing to talk with us again, Mr. Daniels.
Geoffrey Frye: Detectives, before we go any further, I just want to remind you of the conditions we agreed to for this interview. As you can see, Mr. Daniels is not well. You will keep this interview as brief as possible, and you will not upset him. In his condition, he cannot take any unnecessary stress. Are we agreed?
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Frye, we've already told you we'll do the best we can to make this as quick and painless as we can.
Geoffrey Frye: Fine. If Mr. Daniels becomes upset or overtired, I will terminate this interview.
Detective Murphy: Just for the record, Mr. Daniels, would you state your name, age, and address?
Bart Daniels: Bart Daniels. I'm 52. I live here at 1305 Mesquite Drive in Tara Estates.
Detective Murphy: Thank you. Now, sir, if you could refresh our memories, when was the last time you saw your daughter, Laurie?
Bart Daniels: I haven't seen her since she left town back in 2013. I don't remember the exact date, but it was in January.
Detective Murphy: And you're absolutely sure you haven't seen her since then?
Bart Daniels: Yes, of course, I'm sure. When both of a man's children abandon him, he doesn't forget the last time he saw either one of them.
Detective Armstrong: So you must have been pretty happy when you found out she was coming back to town.
Bart Daniels: I didn't know she was coming. I wish I had. Maybe I could have done something to prevent what happened to her.
Detective Murphy: She didn't call you to let you know she was coming?
Bart Daniels: No, I'm sad to say she did not. I would like to have spoken to her, even if she didn't want to talk to me.
Detective Murphy: You think she didn't want to talk to you? Why not?
Bart Daniels: It's obvious she didn't want to talk to us, or she would have called sometime during those seven years. It breaks my heart. We never did anything but love our girls. The Lord doesn't mean for families to be separated the way ours was, but He also gives us the strength to deal with any adversity that comes our way.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever send Laurie any money at any time during the years she was gone?
Bart Daniels: No. We would have if she'd asked, but we didn't know where to contact her.
Detective Armstrong: So you didn't send her any money to pay for her trip back to Oxford?
Bart Daniels: No, we didn't.
Detective Murphy: Is it possible your wife had been in contact with Laurie and didn't tell you?
Bart Daniels: No, of course not. You have to understand. My wife doesn't like me to say it, but I know the truth. There's a good chance I'm not going to beat the cancer this time. Since it came back, my one wish has been to see my daughters again before I die, and Bonnie knows that. If she had talked to either of them, she would have told me.
Detective Murphy: You're sure about that? She wouldn't keep it from you to protect you if the conversation didn't go well? To avoid upsetting you?
Bart Daniels: She would never need to protect me from my own daughters.
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Daniels, why did you and your wife decide to go public with your allegations about Reggie Simms?
Bart Daniels: That bastard stole my baby from me. He defiled her, and then he stole her. Why wouldn't we tell the world what he did?
Detective Murphy: So the rumor that Melanie was pregnant when she disappeared is true?
Bart Daniels: What do you mean?
Detective Murphy: You said he defiled her.
Bart Daniels: I— no, that's not what I meant.
Detective Murphy: So she wasn't pregnant?
Bart Daniels: What are you trying to say?
Detective Murphy: In what way did Reggie Simms defile Melanie?
Bart Daniels: I— I don't—
Geoffrey Frye: Detectives, let's back off this topic. It's upsetting Mr. Daniels. Move on to something else.
Detective Armstrong: Are you aware that we spoke to Reggie Simms?
Bart Daniels: Yes.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know that he told us he hasn't seen Melanie since he was in Oxford in 2012? That she never went to Pittsburgh to see him after she left here?
Bart Daniels: He's obviously lying. Couldn't you tell that? What kind of detectives are you?
Detective Murphy: Mr. Daniels, how did you know Reggie Simms' name?
Bart Daniels: I don't understand.
Detective Murphy: When we spoke to you before, you indicated that you didn't know his name. How did you find out what it was so you could make your public accusations against him?
Bart Daniels: I don't know how I found out.
Detective Murphy: You need to do better than that.
Bart Daniels: I still have some connections in legal circles. I may not be practicing anymore, but people still know me, and people still owe me. You can find out anything if you just ask the right person.
Detective Murphy: Who did you ask?
Bart Daniels: It's not relevant, and I'd rather not say.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Daniels, don't play games with us.
Geoffrey Frye: He's not going to tell you. Move on.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Frye, we need him to cooperate with us. Does he want us to catch his daughter's killer or not?
Geoffrey Frye: I think Mr. Daniels is starting to get tired. Do you have any more questions you want to ask before we end the interview?
Detective Armstrong: When we talked before, you told us that Forrest Burgess had provided you with some information about Laurie's whereabouts in the past. What is your relationship with him today?
Bart Daniels: I— what do you mean? We don't have a relationship with him anymore.
Detective Armstrong: He gave the eulogy at Laurie's funeral. Why did you pick him to do that if you don't have a relationship with him anymore?
Bart Daniels: Bonnie and I were certainly in no shape to do it, and there aren't many people who remember Laurie as fondly and as vividly as Forrest does. We knew he would do her justice and not get sidetracked by any of the ugliness that some people claim she'd dabbled in after she left. Plus, he very much wanted to do it, and it turned out he was the perfect choice. His eulogy was very moving.
Detective Murphy: You know we've arrested him in connection with Laurie's murder?
Bart Daniels: Yes. As soon as I heard that, that's when I knew you people were on the completely wrong track. Forrest would never hurt Laurie. He loved her too much. I don't know how you got so fouled up in your investigation that you'd arrest Forrest, but I've been praying that the Lord will point you in the right direction.
Detective Armstrong: Thanks. We can always use whatever help we can get. So after Forrest told you about Laurie being in New Orleans and what she was involved in there, he didn't give you any other updates about her?
Bart Daniels: No. We were very upset by what he told us then. I honestly couldn't believe she'd do anything like that. He told us he was going to try to help her, but he never told us anything after that. I guess he wasn't able to help her.
Detective Armstrong: So he didn't tell you that Laurie was coming back to Oxford?
Bart Daniels: He— he knew?
Detective Armstrong: Yes, he did.
Bart Daniels: I— I can't believe that. He never told us, not even at the funeral.
Detective Murphy: Where were you on December 29th?
Bart Daniels: Why?
Detective Murphy: That's the day Laurie came back.
Bart Daniels: What? How do you know?
Detective Murphy: We're detectives. It's our job to know.
Geoffrey Frye: There's no need to be snide.
Detective Murphy: My apologies. Mr. Daniels, where were you that day?
Bart Daniels: Where I always am these days — here. I can't really get out anymore. I'm too weak to drive or walk very far, and I don't like… I don't like to be seen in a wheelchair.
Detective Murphy: There's no shame in using a wheelchair.
Bart Daniels: I just… I prefer not to.
Detective Murphy: Fine. So you were home all day and all night on December 29th?
Bart Daniels: Yes.
Detective Murphy: And on the 30th?
Bart Daniels: The same.
Detective Murphy: Can anyone verify that?
Bart Daniels: Bonnie is here most of the time. She goes out occasionally, but she can tell you that I was here.
Detective Murphy: With your poor health, she leaves you here alone?
Bart Daniels: I don't need a babysitter! Not yet, anyway.
Detective Murphy: So was she here with you all day and all night on those dates?
Bart Daniels: Probably. I don't remember exactly. With all the medications I'm taking, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember answering a phone call in the early morning hours of December 30th? Around 2:00 a.m.?
Bart Daniels: No. I take medication to help me sleep, so I wouldn't hear the phone even if it did ring. But no one would call us at that hour. It's uncivilized and rude.
Detective Murphy: Right. So if someone did call around that time, more likely, your wife answered the phone?
Bart Daniels: Yes, I suppose so, but she sometimes takes something to help her sleep too, so she might not hear it either.
Detective Murphy: Did you have any houseguests on those dates?
Bart Daniels: No, we haven't had houseguests in some time. No one wants to visit a house where someone is dying.
Detective Murphy: What kind of car do you drive?
Bart Daniels: Are you trying to humiliate me?
Detective Murphy: No, sir. We're just asking about your car.
Bart Daniels: I have a Cadillac, but I haven't been able to drive it for some time. Are you satisfied?
Detective Murphy: What color is it?
Bart Daniels: It's gray. What difference does it make? I haven't been able to drive it for weeks. Is that what you wanted to hear? That I'm so close to death that I can't even drive myself anymore?
Geoffrey Frye: I think we need to wrap this up now. Is there anything else?
Detective Armstrong: Yes. Mr. Daniels, this may be difficult for you, but we really have to ask, and we do need to hear your answer.
Bart Daniels: Okay.
Detective Armstrong: Some of Laurie's friends and some of Melanie's friends have… well, sir, they've told us that your relationship with your daughters may have gone beyond the traditional father-daughter relationship.
Bart Daniels: What are you saying?
Detective Armstrong: They said your daughters indicated that you had been improper with them. That you had—
Bart Daniels: That is outrageous! Who would tell you something like that? My daughters would never say that about me! I never did anything but love my girls, and anyone who says otherwise has a sick and twisted mind! I am— I cannot— I—
Geoffrey Frye: Okay, that's it. We're done here. I warned you at the outset that you must not upset him. You said you wouldn't, but I knew I shouldn't have trusted you. You'll need to leave the room now. Go downstairs, and I'll join you in a few minutes, and then you can interview Mrs. Daniels. Do not speak to her until I arrive. Is that understood?
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Frye—
Geoffrey Frye: That's all, detective. I cannot allow you to jeopardize Mr. Daniels' health.
Detective Armstrong: Fine. We'll continue this at a later time. Good day, Mr. Daniels.
Interview ended – 2:57 p.m.