Elizabeth Barton interview
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - 11:00 a.m.
Elizabeth Barton is a longtime friend of the Marshall family and attended the reunion at Wall Doxey State Park.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Elizabeth Barton
Elizabeth Barton: Hello, detectives.
Detective Murphy: Would you state your name and address for the record before we begin, please?
Elizabeth Barton: Of course. My name is Elizabeth Barton, and I live at 576 Webb Street.
Detective Murphy: Thank you. Why do you suppose we asked you to come in, Mrs. Barton?
Elizabeth Barton: Please call me Elizabeth. Or Liz. I think you want to know about Oscar Knight. Isn't that right? I read in the news you were looking for him.
Detective Murphy: Do you know Mr. Knight, Liz?
Elizabeth Barton: Sort of. I knew Oscar years ago when we went to school together. I hadn't seen him for years.
Detective Murphy: Does that mean you've seen him recently?
Elizabeth Barton: Oh, yes. I saw him at the Marshall family reunion up at Wall Doxey. I had no idea Oscar was going to be there. It was a complete surprise, and I didn't even recognize him at first. Steve pointed him out to me. The Marshalls are a large family, and there are always a lot of relatives and friends at their reunions. But this was the first time I remember Oscar being there.
Detective Parker: Who is Steve?
Elizabeth Barton: Steve Marshall. I've known him since school days, too. We were in the same classes. I've been to a lot of basketball games and parties with Steve. My family and his have been friends for many years.
Detective Parker: Did you have any sort of altercation with Oscar Knight at that reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: How in the world did you know about that? It wasn't a big deal, Detective. Oscar was just being obnoxious is all. I think he'd been drinking, and I just wasn't having any of it.
Detective Parker: Did he say something that upset you?
Elizabeth Barton: He said I was really looking my age. That isn't something that most people would say to a man, let alone a woman. It was rude. I told him he should leave the reunion before he embarrassed the family.
Detective Murphy: How did he respond?
Elizabeth Barton: He just laughed. He actually said it was nice to know I still cared.
Detective Murphy: Was he right? Were you trying to stop him from embarrassing himself?
Elizabeth Barton: Absolutely not. I don't care if he embarrasses himself. I just wanted him to do it away from me and the people I care about.
Detective Murphy: Was this typical behavior for him? Pushing people's buttons?
Elizabeth Barton: It certainly was when I knew him. I have no idea what he's like now, but he didn't seem like he's changed at all. He's always been like that, drunk or not.
Detective Parker: Was he drunk at the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: Not drunk maybe, but I think he was feeling it a little. The problem began when he wanted me to have a drink with him. I told him no, and he said I was still a prissy little thing. I told him he was just as overbearing as I remembered him and walked away.
Detective Parker: Did he try to stop you?
Elizabeth Barton: No, he didn't do that. I think he realized that would be a big mistake. He would've been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail if he'd done something like that. No, he just kept following me around, and I wasn't interested in talking to him anymore. I told him to do everyone a favor and leave.
Detective Murphy: So you knew Mr. Knight in school. How would you describe your relationship back then? Were you classmates? Friends? More than that?
Elizabeth Barton: Back then, Oscar and I were classmates and friends, sort of. I was young and naive, so to me, he seemed like an interesting guy. He was very smart, and he always talked about how he was going to be rich someday. I thought he was a pretty nice guy. But when I saw his true colors, I decided that he wasn't worth my time and told him I didn't want to be around him anymore.
Detective Murphy: And how did he take that?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't think it bothered him at all. I believe he left town shortly after that, and I haven't seen him since. Good riddance is what I said.
Detective Parker: You said you saw his true colors. What does that mean? Did he dump you or something?
Elizabeth Barton: I found out he wasn't the nice guy he was pretending to be. I was young and stupid. I'm a lot smarter now.
Detective Parker: You sound like you're still a little angry about that?
Elizabeth Barton: It was ages ago.
Detective Murphy: So how did Oscar seem to be when you talked to him at the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: At first, he seemed fine. We just made small talk about old times, but when I smelled alcohol on his breath, I started moving away from him. He didn't like it and started following me.
Detective Murphy: Why did he do that?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't know. Oscar always loved to aggravate people, so I assume that's why.
Detective Parker: What time did you get to the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: Oh, it wasn't too early, but it was before noon. I wanted to make sure I got there before everyone sat down for lunch, and I wanted to get my food on the table too.
Detective Parker: Do you know what time Mr. Knight got there?
Elizabeth Barton: No, I have no idea.
Detective Parker: What time did you leave the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: I left earlier than I normally would have, but I didn't want to run into Oscar again. I always love going to the Marshall reunion because I know so many of the people there. But after the unpleasantness with Oscar, my day was ruined. I didn't want to have to talk to him again, so I left around 3:00 in the afternoon. Pauline told me later that she had a run-in with Oscar, too.
Detective Murphy: Pauline?
Elizabeth Barton: Pauline Jones. She and I have been friends for 20 years.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you what happened between her and Oscar?
Elizabeth Barton: She said Oscar said something nasty about me, and she slapped him. I wasn't surprised that she would slap him. Pauline is a very loyal friend.
Detective Parker: Did she tell you what he said?
Elizabeth Barton: No, she said she wouldn't repeat it, but knowing Oscar, it was probably something crude and offensive.
Detective Parker: Did she tell you anything else he might've said?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't know. I think she said he was talking about meeting someone later that evening, but he seemed very secretive about it. As if anyone would care what he was doing.
Detective Parker: Did he say anything to you about meeting someone later?
Elizabeth Barton: No, not a word. But I didn't talk to him long enough for him to share any of his plans for the evening with me.
Detective Murphy: Have you seen Oscar since the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: No, and I hope I never do again.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else that you can remember that might help us in our investigation?
Elizabeth Barton: No. Since I left the reunion early, I didn't hear much. I just hope he won't come back to the reunion next year. I bet I'm not alone in that, either.
Detective Murphy: All right. I think we're done for now. If you remember anything else, please give us a call.
Elizabeth Barton: I will. Good day.
Interview ended – 11:21 a.m.