Wednesday, September 7, 2022 – 9:30 a.m.
Elizabeth Barton knew Oscar Knight when they were in high school and had an unfriendly encounter with him at the Marshall family reunion.
Detectives Murphy and Parker re-interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Elizabeth Barton
Detective Murphy: Good morning. Please state your name and address for the record.
Elizabeth Barton: I'm Elizabeth Barton, as you well know, and I live at 576 Webb Street. I'm sorry, but I haven't heard anything more about Oscar's death. That's what you want, right? I read in the newspaper where those body parts were Oscar's. Everyone's talking about it. What a horrible way to die.
Detective Murphy: I'm sorry you haven't heard anything else. We were hoping you could help us out with a few things.
Elizabeth Barton: I'm so sorry to disappoint you. I won't take up any more of your—
Detective Murphy: Last time we talked, you said Oscar was planning to meet someone after the reunion, and you weren't the only one who mentioned that. Do you know who he was planning to meet?
Elizabeth Barton: I really wouldn't have any idea.
Detective Parker: Where were you on the night of August 20th, Mrs. Barton?
Elizabeth Barton: I was at home most of the evening. Why?
Detective Parker: Did you leave at any time?
Elizabeth Barton: Why yes, I did.
Detective Parker: Did you go to the Rebel Inn to confront Oscar Knight about what he said to you earlier that day at the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: The Rebel Inn? You must be joking. Of course not. Never. I wouldn't give that man the time of day, let alone go visit. What can you be thinking?
Detective Murphy: Just answer the questions, Mrs. Barton.
Elizabeth Barton: That's a ridiculous question. But, no, I did not go to the motel to see Oscar or anyone else. Whatever made you think that?
Detective Parker: Where did you go that night if you didn't go to the Rebel Inn?
Elizabeth Barton: I went to the Huddle House. Can't a person go out in the evening without getting the third degree over it?
Detective Parker: Why would you go to the Huddle House?
Elizabeth Barton: I wanted to get out of the house. I was still a little jittery after all the reunion nonsense, and I couldn't take sitting around the house by myself anymore.
Detective Murphy: No one stopped by to visit you after you got home from the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: No. Oh, my son came by to check on me—he's such a good boy—but he didn't stay very long.
Detective Parker: What time did you go to the Huddle House?
Elizabeth Barton: I think I left the house around 11:00 p.m.
Detective Murphy: Did anyone see you there?
Elizabeth Barton: I went with Albert Plum, so he saw me. A lot of people saw me there, but since Albert and I were together, I guess that should be enough to prove I was there.
Detective Murphy: Do you go there with Albert often?
Elizabeth Barton: No, that was the only time. I just don't like going anywhere by myself, so I invited Albert.
Detective Murphy: Why would you choose Albert if you hadn't been with him before?
Elizabeth Barton: Why not? It was late, and I knew Albert was a night owl. I've known him for years. You know he owns the hardware store. He's a friendly guy and easy to talk to, so I just called and asked him if he'd like to go with me.
Detective Murphy: How long would you say you two were at the Huddle House that night?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't know. An hour or two.
Detective Murphy: That's a long time to spend at a restaurant, especially so late at night.
Elizabeth Barton: You think so?
Detective Murphy: Where did you go when you left the Huddle House?
Elizabeth Barton: Back home, naturally.
Detective Murphy: By yourself?
Elizabeth Barton: Why certainly, by myself.
Detective Murphy: Are you seeing anyone?
Elizabeth Barton: No. Why do you ask?
Detective Murphy: Well, due respect, it's been quite a few years since your husband passed. It's not unreasonable to think you might have someone special in your life now.
Elizabeth Barton: No other man could ever be what my Joe was to me.
Detective Murphy: Not even Albert?
Elizabeth Barton: Albert and I are just friends. We don't see each other that way.
Detective Murphy: What about Steve Marshall? The two of you are very close, after all.
Elizabeth Barton: That's disgusting. Steve is like my brother. And even if he weren't, he's a happily married man. Why would you even suggest such a thing?
Detective Parker: Do you know of anyone who would want Mr. Knight dead?
Elizabeth Barton: No, I sure don't. Like I told you, detective, Oscar has been gone from Oxford for a long, long time. Who could possibly have a grudge after all these years?
Detective Parker: You told us before that you knew Oscar in school. Isn't that right?
Elizabeth Barton: Yes. I was young. I didn't realize how despicable he really was.
Detective Parker: Were you more than just friends with him? Did you date him?
Elizabeth Barton: Now you're really reaching, detective.
Detective Parker: It's a simple question.
Elizabeth Barton: Fine. I'm ashamed and embarrassed to say that Oscar had me fooled—temporarily—just like he fooled everyone else he put on his fake face and attitude for. So, yes, I dated him a few times. But when I saw him for what he was, I dumped him.
Detective Murphy: So you broke up with him?
Elizabeth Barton: Of course I did. You think I'd let someone like him break up with me?
Detective Murphy: You two must've still seen each other around school, though, right?
Elizabeth Barton: I never had anything to do with him after that, and he left town soon enough. I was never so happy in my life to hear that someone had enlisted. That's where he belonged.
Detective Murphy: Why's that?
Elizabeth Barton: I thought maybe the military could take some of the brute out of him and make him a good man. But he was the same old Oscar, even after all these years.
Detective Parker: How close were you and Oscar back then, before the breakup?
Elizabeth Barton: I doubt anyone was ever close to Oscar.
Detective Parker: Mrs. Barton, you know that's not what I'm asking.
Elizabeth Barton: What you're asking is inappropriate and none of your business.
Detective Parker: I realize you may be uncomfortable talking about it, but—
Elizabeth Barton: But nothing. If this is all you want to talk about, dirty gossip and … unpleasantness from the past, then I'd like to leave. I have no intention of letting you pry into who I may or may not be dating now or who I may or may not have dated in the past.
Detective Parker: And by "date," you mean?
Elizabeth Barton: Don't be crass, detective.
Detective Parker: We just need to establish what kinds of relationships the people associated with this investigation have with each other and with Oscar Knight.
Elizabeth Barton: I've explained it the best I can. Oscar and I were friends for a short time, many years ago. That's all. If you can't understand that, I can't help you.
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in, Mrs. Barton. If we have any more questions, you'll hear from us.
Elizabeth Barton: I hope you're done with me completely after this. I barely knew Oscar, and what I did know, I didn't like. I don't know anything about him or what his life has been like since high school, so I don't see what else I can tell you. I'd help you if I could, but I just don't know anything. I hope you'll remember that before you bring me back in here to talk about a part of my life that I never wanted to think about again. Good day.
Detective Murphy: You have a nice day, Mrs. Barton.
Interview ended – 9:58 a.m.