Chas Laughlin interview
Monday, October 23, 2023 – 3:00 p.m.
Chas Laughlin owns and operates Laughlin Automotive and Body Shop at 2522 University Avenue in Oxford.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee talked with him at his place of business.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Chas Laughlin
Detective Magee: Mr. Laughlin, can we get a moment of your time?
Chas Laughlin: Oh, no. Beckwith and Magee. Seems like whenever someone up and dies, you feel the need to stop by. I would think this would qualify as police harassment pretty damn soon.
Detective Magee: Mr. Laughlin, we don't want to be coming out here any more than y'all want us to.
Chas Laughlin: Great, then you can leave.
Detective Beckwith: Mr. Laughlin.
Chas Laughlin: Let me guess, y'all ain't leavin'. Aww, hell, then, can we make whatever this is quick? I still have a couple of hours of business here.
Detective Magee: Gladly. Name and address for the record.
Chas Laughlin: Charles Laughlin. I'm still at 310 North 16th Street here in Oxford.
Detective Magee: Thank you, Mr. Laughlin. I want to start back in 2006 and 2007.
Chas Laughlin: Ancient history.
Detective Magee: What can you tell us about Manny Thibodeaux?
Chas Laughlin: Never heard of 'im.
Detective Beckwith: Let's refresh your memory a bit. He owned Marin's Body Shop in Alexandria, Louisiana. You and he might have shared car parts a time or two. Does that ring a bell? Because if it doesn't, I'm sure we can start poking around and interviewing some of your old workers to see if—
Chas Laughlin: Oh, yeah, Manny. He was a nobody. Easy to forget.
Detective Beckwith: So, what was your relationship with him?
Chas Laughlin: No relationship. Just business. He'd call me up and ask if I had extra parts he could use. Then I'd sell 'em to 'im. That's what body shops do. It's no big thing.
Detective Magee: How often would you sell parts to Thibodeaux?
Chas Laughlin: I don't know. Maybe the boys would run down every couple of months. Thibodeaux wasn't my only buyer.
Detective Beckwith: Did Thibodeaux sell parts to you?
Chas Laughlin: Sure. None of this is illegal. If you need parts, you buy them.
Detective Magee: What do you know about the Smooth Aviator in Shreveport?
Chas Laughlin: Ha! Thinking 'bout takin' up strippin', Magee? Aren't you a little old for that?
Detective Magee: Just answer the question.
Chas Laughlin: The Aviator was Thibodeaux's money pit. As far as I know, he got conned into buying an old nightclub that was sufferin' from the constant noise of the Air Force base next door. He thought he could fix up the rathole. The rats thought different.
Detective Beckwith: Did he ask you for money to renovate the Aviator?
Chas Laughlin: Hell no. Wouldn't've given it to 'im if he did.
Detective Beckwith: Did you know that the FBI got Thibodeaux to flip in 2007?
Chas Laughlin: No kiddin'?
Detective Beckwith: Yeah, they put the heat on him for money laundering and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Chas Laughlin: You don't say.
Detective Beckwith: Did any of that stolen property end up out on your lot, Chas?
Chas Laughlin: I don't buy or sell anything hot. Y'all know that. But it never stops you from coming down here and accusing me of it. Well, like always, you ain't gonna get it to stick 'cause I don't steal or have my guys steal. It's the plain truth of it.
Detective Magee: What about Thibodeaux's forever vacation at the bottom of Catahoula Lake?
Chas Laughlin: What about it? I don't know who done it.
Detective Beckwith: Did the FBI come talk to you about it?
Chas Laughlin: Sure. I'll tell you what I told them—don't know nuthin’ about it.
Detective Magee: Did you ever have any amount of money stolen from you around that time?
Chas Laughlin: Nope.
Detective Magee: How about classic or collector cars? Did you ever have any of those stolen from you around that time?
Chas Laughlin: Nope.
Detective Beckwith: Did Thibodeaux have enemies in Shreveport?
Chas Laughlin: Must've. Sounds like you know more about that cat than I ever did. Can we be done here, or do you have more questions 'bout things that happened more than a damn decade ago?
Detective Magee: Where were you last Wednesday from approximately 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.?
Chas Laughlin: Right here at work. Any of the guys here could verify.
Detective Beckwith: Working late, Chas?
Chas Laughlin: Gotta make a dollar somehow.
Detective Magee: What do you know about Hoyt Biffle?
Chas Laughlin: Only that he ran that hottie house out by the university. And that he got himself killed last week … on Wednesday. Come on, you sonsasb******s. What next? You gonna try to pin the Kennedy assassination on me, too? Just so you know, I wasn't born then yet.
Detective Beckwith: We hit a nerve, I guess?
Chas Laughlin: Damn right, y'all would be sick of you too if y'all were in my shoes.
Detective Magee: Doth protest too much.
Chas Laughlin: What the hell language you speakin', Magee? I didn't take Latin or whatever at your fancy-pants college like you college girls did.
Detective Magee: So are you saying you had nothing to do with Hoyt Biffle?
Chas Laughlin: No. I didn't know the guy!
Detective Beckwith: Speaking of college girls, did you have a subscription to Hoyt Biffle's web service?
Chas Laughlin: Nope. Do I look like a computer guy to you, Beckwith? Biffle's show was probably too tame for me anyway.
Detective Magee: It seems you know more than you're letting on. You never met Hoyt around town?
Chas Laughlin: Nope. I'm telling you, I only know his reputation for messing with the local government and the religious prudes that hated him so much. Gotta admire him for that.
Detective Beckwith: Did Hoyt ever bring his car in for service?
Chas Laughlin: Half of Oxford has brought their cars in here. The boys take care of them. I don't yammer with the customers.
Detective Magee: So you're saying he could have been in?
Chas Laughlin: Or not. I wouldn't know.
Detective Beckwith: You could check.
Chas Laughlin: But I'm not going to. You want to open my books, Beckwith? Get a warrant.
Detective Beckwith: Want me to?
Chas Laughlin: I dare you to.
Detective Magee: All right, gentlemen. Mr. Laughlin, have you had any unusual run-ins with anyone in the last couple of weeks? Old acquaintances—friends or enemies?
Chas Laughlin: I don't do squat. I come to work, I go home to my wife. I get grub from The Roadhouse from time to time. That's it.
Detective Magee: Are you sure? Think about it a bit. You haven't been to The Blind Pig or Bouré or the Oxford Grillehouse recently?
Chas Laughlin: Why? Did you find some dead people there, too? Hell, any time someone kicks the bucket around here, I swear y'all got me on 24-hour surveillance anyway, so you would know if I did anything different than I usually do.
Detective Magee: So, is that a no?
Chas Laughlin: That's a no. And, no, I wasn't perched on the grassy-ass knoll in Dallas in '63, either. Are we through?
Detective Beckwith: For now.
Chas Laughlin: Good. Get out of my shop.
Interview ended – 3:23 p.m.