Alden Puckett interview #2
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 – 7:00 p.m.
Alden Puckett is Hoyt Biffle's former mentor.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee talked to him again at his cabin outside Coldwater, Mississippi.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Alden Puckett
Detective Magee: Mr. Puckett, it's Detective Magee. We'd like you to come out to answer a few more questions.
Alden Puckett: A minute.
Detective Magee: And without any weapons, please.
Alden Puckett: All right, all right. I don't have a gun. Did y'all arrest Laughlin? I assume that's why you're here.
Detective Beckwith: Nope. I'm sure Laughlin and his wife are eating their TV dinners right about now.
Alden Puckett: What? But y'all promised! You said you were going to go arrest him.
Detective Beckwith: We said we'd look into him. We did, and he doesn't remember you a lick.
Alden Puckett: I'm telling you he's got it out for me.
Detective Magee: Zeke Evans doesn't seem to think so. He blew off the note you wrote to him about Laughlin coming for him. Makes me think that note was written to set up Chas as a scapegoat for Biffle's killing.
Alden Puckett: What do you mean? You still think I might have killed Hoyt?
Detective Magee: Well, Chas Laughlin never phoned in that threat against you earlier this month.
Alden Puckett: How do you know?
Detective Beckwith: We had the phone company pull your call history records from your landline for that day.
Alden Puckett: And?
Detective Magee: The call came from Hoyt Biffle.
Alden Puckett: What? Are you sure?
Detective Magee: Very.
Alden Puckett: But…
Detective Beckwith: This is looking really bad for you, Alden. Biffle threatens you, then a few days later, he ends up dead, and you're out here in the boonies, holed up with a shotgun.
Alden Puckett: I really thought it was Laughlin. I did. I'm telling you, I did.
Detective Magee: Then we have this email Hoyt wrote to his lawyer about cutting off his child support payments to his ex-girlfriend Birdie.
Alden Puckett: I don't know anything about that email.
Detective Magee: But you did know something about Hoyt cutting off the payments since Birdie's boyfriend caught you and Birdie discussing the situation on October 14th, four days before Hoyt's murder.
Alden Puckett: Don told you that? He wasn't there for that conversation.
Detective Beckwith: So you admit being at Birdie's house and talking to her on the 14th?
Alden Puckett: Yes, but we weren't plotting anything.
Detective Beckwith: What were you doing?
Alden Puckett: Birdie asked me to come over to talk about any legal options she might have.
Detective Magee: Why would she ask you about this? You aren't a lawyer.
Alden Puckett: That's what I told her. Then, she seemed to think I could talk to Hoyt and convince him to restart the payments since we were old friends.
Detective Magee: And did you try?
Alden Puckett: Yes, I begged him to reconsider. I told him that no matter what he thought about Birdie, he should think about Harry.
Detective Beckwith: The last time we were here, you said you hadn't talked to Hoyt in three weeks.
Alden Puckett: I hadn't. He wasn't answering my calls. I was begging him through voicemail on his cell phone. He never returned any of the calls.
Detective Beckwith: He wasn't interested in what you had to say because he'd already threatened you on October 8th, but you didn't know he was the one who made the threat?
Alden Puckett: Yeah, I guess. I told you I thought that threat came from Laughlin. In one of the messages I left for Hoyt, I even begged him to watch out for Laughlin's thugs coming for us. You can check his phone messages. It would show I'm telling the truth.
Detective Magee: We don't have the passcode to Hoyt's phone. Our people are working on it.
Alden Puckett: My cell is at my house. You can check that.
Detective Magee: Actually, we have your phone too.
Alden Puckett: How would you have my phone?
Detective Beckwith: Because we searched your house.
Alden Puckett: You searched my house? Why would you search my house? Oh, crap, was June there?
Detective Beckwith: Why? Are you worried that she saw the credit card statements for Harry's medical bills, or are you afraid that she saw the expensive watch Birdie gave you during one of your little trysts?
Alden Puckett: So you know everything then?
Detective Magee: Depends on how you define "everything." You tell us.
Alden Puckett: Birdie and I had an affair. It was years ago … and Harry is my boy.
Detective Beckwith: How do you know Harry was yours?
Alden Puckett: I always knew. Then, when the spots appeared on him, there was no doubt.
Detective Magee: Spots?
Alden Puckett: The cafe au lait spots on his skin. The ones like mine. I gave him my Legius syndrome.
Detective Beckwith: When did you find out about the spots?
Alden Puckett: I don't know. About six months ago, I guess.
Detective Magee: Is that when Hoyt started to suspect?
Alden Puckett: Probably, Birdie took Harry in for genetic testing, and right afterward, Hoyt stopped paying child support and started demanding a paternity test, which Birdie and I knew would reveal everything.
Detective Beckwith: So you and Birdie stalled by filing suit in court for the child support payments.
Alden Puckett: It was more Birdie's idea than mine. I told her that we didn't need Hoyt's money. I was already paying for Harry's atomoxetine prescription. I told her I would make sure that Harry was taken care of. Somewhere, down deep, I think she still wanted to be with Hoyt, and Harry was her last connection to him.
Detective Magee: From what Hoyt's lawyer told us, Hoyt already knew that you were Harry's father, which is why he called and threatened you.
Alden Puckett: I didn't know it was Hoyt that called. It never crossed my mind that it was him.
Detective Beckwith: Regardless, you knew Hoyt was going to take that paternity test, and that meant your wife would find out about your affair with Birdie. That gives you all the motivation in the world to kill Hoyt.
Alden Puckett: No. That's not true.
Detective Magee: And we should believe you after you conveniently left out all the important details about your love triangle?
Alden Puckett: How much does June know?
Detective Magee: We didn't tell her about the affair or Harry.
Alden Puckett: Thank God.
Detective Beckwith: Or that you are the prime suspect in Hoyt's murder.
Alden Puckett: Please, I didn't kill him. It doesn't make as much sense as you'd think. I knew I'd have to tell June sooner or later because I couldn't hide paying for Harry's medical bills that long. Killing Hoyt wouldn't cure poor Harry of Legius syndrome. What do I have to do to make you believe me?
Detective Magee: Find us a better suspect.
Alden Puckett: How would I do that?
Detective Magee: Translate this for us.
Alden Puckett: What is it?
Detective Beckwith: It's a coded journal we found at Hoyt's house. If he had secrets that got him killed, there's a good chance they'd be in this journal. Is it in a code you used back in your hacking days?
Alden Puckett: Er, maybe.
Detective Magee: Can you decode it?
Alden Puckett: Maybe, if I had some time. You could come back tomorrow, and I'll let you know.
Detective Beckwith: No, no. That's not how it's going to work. You're coming with us since there's no way we're going to leave our prime suspect with one of our best pieces of evidence. You can work on the decoding at the station.
Alden Puckett: Is that really necessary?
Detective Beckwith: Yes. Put your hands behind your back.
Alden Puckett: I don't want handcuffs.
Detective Beckwith: You're not in charge here. Hands behind your back.
Alden Puckett: I'll need my hands to decode that book.
Detective Beckwith: At the station, we'll take the cuffs off.
Alden Puckett: All right. Wait, Hank Clark!
Detective Magee: Who is Hank Clark?
Alden Puckett: He's one of my students at Ole Miss.
Detective Magee: And?
Alden Puckett: And he was in my office when I heard the news that Hoyt was killed. He could tell you I was in my office that afternoon. I can't believe I forgot about that. I was in such a blind rush to get hidden I totally forgot about Hank.
Detective Beckwith: So if we visit with this Hank, he'll confirm your alibi?
Alden Puckett: Yes, yes. The passcode to my cellphone is 09052018, so you can see that I told the truth about my messages to Hoyt. Now, can you take off these handcuffs?
Detective Beckwith: Later, down at the station.
Interview ended – 7:37 p.m.