Vaughn Roberts interview
Monday, July 17, 2023 – 5:07 p.m.
Vaughn Roberts is an assistant principal and coach at Yoknapatawpha High School.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Vaughn Roberts
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in, Mr. Roberts. I'm sure today has been a difficult day.
Vaughn Roberts: You got that right. It's never easy when a student passes, and this … well, the kids have been struggling.
Detective Murphy: We'll try not to keep you too long. We just want to get some information about Katy Brown, but first, could you state your name and address for us?
Vaughn Roberts: My name is Vaughn Monroe Roberts, and I live in Oxford at 407 Lark Run.
Detective Murphy: Thanks. Now, tell us about Katy.
Vaughn Roberts: What do you want to know?
Detective Murphy: Whatever you can tell us about her. What kind of student was she?
Vaughn Roberts: She was an excellent student. 3.8 GPA.
Detective Armstrong: You know her GPA off the top of your head?
Vaughn Roberts: If you'd asked me Friday, no, but Katy's been on all of our minds today.
Detective Murphy: Aside from academics, what was Katy involved in at school?
Vaughn Roberts: Well, she was a cheerleader, of course. She was on the student council last year. She was on the honor roll. She was a peer counselor. To tell you the truth, I'd love to have a hundred like her—until this happened, anyway. I wouldn't wish this on my most challenging student.
Detective Armstrong: You're responsible for student discipline at the high school, aren't you?
Vaughn Roberts: That's right.
Detective Armstrong: Did Katy ever have any disciplinary issues?
Vaughn Roberts: Katy herself? No, never.
Detective Armstrong: We heard she slapped another student. She didn't get in trouble for that?
Vaughn Roberts: She did? I never heard that. Are you sure?
Detective Murphy: You said Katy herself didn't have any disciplinary issues. Was she involved with student discipline in some other way?
Vaughn Roberts: Well, Katy wanted everyone to be the best they could be, and when she thought someone was falling short, she took steps to change that.
Detective Armstrong: Meaning?
Vaughn Roberts: Don't misunderstand me. Katy was a lovely girl, and I certainly don't want to speak ill.
Detective Armstrong: Understood. Bottom line it for us?
Vaughn Roberts: When I was a kid, we would've called her a tattletale.
Detective Armstrong: Got it. Did that upset any of the other students?
Vaughn Roberts: We don't tell a student who turned them in for an infraction.
Detective Armstrong: Right, but they know anyway, don't they?
Vaughn Roberts: Sometimes. I'd say they weren't happy about it, but I don't know that anything ever came of it. No one ever said anything to me, and I never heard of anyone confronting Katy or anything along those lines.
Detective Armstrong: But you didn't know about Katy slapping someone, so maybe not everything that happens gets back to you.
Vaughn Roberts: That could be. That could be. But you don't think another student did this to Katy, do you?
Detective Armstrong: Do you?
Vaughn Roberts: Lord, I hope not.
Detective Murphy: Aside from reporting these student infractions, did Katy ever complain to you about anything else?
Vaughn Roberts: Not Katy, but her grandmother called. Said a homeless man had been hanging around, making Katy uncomfortable. She asked us to keep an eye out for him around the school.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever see him?
Vaughn Roberts: I did once, yeah. I saw him hanging out back on the outskirts of the practice field. At first, I thought he might be a scout from a rival team trying to see what our football players were practicing, but he turned out not to be.
Detective Murphy: You spoke to him?
Vaughn Roberts: I did. He said he was just watching cheerleading practice and wasn't hurting anyone. I told him that only students and school personnel were permitted on school grounds, and everyone else had to check in with the office first. I offered to walk him to the school office so he could check in if he wanted to stay, but he said he'd rather go, so I watched him leave the school property, and that was that.
Detective Murphy: When did this happen?
Vaughn Roberts: It was not long after football and cheerleading practices had begun, so probably about a couple weeks ago or so?
Detective Murphy: Did you ever see him again after that?
Vaughn Roberts: No, I don't think so.
Detective Murphy: Did you get his name?
Vaughn Roberts: He said it was Bernie.
Detective Murphy: Did you get the impression that he was homeless like Mrs. Fennelly thought?
Vaughn Roberts: Hard to say. I don't think he was living in any mansion, but I'd say he'd bathed relatively recently. His clothes were worn but not filthy. You know what I'm saying?
Detective Armstrong: Was that the first time you'd heard from Katy's grandmother?
Vaughn Roberts: About something like that, for sure, but we've talked a few times over the years Katy's been a YHS student.
Detective Armstrong: How would you characterize Katy's home life?
Vaughn Roberts: Oh, I wouldn't really know. Parents seem nice enough. Brother's a good kid who's still trying to find his way. I never saw Katy acting out in a way that would suggest trouble at home.
Detective Armstrong: What about her boyfriend?
Vaughn Roberts: Tim Howorth? What about him?
Detective Armstrong: You know him pretty well since you're a football coach, right?
Vaughn Roberts: I guess you could say that.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever see any signs of trouble between him and Katy?
Vaughn Roberts: Now, you just stop right there. Tim is a good kid and an outstanding athlete. He had nothing to do with Katy getting killed. I guarantee it.
Detective Armstrong: How can you be so sure?
Vaughn Roberts: Because I know him.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know him when he assaulted those students in the gym a few years ago?
Vaughn Roberts: I'm not legally allowed to talk about that incident, but if I were, I'd tell you that nothing that happened that day was Tim's fault. You're just trying to implicate him because he's her boyfriend, and I'm not going to participate in that.
Detective Murphy: We have to ask the question, Mr. Roberts. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't. I'm sure you understand.
Vaughn Roberts: If you publicly implicate him in Katy's death, he could miss the rest of the football season, and that would almost certainly tank our chances of making it to state this year.
Detective Murphy: I'm sure you can also understand that that's not our top priority in this situation, but we'll take your thoughts about Tim into consideration.
Vaughn Roberts: See that you do.
Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you saw Katy?
Vaughn Roberts: Friday after practice. She came by the school office for something and poked her head in to say hi.
Detective Armstrong: You weren't at the Cheer Up event on Saturday?
Vaughn Roberts: No, that was between Holly and Helen Reade over at the middle school. No need for me to be involved.
Detective Armstrong: So, where were you on Saturday morning?
Vaughn Roberts: You're asking me for an alibi?
Detective Murphy: We're asking everyone, Mr. Roberts. You understand.
Vaughn Roberts: Well, my answer will disappoint you. I was at home. Alone.
Detective Murphy: Did you see or speak to anyone?
Vaughn Roberts: I was mostly cleaning up the house, doing laundry, all the things I don't have time to do during the week, but I may have made a call or talked to someone online. I don't recall.
Detective Murphy: If you were conducting this investigation, who would you speak to?
Vaughn Roberts: None of my students would've done this, so I'd look elsewhere. Maybe look for registered sex offenders in the area or something like that.
Detective Murphy: Okay. Thanks for your input. We may need to talk to you again as the investigation progresses. Will you be available?
Vaughn Roberts: Of course. Anything I can do to help resolve this. The students are taking it very hard, and it'll be good for them to have some closure.
Detective Murphy: We understand. Thanks again for coming in, Mr. Roberts. We'll be in touch.
Interview ended – 5:42 p.m.