Billy Lee interview
Monday, January 16, 2023 – 8:45 a.m.
Billy Lee worked on Veronica Smith's vehicle after her tires were slashed in December 2022.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Billy Lee
Detective Armstrong: Would you please state your name and address for the record?
Billy Lee: My name is Billy Lee. My address is 2222 Lee Loop in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Can you tell us your relationship to Billee's Auto Service?
Billy Lee: Yes, ma'am. I own the shop and work there nearly around the clock. Once I added the tow service, I couldn't seem to enjoy a quiet evening at home. Or a loud evening out.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know a Veronica Smith?
Billy Lee: Sure do. Put new tires on her car a while back.
Detective Armstrong: You remember all your customers by name like that?
Billy Lee: I try to. Makes them happy. But she was special. It's not every day you get someone with all four tires slashed.
Detective Armstrong: That's what she came in for?
Billy Lee: Yeah. Well, actually, I brought her in. Couldn't exactly drive it like that. Triple-A paid for the tow.
Detective Armstrong: How does that work?
Billy Lee: It's a rotation system. I'm the official Triple-A tow every sixth day. Just chance that her tow went to me instead of some other garage.
Detective Murphy: Did Dr. Smith not usually bring her vehicle to your shop?
Billy Lee: Nah. Her car was new, less than a year old. She probably brought it to the dealer for her regular maintenance. If I remember correctly, I was running a tire sale that week. The dealership would've jacked her.
Detective Murphy: What do you remember about the state of her tires?
Billy Lee: They were cut to ribbons. Some ant with a box cutter went to town on those rubber tree plants.
Detective Murphy: Do you still have her tires?
Billy Lee: 'Fraid not. I keep on top of the recycling. Otherwise, I'd be up to my chin in scrap.
Detective Armstrong: You said "box cutter." Do you have reason to think that's what was used on the tires rather than a knife, for instance?
Billy Lee: No, that was just the tool that leapt to mind. Have to say I like the image of an ant walking around on two legs wielding a box cutter. But then, that's me.
Detective Armstrong: Maybe you should introduce a mascot for your shop.
Billy Lee: I'm not sure I'd want an ant. Maybe a bulldog. Billee the Bulldog. That work for you?
Detective Armstrong: Sure.
Detective Murphy: What did Dr. Smith say about her tires being slashed?
Billy Lee: If I recollect, she wasn't too happy. 'Course, most people who end up in my shop aren't too happy. But then I imagine you're familiar with that feeling, you being the police.
Detective Murphy: And here I was thinking you were thrilled to come down here today.
Billy Lee: Coming here did give me a reason to turn off my phone, but I'll still be glad when the door hits me on my way out.
Detective Armstrong: Did Dr. Smith say who might have slashed her tires?
Billy Lee: Not to me.
Detective Armstrong: Did she mention whether anything like that had happened before?
Billy Lee: Is that why you think she killed herself? When I saw the story in the paper, I thought it might have been a guilty conscience, killing that patient the way she did. Allegedly.
Detective Armstrong: When you changed the tires, did you check for or notice any other damage to the car?
Billy Lee: I didn't, really. She wasn't a regular customer, and I've already got enough work.
Detective Murphy: Did she get her car back that same day?
Billy Lee: The car sat in the shop overnight, actually. I was still on call for tows, but the shop was closed already. We took care of it first thing the next morning.
Detective Armstrong: How did Dr. Smith get home?
Billy Lee: A friend of hers.
Detective Murphy: Man? Woman?
Billy Lee: Woman.
Detective Murphy: Did you get her name?
Billy Lee: Nope. She never got out of the car that I saw.
Detective Murphy: The next day, when the car was ready, did you take it to her?
Billy Lee: She came and picked it up. Same friend gave her a ride, I think.
Detective Armstrong: Do you see a lot of slashed tires?
Billy Lee: Can't say I do.
Detective Armstrong: You remember the last time you had one?
Billy Lee: Long enough that I couldn't tell you when. But you never know, especially the way things are these days. Someone down on their luck ties one on, sees a fancy car, decides the scales need to be balanced.
Detective Armstrong: You heard any talk about anything like that happening?
Billy Lee: Wouldn't y'all know that better than me?
Detective Armstrong: People don't always notify the police about something like that, but they do always get their cars fixed.
Billy Lee: That's true. But I haven't heard nothing like that.
Detective Murphy: What was your impression of Dr. Smith?
Billy Lee: She was angry about being inconvenienced. She struck me as the kind of lady that was accustomed to getting her own way. I remember thinking, insurance or not, she's not going to have to pay this bill out of her own pocket.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever hear from her again after you replaced her tires?
Billy Lee: Nope.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else about this you haven't mentioned yet? Anything about the car or Dr. Smith?
Billy Lee: Like what?
Detective Armstrong: You tell us.
Billy Lee. Can't think of a thing.
Detective Murphy: All right. Thanks for coming in. If you remember anything else, please give us a call.
Interview ended – 9:03 a.m.