Frannie Grace interview
Frannie Grace has been the janitor at the Oxford Eagle for almost 20 years. She worked the night Monica Drum was shot to death.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
Thursday, July 18, 2019 – 2:00 p.m.
- Detective Murphy
- Detective Parker
- Frannie Grace
Detective Parker: Please have a seat, Mrs. Grace. I'm Detective Parker. This is Detective Murphy. Thank you for coming in.
Frannie Grace: Thank you. I just want to do my part as a citizen. Now you remember that I have to leave right on time. I've got to pick up my grandbabies from school, you know.
Detective Parker: Yes, ma'am. We'll definitely get you out on time for that. For the record, will you please state your name, your occupation, and your address?
Frannie Grace: My name is Frannie Hayes Grace. I live at 102 Nelson Circle, and I clean at the Eagle.
Detective Parker: Thank you, ma'am. Now, did you work at the Eagle the night that Monica Drum was killed?
Frannie Grace: Yes, ma'am. I've been working at the Eagle cleaning up the offices for twenty years now, since about 1999.
Detective Murphy: When we inventoried Ms. Drum's office after her death, it was … a bit messy. Can you tell us what her office was like typically?
Frannie Grace: Well, Ms. Drum was really a nice person, but she wasn't none too tidy, ma'am. She had magazines, papers, printouts all over the place, and I did my best to keep the place tidy, but it was really a hard job to do that.
Detective Murphy: How often did you clean Ms. Drum's office?
Frannie Grace: As often as I could because she didn't like me coming in there vacuuming, emptying the wastepaper baskets when she was working. She said it was hard for her to concentrate.
Detective Murphy: So how often would you say that you got to clean her office?
Frannie Grace: I'd say maybe twice a week if I was lucky. You know, sometimes I would wait till she left for the day so I could get in there and empty the garbage and vacuum, clean because sometimes the wastepaper baskets, you couldn't find them because there as so much trash in there. And Mr. Pegues did not like that at all. It drove him crazy.
Detective Parker: Did you ever find anything unusual in her wastebasket?
Frannie Grace: Unusual like what?
Detective Parker: Like used condoms or something like that?
Frannie Grace: Detective, the Eagle is a family paper. It is not a back alley bordello! I don't go around snooping in other people's garbage and looking for stuff like that. And I never found anything like that in her wastepaper basket or anybody else's at the Eagle.
Detective Parker: I'm sorry if I offended you, but you do understand that I have to ask these kinds of questions for the investigation.
Frannie Grace: Yes, Detective, I understand that, and I'm sorry. Your job must be kind of hard and messy, kind of like mine in a way.
Detective Parker: You could definitely say that. Now, Mr. Pegues told us that he ordered a thorough cleaning not long before Ms. Drum's death. Did you handle that?
Frannie Grace: Hoo-wee, Ms. Drum was fit to be tied over that! And Mr. Pegues told her to go home and not to interfere with any of that. It had gotten to be so bad to where I couldn't find the wastepaper basket. It was somewhere in there with all that trash. And we had to get the carpets cleaned as well too.
Detective Murphy: Why did Mr. Pegues want the carpet cleaned?
Frannie Grace: I don't know. They hadn't been cleaned in a while, and he knew my son-in-law had a carpet cleaning business, so he had him clean the carpets when I was done tidying up the desk.
Detective Murphy: Has Ms. Drum's office been cleaned like that before?
Frannie Grace: Occasionally, yes, ma'am, but we would do it when, you know, she would be out of town or doing some of her meetings that she liked to go to.
Detective Murphy: Did Mr. Pegues ask you to look for anything in Ms. Drum's office while you were cleaning it?
Frannie Grace: Mr. Pegues never asked me to snoop for him. No, ma'am. Uh-uh. No. I wouldn't do it.
Detective Parker: We found a couple of old coffee cups on the desk. Our labs show that one of them was almost two weeks old. How do you account for that in light of the thorough cleaning?
Frannie Grace: You said that these cups were on top of her desk?
Detective Parker: Yes.
Frannie Grace: I was never allowed to touch anything on the top of her desk. One time, I took away two empty pop cans. She saw that, and she was fit to be tied at me. She just chewed me out like there was no tomorrow. And in this little rant that she was doing, something came out about how some reporter had out-scooped her, and the reason for that is because someone threw away her notes. And since then, you never could touch the top of her desk. You had to leave it as is.
Detective Parker: Did that happen at the Eagle, the story notes being thrown out?
Frannie Grace: You know, I don't think so. She never let me touch anything on her desk, and I never did after I got my head chewed off by her.
Detective Murphy: When was the last time you cleaned Monica Drum's office before she died?
Frannie Grace: I think that would've been the day before. And I had stopped by her desk to see what was going on, and she was in there typing away, and she waved me away. So I went to clean the rest of the office, and when I came back, I know she was in there, but her door was closed, and I couldn't clean her office, so I just went home after that.
Detective Murphy: So what time was it when you left to go home?
Frannie Grace: I think it was about 2:00, maybe a quarter to 3:00. It's usually around that time when I leave.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember if anyone else was there in addition to Ms. Drum and yourself?
Frannie Grace: Yes. Let's see. Ernie was there, and he was walking around. His leg must've been really bothering him again, so he walks it off to get rid of the pain. Let's see. Shawn Sharp was there, but he had left earlier in the night. And then Kelly was there working on an article, but she had left just before I did. And then, of course, the boys in the press room running the presses.
Detective Murphy: Do you know which men were in the press room that night?
Frannie Grace: To be honest with you, Detective, I don't try and get to know anybody in the press room because it's not worth my time and effort, nor my energy. There's too many people in that room.
Detective Murphy: Why not?
Frannie Grace: They come and go. Some guys quit. Some get fired. They rehire new ones. They let go of the old ones, so—
Detective Murphy: Did you notice anything unusual as you were leaving that evening?
Frannie Grace: Well, I didn't see Ernie like I usually do because we always say goodbye to each other, and like I said, his leg has been bothering him lately, so I know he was probably walking the pain away. Excuse me. And there was a lot of cars in the lot that night as well.
Detective Parker: Did you recognize any of the cars?
Frannie Grace: Well, yeah, I sure did. Mine was the Impala. Ernie's was the Jimmy. Shawn Sharp had his cute little sports car. You know, what the make and the model is, I don't remember, but I also know that there was a blue and white, beat-up pickup truck in the parking lot too.
Detective Parker: Do you know whose pickup that was?
Frannie Grace: No, I honestly don't know, and it's been there enough, though. How much longer are we going to be because I really got to leave to go pick up my grandbabies?
Detective Parker: I understand, Mrs. Grace. We're just about through. You told us a little bit about how you got along with Ms. Drum, but how would you characterize your relationship with her in general?
Frannie Grace: Oh, she was a nice enough lady though, but just never cross her. She could be generous. Sometimes when they would order stuff in, you know, she would ask me if I wanted to partake in that. And she never looked down on me for being a cleaning lady like some of them did. I just knew not to disturb any of her stuff on her desk, and we got along just fine.
Detective Parker: Did she get along with the other employees?
Frannie Grace: Well, she, you know, had—argued with them and fights periodically, you know, disagreements.
Detective Parker: Who did she argue with?
Frannie Grace: Just about everybody: reporters, Mr. Pegues. You name it, she argued with them. Periodically, now, not all the time.
Detective Parker: You said before that she sometimes argued with Mr. Pegues about the condition of her office. Did she ever argue with Mr. Sharp or Mr. Hughes?
Frannie Grace: Sure she did. From time to time, she did. You know, I think she kind of considered Mr. Sharp as kind of a pest because I don't think she really liked him. But Mr. Hughes? I think she was kind of sweet on him. They talked more than they argued.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever see Ms. Drum's friends at the paper? Specifically, Nicole Grayson or Lori Schultz? Take a look at these photos.
Frannie Grace: Okay. I did see the girl with the short, brown hair come into the Eagle from time to time to visit Ms. Drum
Detective Murphy: Did you ever hear her argue with Ms. Drum?
Frannie Grace: Well, to speak of, no. The closest I ever heard of that young woman talking to her was like, you know, “C'mon, hurry up. Let's go.” She wanted to leave before Ms. Drum wanted to leave
Detective Murphy: That happened more than once?
Frannie Grace: Occasionally, it did. I think, you know, she was just kind of looking out her because they were friends and all, and Ms. Drum worked way too much.
Detective Parker: Did you ever see or hear Ms. Drum argue with anyone else, particularly late at night?
Frannie Grace: Oh, sure. The reporters. The press boys. Whoever was around. But, you know, there's something that's been kind of bothering me though for the last couple of months.
Detective Parker: What's that?
Frannie Grace: Late at night, when I was cleaning, I could hear her yelling to somebody in her room for all it was worth, and the door was closed.
Detective Parker: Was this person in her office with her, or were they arguing over the phone?
Frannie Grace: The person was in her office, and from what I could hear, it was a man.
Detective Murphy: Do you know who it was?
Frannie Grace: No, ma'am, I don't know who he was, but it was definitely a man's voice I could hear in there.
Detective Murphy: Did Ms. Drum ever call for help or ask Mr. Parrish to assist her during any of these arguments?
Frannie Grace: Not that I'm aware of, and I don't believe that she ever thought she was in danger. But looking back now, I wish I would've done something to help her.
Detective Parker: So you think that this man she was arguing with could've been her killer.
Frannie Grace: I suppose so. I reckon it's not much help, but—since I don't know who it was. I mean—
Detective Parker: Do you think you'd be able to recognize the voice if you heard it again?
Frannie Grace: I could listen and—but I'm not really sure.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever hear what they were arguing about?
Frannie Grace: No, I didn't. You know, when the door is closed, everything's really muffled. And then when I'm vacuuming and when the presses are rumbling, you can't even hear someone talking next to you, so it's really, really difficult. And especially when her door is closed, it's really hard.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Mrs. Grace. I know you have to go, so I think that'll do it for today. We may need to talk to you again after we check out some of the information that you've given us today.
Frannie Grace: Okay. I'll come back anytime you need me, detectives. I'm here to help.
Detective Parker: Thank you for coming in. We'll stay in touch. Thank you.
Interview ended – 2:24 p.m.