Friday, March 5, 2021 – 4:45 pm.
Vincent Gayle is the guardian of Daniel Collier.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee interviewed him at his Alesville home.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Vincent Gayle
Detective Beckwith: Good afternoon, Mr. Gayle. I'm Detective Beckwith. Detective Magee and I would like to ask you a few questions about the break-in at your home this morning.
Vincent Gayle: Yes, sir, go ahead.
Detective Beckwith: First, l would like to get your name and address for the record.
Vincent Gayle: My name is Vince Gayle, and the address here is 3 County Road 169.
Detective Beckwith: Thank you. Were you at home this morning at the time of the break-in?
Vincent Gayle: No. I was working today at Voight's Heating and Cooling. I had two calls for home service, both on the east side of Oxford. The sheriff's department called to tell me about the situation around noon.
Detective Magee: What did they tell you?
Vincent Gayle: That Brandon Ebner, one of Daniel's friends from school, broke into the house, and some things might have been stolen. I was at one of the service calls and couldn't come home right away until I made a repair for the homeowner, so I called my girlfriend, Sharon, to go to the house to meet with the officer.
Detective Magee: Did you come home directly from the service call?
Vincent Gayle: I had to stop back at Voight's quick, drop off some tools, and then I immediately headed home. By that time, the police were gone.
Detective Beckwith: Where was Sharon at the time of the break-in?
Vincent Gayle: She was out. I think she said she was running an errand, shopping maybe.
Detective Beckwith: Where was anything taken from your home?
Vincent Gayle: No.
Detective Beckwith: We should probably do a search in order to establish that nothing was taken...
Vincent Gayle: I don't think that that's necessary. I mean, Brandon crowbarred Daniel's bedroom window but never really bothered anything when he got inside. If he didn't get caught, I wouldn't even have known that he was in the house. It's so strange, too, since he knew Sharon and I had installed a new alarm a few weeks back.
Detective Magee: How so?
Vincent Gayle: I told him so. He had been coming around at different times asking questions about Daniel. I kept telling him that Daniel was in New York. He wouldn't take that for an answer. One day, he even tried jumping up to look in the garage window. I told him not to jump up on the house like that since it could set off the alarm.
Detective Magee: Why was he trying to look into the garage window?
Vincent Gayle: To see if Daniel's car was gone, which it was. I know Brandon was pretty upset about Daniel leaving, but for the life of me, I wouldn't think that he'd go and break into my house. I've always thought Brandon was a pretty good kid. Guess I was wrong.
Detective Magee: Tell me more about Daniel.
Vincent Gayle: I'm Daniel's guardian, have been since his parents died in 2012. He's the closest thing I've had to a son in my life. I don't have any other children.
Detective Magee: Have you been married?
Vincent Gayle: No. Not against it. Just haven't had the opportunity.
Detective Magee: Sure, I understand. How are you related to Daniel?
Vincent Gayle: Well, we're not related by blood. His folks were my best friends. When they died in an accident, the only blood relative Daniel had who was close to him was his Grandma Collier. Unfortunately, Grandma Collier had Alzheimer's and was forgetting things like who Daniel even was.
Detective Beckwith: So Daniel came to live with you?
Vincent Gayle: Yes, for the last eight years. He's 20 years old now.
Detective Beckwith: You said he has since moved out?
Vincent Gayle: You could say that. He up and left. He has a mind of his own. I couldn't stop him from leaving any more than Brandon could.
Detective Beckwith: You mean you thought he should stay with you, even though he was 20?
Vincent Gayle: No, no, if he was going to get his own place in Oxford, that'd be one thing, but he got in his mind that he was going to be some kinda big-shot artist one day—I blame that art teacher of his—so he decided to go to New York City without any real plan.
Detective Magee: When did he leave?
Vincent Gayle: Just after New Year's. He took off on January 2nd, I believe.
Detective Magee: What time?
Vincent Gayle: At night some time. After 7:00 p.m., I guess. Sharon and I were at a bible study when he left. When we got back, he was gone. Never even got to say a word to him.
Detective Beckwith: Where did you go for the bible study?
Vincent Gayle: Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Church. That's our church.
Detective Magee: What was he wearing when he left?
Vincent Gayle: Hell, I don't know, probably a t-shirt and jeans.
Detective Beckwith: How did Daniel leave? By car, plane?
Vincent Gayle: Car.
Detective Magee: What kind of car was it?
Vincent Gayle: A 2015 Infiniti.
Detective Magee: Does Daniel own it?
Vincent Gayle: Yes, sir. It was his, bought and paid for. He even paid his own insurance.
Detective Beckwith: Did you ever express your feelings to Daniel about him leaving for New York?
Vincent Gayle: I did. After Christmas, the 26th or 27th of December, he talked to me about it for the first time. He said he was thinking about leaving Mississippi, that he had to "find himself." I told him he didn't need to leave to find himself. Whatever he was going to find out, he could find out right here.
Detective Magee: What was his response?
Vincent Gayle: He said that no one knows art in Alesville. If you were going to make it, it would have to be in the big city like New York. I pointed out that Oxford's pretty big, that it has Ole Miss.
Detective Magee: Was he receptive to possibly enrolling at Ole Miss?
Vincent Gayle: Not at all. He said that I was being a "huge anchor" and that I never cared about his dreams. That hurt me, and I lost it. I told him that his daddy was plenty successful in little ol' Oxford. I knew I shouldn't have said it right as it was coming out of my mouth.
Detective Magee: What did Daniel say?
Vincent Gayle: He never said a thing, only mean-mugged me something fierce and then walked out the door, got into his car, and squealed away.
Detective Beckwith: Where did he go?
Vincent Gayle: Don't know. He was home the next morning, though. Still giving me the silent treatment.
Detective Beckwith: Did you attempt to continue the conversation over breakfast?
Vincent Gayle: I didn't. I knew he was going to a New Year's party that weekend at a cabin at John Kyle Park, so I wasn't going to push him over the holidays. Then, right after New Year's Day, he was gone. Never really got to say a word to him.
Detective Beckwith: Do you know what cabin he went to for New Year's Eve?
Vincent Gayle: Nope.
Detective Beckwith: Do you know who else was out there?
Vincent Gayle: I don't.
Detective Magee: When was the last time you spoke with Daniel?
Vincent Gayle: I don't know, sometime in February. He doesn't call. He talks over the computer, on Facebook, you know, social media. And when he does, he's short and to the point.
Detective Magee: Is that unusual?
Vincent Gayle: It makes me think that he doesn't have a place in New York and is bumming public wifi at a library or a McDonald's. It's like he doesn't want me to know that he hasn't "made it" yet. He doesn't want me to say, "I told you so."
Detective Beckwith: So, do you have any idea where he's staying in New York?
Vincent Gayle: No. I've never even been there myself.
Detective Magee: Did Daniel ever say he was going to go there with any other people? Like Brandon Ebner or another friend?
Vincent Gayle: No, not to me. And Brandon is still here in Mississippi. Now you guys aren't thinking of charging him with something serious for the break-in, are you?
Detective Beckwith: That's up to the District Attorney, not us.
Vincent Gayle: Okay, I just hate to see him starting his adult life with this kind of strike against him.
Detective Magee: You can refuse the complaint against Brandon. That'll let the DA know you aren't interested in pursuing the charges. If that's what you want to do, you'll have to sign a form to that effect.
Vincent Gayle: I remember doing some dumb things when I was his age. I'd like to sign that form.
Detective Magee: I understand. Give us just a moment. I think we have one of those forms in the car.
Vincent Gayle: All right.
[INTERVIEW SUSPENDED – 5:11 p.m.]
[INTERVIEW RESUMED – 5:17 p.m.]
Detective Beckwith: Okay, the charge will be 97-17-23, burglary. You fill in these parts here and here, put your address there, and sign.
Vincent Gayle: Do I have to give a reason for why I don't want to press charges?
Detective Beckwith: Yes, that's how this works.
Vincent Gayle: Okay … there, finished.
Detective Magee: I think we're through here, for now, Mr. Gayle. If we need more from you, I trust you'll be willing to help us out in the future.
Vincent Gayle: Sure. Anything you need.
Interview ended – 5:28 p.m.