YCSD investigators spoke to members of the Yoknapatawpha High School staff in an effort to find information on the potentially-missing 20-year-old Daniel Collier.
The YHS faculty and staff were asked about the last interactions they may have had with Daniel Collier.
The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all the interviews conducted.
Langston Brown has been the principal at Yoknapatawpha High School for the last eleven years. As principal during all of Daniel Collier's high school years, Mr. Brown had numerous interactions with Daniel, most of them good. Mr. Brown remembers Daniel as a courteous kid and hard worker.
Particularly, Mr. Brown related a story about Daniel, when he was a junior, stopped a fight between two boys in the cafeteria. One of the boys, also a junior, was harassing a freshman, who was socially-awkward; Daniel stood up for the freshman.
All three of the young men ended up in Mr. Brown's office, where Daniel, who was normally very reserved, gave Mr. Brown and the YHS liaison officer an impassioned plea for protecting the students who were, in Daniel's words, "a little bit different."
Mr. Brown agreed with Daniel and the freshman's account of the incident. Later that freshman would start the Yoknapatawpha High's first chapter of Students against Destructive Decisions.
Mr. Brown said he had not had the occasion to speak to Daniel since his graduation in May of 2018. However, he knows Daniel has returned several times to speak with Ms. McCarthy, the art teacher, and Mr. Whitwill, the industrial arts teacher.
Steve Dutton has been an English teacher at Yoknapatawpha High School for the last eight years. Mr. Dutton was Daniel's English teacher during his sophomore and senior years. He characterized Daniel as a rather nondescript, quiet student as an underclassman.
Only when Daniel was a senior did Mr. Dutton see glimpses of Daniel coming out of his shell. Daniel wrote impassioned poetry, and sometimes it would appear in his paintings. Mr. Dutton recognized Daniel's poetic talent and encouraged him to recite it at some of the spoken word events at school, but Daniel always declined Mr. Dutton's invitations.
Mr. Dutton last talked to Daniel in the fall of 2019, when Daniel visited him at school to get help with an artist statement for one of his exhibits at C'est Belle Gallery.
Mr. Minyard has worked at Yoknapatawpha Middle School for seven years as the night custodian, and the last fourteen years as Yoknapatawpha High's head custodian, working alongside Sandra Pinion and Edward House.
Mr. Minyard's first encounter with Daniel Collier was when he caught Daniel chalking graffiti tags onto one of the school walls one night after hours during his freshman year. Even though Daniel ran from the scene, Mr. Minyard could still identify him from the photographs in the school attendance software.
Chalking it up to a minor freshman indiscretion, Mr. Minyard was lenient with Daniel. He asked Daniel to clean off the tags and speak to a middle school group at the end of the year on the importance of following rules as you enter high school.
Mr. Minyard said he was grateful that Daniel had mentioned him as one of his influences at one of his senior year art exhibits, however, he has not spoken to Daniel in any detail since he graduated.
Social Studies teacher
Marlowe Pettis has taught Psychology and Sociology for nine years at Yoknapatawpha High School. Ms. Pettis said Daniel was an average student when he took her Psychology class in the fall of his junior year.
Early on in the semester, Ms. Pettis thought that Daniel's grades were Cs because he'd procrastinate too long with his coursework, but then, when Daniel had a number of unexplained absences for three weeks in a row in October of 2016, Ms. Pettis' became more concerned with Daniel's mental health than his grades. She referred him to the school psychologist around Halloween that year.
In November, Daniel's grades improved when he became more involved in the Art Club at school. Ms. Pettis noticed that Daniel had more conversations in the hallway with more students than he had ever prior. She noticed a confidence in Daniel that she hadn't seen before. She believed that Daniel's junior year was his defining year.
Besides her one Psychology class, Daniel never took another of Ms. Pettis's courses. The last time she talked with Daniel, was in the summer of 2019 at C'est Belle Gallery when, by happenstance, she walked into the gallery while Daniel was putting up a new exhibit with Brandon Ebner. Both boys were in good spirits, believing that buyers from as far as Memphis and Atlanta were coming to Daniel's show that weekend.