Kristina McCarthy interview
Saturday, March 6, 2021 – 4:00 p.m.
Kristina McCarthy was Daniel Collier's art teacher at Yoknapatawpha High School.
Detectives Magee and Beckwith interviewed her at her residence.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Kristina McCarthy
Detective Magee: Good afternoon, Ms. McCarthy. Thanks so much for finding time to meet with us today.
Kristina McCarthy: Certainly. It's no problem. Would you like something to drink?
Detective Beckwith: We're fine, thanks, ma'am.
Detective Magee: We'd like to ask you a few questions about one of your former students, Daniel Collier, but first, we'll need your name and address for the record.
Kristina McCarthy: Absolutely. My name is Kristina McCarthy, and the address here is 610 Webb Street, Oxford.
Detective Beckwith: Do you live alone?
Kristina McCarthy: No, my husband Peter is around here somewhere, along with my two spoiled feline companions, Rembrandt and Monet. Watch that Rembrandt He likes to cuddle whether you want to or not.
Detective Magee: Okay, consider us warned. Ms. McCarthy, what do you do for a living?
Kristina McCarthy: I've taught art at Yoknapatawpha High School for the better part of the last twenty-one years.
Detective Magee: Do you have any other school duties?
Kristina McCarthy: I set up the homecoming and spring art fair displays at school. I am the advisor of the art club on campus.
Detective Beckwith: When did you first meet Daniel Collier?
Kristina McCarthy: When Daniel was a freshman and a sophomore, I would see him in the hall, but I didn't know his name. So much of the time, he was a walking zombie, a dour little lump. Don't let it get back to the school, but my colleagues sure didn't help him early on.
Detective Beckwith: What do you mean?
Kristina McCarthy: Well, most of them ignored him. Take Whitwill, for instance. That guy never teaches a thing. He was hired to coach football, and that's why he's still around. The school day for him consists of his students fixing his personal junkyard heaps. I know Danny, for one, resented that.
Detective Beckwith: How do you know?
Kristina McCarthy: He told me. We'd have some deep conversations about his relationships with other teachers when he was a junior. Like how Miller—you know, our former biology teacher—used to send him to the office for wearing black and tried to get him suspended for one of his art projects that critiqued one of Miller's favorite politicians. Remember, you didn't hear it from me, but YHS is much better without the man.
Detective Magee: Ms. McCarthy, the man was murdered.
Kristina McCarthy: And may God bless his troglodyte soul. Anyway, Danny turned his life around under my wing. It's like I always say, "Art Saves!"
Detective Beckwith: Why was it that Daniel needed saving?
Kristina McCarthy: When he started his junior year, he was having problems at home. Something about his guardian, Mr. Gayle, not providing him enough freedom. I didn't pry. It didn't seem like he was being physically abused or neglected, so I let it be, unlike Pettis.
Detective Magee: Pettis?
Kristina McCarthy: Marlowe Pettis. She teaches Psychology at school. She performed her own little amateur diagnosis on Danny, and, bam, he was hauled down to the school shrink. Completely unnecessary and counterproductive.
Detective Beckwith: Did he confide in you about how the school was managing his mental health?
Kristina McCarthy: No, not specifically. I first had Danny in class that first semester of his junior year, so I saw there was no change in his disposition after the Pettis "intervention" that October. He was the same dour lump he'd always been.
Detective Beckwith: So what did you do, if anything?
Kristina McCarthy: I got him into art club, of course! I told him that he needed to spill the emotions he had on canvas, or they'd eat him alive.
Detective Beckwith: Did he listen?
Kristina McCarthy: He did. And his turn-around was amazing. He became the best artist YHS has ever seen, and trust me, there have been some great ones over the last twenty-one years.
Detective Beckwith: How did Daniel interact with the other art club students?
Kristina McCarthy: Fine, as far as I could tell. My darlings are so busy creating that they don't really have time for feuding.
Detective Beckwith: Did you have any interactions with Daniel after he graduated from YHS?
Kristina McCarthy: Yes, he came back to see me to say hi now and again. I also arranged for his art to be displayed several times at C'est Belle Gallery downtown. I have a friend there, so I pulled a few strings, as they say.
Detective Magee: Who's the friend?
Kristina McCarthy: Her name is Lila Lawson.
Detective Magee: Did Daniel ever express a willingness to leave Oxford?
Kristina McCarthy: Yes. He began to sell his pieces displayed at C'est Belle to some bigwigs from Atlanta. Can you believe it? So he had this thought that if he could get to New York, the world would be his oyster. I had always told him not to dream small dreams.
Detective Beckwith: Did you help make his dream a reality?
Kristina McCarthy: Well, let me be frank. I was hoping Danny would stay in Oxford since his work was good for C'est Belle. They always told me they loved having his work there. But Danny had his heart set on going to the Big Apple, and who was I to stop him. I helped him develop a truly spectacular art portfolio to show off his talents.
Detective Magee: When did you last see him?
Kristina McCarthy: Personally?
Detective Magee: Yes.
Kristina McCarthy: Early December of last year at C'est Belle.
Detective Magee: What was the nature of your conversation at that time?
Kristina McCarthy: We were just working on his art portfolio. He mentioned being apprehensive about telling Mr. Gayle that he was leaving soon for good.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Kristina McCarthy: He anticipated a knock-down, drag-out fight about it with Mr. Gayle.
Detective Beckwith: Do you know if that argument actually occurred?
Kristina McCarthy: No. You could check with Sharon Hathaway about that. I don't know her really, but Danny talked about her living at their home in Alesville as Vince's girlfriend. I don't think Danny saw her as a mom. He referred to her as "Sharon." I don't think that I overstep my bounds when I say that I was the closest thing Danny had to a mom. That is until he left for New York.
Detective Beckwith: Has he tried to contact you since December?
Kristina McCarthy: No, but I saw on the computer—Facebook or something—that he was becoming quite successful in New York. I'm sure he'll call or visit soon.
Detective Beckwith: So you're not concerned that he's missing?
Kristina McCarthy: Not in the least. He wanted his freedom, and now he's free and happy, I'm sure.
Detective Magee: Do you recognize any of these individuals from this picture?
Kristina McCarthy: Sure.
Detective Magee: Which ones?
Kristina McCarthy: Let me see … There's Devin Hurst, smart fellow. He used to be in the art club at the same time as Danny. There's Keanu May. He's graduated too but was never in any of my classes. He had a bad reputation as a druggie while in school, probably deserved it. And Axyl Floyd there.
Detective Magee: Axyl?
Kristina McCarthy: Oh, his first name is actually Alex, but he went by Axyl—self-nicknamed, no doubt. He was a huge slacker in school, always thought he'd make it big with his metal band. I don't know why anyone would want to listen to that mindless screaming.
Detective Magee: Any others?
Kristina McCarthy: Nope, that's all. What's the matter, Rembrandt? You want up?
Detective Beckwith: One more thing. What were you doing between January 2nd and January 6th?
Kristina McCarthy: Peter and I went to Seattle to visit my brother and his family over the holiday break. We came back late on the 4th, which was the Monday before I had to be back at work. Teachers started back on the 5th, and the students came back the next day.
Detective Beckwith: When did you leave Oxford?
Kristina McCarthy: The day before Christmas Eve, December 23rd.
Detective Beckwith: Do you still have your plane tickets?
Kristina McCarthy: I do, actually. I was going to add them to the scrapbook. I always make a scrapbook whenever we go on vacation. They're right in here. I'll get them for you … Here you go.
Detective Magee: Okay, Ms. McCarthy, I think we're done for now. Thanks again for your time.
Kristina McCarthy: It was my pleasure. Have a good evening.
Interview ended – 4:27 p.m.