Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – 3:00 p.m.
Chas Laughlin is the owner and operator of Laughlin Automotive and Body Shop at 2522 University Avenue in Oxford. Daniel Collier was his employee in 2020.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee interviewed him at his place of business.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Chas Laughlin
Detective Magee: Mr. Laughlin, I know it's getting late in the day, but Detective Beckwith and I would like a bit of your time.
Chas Laughlin: Oh, not walking a beat no more, Magee? I wondered why you stopped pullin' some of my boys over after bar time. Thought maybe you made your career DUI-quota early, but in truth, you made detective, huh?
Detective Magee: Cute. I can't imagine that I never ran into one of your boys in the five years I worked computer embezzlement cases as a detective. Perhaps your boys should spend more time working than drinking, and they wouldn't have the problems they do.
Chas Laughlin: You'll have to tell them. Hope they listen to you better than they do me. I'm pretty busy here. Can we make whatever this is quick?
Detective Magee: Hopefully, for all our sakes. Could we have your full name and home address for the record?
Chas Laughlin: I know the drill. Charles Laughlin. I'm still at 310 North 16th Street here in Oxford. My friends still call me "Chas." You all can call me "Mr. Laughlin."
Detective Magee: Thank you, Mr. Laughlin. You can call me Detective Magee. We're here to talk about one of your former employees, Daniel Collier. He did work for you, didn't he?
Chas Laughlin: Yeah, for a few months.
Detective Beckwith: Let's get more specific. When did you hire Daniel?
Chas Laughlin: Sometime in April of last year.
Detective Magee: Were you looking for help?
Chas Laughlin: I wasn't lookin'. Buck brought him in.
Detective Beckwith: Buck?
Chas Laughlin: Buck Buchanan. The oldest body guy here.
Detective Beckwith: What made you give Daniel a job?
Chas Laughlin: Old Buck doesn't work as fast as he used to. And the kid worked for minimum wage.
Detective Beckwith: What did he do at the shop?
Chas Laughlin: Odds and ends. Oil changes, a few brake jobs, paintin'. He made a helluva name for himself over the summer custom pinstripin' cars and Harleys. I told him if he brought in extra business, maybe there'd be a bonus in it for him.
Detective Magee: Did he earn the bonus?
Chas Laughlin: Ha! Well, he brought in the extra business, but as for the bonus … I only told him "maybe."
Detective Beckwith: Sounds like you didn't have much problem with Daniel at work?
Chas Laughlin: Never gave him much thought. He did what he was told and didn't mess up that bad, never failed a drug test. As long as he was puttin' money in my pocket, I didn't raise an eyebrow on him.
Detective Beckwith: When did he stop working for you?
Chas Laughlin: I didn't fire him if that's what you're asking. He quit.
Detective Beckwith: When?
Chas Laughlin: Third week in December. He never gave notice.
Detective Magee: Did he give you a reason why he quit?
Chas Laughlin: Nope, he just up and quit.
Detective Magee: Did you have a problem with that?
Chas Laughlin: Nah, kids working in the shop come and go.
Detective Magee: What relationship did you have with Daniel outside of work?
Chas Laughlin: None.
Detective Beckwith: Not even a quick chat over a smoke?
Chas Laughlin: You tell me, Beckwith. How often do old farts like you and me go runnin' with kids less than half our age? What would the kid and me have to chat about? The interwebs, prom night, and teen angst? None of that stuff mattered when I was his age … if it existed at all. I spent my late teens tryin' not to get shivved at Parchman Farms.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, have you had any contact with Daniel since he quit?
Chas Laughlin: Not a bit. Aww, wait a minute. The kid ain't in trouble, is he? He got himself killed, didn't he? I knew this whole mess of questions was no good from the first.
Detective Magee: Where were you the first week of January this year?
Chas Laughlin: See, there you go. I don't have the first damn clue, Magee—
Detective Magee: Detective.
Chas Laughlin: Detective. I still don't have the first damn clue.
Detective Magee: Think.
Chas Laughlin: How should I know? Probably at work or at home watchin' football. My wife, Jo, would have been there.
Detective Beckwith: And if we checked with her?
Chas Laughlin: Yeah, you do that.
Detective Magee: Are you sure that you haven't left out anything you know about Daniel?
Chas Laughlin: I've had about enough of the both of you. I told you all I got, and that's all y'all are gonna get. It's high time you two hit the road, so I can actually get some real work done.
Detective Magee: Thanks for your time, Mr. Laughlin. You'll likely hear from us again.
Chas Laughlin: I can't wait.
Interview ended – 3:19 p.m.