Friday, March 12, 2021 – 1:30 p.m.
Lila Lawson is the owner of the C'est Belle Gallery in downtown Oxford.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke to her at the gallery.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Lila Lawson
Detective Magee: Hi Ms. Lawson, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Before we begin, would you please state your name and address for the record?
Lila Lawson: Certainly. My name is Lila Lawson. My address is 1012 Benbow Circle, Oxford, Mississippi.
Detective Magee: We want to talk to you about Brandon Ebner. He's an employee of yours, correct?
Lila Lawson: Yes, that's right. Brandon is my assistant here at the gallery.
Detective Magee: What does he do exactly?
Lila Lawson: He helps me set up for shows, runs errands, does office work, that sort of thing. His photography is also on exhibit here. He's a very promising photographer.
Detective Magee: How long has he been working for you?
Lila Lawson: I'd say about a year or so.
Detective Beckwith: How did you meet him?
Lila Lawson: Well, his good friend Daniel Collier used to hang around here a lot. He's an artist, too. He actually just moved to New York City. So Brandon asked if I needed an assistant. I think partially so that he could hang out with his friend while he was working.
Detective Magee: Did that ever cause any problems?
Lila Lawson: No, not at all. In fact, Daniel was always willing to lend a hand when needed even though he wasn't getting paid, just because he was here a lot.
Detective Beckwith: Okay. So what days and times does Brandon typically work?
Lila Lawson: He's only part-time, but his schedule changes depending on what's going on. He usually comes in around 10:00 a.m. during the week. But sometimes I need him during the weekend when we're having a show or event.
Detective Beckwith: Do you keep a timecard for him?
Lila Lawson: Yes, we log all of his hours.
Detective Beckwith: Can you tell us when he was working between January 2nd and January 6th?
Lila Lawson: Sure, let me get the logs...Let's see, he didn't work on the 2nd and 3rd because we were closed for the holidays. On the 4th and the 6th, he worked from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. On the 5th, he came in early. He worked from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Detective Beckwith: Did anything unusual happen that week? Did he seem to be acting any differently?
Lila Lawson: I could tell that he was really upset about Daniel leaving, but he didn't really want to talk about it. I guess he didn't want to admit how upset he really was.
Detective Magee: So what was his behavior like?
Lila Lawson: He was just a little bit mopey at first. Since then, he's seemed less and less interested in being at work, to be honest. He comes in late sometimes, doesn't work as hard as he used to. I think he's depressed.
Detective Magee: Has he talked to you about Daniel at all?
Lila Lawson: Yeah, especially recently. I guess Daniel hasn't been returning his messages. Brandon has been asking me if I've heard anything from him, but I haven't. I get the sense that Brandon's feelings are a bit hurt that Daniel seems to be moving on to bigger and better things.
Detective Magee: When did Brandon start asking about Daniel?
Lila Lawson: Oh, I don't know. A few weeks after he left, maybe?
Detective Beckwith: Why does he think that you may have heard from him?
Lila Lawson: I don't know. I told him that we haven't really been keeping in touch. I follow Daniel on Facebook, but I haven't spoken to him personally.
Detective Magee: Has anyone else asked you about Daniel?
Lila Lawson: No, just Brandon.
Detective Beckwith: Have you made any inquiries about Daniel on Brandon's behalf?
Lila Lawson: Yes, I have a friend at the Oxford Weekly Planet. I mentioned that Brandon has been trying to get ahold of Daniel, and they offered to put the word out to see if we could get any information.
Detective Beckwith: Have you heard anything back?
Lila Lawson: No, nothing.
Detective Beckwith: Do you think there's any reason to be worried about Daniel?
Lila Lawson: Honestly, not really. I think Daniel is just being inconsiderate. It kind of seems like he thinks he's too good for Oxford, and Brandon, now that he's off in the big city. I didn't think Daniel was that kind of kid, but apparently, he is.
Detective Beckwith: Okay. Thanks for your help, Ms. Lawson. If you do hear from Daniel, please let us know.
Lila Lawson: I'm sure he's fine, but I'll give you a call if he gets in touch.
Interview ended – 1:48 p.m.