Friday, March 12, 2021 – 3:30 p.m.
Elise Ebner is the mother of Joanne and Brandon Ebner.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke to her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Elise Ebner
Detective Beckwith: Okay, Mrs. Ebner. Please state your name and address for the record.
Elise Ebner: Elise Ebner. 225 Eagles Nest Lane, Oxford, Mississippi.
Detective Beckwith: Thank you. As you know, we just talked to your husband, and we'd like to ask you a few questions as well.
Elise Ebner: Of course.
Detective Beckwith: Your son, Brandon, has he talked to you about his friend Daniel Collier recently?
Elise Ebner: Oh sure. Brandon is mighty upset about Daniel moving away. They've been practically attached at the hip since they were boys.
Detective Beckwith: What has he said to you about Daniel?
Elise Ebner: Well, he's been growing more and more concerned about Daniel ever since he left. He's convinced that something has happened to him.
Detective Beckwith: Why does he think that?
Elise Ebner: It's just not like Daniel to be so cold towards Brandon.
Detective Magee: Why?
Elise Ebner: Because we're like Daniel's second family. Daniel's parents died when he was young, and for all I could figure, the Colliers didn't have any actual family members to take care of him. So he went to live with Vince Gayle, one of Daniel's father's friends if that don't beat all.
Detective Magee: What do you mean?
Elise Ebner: Well, Vince was real chummy with Amanda and Mark back then, but I don't know as I'd have picked him to raise my child. But Amanda always was a little wild, and I expect they never thought anything would happen to them. Anyway, I don't think that situation worked out very well.
Detective Beckwith: Why not?
Elise Ebner: A single guy can't provide the proper family environment for a child. My opinion, anyway. Especially for Daniel.
Detective Magee: Why was Daniel special?
Elise Ebner: He wasn't special. It's just that I had firsthand knowledge about how much he needed the family he didn't have. It's why he spent a good share of his teen years at our house.
Detective Magee: So Brandon and Daniel were sort of raised together?
Elise Ebner: Like brothers. Yeah. So it is strange that Daniel's not returning any of Brandon's calls or text messages. And the few times he's spoken to him online, Daniel was a bit rude and short with him.
Detective Magee: So Brandon told you that they've spoken on Facebook? What did he say about that?
Elise Ebner: He told me that Daniel got mad at him for pestering him so much. Said he was trying to start a new life, and Brandon just needed to deal with it. Something like that.
Detective Beckwith: Does that surprise you?
Elise Ebner: Sure it does, but I guess people change.
Detective Magee: Do you think there's any cause for concern?
Elise Ebner: I don't know. To be honest, I'm disappointed in Daniel, and I think there's cause for concern when it comes to his manners. I chalked it up to Mr. Gayle's poor parenting skills, frankly. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that Daniel in some kind of trouble, though that's what Brandon seems to think.
Detective Magee: Why does he think that?
Elise Ebner: He just can't believe that Daniel would be acting like that. And while it surprises me too, Daniel's a grown man, and whatever's he's gotten himself into is his own business. Unfortunately, Brandon's gone and dragged his sister into all of this too.
Detective Beckwith: How is Joanne involved?
Elise Ebner: She's concerned about Brandon. She's always looked out for him, see. And I think at first she was just trying to make Brandon feel better. But now, I think she also believes something may be wrong.
Detective Beckwith: Why do you think that?
Elise Ebner: She told me she's been looking into Daniel's online activity, and she thinks that maybe someone is pretending to be him. That it hasn't really Daniel who's been talking to Brandon after all.
Detective Beckwith: What do you think about that?
Elise Ebner: Hell, I don't know. I don't play around with the Facebook and all that. But if Joanne thinks there's something worth looking into, then maybe there is.
Detective Magee: So you're not concerned that Brandon broke into Vincent Gayle's house to look for evidence that Daniel had gone to New York?
Elise Ebner: What? When did he do that?
Detective Beckwith: A week ago. He didn't tell either you or Joe, did he?
Elise Ebner: No. I can't tell you what the hell he was thinking there. How much trouble is he in?
Detective Beckwith: Mr. Gayle didn't elect to press charges. We talked to Brandon and then let him go.
Elise Ebner: And he said he broke in to look for Daniel?
Detective Beckwith: Or to find out where he was.
Elise Ebner: Dear God. I'll definitely have a talk with Brandon. This Daniel thing has obviously gotten out of hand.
Detective Magee: Do you remember what Brandon was doing between January 2nd and January 6th? The week after Daniel left?
Elise Ebner: Sure, he went to work, came home, did his housework, went out with his friends, just the usual stuff.
Detective Magee: Can you be more specific? Do you know when he was at home and when he was out?
Elise Ebner: No, I really don't remember. But if anything out of the ordinary had happened, I'd remember.
Detective Beckwith: Where does he work?
Elise Ebner: At C'est Belle gallery downtown. He works part-time there during the day.
Detective Beckwith: What are his hours?
Elise Ebner: They vary. I wouldn't be able to tell you for sure which hours he worked in January.
Detective Magee: Does he sleep at home most nights?
Elise Ebner: Yeah, he hardly stays overnight places.
Detective Magee: What time does he usually go to bed and wake up in the morning?
Elise Ebner: Oh, he goes to bed around midnight most nights. And he wakes up around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., depending on when he has to be at work.
Detective Beckwith: Do you work during the day, Mrs. Ebner?
Elise Ebner: Yes, I work as a receptionist. A regular 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shift.
Detective Beckwith: What time do you leave for work in the morning?
Elise Ebner: Around 8:30 a.m.
Detective Beckwith: And Brandon is usually still home when you leave?
Elise Ebner: Yes.
Detective Beckwith: Do you recall Brandon leaving at all during that week, except to go to work?
Elise Ebner: Not in particular. I'm sure he went out to hang out with his friends and that kind of thing, but he didn't stay overnight anywhere.
Detective Beckwith: Which friends?
Elise Ebner: Well, I would have said Daniel, but if he wasn't around, Brandon might have visited old high school buddies. I remember Taylor Kitrell was over a couple of times last December when Daniel was here at the house. Um … Keanu May comes around every once in a while. Oh, and Claire Rivas. She and Brandon are becoming quite sweet on each other. Brandon's pretty shy around girls, but I think he'll be asking her out soon.
Detective Magee: All right, Mrs. Ebner. Thank you for your time.
Interview ended – 3:54 p.m.