Man with a salt-and-pepper mustache and thinning hair, standing in front of an array of auto parts

Buck Buchanan

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 10:15 a.m.

Peter "Buck" Buchanan is a longtime employee of Laughlin Automotive & Body Shop.

After attempting to interview Chas Laughlin at his shop, Detectives Magee and Beckwith asked Buck Buchanan to accompany them to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department for an interview.

Participants

  • Detective P. Beckwith
  • Detective J. Magee
  • Buck Buchanan

Detective Beckwith: Thanks for coming down with us, Buck. I know we've talked earlier, but we're hoping you can clear some things up for us.

Buck Buchanan: Yes, sir. But I'm pretty sure I told you everything I know about the Collier kid. That is what you wanted to talk about, right?

Detective Beckwith: In part. First, could you give us your full name and address for the record?

Buck Buchanan: All right, my name is Peter Buchanan, but everyone knows me as Buck. I live at 307 Williams, Oxford.

Detective Magee: Okay, we need you to run through your relationship with Daniel Collier once again.

Buck Buchanan: You mean at the shop?

Detective Magee: If that's where you want to start, sure.

Buck Buchanan: Well, like I told y'all before, Dan got hired last year. He started on little stuff at first—brake jobs and changin' oil, you know, that sorta thing. By the end of last summer, he was paintin' with Doug Jordan, which of course, was the thing he wanted to do most.

Detective Beckwith: How closely did you work with Dan?

Buck Buchanan: Not as close as Doug. I'd be doing body repairs and then send the vehicles to Doug and him in the paint room.

Detective Magee: What about after work?

Buck Buchanan: What would an old guy like me do with a 20-year-old boy like Dan in the off-hours? We ain't got a thing in common exceptin' puttin' cars back together.

Detective Magee: So you didn't see him at The Roadhouse or anything?

Buck Buchanan: I'm sure I saw him at The Roadhouse once or twice, but we ain't drinkin' buddies if that's what you're askin'.

Detective Beckwith: When did Dan quit working at Laughlin's?

Buck Buchanan: In December sometime.

Detective Beckwith: Did you ever have an occasion to work on Dan's car?

Buck Buchanan: I'm not catching your meanin'.

Detective Beckwith: Oh, I think you are. Did you ever work on Dan's car?

Buck Buchanan: No.

Detective Beckwith: Are you sure? He didn't ask for a tune-up? Put in a new radio?

Buck Buchanan: No, nothin' like that.

Detective Magee: Now, that's odd because if you didn't have that much contact with Dan, why would your fingerprints be all over his car?

Buck Buchanan: You're barkin' up the wrong tree, Detective.

Detective Magee: Really, why is that?

Buck Buchanan: 'Cuz I got the distinct impression that you think I did somethin' with the boy. I can tell you, I ain't done nothin' with him.

Detective Beckwith: I have to say I'm not convinced, Buck. Let me tell you a little something. We just pulled pieces of a body out of a swamp near here, and I bet when they test the DNA of some of those pieces, they're going to come back with a 99.9% match to Daniel Collier.

Buck Buchanan: And?

Detective Beckwith: We think the car that took him out there was his own. The car with your fingerprints on it.

Buck Buchanan: So what? I'm sure all the guys at the shop have touched Dan's car at one time or another.

Detective Magee: That's not what you said earlier. You said that old guys like you didn't hang around with young guys like Dan.

Buck Buchanan: You have nothin' on me. Not a thing. This is a big fishin' expedition, that's all this is. And I ain't bitin'.

Detective Magee: So there's no reason for you to be in Daniel's trunk, right?

Buck Buchanan: No.

Detective Magee: No reason for your fingerprints to be on a GPS tracker in Daniel's trunk, right?

Buck Buchanan: I don't know what you're talking about.

Detective Beckwith: Stop jerking us around, Buck. The clock's ticking. As soon as that body is IDed as Dan's, we can't help you anymore. You're going to spend your retirement at Parchman.

Buck Buchanan: This is a fishin' expedition.

Detective Magee: That's okay. You don't need to clear anything up, Buck. We'll just trace that GPS tracker right back to Laughlin and get a search warrant for the shop. We'll go top to bottom on Laughlin's records until we find a purchase order for that tracker.

Buck Buchanan: You can't.

Detective Beckwith: And, by law, we have to tell Laughlin specifically that we're looking for that purchase order, so he'll know someone in his shop screwed up.

Detective Magee: If we happen to find other evidence of wrongdoing in the process, we'll take that too.

Buck Buchanan: Uh…

Detective Beckwith: It's okay, Buck, since you have nothing to do with that GPS tracker, Laughlin isn't going to blame this whole ordeal on you. You'll be fine.

Buck Buchanan: You sonsab*****es. All right, I did it. I put the damn GPS tracker in Dan's car. Are y'all happy?

Detective Magee: Not yet. Tell us how and when.

Buck Buchanan: I did it in the second week of December. While Dan was doing a complicated pinstriping job, I told him that he needed to move his car 'cuz it was going to be in the way of a wrecker coming in. He said, "Give me a sec." I told him to give me his keys, and I could move it for him.

Detective Magee: What did you do next?

Buck Buchanan: I went out and looked in his trunk. There wasn't anything inside, so I hid a magnetic GPS tracker under the upper lip of the trunk.

Detective Magee: On the trunk lid?

Buck Buchanan: No, behind the lid, under the lip so Dan wouldn't see it.

Detective Beckwith: Why did you look in his trunk?

Buck Buchanan: Laughlin told me to.

Detective Magee: Why?

Buck Buchanan: 'Cuz used parts had gone missing from the shop, and Laughlin thought that Dan and Doug had something to do with it.

Detective Magee: Why specifically Dan and Doug?

Buck Buchanan: When Laughlin found some of the parts missing, he had me notch a few choice parts and leave 'em conspicuous to see if anyone would grab 'em. In a couple of days, two of them vanished. Now, I didn't see 'em go, but Dan and Doug were the only other guys working at the time besides me.

Detective Magee: Would you recognize one of these notched parts, if we showed it to you?

Buck Buchanan: Maybe.

Detective Magee: Paul, could you see if they brought Evidence #001183-CS01 up from the evidence room? Great… Okay, Buck, do you recognize this?

Buck Buchanan: It's a cylinder head off a '67 Dodge Charger. Here's my notch. Where did you find this?

Detective Beckwith: What did Laughlin think Dan was doing with the parts?

Buck Buchanan: Sellin' 'em to one of Jordan's car-racin' buddies up at Holly Springs. Or Memphis. Or Little Rock. Laughlin asked me to check the boy's trunk to see if he had any parts in there, and if not, put a tracker in to see if he was makin' any 'unauthorized' trips.

Detective Magee: Was he?

Buck Buchanan: How should I know? The kid up and quit before I could get it back out of his car. I would need to get the tracker out to know, and I haven't seen him or his car since then.

Detective Beckwith: Why would you need to get the tracker to know where Daniel went?

Buck Buchanan: Because it was one of those cheap mini trackers that record the movements of the car but don't transmit. You have to download its memory into an app.

Detective Magee: So you haven't seen Daniel since you planted the tracker?

Buck Buchanan: No. It's the God's honest truth. Think. If I was to kill this kid and dump his ass in a swamp, why the hell would I track myself there doin' it?

Detective Beckwith: I'm not sure. Maybe you forgot. Maybe Laughlin wanted evidence you did the job. Or maybe you're just not that smart.

Buck Buchanan: I don't have to listen to this.

Detective Magee: So what was Laughlin planning to do if he found out that Dan was stealing from him?

Buck Buchanan: Y'd hafta ask Laughlin that.

Detective Beckwith: We're asking you that, Buck.

Buck Buchanan: Look, are you arrestin' me or not?

Detective Magee: We're not arresting you, Buck. Not today anyway.

Buck Buchanan: Good. I've done enough talkin'.

Interview ended – 10:43 a.m.

 

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