Saturday, October 22, 2022 – 1:45 p.m.
Lila Lawson is the owner of the C'est Belle Gallery at 150 Courthouse Square.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed Ms. Lawson at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department at her request.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Lila Lawson
Detective Armstrong: Thank you for coming in today, Ms. Lawson.
Lila Lawson: Thank you for letting me come here instead of y'all coming to my gallery. I don't want any adverse publicity for Paul Evans's show or for the gallery as far as that goes.
Detective Armstrong: Will you state your name and address for the record, please?
Lila Lawson: Lila Lawson, 1012 Benbow Circle.
Detective Murphy: Can you tell us, Ms. Lawson, how long you've known Paul Evans and how you met him?
Lila Lawson: Let's see. I think I've known him for a year or two. I met him through a mutual friend, Angela Wilder. She thought he was very talented and worth my attention. I first saw his work at a County Arts and Crafts Fair. I think it was the 2020 Fair.
Detective Murphy: Have you shown his work before?
Lila Lawson: No, but I've watched his progress and kept in touch. This year, we both felt he had a sufficient body of work to have a one-person show, and his work is certainly of a quality I am glad to have in my gallery.
Detective Armstrong: Would you tell us the logistics of setting up his show? Meaning how he did it, how long it took, who helped him, and so forth.
Lila Lawson: Well, as you can imagine, it takes some pre-planning. He had to get a truck or something to move his pieces from his workshop or wherever he stores them, get them to the gallery, and then we had to set up something for him to display his works on. Of course, with Paul's talents in carpentry, he planned and did most of that himself with help from his friend, Miguel.
Detective Armstrong: You weren't involved in any of that?
Lila Lawson: I pitched in when I could. Mostly my job is more in consultation than in the physical work. It's my responsibility to help him have as successful a show as possible. Let's see. What else did you ask? Oh. How long did it take him? He started moving things into the storeroom on Friday. Then early Saturday morning, we began moving his pieces into the showroom and working on the actual display. Of course, we'd planned it in advance, so it was more a matter of physically placing the items, arranging the lighting, and things like that.
Detective Armstrong: Was he there at the gallery all day Saturday until the opening?
Lila Lawson: Oh, no. We finished by mid-afternoon, and he went home to relax and change his clothes. He came back about an hour before the show, so he was back about 6:00 p.m. People started arriving around 7:00 p.m.
Detective Armstrong: How long will his work be featured in your gallery?
Lila Lawson: We'll have him through next Friday. Then on Saturday, another artist will come in.
Detective Murphy: Did you know Kimberly Pace?
Lila Lawson: Oh sure, I'd met her in the two years I'd monitored Paul's work. We'd run into each other at his booth at the craft fairs and so forth.
Detective Murphy: Did you know anything about Paul and Kimberly's relationship?
Lila Lawson: Only that when I saw them together, they seemed to get along great. I know they were sort of separated, but I figured with all the stress in their lives and in the world, it would blow over, and they'd get back together.
Detective Armstrong: Did you see Kimberly the evening of the opening?
Lila Lawson: I saw her come in, and I saw her go over to Paul and give him a hug.
Detective Murphy: Did their conversation seem friendly?
Lila Lawson: I only saw her go up to him, as I said. Then someone came up to me, and my attention was needed elsewhere. My impression was they didn't talk too long. Paul was in demand that evening, and I'm sure she realized he needed to focus on his potential buyers. People like to meet the artist before they commit to a purchase.
Detective Armstrong: Did Paul sell any of his work that evening?
Lila Lawson: Yes, we sold several pieces, and the interest in his work was quite exciting. We've sold several more pieces since the opening.
Detective Murphy: Did you happen to notice what time Kimberly left the gallery?
Lila Lawson: I didn't actually see her leave, but around 9:30 p.m., the crowd began thinning out a bit, and I didn't see her.
Detective Murphy: Do you know if she was with someone when she left?
Lila Lawson: She'd been with her sister earlier, and neither appeared to be there. I didn't see them any more that evening, so I assumed they left before 9:30 p.m.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know what time Paul left that evening? Were you there until he left?
Lila Lawson: Most of the people had left by 10:30 p.m., and we tidied up a bit and discussed the showing. We both left around 11:00 p.m.
Detective Armstrong: You and Paul left together?
Lila Lawson: Well, we left at the same time, but we didn't leave together. You understand? He didn't want me to be there alone that late or to leave alone. He's a nice guy.
Detective Murphy: What was his demeanor as he left?
Lila Lawson: He was feeling good about the opening and encouraged that Kimberly had been there. He seemed very positive and pleased.
Detective Murphy: Did he say where he was going when he left?
Lila Lawson: I don't remember that he said, but it had been a long, intense couple of days. I imagine he went home to bed. That's what I did.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything you can think of that would be pertinent to our investigation?
Lila Lawson: Not that I can think of, but I'll certainly call you if I do. What a terrible thing to happen!
Interview ended – 2:01 p.m.