Old photo of a debonair man with wavy dark hair

Elliot Perch interview

Saturday, April 12, 1958 – 10:15 a.m.

Elliot Perch, a labor union organizer, was questioned by Detective Jack McPhail. The interview was conducted at the Sheriff's Department on the morning after the murders.

The following transcript was made from a recording of the interview.


  • Detective Jack McPhail
  • Elliot Perch

Elliot Perch: [INAUDIBLE]

Detective McPhail: Late night, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: [NO REPSONSE]

Detective McPhail: Where were you yesterday afternoon, sir?

Elliot Perch: At Sid's, like everybody else.

Detective McPhail: Everybody?

Elliot Perch: The guys from Bowlan. You know that. The ones that'd still have jobs if they'd listened to me. Damn hard-headed—

Detective McPhail: What time did you get to Sid's?

Elliot Perch: Exactly? No idea. It was around noon, though. Just before.

Detective McPhail: Ten o'clock? Eleven o'clock?

Elliot Perch: No, no… a little before. Say, a quarter of, something like that.

Detective McPhail: Did anybody see you there?

Elliot Perch: I sure as hell hope so. They were sitting there without work because they wouldn't listen to me. I wanted 'em to know I was there.

Detective McPhail: Rubbing it in?

Elliot Perch: Nah, not like that. More like… refreshing their minds to the possibilities of organization, under the circumstances.

Detective McPhail: Did you see Richard Izard there?

Elliot Perch: Of course not. He wasn't about to show his face around town.

Detective McPhail: What makes you say that?

Elliot Perch: You know as well as I do. He'd just fired everybody. Him and Bowlan. Got their way. No union, sure. Sure. Make everybody scared of the union, then give 'em the ax. Just like that. No warning. Boom.

Detective McPhail: How long did you stay at Sid's, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: Little while. Not too long.

Detective McPhail: How long?

Elliot Perch: An hour, maybe hour and a half.

Detective McPhail: Why'd you leave?

Elliot Perch: [NO RESPONSE]

Detective McPhail: Why'd you leave Sid's, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: I wanted to. Nothing left to do there.

Detective McPhail: Scared, were you? Have 'em turning against you?

Elliot Perch: No. No! That's a damned lie!

Detective McPhail: I got somebody says you had a few. Got real mouthy.

Elliot Perch: Son of a bitch.

Detective McPhail: Did you?

Elliot Perch: No, I never did.

Detective McPhail: Jimmy Warren didn't take a swing at you and yell at you to shut up, that you'd caused enough trouble?

Elliot Perch: [PAUSE] That was him, not me. You talk to him? Swinging at me like that?

Detective McPhail: Did you tell Jimmy Warren that you weren't his problem, that Izard and Bowlan were, and that up north y'all have ways of taking care of problems like that?

Elliot Perch: He was drunk. They were all drunk.

Detective McPhail: Did you say that, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: I don't know. I don't remember everythi— maybe. But I didn't mean anything by it. It was all just tempers running high.

Detective McPhail: Where'd you go when you left Sid's?

Elliot Perch: I went out to the reservoir.

Detective McPhail: What's out there?

Elliot Perch: Nothing. I just went out there to think. That's all.

Detective McPhail: Anybody go with you?

Elliot Perch: Of course not. Why would I take some yokel with me if I wanted to think?

Detective McPhail: [PAUSE] Did you see Richard Izard yesterday?

Elliot Perch: No, I did not.

Detective McPhail: Did you visit him at his house yesterday afternoon?

Elliot Perch: Of course not. I don't even know where he lives.

Detective McPhail: You've been here better'n a month, and you don't know where the Izards live?

Elliot Perch: I'm not in the habit of paying house calls to management.

Detective McPhail: Only to workers.

Elliot Perch: Yes.

Detective McPhail: Mr. Izard wasn't interested in your union ideas, was he?

Elliot Perch: He was management. They never are.

Detective McPhail: Have you ever killed anyone, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: No!

Detective McPhail: Seems like an awful lot of folks got the strong sense you'd "taken care of some problems" real permanent along the way.

Elliot Perch: I don't control what they think. What do you expect?

Detective McPhail: Are you a communist, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: What?

Detective McPhail: Are you a communist? Some of the men are right sure you must be.

Elliot Perch: What does that have to do with anything?

Detective McPhail: You tell me.

Elliot Perch: It doesn't have a damn thing to do with anything! And no, I'm not a communist.

Detective McPhail: Lotta those union leaders are. We don't like communists down here.

Elliot Perch: Are you asking me questions about a death or playing Tail Gunner Joe?

Detective McPhail: I'm not playing anything, sir. Where were you last night?

Elliot Perch: I was in my room.

Detective McPhail: Nobody was there when I came by at 7:00. Or later at midnight.

Elliot Perch: [PAUSE] I was in Memphis.

Detective McPhail: Where in Memphis, Mr. Perch?

Elliot Perch: [INAUDIBLE]

Detective McPhail: Speak up, sir. Where in Memphis were you?

Elliot Perch: The Kit Kat Klub.

Detective McPhail: Uh-huh. Anybody see you there?

Elliot Perch: Maybe. I don't know. The bartender, he'd remember me.

Detective McPhail: Anybody else?

Elliot Perch: Maybe… maybe one of the … uh, hostesses.

Detective McPhail: Get her name?

Elliot Perch: No.

Detective McPhail: What'd she look like?

Elliot Perch: Blonde. Good-looking. You know.

Detective McPhail: You can do better than that.

Elliot Perch: No, I can't.

Detective McPhail: Mr. Perch, did you kill Richard Izard and his wife?

Elliot Perch: No!

Detective McPhail: Do you know who did? Maybe some of your union friends?

Elliot Perch: No! No, I don't know anything of the kind. The union is a respectable organization for the protection of workers, not some kind of… gangster operation.

Detective McPhail: Oh?

Elliot Perch: Oh.


Detective McPhail: You'll stay in town, Mr. Perch? And be available when we need to talk to you again?

Elliot Perch: Are you charging me with something?

Detective McPhail: Not at all. Just advising you to stay handy.

Elliot Perch: You can't threaten me like that.

Detective McPhail: Nobody's threatening anybody. Just advising. You have a good day now, y'hear?



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