Elbert Warren interview (1998)
Tuesday, May 26, 1998 – 12:30 p.m.
In 1958, Detective Jack McPhail identified Elbert Warren as his prime suspect in the Izard murders, but Det. McPhail was never able to collect enough evidence to arrest him.
In 1998, Detective Nelson interviewed Elbert Warren at the D.H. Daniel Nursing Home.
- Detective Terry Nelson
- Elbert Warren Sr.
Detective Nelson: Mr. Warren, I'd like to thank you for agreeing to talk with me a bit.
Elbert Warren Sr.: Ask your questions, boy.
Detective Nelson: Yessir. Well, I know it was a long time ago, but I'd like to ask—
Elbert Warren Sr.: No, I didn't kill no Dick Izard. That what you wanted to know?
Detective Nelson: Um… yes and no.
Elbert Warren Sr.: Which is it: yes or no? [COUGH] Ain't like I got time to be mincing around.
Detective Nelson: I just wanted to get some idea of your feelings about that time and the Izard murders.
Elbert Warren Sr.: My feeling is that it was one damned long time ago, and a lot of water's passed under that bridge. I had that damned Jack McPhail hanging around me for years like a starved dog held back from a thick juicy steak. He knowed damn well I didn't kill Dick Izard, and I surely to God didn't kill Miz Lisa. He was still just mad with me over me and Jeannie.
Detective Nelson: Your wife?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Jeannie Warren, that's right. As fine a woman as ever walked on this earth. I wasn't a easy man to live with those first few years, but she never give up on me. What I made of my life—that, and every bit of the good in my kids—that come from Jeannie. She was surely full of life and never met a stranger. [COUGH] God-fearing and fine. She's with the Lord now, I know it full well. [COUGH]
Detective Nelson: You all right, Mr. Warren? Need me to get you some water?
Elbert Warren Sr.: I'll be all right. [COUGH] Just gimme a minute. [COUGH] There. That's better. Can't talk much. Damn cancer's 'bout got me.
Detective Nelson: I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Warren.
Elbert Warren Sr.: What else you want to ask me, boy?
Detective Nelson: Well, sir… did you ever find out who it was who beat you up out at the reservoir that day? The evening of the day the Izards were killed?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Funny you should ask that. I always wondered. I knowed, when McPhail showed up at my door that night and caught me all bloody and washing up—I knowed it looked bad. (cough) But if I was making up a story as a cover … what y'all call it? An alibi? If I was making up an alibi, don't you believe I'd have come up with something better than that?
Detective Nelson: Did you find out who it was?
Elbert Warren Sr.: I never did. Jeannie, she thought it was probably some of them boys that got laid off with me. They blamed me for the layoffs, y'know, 'cause I was the one worked the closest with Perch, promoting the union. [COUGH] Could you pour me a little touch of water there? There's a pitcher over there on that stand.
Detective Nelson: Here you go.
Elbert Warren Sr.: Thank you. Where were we?
Detective Nelson: You thought it was some of the laid-off workers who beat you up?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Yeah, I sure did. Not all them fellas—nor gals for that matter—that got laid off were with the union, y'know. Not many knew that Perch made it a habit to go out to the reservoir, but word gets around. I always thought it was some of them that were non-union—blamed us for losing the jobs, y'see—that went out there looking for Perch and found me instead. Then, of course, they could'a followed me too, from either Sid's or from the boarding house. Later on, though, I kinda got to wondering if it might've been that durn no‑good Danahy and his bunch that followed me out there on purpose.
Detective Nelson: Why them in particular?
Elbert Warren Sr.: You see, most of the young fellas didn't want no talk. They were itching for a fight and wanted a bloody strike of some sort, couldn't see how they could get anything without some fight. Not that it would've got 'em anything but a faster-lost job at Bowlan. That bunch resented us fellas for taking the talking route to votes rather than using fist logic.
Detective Nelson: I see.
Elbert Warren Sr.: My brother, Jimmy was like that, see. But he and I talked about it many a time, and I know it wasn't him and his bunch. He died in 1983, you know. [COUGH] Cancer got him too. Could you pour me another touch of water, son? Voice is going again.
Detective Nelson: Here you are. Are you up to going on?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Needs to come out such as it is. Thank you, son. Now, there was some talk that Dick Izard was killed because folks was mad about the layoffs, but there weren't nobody who thought it was Dick's fault. He didn't fire nobody. Bowlan did. Dick was just forced to do Bowlan's dirty work, and most knew it. [COUGH] Naw, if anybody was gonna get killed because folks was upset over the layoffs, it'd likely been me. I'd got some hard talk already, before that.
Detective Nelson: Threats?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Sounded like threats to me.
Detective Nelson: Did you tell Detective McPhail about that?
Elbert Warren Sr.: I surely did. Knowing him, I figure he put it down to me lying. He never did believe a word I said 'bout much of anything. [COUGH] I'm running out of breath here, boy. You got any more questions?
Detective Nelson: Who do you think did it?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Murdered the Izards? [COUGH] Somebody that wasn't thinking straight, that's all I can say. 'Course, after a couple hours of hard drinking down at Sid's, [COUGH] wasn't any of us thinking much too straight that day. Helluva thing, them poor dead folks, and them little lost children. I think about them now and then. Still do. Wonder whatever happened to them. Who did it?
Detective Nelson: Did you ever have a theory about who it could've been?
Elbert Warren Sr.: I wish I knowed—take the cloud offa me—but I can't say. I don't think they ever glommed onto the right parties myself. Not a stranger, but not the obvious neither.
Detective Nelson: What makes you think so?
Elbert Warren Sr.: Tell you why I think so: see, they was cut down on the spot. That weren't no planned hit like some said, but yet those kids dropped off the earth, so you see it had to be one of us, someone around here. Outta town hit guys like some said, no way. Can't see that one. Someone around here took some pity on them kids. If only for a moment, mind you. That's my thoughts on it. Never saw no signs of 'em, though, so I don't know.
Detective Nelson: Maybe we'll find out.
Elbert Warren Sr.: Too late to make any never mind now, but y'all gonna do what you think you gotta do. [COUGH]