Monday, May 25, 2020 – 12:15 p.m.
The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office contacted Ms. LeClaire for an interview, following witness Beau Jenkins' mention of her in his interview.
Detective Armstrong interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Peggy LeClaire
Detective Armstrong: Would you please state your full name and address for the record?
Peggy LeClaire: Peggy Madeline LeClaire, 224 North 18th, Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: Ms. LeClaire, thank you for coming in today. We appreciate your cooperation.
Peggy LeClaire: Of course, anything I can do to help.
Detective Armstrong: We have information that you worked for Zoe Chase. Is that correct?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, I wasn't her employee if that's what you mean. I have a transcription business, and Zoe was one of my clients. But I have several clients, not just Zoe.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. And you also knew her through your membership at the Oxford Writers Circle, that correct?
Peggy LeClaire: Yes, I also knew her from there. I joined right after the group started, and she came in a few years later.
Detective Armstrong: So, you met her when she joined the writers' group or when she became your client?
Peggy LeClaire: I met her when she joined the group. I guess about three years ago. Not long afterward, she mentioned how she hated typing and such, and I gave her my card and told her I'd be happy to do any transcription she needed.
Detective Armstrong: So, the writers' group was a place where you networked for your business as well?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, not exactly. Yes, I sometimes get work from other writers there, but I go for creative purposes. You know what I mean?
Detective Armstrong: Sure. Did you ever see Zoe socially, other than at the writers' meetings?
Peggy LeClaire: No, I'd say our relationship was mostly professional. I mean, naturally, we spoke at the meetings and so forth, but for the most part, our contact was about starting or completing work for her.
Detective Armstrong: You also have a full-time position at Copy Time?
Peggy LeClaire: Yes, I'm the assistant manager there. Worked there for quite a few years. I'm sure my co-workers will vouch for me.
Detective Armstrong: Vouch for you in what way?
Peggy LeClaire: I don't know, just a figure of speech, I guess. I mean that I've worked there for a long time. You know? Sorry, guess I've seen too many Dragnet reruns. I don't often talk to the police.
Detective Armstrong: Nothing to be nervous about, ma'am. We're just regular folks like everybody else.
Peggy LeClaire: Yes, of course, you are. This whole thing over Zoe is just so… upsetting. You just don't expect someone you know to… I mean, well, I just saw her a week ago. Laughing, making jokes, bubbling all over the place like she did. It just doesn't seem real that any of this is happening.
Detective Armstrong: I understand. It's a shock when someone you know is the victim of a crime. Talking about Copy Time, one of the things we found in Zoe's belongings was a receipt from Copy Time dated May 20th. Do you know what that was for?
Peggy LeClaire: I think Zoe had her manuscript copied. I don't know for sure because I didn't handle that job. If you come by the shop, I can look it up for you.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you. We'll do that. You have any idea of who might have wanted to hurt Zoe?
Peggy LeClaire: You mean, can I think of someone who would have done this? Oh my lord, no. I mean, you know, people have spats and all, but you don't kill someone just because they riled you up.
Detective Armstrong: Riled up? Did Zoe get someone riled up?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, she was kind of… how would you say it? Bigger than life, you know? I mean, when she walked in the door, everyone looked. She just had that effect on people. Very vibrant person. I suppose she stepped on some egos here and there. And sometimes she could be opinionated. But people never stayed mad at her. She was just really charming and funny. It's hard to explain.
Detective Armstrong: I understand what you're getting at. Had kind of a celebrity personality? You liked her, maybe in spite of yourself?
Peggy LeClaire: Exactly. You took the words right out of my head!
Detective Armstrong: Did you feel that people were jealous of her? Envied her?
Peggy LeClaire: I suppose some could have been. She did have some success. And it's hard for writers to see one of their own get a break when they aren't.
Detective Armstrong: Anyone in particular?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, I don't know. I suppose you could even put me in that category. Zoe had much more success than I ever did. Probably more than I ever will. But we're all so insecure, we artists. You know?
Detective Armstrong: Okay. What about her personal relationships? Do you know any of her friends? Or who her friends are?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, I know Jack, of course. That's her… I guess you'd say he is her boyfriend. He was at the house many times when I picked up or dropped off work. He's a bit younger than her, but a nice fellow.
Detective Armstrong: You know Jack's last name?
Peggy LeClaire: Swanson. Jack Swanson.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever hear them argue, Zoe and Jack?
Peggy LeClaire: I guess they had their spats, just like any other couple, Detective.
Detective Armstrong: About anything in particular?
Peggy LeClaire: I guess Jack is a little insecure and maybe sometimes felt jealous. Men did find Zoe attractive. But isn't that a normal response?
Detective Armstrong: That would depend on how far the jealousy went.
Peggy LeClaire: Oh, I see what you mean.
Detective Armstrong: How did you get along with Zoe? Any friction?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, sure. We disagreed sometimes. She could get after you if you didn't have her work done right at the exact time she thought it ought to be. She was pretty picky about that.
Detective Armstrong: You had occasion to turn work in late?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, maybe a couple of times, I was a bit late. I got backed up on other work and such. That does happen. Sometimes no matter how well you plan things, you just can't pull it off, you know? So, yes, I suppose I did disappoint her a couple of times in that regard.
Detective Armstrong: Ever have any personal disagreements? Arguments that weren't related to work?
Peggy LeClaire: We had a couple of feisty debates at the meetings sometimes. We did not see eye to eye on fiction, literature and such, but I wouldn't say it was personal.
Detective Armstrong: Okay, I get it. When was the last time you saw Zoe?
Peggy LeClaire: Saturday at the monthly meeting. I think it started at about 8:00 p.m. and was over by 10:00 or so. That's how it usually goes, though I left a little early last time.
Detective Armstrong: Why's that?
Peggy LeClaire: Had a bit of a headache. Not a migraine, just kind of a dull thud. And I knew at home there was an aspirin with my name on it. Anyway, I was distracted because of it and just felt I might as well leave since I wasn't really able to concentrate on our discussion.
Detective Armstrong: Did you notice if anyone else left early?
Peggy LeClaire: No, though I think I probably was the only one. People tend to like to stay and chat even after the official meeting is over.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. Did Zoe say anything to you at the meeting or that day that was odd or unusual?
Peggy LeClaire: Nothing that comes to mind.
Detective Armstrong: Can you think of any reason that anyone might want to have done this to Zoe?
Peggy LeClaire: No, I really can't. Maybe it was a carjacking like the news said.
Detective Armstrong: We're looking into all the possibilities.
Peggy LeClaire: I believe you. I hope you find whoever did this.
Detective Armstrong: So do we, ma'am.
Peggy LeClaire: Well, if there's nothing else… I do have a pile of work to get to at home.
Detective Armstrong: Just one more thing. The novel that Zoe was about to have published?
Peggy LeClaire: Yes, what about it?
Detective Armstrong: Did you transcribe it? Do you know what it was about?
Peggy LeClaire: Actually no, I didn't, and honestly, I don't know why. Though there were a few times I just didn't have time to do work for her, when I had big projects, so maybe that's why. So, she must have hired someone else to do it.
Detective Armstrong: Any ideas who that might be?
Peggy LeClaire: Nobody from around here. I'm pretty much the only service of that type locally. Maybe a service in Memphis or Tupelo? I know she liked to shop at the Mall of Memphis.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know what it was about? The novel?
Peggy LeClaire: Well, she did read some pages at the meeting last week from it. I think it was a mystery. We started running out of time, so she didn't get far into it.
Detective Armstrong: So, it was fiction? Not an exposé or a true crime story or anything like that?
Peggy LeClaire: Heavens, no! Zoe was all fiction. I can't imagine her writing an All the President's Men sort of thing. Even her columns were light and funny. Zoe didn't really like reality. You know, the real world. It was boring to her. She liked to make things up. The very quality that makes one a good writer, you know?
Detective Armstrong: I see. Well, thanks very much for coming in. If we have any further questions, our office will contact you.
Peggy LeClaire: Any time. I hope I helped in some small way.
Detective Armstrong: Yes, you were very helpful. Good afternoon, ma'am.
Interview ended – 12:37 p.m.