Tuesday, May 26, 2020 – 4:37 p.m.
Debbie Fitzgerald is Zoe Chase's birth mother.
At the detectives' request, Ms. Fitzgerald came to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department, where Detective Armstrong interviewed her.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Debbie Fitzgerald
Detective Armstrong: For the record, would you please state your name and address?
Debbie Fitzgerald: My name is Deborah Jane Fitzgerald. I live at 375 Vivian Drive.
Detective Armstrong: Thanks for coming in, ma'am. We appreciate your cooperation.
Debbie Fitzgerald: You're welcome.
Detective Armstrong: I'm sure this is a difficult time for you, ma'am, so I'm going to try to be brief.
Debbie Fitzgerald: My life is nothing but difficult, sir. Just go ahead with your questions.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. What was your relationship with Zoe Chase?
Debbie Fitzgerald: I gave birth to her, and then they made me adopt her out.
Detective Armstrong: Who made you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: My parents, my family.
Detective Armstrong: So, you didn't want to give her up for adoption?
Debbie Fitzgerald: I don't know. It was a long time ago, and maybe I don't really remember what was in my head back then. I just know they never asked me what I wanted to do. Like I didn't count. You know?
Detective Armstrong: I see. Can you tell me how you came to be in Oxford, ma'am?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Just packed my bags, and then I got on a bus.
Detective Armstrong: No, ma'am, what I mean to ask is, why did you come to Oxford?
Debbie Fitzgerald: To see her. I wasn't going to bother her. I just wanted to see her.
Detective Armstrong: And did you? See her?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah, but it wasn't such a good idea.
Detective Armstrong: Zoe was not happy to see you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Excuse me for laughing, I know it ain't funny. Not in a ha-ha way, you know? No, she wasn't happy to see me at all. Not one bit.
Detective Armstrong: Did you argue?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Nope. She just told me to leave and never come back.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Do? I didn't do nothing.
Detective Armstrong: How did you respond to your daughter's reaction?
Debbie Fitzgerald: It made me real sad. It made me cry if you want to know the truth.
Detective Armstrong: Did you attempt to contact her again?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Okay, I'll tell you, I know I shouldn't have, but I followed her a couple times. Watched her, you know? I just wanted to see her.
Detective Armstrong: Was Zoe aware of your … surveillance?
Debbie Fitzgerald: I guess so. She called me and told me to knock it off.
Detective Armstrong: Did you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: More or less.
Detective Armstrong: More or less?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Well, if I saw her, you know, around town… guess this makes me sound pretty much like a nutjob, huh?
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever have another conversation with her?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah, I did. Excuse me… I told myself I wasn't going to cry no more.
Detective Armstrong: Do you need a moment?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No, it's okay. She called me… just a few days before… She called me, and we talked for a little while.
Detective Armstrong: About what?
Debbie Fitzgerald: She said she was sorry she was mean to me. Said she felt kind of mixed up, and she was sorry she yelled at me. She wanted to maybe get to know me a little.
Detective Armstrong: Did you make plans to meet?
Debbie Fitzgerald: She said when she got back from signing her book deal, we'd have lunch, talk. She said we needed to talk about hair and clothes. Cute, isn't it? She wanted to do a makeover on me. It was sweet.
Detective Armstrong: Did you see her again?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No. She… died… before…
Detective Armstrong: Okay, I see. Just a few more questions, and we're finished. Can you keep going?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah, I can do it. Okay.
Detective Armstrong: I'm curious, how did you find Zoe in the first place?
Debbie Fitzgerald: What do you mean?
Detective Armstrong: Well, I don't know that much about adoption, but the little I know tells me that it's almost impossible for birth parents to locate children they gave up for adoption.
Debbie Fitzgerald: You're right, it ain't easy. I tried for a long time to find her… on my own, you know? Never had the kind of money it takes to hire a P.I., but there's some help through the Internet, and there are a couple groups out there… anyway, they didn't help, so I guess that doesn't matter.
Detective Armstrong: Then how did you find her?
Debbie Fitzgerald: The people who adopted her.
Detective Armstrong: Excuse me?
Debbie Fitzgerald: I didn't find them. They found me.
Detective Armstrong: Zoe's parents contacted you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Well, sort of. I don't really know all the details of what they did. They ain't exactly direct about what they do if you know what I mean.
Detective Armstrong: Okay.
Debbie Fitzgerald: From what I can figure out, Zoe made them find me, which was a surprise, especially after her reaction… I don't know. So, they hired a P.I., and he went and talked to my aunt. She didn't want to tell him anything, so she got his number and called me with it. She thought I should decide if I wanted to talk to him.
Detective Armstrong: Which you did?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Not at first. I started thinking maybe it was some kind of bad joke or a setup or something. Anyway, I finally called him.
Detective Armstrong: And then?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Well, he was pretty sly… guess he thought he could get something for nothing, but I wasn't having none of it.
Detective Armstrong: Something for nothing?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah. Like he could find out all about me—where I lived, what I looked like, where I worked—all that, but without telling me squat. But I wasn't going for it.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do?
Debbie Fitzgerald: I told him if they wanted to know anything, they had to come see me themselves. And I'll be damned! They showed up at my house a couple days later.
Detective Armstrong: What happened then?
Debbie Fitzgerald: We made a swap. I gave them pictures and told them what they wanted to know, and they gave me pictures of Zoe and gave me her address.
Detective Armstrong: Just like that?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Hell, no. It took lots of talking and arguing, but they finally gave in. I don't know what I was thinking. I was just going to write to her, and I started like a hundred letters but… it just didn't seem right. I thought I just had to go see her, talk to her, try to explain…
Detective Armstrong: So, you moved to Oxford?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: Even though you believed there was a good chance she would reject you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah. Like I said, call me crazy. But I don't regret it. I really don't. Least I got to see her and talk to her. That's something, right?
Detective Armstrong: Yes, ma'am. Did you know about her upcoming publishing contract?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Just what I read in the papers. They gave me a clipping of it.
Detective Armstrong: The Neidelmens?
Debbie Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: Have you spoken with the Neidelmens since they arrived in town?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No, I just… I didn't think it would be right.
Detective Armstrong: Did Zoe ever let you see her manuscript or tell you what the book was about?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No. We never got the chance to talk about it.
Detective Armstrong: Just out of curiosity, do you know why Zoe changed her mind and decided to call you and make plans to see you?
Debbie Fitzgerald: All I know is she said, "I have your eyes." Maybe she felt a connection. They say that happens, you know, with birth parents and their kids… you connect even if you don't want to.
Detective Armstrong: Do you have any other children?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No, I don't.
Detective Armstrong: Do you have any idea where Zoe's birth father is?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No. I ain't seen him since he knocked me up.
Detective Armstrong: He never attempted to contact you or Zoe?
Debbie Fitzgerald: No. Well, not me anyway. I don't know about Zoe. She never said nothing to me about it.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. I guess that's it for now. Unless you have anything to add.
Debbie Fitzgerald: No, nothing. Just that it's cruel the way life is, you know?
Detective Armstrong: Yes, I do. Thanks for coming in. If we have any more questions, we'll contact you.
Debbie Fitzgerald: Okay. Bye.
Detective Armstrong: Morning, ma'am.
Interview ended – 4:53 p.m.