Friday, May 29, 2020 – 1:30 p.m.
Mallory Benson was a friend and associate of Zoe Chase. After hearing from Peggy LeClaire again, the detectives asked Mallory to come in to answer some additional questions.
Detective Murphy re-interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Mallory Benson
Detective Murphy: Please state your name and address for the record.
Mallory Benson: Mallory Benson. I live at 721 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in again. In light of new information, we have a few more questions.
Mallory Benson: All right, anything I can do to help.
Detective Murphy: We talked to several members of the writers' group, and most of them seemed to think you were pretty upset at the meeting last Saturday.
Mallory Benson: Upset? How so?
Detective Murphy: That you even looked somewhat ill.
Mallory Benson: No, I wasn't ill.
Detective Murphy: That you weren't impressed with Zoe's reading of her new book.
Mallory Benson: Because I wasn't impressed, that made me look ill? That doesn't make any sense.
Detective Murphy: That you also left the meeting early.
Mallory Benson: As I told you, I left because I had a pile of work to get done by Monday morning.
Detective Murphy: So you felt fine, and you left early because of work? Nothing about Zoe's reading upset you?
Mallory Benson: What are you getting at, Detective?
Detective Murphy: There is some indication that the pages Zoe read at that meeting were, in fact, your pages, Mallory.
Mallory Benson: Some indication? By whom? What do you mean?
Detective Murphy: Tell me, writers are a pretty insecure bunch, aren't they?
Mallory Benson: Some are. Some aren't.
Detective Murphy: And competitive too?
Mallory Benson: Yes, some of them.
Detective Murphy: And Zoe was known to be pretty competitive, wasn't she? Really went after what she wanted?
Mallory Benson: Yes, she was ambitious.
Detective Murphy: But you and she were friends, yes? Close friends? You trusted each other?
Mallory Benson: Yes, we were friends.
Detective Murphy: And you confided in each other, sought each other's advice?
Mallory Benson: Yes. What are you getting at?
Detective Murphy: Then I'd guess you felt pretty betrayed when you discovered she'd taken your manuscript and put her name on it.
Mallory Benson: Excuse me?
Detective Murphy: What did she say when you confronted her?
Mallory Benson: Where on earth are you getting these ideas?
Detective Murphy: You were devastated, very upset. When Peggy LeClaire happened along, you told her what Zoe had done to you. Had to tell somebody, didn't you?
Mallory Benson: Peggy? Peggy told you this? Why would she do such a thing?
Detective Murphy: I'm sure she didn't mean to. Kept saying how sorry she was and all.
Mallory Benson: This is unbelievable.
Detective Murphy: Not really. Lots of folks are killed over jealousy and theft.
Mallory Benson: What? You think I…? Detective, I work for the Rape Crisis Center. I am against violence. I don't believe my ears.
Detective Murphy: Are you saying Peggy is wrong? It wasn't your story Zoe read that night?
Mallory Benson: I don't know.
Detective Murphy: You don't know?
Mallory Benson: I never saw Zoe's manuscript, never read it… I don't know.
Detective Murphy: So you didn't have an argument with Zoe? You didn't tell Peggy that you were upset?
Mallory Benson: Yes, no… it's taken out of context. We had words. She was relentless…
Detective Murphy: What were you going to do about it?
Mallory Benson: I don't know. I didn't know… it was all so confusing… I couldn't prove anything. I didn't even know for sure myself. Peggy shouldn't have said anything to you.
Detective Murphy: Were you going to? Tell us, I mean?
Mallory Benson: I don't know. It doesn't have anything to do with what happened to Zoe, and I didn't want you to think…
Detective Murphy: That you had a motive?
Mallory Benson: Motive? Are you serious? Don't you get it, Detective? Everybody had a bone to pick with her. She alienated everybody. Even her best friend! She and Steven fought the night she died! He was so furious he was shaking! He knew she'd set him up, that whole thing with Kathy at the cookout!
Detective Murphy: Set him up? What do you mean?
Mallory Benson: Zoe wanted to make sure Kathy didn't like him so she wouldn't have to give her Steven's manuscript. Which, by the way, is pretty damn good! Kathy probably would have liked it. Even if this really was my book, which I'm not absolutely sure it was, I have published books! I have a readership. I have an agent. I make my living as an author. You think I'll never write another book? It's not like it was my last chance.
Detective Murphy: So who else had bones to pick with her, as you say?
Mallory Benson: Jack, the way she used him and flaunted the jewelry from those other men. And who knows how she was stringing them along? And she treated Peggy like dirt, always threatening to fire her and ruin her. Her parents, she treated like a cash machine, like their only purpose was to give her money. And Debbie, slamming the door in her face! I could go on and on. How about the clerk at the Chevron who she called "Hopalong?" You know, Ted Carruthers, the kid with the spine problem? You don't think she made a lot of enemies? Well, think again.
Detective Murphy: Oh, we're thinking, and you're on the list, ma'am.
Mallory Benson: Well, thanks for the warning, but don't take anybody off your list yet. Maybe it's time to dig deeper. Anything else I can help you with?
Detective Murphy: Yeah, do you own a firearm, ma'am?
Mallory Benson: Yes, I do.
Detective Murphy: Mind telling me the make?
Mallory Benson: It's a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum revolver.
Detective Murphy: Any others? Maybe a handgun you don't tell people about?
Mallory Benson: Oh, do you mean, do I have a secret gun that I only use to kill people? Well, if I did, that wouldn't be a smart thing to tell you, would it?
Detective Murphy: No need for sarcasm, ma'am.
Mallory Benson: If you have any more questions, Detective, contact my lawyer. Goodbye!
[The witness left the office, terminating the interview.]
Interview ended – 1:44 p.m.