Landon Talley interview

Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 1:42 p.m.

Landon Talley, the victim's lover

Landon Talley was the victim's lover. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at his restaurant, Ma Folie, in Oxford. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Landon Talley

Detective Murphy: Mr. Talley, thanks for sitting down with us. We realize the restaurant is busy, so we'll try to be brief.

Landon Talley: Whatever you need, Detective.

Detective Murphy: Thanks. Would you start by giving me your full name and home address?

Landon Talley: Sure. Landon Talley, 224 Colonial Road here in Oxford.

Detective Murphy: Can you tell us how you knew Diane Coates?

Landon Talley: Sure. She came to the restaurant a couple of years ago with some folks from Ole Miss. This is a popular place for, you know, creative people. We have a lot of local artists on the walls. It's a community kind of place.

Detective Murphy: I see that. So she came to the restaurant just once?

Landon Talley: Well, after that, she was something of a regular. You could say that, I guess. So we got to know each other that way.

Detective Murphy: How often would you say you saw her?

Landon Talley: Gosh, I don't know. I mean, pretty often. She liked to sit at the bar and have a drink, maybe something a la carte, maybe the dessert special. She felt really comfortable here. I like that. It's the kind of atmosphere I want to have here. Family.

Detective Murphy: Did she ever come back with other people from work?

Landon Talley: Not that I recall, no.

Detective Armstrong: And how about with her husband?

Landon Talley: No. She– well, no. She didn't.

Detective Armstrong: So from, say, 2011 until now, she ate here, what, every week?

Landon Talley: No. She didn't always eat here. I mean– look, this is a little awkward. I mean…

Detective Armstrong: Go on, Mr. Talley.

Landon Talley: Well, she and I were friends outside of the restaurant. We saw each other quite a bit. I mean– is this conversation private? Are you going to talk with my wife?

Detective Armstrong: It depends, Mr. Talley. We won't necessarily reveal the source of the information, if that's what you're worried about.

Landon Talley: I– well, I'm not sure I can tell you. But, wait, I guess you already know. I mean, if you talked with Rupert, he told you. Right?

Detective Murphy: You were saying you and Diane were friends outside the restaurant. Why don't you elaborate on that?

Landon Talley: All right. I guess you must know already we were… intimate.

Detective Armstrong: You were having an affair?

Landon Talley: Yes. After coming in with the faculty that one time, she came back alone and we talked a little bit. She was really outgoing, really bright. Gosh… Sorry, I just can't believe it.

Detective Murphy: That's OK, Mr. Talley.

Landon Talley: So, as I was saying, we became friends. We were really just friends at first. She would come in for a drink, and we'd talk. And then one time we went out somewhere else, just for coffee during the day. It was just so refreshing to be with someone who wanted to talk about my work and the artistry that can go into food. Genevieve hates to cook.

Detective Armstrong: Genevieve is your wife?

Landon Talley: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: Did she know about your relationship Diane Coates?

Landon Talley: No. God, no. Definitely not. I really hope you won't tell her.

Detective Murphy: You were saying you and Diane became friends.

Landon Talley: Yeah. Oh, God. This is so hard. I mean– right. So, we were friends for a couple of months before we began, um, sleeping together.

Detective Armstrong: And after that, how often did you see her?

Landon Talley: Gosh, I don't know. Not that often. Maybe once or twice a month, I guess. It was hard to get away and find time, you know, with our jobs and all that. I just– it was such a release for me to spend time with her, to be around someone so vibrant. Genevieve used to be a much more creative person, but she's changed. She gets me so down. I don't know where I'd be without the community here, the artists and everyone.

Detective Armstrong: So we've heard. Back to Mrs. Coates. Where would you usually meet?

Landon Talley: It depends. Sometimes, if it was during the day, we might meet here and go back to my place. Genevieve is pretty much always at work. Or sometimes we'd get a motel room, you know, just somewhere local. A couple of times we went to Tupelo.

Detective Armstrong: You never went to her place?

Landon Talley: I guess Rupert was away a lot, but she didn't want her neighbors to suspect anything so we didn't go there that often. She was really cautious about that. Really… organized. I don't know if that's the right word. I mean, if she called me to see if we could get together, she kept track of all the phones she'd used recently and tried not to use the same one twice. She had a cell phone, but obviously that she thought that was too dangerous, what with being able to track the calls.

Detective Armstrong: And did you ever talk about her marriage?

Landon Talley: Gosh, yeah. All the time. She was really unhappy. I guess that was one of the things that really bonded us together. We both felt… limited by the people we married.

Detective Armstrong: How so?

Landon Talley: She told me she and Rupert hadn't gotten along since her miscarriage a while ago. I guess he just totally retreated into himself, whereas she became much more community-oriented. She wanted to put the past behind her and move on, get out there and lead a vibrant life, and he just wanted to fold in and have them retreat. She thought he was pathetic. I mean– you're not going to tell him I said this, right?

Detective Murphy: Don't worry, Mr. Talley.

Landon Talley: OK. I mean, I've actually met him, and he didn't seem that bad. But I know how it can be. Familiarity breeds contempt, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Detective Armstrong: Right. When did you meet Mr. Coates?

Landon Talley: Well, um, one time when Diane and I were together she got really sick, and I took her to the emergency room. They called Rupert and – it was really awkward – there we all were together. She had a minor stroke, I guess. It was just, I mean, he shows up and there's another guy with his wife. It was a little weird. He didn't say anything to me. I mean, nothing in particular. He said hello, but obviously, he was concerned with Diane and really just wanted to talk to the doctor. And then I pretty much left.

Detective Murphy: And did you ever see him again after that?

Landon Talley: No.

Detective Murphy: When was that?

Landon Talley: Gosh, about six months ago, I guess.

Detective Murphy: And did she ever mention it after that night?

Landon Talley: Not really. I think she was a little spooked by it. I mean, the whole mortality thing. We just kept on seeing each other like before.

Detective Armstrong: Did she ever mention her treatment or any of the medication she was taking?

Landon Talley: No.

Detective Armstrong: Did Mrs. Coates ever mention wanting to leave her husband?

Landon Talley: No, she didn't. It wasn't that kind of relationship for us. I mean, I think we both knew we had a great friendship going, a lot of shared pleasure, but we didn't want to try marriage again. I mean, neither of us had great marriages anyway, so why do it again? I mean, she was really, really committed to the relationship, but we weren't thinking about radical change.

Detective Murphy: She was committed to the relationship meaning what?

Landon Talley: Oh, just that she really wanted us to continue seeing each other. I mean, of course, it was mutual.

Detective Murphy: She wasn't pressuring you in any way?

Landon Talley: No. Nothing like that.

Detective Armstrong: What about work? Did she ever talk about her job?

Landon Talley: Sure. She loved it. She liked to talk about it all the time. I think she really enjoyed being around literary people. The conference was a really big deal to her, you know, that she could help bring a lot of creative people together and make something happen. She had such a talent for that, for making things happen in terms of being organized and all that. She really loved putting that to use for art.

Detective Armstrong: Did she ever mention any problems with colleagues?

Landon Talley: You know, she didn't. I mean, we didn't really share in that way, in terms of day-to-day politics or specifics. It was more a meeting of the minds.

Detective Armstrong: All right. So when was the last time you saw Mrs. Coates?

Landon Talley: Gosh, to be honest– I mean, this is going to sound weird, but we were going to meet up that night at the conference. I was going to come stay with her after I finished up here. We talked on the phone that afternoon at, gosh, around noon or so. She was really frantic, trying to get everything together.

Detective Armstrong: So after that, you didn't see her at all.

Landon Talley: No.

Detective Murphy: Did you go to the YCCC?

Landon Talley: Yeah. I mean, it's not like it would occur to anyone to call me, right? I got there and they said someone had died, and then I found out it was her, and it was just awful. I… Sorry. I just didn't know what to do. I mean, I ended up just driving back home. I couldn't talk with Genevieve about it, obviously. Look, I'm sorry. I don't think I've really had a chance to grieve yet.

Detective Murphy: That's OK. Is there anything more you can think of we might need to know? Any reason someone might want to do Mrs. Coates harm?

Landon Talley: No. I mean, it's not like she had enemies, or at least she never told me about them. I– you know, I can't really think of anything right now. I'm sorry.

Detective Murphy: Give us a call if you do.

Landon Talley: Sure.

Detective Murphy: Thank you for your time. We'll be in touch.

End interview - 2:13 p.m.

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