Landon Talley follow-up interview
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 4:27 p.m.
Landon Talley was the victim's lover. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy re-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 Armstrong: Before we get started, would you state your name and address for the record, please?
Landon Talley: Landon Talley. 224 Colonial Road. Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Thanks for agreeing to talk with us again.
Landon Talley: Sure. I'm not sure how else I can help you though. I told you everything there is to know about me and Diane.
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Talley, you said before that you never really talked with Mrs. Coates about her colleagues. Did she ever mention her boss, Sandra Moss?
Landon Talley: Not really, no. I mean, Diane had a charismatic personality, a lot of energy and focus. I think I mentioned that she loved putting together the conference. Well, I think she would have liked to have a bigger role. She told me Sandra was in charge of it, but she wanted to take over. Diane is… was one of those people who just goes and goes. When she finds something she's passionate about, she doesn't want anything or anyone to stand in her way.
Detective Armstrong: So would you say there was some hostility between them?
Landon Talley: Not hostility, no. I would say there was impatience on Diane's part. She wanted to just take all her ideas and run with them, and Sandra was holding her back.
Detective Armstrong: Any specifics you can share?
Landon Talley: Well, for example, Diane had this idea to have all the authors at the conference collaborate on a story, you know, like in elementary school where everyone contributed a sentence? Only this would be a story, and they would each write a section and hand it off to the next person. And they would do it and work on it during the conference. Well, I guess Sandra completely put the kibosh on it, thought it would be too difficult from a logistical standpoint. Diane hated that. She hated having details weigh down her vision.
Detective Armstrong: Was there ever any kind of open aggression between them that you know of?
Landon Talley: Oh, gosh, no. Nothing like that. I think it was just Diane feeling hampered and maybe a little frustrated. As far as I know, there was never any discussion of it.
Detective Armstrong: What about any other colleagues at work? She never mentioned them?
Landon Talley: Not enough for me to remember their names.
Detective Murphy: What about Mr. Coates then? You said she thought he was pathetic, but she wasn't going to leave him. Why?
Landon Talley: We didn't talk about that. There are women who pressure you to make a commitment – I mean, I've heard that's the case – but Diane wasn't like that. That's all I really know. She talked plenty about all the ways she didn't love him anymore, but she never seemed to want to take the conversation to the next level.
Detective Murphy: Did she talk about how he treated her? Was he ever abusive or threatening?
Landon Talley: Oh, gosh, no. Just the opposite. From what I understand, he's a really passive guy. Maybe he resented her for being so dynamic, but I can't imagine he would ever express it openly. It sounds like they never even talked much at all.
Detective Armstrong: Let's talk about your business. You seem to be pretty successful here.
Landon Talley: What does this have to do with Diane?
Detective Murphy: It would help us if you could answer, Mr. Talley.
Landon Talley: Well, I guess you could say I'm doing all right. Breaking even. And in the restaurant business, that's a tough thing to do.
Detective Armstrong: Breaking even, yes. How about in the black?
Landon Talley: Well, not really. We have good months and bad months. It fluctuates. I mean, I'm not in this to make a fortune.
Detective Murphy: Have you ever thought about expanding the business, maybe getting a bigger place?
Landon Talley: No. Sometimes Genevieve talks about it, but, you know, she sees dollar signs everywhere. I– Look, she fronted some money to get this place up and running. Not all of it. I did get a business loan, and that's paid back. But sometimes she acts like she's entitled to the place. She even got to choose the name.
Detective Armstrong: No disrespect, but it does sound like she's given you a lot of support.
Landon Talley: Well, sure. I'd do the same if she wanted to pursue her dreams, something creative. But, well, I'm not sure she has a creative bone in her body. She's so… practical.
Detective Armstrong: And yet you're going to be able to retire thanks to her being "practical," as you call it.
Landon Talley: That's not true. I mean, I'd be happy living a simpler lifestyle without a lot of the material stuff. That's all Genevieve – our house, the decorating, all that. I mean, don't get me wrong. I like things to be aesthetically harmonious, but in terms of spending money on furniture and I don't know what else, that's not my concern.
Detective Armstrong: Uh-huh.
Landon Talley: What I'm trying to say is if Genevieve wanted to step away from her role, you know, do something meaningful with her life, make a real contribution to the community, we could find a way to do it. But I don't think she's interested. Look, I really don't see why I need to talk about money issues with you. I don't understand what this has to do with Diane's death.
Detective Murphy: Well, Mr. Talley, it seems to me that you have a vested interest in keeping on your wife's good side. Last time we talked, you seemed pretty concerned about her not knowing about your relationship with Mrs. Coates.
Landon Talley: Well, of course. Gosh, I just wouldn't want to hurt her like that. I don't want a divorce.
Detective Armstrong: Right. So you're trying to avoid a divorce. Doesn't that have something to do with the fact that your wife is bankrolling you?
Landon Talley: No. No, that's outrageous! Like I said, we could find a way to make things work with less. I mean, right now Genevieve takes care of all the money stuff, so I can't tell you exactly what we could sell and all that, but I'm sure we could consolidate. We could sell the house if we had to. I'm not tied to that.
Detective Armstrong: OK, sure. What measures have you taken to keep your wife in the dark about your affair?
Landon Talley: Well, Diane was so cautious. I mean, I guess you could say she kept us in line, you know, when it came to making sure people didn't see us together too much. I mean, we never met in the same place twice and stuff like that. I always have a good reason to be out of the house. The restaurant business is such an all-consuming vocation.
Detective Armstrong: So then Diane made sure you always used cash, I guess, when you were out together. That kind of thing.
Landon Talley: Gosh, I never thought of that. Now that you mention it, no. I mean, I never noticed what she did. I did use the credit cards though. A couple of times. Wow. I wonder if Genevieve sees the purchases on the credit card statements or what. She has it all set up online, you know, automated payment and all that.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Talley, what if we told you that plenty of people knew about your relationship with Mrs. Coates?
Landon Talley: What do you mean? It was a secret. She said so.
Detective Murphy: It seems like she talked about it a lot.
Landon Talley: No! That's impossible. She said– she said it was a secret and we shouldn't talk about it with anyone. Ever.
Detective Armstrong: Was she threatening you?
Landon Talley: No. Well, I only mean… it's complicated.
Detective Armstrong: We've got as much time as it takes.
Landon Talley: I guess I wouldn't use the word threatening. But you know how, in a relationship, one person is always more committed? I guess you could say she was really much more committed to us being together than I was. To be honest, I'd thought about breaking it off a while ago. You know, because of Genevieve.
Detective Murphy: Right.
Landon Talley: But Diane wanted us to be together. She said– well, she told me that ever since the night I took her to the hospital when she had the stroke, her husband knew about our relationship. She said he was so useless, he wouldn't ever do anything about it, and so it was like she had this weird… I don't know… advantage over me. She wanted to act secretive about it, saying it was for my benefit, telling me if I didn't want Genevieve to know, I had to do what she said.
Detective Armstrong: Did she ever threaten to tell your wife?
Landon Talley: Not directly, no. When I said I wanted to spend some time apart from the relationship, Diane got pretty angry. She said all she had to do was pick up the phone, and it could all be over just like that. I mean, nothing ever came of it. We did take a break for a couple of weeks, and nothing happened. But yeah, I guess you could say it was kind of controlling.
Detective Armstrong: When did all this happen?
Landon Talley: Around Labor Day, I think.
Detective Armstrong: So this was all just recently?
Landon Talley: I guess so. We didn't see each other for a couple of weeks back in September.
Detective Murphy: You mentioned her stroke. Did she ever talk to you about what kind of treatment she was getting after that happened?
Landon Talley: No. Didn't you ask me that before?
Detective Murphy: She never had any complaints about the treatment? We were told some patients have difficulty adjusting to the medications or lifestyle changes, and from what we've learned about Diane, she wasn't the type to keep it to herself if she was unhappy about something.
Landon Talley: I don't know what you're getting at. She never talked to me about any of that stuff.
Detective Murphy: How often did you see each other in the weeks after her stroke?
Landon Talley: Mostly, we just talked on the phone. She had so many other things going on with work and doctor's appointments and stuff that she wasn't interested in getting together right away. I guess it was maybe six or eight weeks before I saw her in person.
Detective Murphy: You didn't want to see her any sooner than that? Just to see for yourself that she was OK?
Landon Talley: I didn't want to bother her. Besides, I had a lot going on too with work and stuff.
Detective Armstrong: Uh-huh. And when was the last time you saw Mrs. Coates?
Landon Talley: Like I said before, we were supposed to meet that night.
Detective Armstrong: Yes, but before then. Had you seen her since you took a break, as you called it?
Landon Talley: Yes. Just a handful of times though. I told her I was pretty busy with work, which is true. I mean, I do have a lot of responsibilities to take care of.
Detective Murphy: Sounds like you were still trying to get out of the relationship.
Landon Talley: I needed some time to think, yes. But I honestly did want to see her.
Detective Murphy: It sounds like she had you in a bind.
Landon Talley: What do you mean?
Detective Murphy: Well, if she was threatening to tell your wife, you seem pretty motivated to keep that information secret.
Landon Talley: Hey, if you're saying I had something to do with Diane's death, that's nuts. I would never hurt another person like that.
Detective Armstrong: We didn't say anything of the kind, Mr. Talley. You did.
Landon Talley: Look, this conversation has gone far enough. It's getting busy, and I need to get back to work.
Detective Armstrong: We'll be in touch.
End interview - 5:03 p.m.