Man with facial hair and a receding hairline

Peter Pane interview

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 – 5:53 p.m.

After arriving in Memphis from Pittsburgh, Detective Armstrong went to see Peter Pane at his residence.


Detective Armstrong: Thank you for seeing me. We kept missing each other in Pittsburgh.

Peter Pane: I'm afraid I was too overcome by what happened to my sister. I just couldn't manage to compose myself. I'm sorry to have inconvenienced you.

Detective Armstrong: Naturally, you have the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Department's condolences.

Peter Pane: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Detective Armstrong: For the record, would you state your full name and address?

Peter Pane: Peter Austin Pane, I live at 4888 Gill Road in Memphis, Tennessee.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you. I'm surprised you're back in Memphis already. I thought you'd still be in Pittsburgh with your mother.

Peter Pane: Yeah, I had to get out of there. Everything there was so … intense. Anyway, my mother never needs my help with anything, and I had to get back here for work, so I left after the reception.

Detective Armstrong: I see. Now, it's my understanding that you and your sister weren't always close. Is that correct?

Peter Pane: Yes, it is. We just hated each other as kids.

Detective Armstrong: Hated each other?

Peter Pane: Well, you know, sibling rivalry stuff. Kid stuff.

Detective Armstrong: But you hadn't spoken to your sister for years, is that correct?

Peter Pane: I'll be honest with you, Detective. I wasn't much good to myself or anyone else for most of my life. I was a screw-up. I admit it. Not easy to love. But I had a turning point after my father's death, cleaned up my act. And… well, I guess I was trying to mend some fences. First with my mother and then with Wendy.

Detective Armstrong: When did you start this fence-mending with your sister?

Peter Pane: I guess it was late last year when I learned Wendy had moved to Oxford. She called me out of the blue, and we got to talking, and … well, I guess I realized how much I'd missed my sister.

Detective Armstrong: What did you talk about?

Peter Pane: Anything and everything. She told me about her success in the IPO. The girl really cleaned up. I was really proud of her. And she told me about her vacation and meeting that novelist guy.

Detective Armstrong: What novelist guy are you referring to?

Peter Pane: Blake something … Waters? C'mon, you know the guy. He's pretty well-known. Stillwater? That's it. Blake Stillwater.

Detective Armstrong: Did you and your sister make plans to meet after she got in touch with you?

Peter Pane: Yes, I drove down the following weekend. I think it was in early December? We did some sightseeing. She met my girlfriend, Amanda. We had a grand time. A couple weekends later, she drove up to see us and stayed a few days.

Detective Armstrong: Did she tell you anything about why she'd moved to Oxford?

Peter Pane: Well, it was that novelist. She had a thing for him … but you know, didn't say much. I gathered he was married. Poor girl never had good luck with men.

Detective Armstrong: So you knew she was having an affair with Blake Stillwater, or is this just your opinion?

Peter Pane: Oh yes, sir, I knew. But we had other things to talk about. You know, she was a brilliant person. She had a real knack for developing software. We'd even talked about my going to bat for her on the marketing and promotion of her next project, whatever that turned out to be. We were both really jazzed about it. I'll always regret we never got a chance to do that, to work together.

Detective Armstrong: Did you see her again after the weekend she visited you in Memphis?

Peter Pane: No. We talked on the phone and exchanged some emails. I was going to visit her the weekend that she … well, that weekend, you know? But had to cancel at the last minute. I left her a message on her voicemail. I wonder if she ever got it…

Detective Armstrong: You all didn't get together over the holidays at all?

Peter Pane: No. I was with Amanda and her family. I guess Wendy went to our mother's or got together with her friends. I'm not sure.

Detective Armstrong: I see. We have witnesses who have told us they saw her with a blues musician by the name of Willie King. Did she ever mention him to you?

Peter Pane: Yes, I'm afraid she did. I told her to stay clear of him. He has a bit of a reputation.

Detective Armstrong: How do you know anything about Mr. King's reputation?

Peter Pane: Well, I'm a music fan myself, and the Oxford and Memphis music scenes are connected to a certain extent. Lots of bands play in both places. So I've heard his band play, and I've heard other musicians talk about them.

Detective Armstrong: And what have you heard about Mr. King?

Peter Pane: Well, from what I hear, he's got a reputation with women. Also, I could tell Wendy was using coke, and I worried he was supplying her.

Detective Armstrong: What made you think she was using cocaine?

Peter Pane: I called her on the carpet about it, and she admitted it. She promised me it was just until she got through the project she was working on, and then she was going to quit.

Detective Armstrong: Would you say she had a habit?

Peter Pane: I don't know. I didn't see her enough to be able to tell. She said she was just using it to keep her energy level up, but it doesn't take much to turn recreation into addiction. Believe me. I'm someone who knows. She said if she had a hard time quitting, she would consider rehab. But I don't know, maybe she was just saying that to make me feel better.

Detective Armstrong: So, you think she may have lied?

Peter Pane: Not lied, exactly. More like telling me what she thought I wanted to hear. She didn't want me to worry.

Detective Armstrong: I see. Is there anything she said to you that struck you as unusual the last time you spoke? Did she mention anyone or anything that was bothering her?

Peter Pane: No, not really. I know that real estate guy had the hots for her, but she wasn't interested. But I don't think he was bothering her. She was a very private person and didn't let a lot of people into her life. She was pretty selective that way.

Detective Armstrong: What real estate guy was that? Do you know?

Peter Pane: She didn't talk about him too much. I think his name was Mike something? I really don't remember. If I'd known this was going to happen to her, I would have paid more attention. You don't think he's the one, do you?

Detective Armstrong: I really couldn't say, sir. At this point, we're considering several suspects.

Peter Pane: I can't imagine why anyone would do this to her.

Detective Armstrong: What about anyone in the workplace? I understand there's an awful lot of competition in her field. Anyone grinding an ax for her that you know of?

Peter Pane: Nothing she couldn't handle. Really, she didn't mention anything. Maybe if I'd spent more time with her. I should have gone down on Sunday. If I had …

Detective Armstrong: Don't try to second-guess yourself, Mr. Pane. Your sister had already passed away by Sunday, so there's nothing you could have done, even if you had come down then.

Peter Pane: You're right, I guess. I just have so many what-ifs swirling around in my head, you know?

Detective Armstrong: Yes, I do. Is there anything else that you think we should be aware of?

Peter Pane: No, sir. Just find the person who did this to her, will you?

Detective Armstrong: We'll do everything we can. If we need your help with that as the investigation progresses, you'll be available to us?

Peter Pane: Yes, sir. Like I said, I'm sorry about Pittsburgh. It was just so much to deal with being there.

Detective Armstrong: We'll be in touch if we have any more questions. Thanks again for making the time to talk to me today.

Interview ended – 6:21 p.m.