Mary Lee Jackson interview
Wednesday, April 27, 2022 – 2:24 p.m.
Mary Lee Jackson works as the Stillwaters' maid.
In response to the detectives' request for an interview, Mrs. Jackson came to the Yoknaptawapha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Mary Lee Jackson
Detective Murphy: Good evening, Mrs. Jackson. Thank you for coming in.
Mary Lee Jackson: Not at all.
Detective Murphy: For the record, please state your name and address.
Mary Lee Jackson: My name is Mary Lee Jackson. I live at 604 Tyler Avenue. Now, how can I help you, Detective Murphy?
Detective Murphy: You may be aware that my office is currently investigating the homicide of Ms. Wendy Holloway.
Mary Lee Jackson: Yes, it's been all over the news. What has that got to do with me?
Detective Murphy: We have witnesses who've said that your employer, Blake Stillwater, had a relationship with Ms. Holloway.
Mary Lee Jackson: They had a business relationship, if that's what you mean. I believe she was helping him with research on his new book.
Detective Murphy: Did they also have a more intimate relationship?
Mary Lee Jackson: I would suggest you discuss that with Mr. Stillwater.
Detective Murphy: We intend to do that as soon as he gets back in town. However, it's my understanding that you were aware of his relationship with Ms. Holloway nonetheless.
Mary Lee Jackson: Just what exactly do you understand, Detective?
Detective Murphy: Mr. Stillwater asked you to prepare the rental home that Ms. Holloway moved into here in Oxford. Is that correct?
Mary Lee Jackson: Mr. Stillwater gave me very specific instructions on preparing that house, yes. However, he didn't tell me who it was for.
Detective Murphy: Didn't you suspect it was for a woman?
Mary Lee Jackson: Why would I suspect such a thing?
Detective Murphy: Was Mr. Stillwater in the habit of arranging for rental homes to be filled with exotic flowers, gourmet foods, and candles for male friends?
Mary Lee Jackson: My lord, what a suggestion! Of course not.
Detective Murphy: Weren't those the instructions to fill—
Mary Lee Jackson: All right, yes. Of course, I suspected. Hmph, I knew. Any fool would have known.
Detective Murphy: When did you become aware of his relationship with Ms. Holloway?
Mary Lee Jackson: You're asking questions I do not feel comfortable answering, detective.
Detective Murphy: I understand that, and I'm sorry if you're uncomfortable, but a woman is dead, and we need to get some answers.
Mary Lee Jackson: Well, surely you don't think Mr. Stillwater had anything to do with it?
Detective Murphy: It's too early in the investigation to rule anyone out, ma'am. If you believe he wasn't involved, then I need you to be honest and forthright. And I need you to do that now.
Mary Lee Jackson: Mr. Stillwater was under that woman's spell. He wouldn't have done anything to hurt her. What do you want to know?
Detective Murphy: Under her spell?
Mary Lee Jackson: There are less polite ways to phrase it, but you know very well what I mean. A man reaches a certain age, he can fall prey to the attentions of a young woman.
Detective Murphy: We've been told that Ms. Holloway was not Mr. Stillwater's first affair.
Mary Lee Jackson: I don't know who would tell you such a thing, but that kind of gossip is beneath you, Detective.
Detective Murphy: What if I told you it was Eugenia and Philip Stillwater who said so?
Mary Lee Jackson: If that's the truth and they were so tacky as to discuss the family's private business in public … well, I suppose that's their prerogative.
Detective Murphy: You don't approve of them talking about it?
Mary Lee Jackson: It's not for me to approve or disapprove. They're my employers.
Detective Murphy: I see. How did you know Mr. Stillwater was having an affair with Wendy Holloway?
Mary Lee Jackson: Aside from the welcome wagon I was instructed to prepare? Well, there was the perfume—not Mrs. Stillwater's preferred scent—on his clothing. I found items, occasionally, in his jacket pockets.
Detective Murphy: You searched his pockets?
Mary Lee Jackson: It's customary when you're sending clothing to the dry cleaners to check the pockets.
Detective Murphy: And what kind of items did you find?
Mary Lee Jackson: Items of a personal nature.
Detective Murphy: Such as?
Mary Lee Jackson: Lewd notes. Things of that nature. I'm not comfortable being more specific.
Detective Murphy: Did you return the items to Mr. Stillwater?
Mary Lee Jackson: I put them where they belonged: in the trash.
Detective Murphy: Did you see or hear anything else that made you aware of the affair?
Mary Lee Jackson: The calls that sometimes came when Mr. Stillwater was working at home. The caller rarely spoke if I answered the phone, though I think once she did speak to me. I suspect she had called Mr. Stillwater's cell phone, but it connects to the house phones when he's home and leaves his Bluetooth on.
Detective Murphy: What did she say?
Mary Lee Jackson: She asked for Mr. Stillwater.
Detective Murphy: Did you call him to the phone?
Mary Lee Jackson: No, he was having drinks and appetizers with his family, and I told her so. She declined to leave a message.
Detective Murphy: When was this?
Mary Lee Jackson: The night before Mr. Stillwater left on his trip. The Stillwaters had relatives visiting. They asked me to stay late to prepare the dinner and so forth. In fact, I believe that was the night I stayed over, as the cleanup went late into the night.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever speak to her again?
Mary Lee Jackson: No, I did not.
Detective Murphy: Did you tell Mr. Stillwater that Ms. Holloway had called?
Mary Lee Jackson: No. I saw no need to interrupt his family gathering. He left early the next morning for his trip, so I didn't have the chance then.
Detective Murphy: Did you stay in the morning and prepare breakfast for the family?
Mary Lee Jackson: Yes, I did. Mrs. Stillwater was too preoccupied with other things, so I didn't mind helping out.
Detective Murphy: Why not tell him then?
Mary Lee Jackson: When would I have done that? While his wife was sitting next to him at the breakfast table?
Detective Murphy: Did you ever discuss Mr. Stillwater's relationship with Ms. Holloway?
Mary Lee Jackson: In my position, that would be considered inappropriate.
Detective Murphy: He must have known that you knew.
Mary Lee Jackson: Detective, just because you know something doesn't mean you discuss it. Some things are better left unsaid. He knew I didn't approve, not that my approval was of any importance to him. But he also knew I was a loyal employee and could be trusted.
Detective Murphy: Trusted not to tell his wife?
Mary Lee Jackson: Trusted not to tell anyone. I don't gossip, and I don't appreciate those who do. My mother worked for Mr. Stillwater's father and cared for Mr. Stillwater as a child. She would never have forgiven me any betrayal of the Stillwaters. Do you understand, Detective?
Detective Murphy: Yes, I think so. Did you ever meet Ms. Holloway face to face?
Mary Lee Jackson: No. I believe I saw her once on the Square, but we didn't speak.
Detective Murphy: How did you know it was her?
Mary Lee Jackson: I was aware of what she looked like.
Detective Murphy: How?
Mary Lee Jackson: I came across some photos of her. I wasn't snooping. I was just doing my job.
Detective Murphy: Where are these photos now?
Mary Lee Jackson: I'm sure I don't know. They didn't belong to me.
Detective Murphy: Who did they belong to?
Mary Lee Jackson: I couldn't say.
Detective Murphy: How long ago did you see them?
Mary Lee Jackson: I'm not sure. Less than a month before she died, I'd say.
Detective Murphy: Have you seen them since then?
Mary Lee Jackson: No.
Detective Murphy: Are you Miles Jackson's mother?
Mary Lee Jackson: Yes, Miles is my son.
Detective Murphy: You know he was the one who found Ms. Holloway's body?
Mary Lee Jackson: Yes, of course. My son was very distressed over the entire incident. He said he couldn't stop seeing that girl's body in his mind. For that, I will never forgive Mr. Stillwater.
Detective Murphy: Forgive him? What do you mean?
Mary Lee Jackson: If he hadn't brought her here, none of this would have happened to any of us.
Detective Murphy: I see. Is your son all right now?
Mary Lee Jackson: He will be. I'm afraid it brought up old memories. My daughter, Marietta, passed away some years ago, and her passing was very hard on my son. I suspect this reminded him of that summer day at Sardis Lake.
Detective Murphy: As far as you know, did your son ever meet Ms. Holloway?
Mary Lee Jackson: Absolutely not.
Detective Murphy: How can you be so sure?
Mary Lee Jackson: I know my son, detective. With everything he's gone through, he would've told me if he had known her.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else you can tell me about Wendy Holloway?
Mary Lee Jackson: No, there isn't.
Detective Murphy: Thank you for your cooperation, ma'am.
Mary Lee Jackson: You're welcome. I hope I can trust you not to share my knowledge of Mr. Stillwater's extramarital activities with anyone?
Detective Murphy: As long as it doesn't become relevant to the investigation at any point, I see no reason to share that information with anyone outside the sheriff's department.
Mary Lee Jackson: Thank you. I appreciate your discretion, detective.
Interview ended – 2:47 p.m.