Eugenia Stillwater interview
Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 10:45 a.m.
At the detectives' request, Eugenia Stillwater came into the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department for an interview.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Eugenia Stillwater
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Now, for the record, would you please state your name and address?
Eugenia Stillwater: Eugenia Tate Courtney Stillwater, 238 Highway 6, west of Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Mrs. Stillwater, did you know Wendy Pane Holloway?
Eugenia Stillwater: No, I did not.
Detective Murphy: But you have been to her home.
Eugenia Stillwater: No, I haven't.
Detective Murphy: Are you sure about that, ma'am?
Eugenia Stillwater: Yes.
Detective Murphy: Are you sure you don't want to reconsider that answer, ma'am?
Eugenia Stillwater: I beg your pardon?
Detective Murphy: What if I told you that your fingerprints have been found on the property at the residence Ms. Holloway rented on Shady Oaks Circle?
Eugenia Stillwater: Oh my… oh… uh…
Detective Murphy: So I'll ask you again. Have you ever visited the home of Wendy Pane Holloway?
Eugenia Stillwater: Not her home, no. But I did go into the yard one day and into the shed.
Detective Murphy: How did you get into the shed?
Eugenia Stillwater: I don't understand. Through the door?
Detective Murphy: It's my understanding that door was kept locked.
Eugenia Stillwater: Well, I wouldn't know about that. It was unlocked when I was there.
Detective Murphy: And when was that?
Eugenia Stillwater: It was on a Friday a couple of weeks ago now, the day before Blake, my husband, left on his book tour. He left on February 18th so it would have been on the 17th.
Detective Murphy: Mrs. Stillwater, how would you explain your fingerprints being found at a location where we believe a murder took place — the murder of Ms. Holloway.
Eugenia Stillwater: How would you know they're mine?
Detective Murphy: Your fingerprints are on file from that incident with the gold bracelet. I realize those charges were later dropped, but your prints remain in the system.
Eugenia Stillwater: But you know I didn't really intend to steal that bracelet. I was upset at the time, and I just walked out of the store with it. I wasn't thinking. My mind was miles away. My physician sent you a letter detailing all of that, and those charges were dropped. I really don't think that incident implies that I'm a murderer.
Detective Murphy: We need to know exactly what you were doing at Ms. Holloway's home.
Eugenia Stillwater: I was just … spying.
Detective Murphy: I'm sorry? Spying?
Eugenia Stillwater: Yes. Having a look around, you know? This is too embarrassing, Detective Murphy. Do I really need to go into all of this?
Detective Murphy: If you have an explanation and you don't want to be considered a suspect in the murder, we need your answers. What time did you visit Ms. Holloway's residence?
Eugenia Stillwater: It was early afternoon, around 2:00, I guess.
Detective Murphy: What did you do when you arrived at the property?
Eugenia Stillwater: Well, I saw that Blake's Range Rover was parked in the driveway, just as I'd suspected. He said he'd be out all day. No explanation, of course. Never tells me what he's up to these days. So I figured he was going to visit his … mistress.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Holloway was his mistress?
Eugenia Stillwater: Yes. I can think of less elegant words for her, but mistress will do.
Detective Murphy: How do you know your husband was involved with Ms. Holloway?
Eugenia Stillwater: A wife knows, Detective.
Detective Murphy: How did you know? Did your husband tell you?
Eugenia Stillwater: No, of course not! Blake had been spending so much time away from home that I knew he must have taken up with another hussy. I just knew there was another woman. I could always tell. Only it was different this time. It seemed to be more serious, so I consulted a psychic. She said she could see Blake with a young woman in her crystal ball. She said the girl was very clever and determined to break up our marriage.
Detective Murphy: I see. And did this psychic tell you the name of the woman who was involved with your husband?
Eugenia Stillwater: No.
Detective Murphy: So how did you find out who she was?
Eugenia Stillwater: Snooping.
Detective Murphy: Snooping? That doesn't really answer my question, ma'am.
Eugenia Stillwater: Detective Murphy, I've been married to a mystery writer for more than 25 years. It's inevitable that I'd pick up a few tricks along the way.
Detective Murphy: What kind of tricks?
Eugenia Stillwater: I'd rather not get into specifics. Suffice it to say, I found out who the tramp was.
Detective Murphy: Mrs. Stillwater, I can see you have no intention of telling me what you did to find out, so I'm going to let it drop for the moment. But rest assured, we will revisit this issue, and I advise you to rethink your position in the meantime.
Eugenia Stillwater: There's no need for you to take that tone with me, Detective. Perhaps I should get my attorney to sit in on the rest of this interview.
Detective Murphy: That's your prerogative, ma'am. I have to say, I'd hate to see this get adversarial, but if that's what you'd prefer, it's your choice. Would you like to contact your attorney at this time?
Eugenia Stillwater: Well … we're almost finished here, aren't we?
Detective Murphy: Tell me what happened when you arrived at Ms. Holloway's property.
Eugenia Stillwater: I planned to confront them. I parked down the road and walked back so they wouldn't hear me drive up, then slipped around through the trees at the side of the driveway. I could hear a woman laughing at the front of the house. I thought they might see me, so I ducked into the shed and saw all this folk art. I wondered if it was hers. So I picked up a few pieces and saw they were signed "Catfish Jim." I remembered I'd read in the Oxford Weekly Planet that he was in Italy, so I assumed it was his place and the tramp was just staying there.
Detective Murphy: So you looked in the shed. Then what?
Eugenia Stillwater: I went around to the back of the house and looked in, but I couldn't see past the kitchen. Then I saw Blake, and he was stark naked. I backed away. I wanted to do something, but I lost my nerve. I ran to my car and drove home. So I never got to see the hussy in person. And now she's dead. What a pity!
Detective Murphy: Did you kill her?
Eugenia Stillwater: No! Of course not!
Detective Murphy: You did leave a threatening phone message on her voicemail that very night, Mrs. Stillwater.
Eugenia Stillwater: Well, I— I did think you would possibly find out about that, but I'm sure I said nothing about murdering anybody. I figured out what I was going to say ahead of time. I told her she'd better watch her step, but that was as far as I went.
Detective Murphy: What did you hope would happen when you called her?
Eugenia Stillwater: I wanted to let her know I was aware of her. I did hope she would reassess things and find someone new while Blake was away. But I didn't think about murder. Well, not really. No, it's just not the sort of thing I would even contemplate actually doing. I certainly wasn't brought up in that kind of atmosphere. My parents gave me every opportunity in life and sound moral values. I'm no murderer. You must believe me!
Detective Murphy: Tell me where you were later that night and in the early hours of next morning.
Eugenia Stillwater: Well, we were entertaining that evening. Blake's relatives were visiting from Baton Rouge. We have relatives on both sides of the family there. Blake finally got home around 5:30 p.m. and rushed off upstairs with our maid, Mary Lee, to organize his final packing before the guests arrived.
Detective Murphy: What were you doing while he was packing?
Eugenia Stillwater: We were entertaining his Aunt Martha and her two sons - one is also named Blake, the other is Arthur. They were visiting us on their way to a wedding in Jackson, Tennessee that Saturday. I invited them to dinner and to spend the night with us. I thought Blake would enjoy it, and he did. They also stopped on their way home on Sunday. It's such a long trip to Baton Rouge.
Detective Murphy: What time did the dinner end?
Eugenia Stillwater: Oh, about 9:30. We all needed to get an early start the next morning.
Detective Murphy: Why was that?
Eugenia Stillwater: Well, Aunt Martha and the boys needed to get on their way to Jackson, and Blake, of course, had to catch an early plane in Memphis.
Detective Murphy: I see. And when did you call Ms. Holloway?
Eugenia Stillwater: While everyone was turning in for the night. I made sure everyone was happy and settled with enough towels and soap, that sort of thing. Then I thought, I'll call her and tell her she's history. I had a really positive feeling after dinner.
Detective Murphy: Why was that?
Eugenia Stillwater: Blake was so charming and happy like the man I married, not the distant one he turned into. I hadn't breathed a word to him about what I'd found out, by the way. I thought I'd attack the weak link in the chain — that woman. Get her out of the picture. I knew it was late to be calling, but I suspected that she'd be out given the kind of person she was. I'd tried the number the day before and got voicemail and hung up.
Detective Murphy: What did you do after that phone call?
Eugenia Stillwater: Blake was pretty busy sorting out his papers for the trip. His publicist had sent a lot of things to him that day that he hadn't had time to go through. He said he was going to have an early night because he was getting up so early. He has his own suite with a bedroom and a study where he writes, so I just left him alone and went down to watch television with Scooter.
Detective Murphy: Scooter?
Eugenia Stillwater: That's my son, Philip. But I couldn't concentrate. I kept thinking about what I'd seen at that woman's place. I started crying, and Scooter pressured me to tell him why. He's such a kind boy. So I told him. I said I was sure the affair been going on for months now, and it was breaking my heart.
Detective Murphy: Is that the kind of thing you typically discuss with your son?
Eugenia Stillwater: Scooter knows that his father's been unfaithful in the past, but that was always just a casual thing. He could see how upset I was this time. Scooter was already planning to go out later that evening to meet some friends and listen to some band at a club in town. He said he'd confront that woman if he saw her there. So he did. He went there and saw her.
Detective Murphy: How was your son able to recognize the woman?
Eugenia Stillwater: Pardon?
Detective Murphy: How was your son able to recognize the woman your husband was having an affair with?
Eugenia Stillwater: Um… I imagine he asked someone at the club to point her out.
Detective Murphy: How did he know where she would be?
Eugenia Stillwater: I don't know. You'd have to ask him about that.
Detective Murphy: What club was this? Do you know?
Eugenia Stillwater: I'm not sure of the name. Harry's? Larry's?
Detective Murphy: Proud Larry's?
Eugenia Stillwater: Yes, that's it.
Detective Murphy: And what time did your son leave that night?
Eugenia Stillwater: Oh, he left later than he'd planned because he was comforting me. I believe it was around 10:30. He was back by 12:30. I couldn't sleep, so I was in the kitchen when he got home, and I made him something to eat. He told me he had confronted the slut, but she just laughed at him.
Detective Murphy: What happened after that?
Eugenia Stillwater: I went to bed. And I saw him going off to his place. Scooter lives in the poolside cottage in the back garden. It gives him his own place, but he still has all the comforts of home. He likes to be nearby for me too. He's a caring, ideal son. Every mother's dream.
Detective Murphy: Are you certain that Philip went to bed then and didn't go back out?
Eugenia Stillwater: Oh yes. I would have heard if he'd started up the Porsche and gone out. It's terribly noisy.
Detective Murphy: What time did the two of you go to bed, just to clarify?
Eugenia Stillwater: We said goodnight around 12:45 or 1:00.
Detective Murphy: Is there anyone who can confirm that? Where was your husband?
Eugenia Stillwater: Asleep, I presume. He got up at 4:30 a.m. So did Mary Lee, our maid. She stayed over after the dinner party to make sure he was up on time and had his coffee and didn't forget anything. She's very good like that.
Detective Murphy: Was she the only one awake when your husband left?
Eugenia Stillwater: I got up briefly to see him off then went back to bed, though I couldn't sleep, thinking about everything. I guess you'll just have to take my word for what time I went to bed
Detective Murphy: Is your husband still out of town now?
Eugenia Stillwater: Yes.
Detective Murphy: When do you expect him back?
Eugenia Stillwater: Late tomorrow.
Detective Murphy: Is he aware of what's happened to Ms. Holloway?
Eugenia Stillwater: I'm sure I couldn't say.
Detective Murphy: Uh-huh. I don't have any more questions for you at the moment, Mrs, Stillwater, unless you're ready to tell me how you found out Wendy Holloway was your husband's mistress.
Eugenia Stillwater: I don't think so. It's private, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. It has nothing to do with her murder, I assure you.
Detective Murphy: Unfortunately for you, ma'am, it's not up to you to determine what's relevant to this investigation and what's not. That's my job. You confer with your attorney on this matter as soon as possible, and we'll be in touch with you in the next few days.
Eugenia Stillwater: If you insist. Good day.
End interview – 11:11 a.m.