Sunday, April 17, 2022 – 3:10 p.m.
Opal-Marie James found a bag of stained clothing just off Highway 6 west of Oxford.
When notified of the discovery, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy proceeded to the James residence on Shady Grove Road to interview the teen and her mother, Natalie James.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Opal-Marie James
- Natalie James
Detective Murphy: For the record, this interview is being conducted in the presence of the witness's mother because the witness is a minor. There is no attorney present. Opal-Marie, can you tell us your full name, your age, and your address?
Opal-Marie James: I'm Opal-Marie James. I live at 181 Shady Grove Road, Sardis, Mississippi. I'm thirteen.
Detective Armstrong: Can you tell us how you found the bag of clothes?
Opal-Marie James: Lester, my dog, he was really the one that found 'em. We were walking to the store to get some milk and bread so Mama could make some lunch. We were nearly there, and he goes down off the road and starts sniffing and growling at something down in the ditch.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember about what time this was?
Opal-Marie James: I think it was maybe 2:00 p.m. or so? It was after church but not long after.
Detective Armstrong: Okay, so Lester was down in the ditch growling at something, and then what happened?
Opal-Marie James: Well, I yanked on his leash to get him outta that ditch because he was gonna get himself all dirty, but he wouldn't come. That isn't like him. He always listens. So then I think maybe there is something really down there, not just a squirrel or a rabbit or something. So I went down after him.
Detective Murphy: Is that when you found the bag?
Opal-Marie James: Yep. I saw a plastic bag from the bookstore. I picked it up, thinking maybe there were some books in there. Maybe somebody was done reading them, and they left them there. And since I like to read so much…
Natalie James: Oh yes, she loves to read. She'll read anything, anything at all.
Detective Armstrong: That's a good habit, reading. Very enriching to a person's life.
Natalie James: Oh, yes, sir, it is. I've always been in favor of her readin' as much as she can. She took to books right off, when she was still little bitty, so—
Detective Murphy: Sorry to interrupt, ma'am. Opal-Marie, did you pick up the bag?
Opal-Marie James: Yes, ma'am, I did. Like I said, I was thinking it was books, so I opened it up and saw the clothes and stuff.
Detective Armstrong: Did you touch anything in the bag?
Opal-Marie James: Well, yeah. The clothes looked cool, a couple shirts and some pants. But I saw this sorta red-brown stuff on 'em, and one of the shirts was all tore up. Then I got scared because I think maybe it's blood or something bad, so I dropped the bag and clothes and everything.
Detective Murphy: Then what did you do?
Opal-Marie James: I just got all cold and scared, so I ran home and told Mama what I saw and all. She called the 911 then.
Natalie James: Yes, she came right home and told me. I called the 911 Emergency, and we told them where it was.
Detective Murphy: An officer met you at the scene?
Opal-Marie James: Yes, ma'am. We went back and waited and showed the officer where it was. They took our fingerprints so they could tell ours from the bad guy's, and then we came home. Then y'all got here a little later.
Detective Armstrong: You and Lester did the right thing, Opal-Marie. You're a very civic-minded young lady.
Opal-Marie James: Oh, thank you! Do you think those clothes belonged to that lady?
Detective Murphy: What lady?
Opal-Marie James: That lady that was in the news? My friend Darnell was tellin' me about that poor lady. It was on TV and everything. That's what he said.
Detective Armstrong: Well, we sure are going to look into it.
Opal-Marie James: Good. I hope you find out what happened to that poor lady, sir.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else you remember about the bag or its contents? Or anything you saw that seemed unusual to you?
Opal-Marie James: No, ma'am, not a thing. They were just there in the ditch, nice as you please.
Detective Armstrong: Was anybody else around? Did you notice anybody? Maybe somebody you didn't know?
Opal-Marie James: Nope, just me and Lester.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Opal-Marie, thank you for all your help. We really appreciate it. And thank you too, Mrs. James, for your report.
Natalie James: You're welcome, ma'am.
Detective Armstrong: If we have any more questions, we'll let you know.
Natalie James: Anytime.
Interview ended – 3:35 p.m.