Thomas Eldon interview
Saturday, October 21, 2023 – 1:00 p.m.
Thomas Eldon III was Hoyt Biffle's attorney.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee interviewed him in Eldon's law office.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Thomas Eldon III
Detective Magee: Thank you for seeing us today, Mr. Eldon. I'm Detective Jo Magee, and this is my partner, Detective Paul Beckwith.
Thomas Eldon: Pleasure. Won't you have a seat? Coffee?
Detective Magee: No. We're fine.
Thomas Eldon: So, what can I do for the two of you today?
Detective Magee: First, let me get your full name and address.
Thomas Eldon: Thomas Eldon III. My home address is 25 David Street, Oxford.
Detective Beckwith: To start, what was your relationship with Hoyt Biffle?
Thomas Eldon: I'm Hoyt's attorney. I handled all sorts of legal issues for Hoyt, including the matters of his estate now that he has died.
Detective Beckwith: So questions about Hoyt's will are out-of-bounds?
Thomas Eldon: Clearly. Attorney-client privilege.
Detective Magee: What about his dealings with the city?
Thomas Eldon: Anything I could tell you about that is also privileged. As I'm sure you know, a client's death doesn't waive privilege.
Detective Beckwith: It's going to be like pulling teeth with you today, isn't it?
Thomas Eldon: If you were planning on me breaking privilege, it will be.
Detective Magee: What can you tell us about Hoyt's relationship with Alden Puckett?
Thomas Eldon: Alden and Hoyt were friends and colleagues for a while when they lived in Texas. Since Hoyt moved to Oxford and retained my services, they have separated ways collegially but have remained friends. Alden is an instructor at Ole Miss, I believe.
Detective Beckwith: What do you know about Hoyt's relationship with Zeke Evans?
Thomas Eldon: Only that Zeke was also a partner in Alden and Hoyt's computer business back in Texas. They worked on internet security systems, if my memory serves.
Detective Magee: They did more than that. Both Alden and Zeke have admitted to computer hacking and wire fraud. What do you know about that?
Thomas Eldon: Alden and Zeke are not my clients. I can tell you that any charges along those lines against Hoyt were dropped long ago—a total frame-up job by the police.
Detective Beckwith: Alden and Zeke admitted those crimes to us in the last couple of days.
Thomas Eldon: What's that have to do with Hoyt? For the last couple of days, he's been dead, detective, so he hasn't admitted to a thing. Nor would he have to if he were alive.
Detective Magee: So you're saying Hoyt did have something in the past that he would deny if he was alive.
Thomas Eldon: You're putting words in my mouth. Hoyt is and was innocent of any of the charges made against him in the past. I'm not going further on this point since what you're asking entails privileged material.
Detective Magee: Again with the privilege.
Thomas Eldon: If you don't like me invoking it, stop asking the questions that force my hand.
Detective Beckwith: All right, let's talk about Hoyt's current business then. What do you know about Shiloh Bates?
Thomas Eldon: Nothing. Am I supposed to?
Detective Magee: Shiloh Bates was a housemate at Hoyt's Under Glass. Hoyt evicted her several weeks before his death.
Thomas Eldon: For breach of contract? Sounds like you know more than I do about this Shiloh. Hoyt and I didn't discuss his individual employees.
Detective Magee: But you know that the group Concerned Oxford Parents was continually trying to shut Under Glass down.
Thomas Eldon: I was aware. I will not discuss any legal action that Hoyt was or was not planning against them, but I will acknowledge that the city of Oxford has been notably liberal regarding limiting their unlawful protests. Time, place, and manner restrictions don't seem to apply to COP for some reason … Actually, I know the reason.
Detective Beckwith: What's that?
Thomas Eldon: Religion.
Detective Beckwith: How so?
Thomas Eldon: Religion makes the rational man pause when he should be moving on, whereas it makes crazy people crazier. Either way, religion is a step backward.
Detective Magee: Did Hoyt think this way, too?
Thomas Eldon: Just a personal observation of the way things are, that's all.
Detective Beckwith: All right, what can you tell us about his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Birdie Tarver?
Thomas Eldon: Heh. I suppose you have the email?
Detective Beckwith: The email?
Thomas Eldon: Sure, I'll play the game. The email about Birdie that Hoyt mistakenly mass-emailed to the entire firm and a charity I was fund-raising for?
Detective Magee: Do tell.
Thomas Eldon: Wait. You really don't have the email?
Detective Magee: We will at the end of the interview when you provide copies.
Thomas Eldon: With pleasure. Despite a bit of embarrassment that the email caused him, Hoyt would have wanted the content of the email out anyway. Maybe it'll help you find a killer.
Detective Beckwith: All right, Mr. Eldon, out with it.
Thomas Eldon: The email was about how he stopped making child support payments to Birdie.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Thomas Eldon: Because Harrison isn't Hoyt's kid.
Detective Magee: Who's kid is he?
Thomas Eldon: I think Hoyt knew, but he never told me for sure.
Detective Magee: Hoyt doesn't say who he suspects in this email?
Thomas Eldon: No.
Detective Beckwith: Why did Hoyt suspect that he wasn't Harrison's father?
Thomas Eldon: About six months ago, Hoyt began to notice strange marks on Harrison's body that Hoyt found out were called cafe au lait spots. Hoyt told me that when he first took Harrison swimming early this summer, he saw a large spot the shape of New Jersey on Harrison's torso that wasn't there a year before. A month ago, Hoyt was seeing freckles appear on Harrison's neck, chest, and armpits.
Detective Beckwith: Hoyt stopped child support over a few freckles?
Thomas Eldon: No, there were behavioral changes in Harrison, too. He was hyperactive and had difficulties in the Pre-K school that Birdie had enrolled him in. Hoyt suggested they see a doctor.
Detective Magee: Did Birdie agree?
Thomas Eldon: She must have because they had Harrison checked out, and he was sent for genetic testing. I know Hoyt paid for the testing out of pocket.
Detective Beckwith: Diagnosis?
Thomas Eldon: Legius Syndrome.
Detective Magee: Can't say I've heard of that before. Is it bad?
Thomas Eldon: Not that I gather. It's something that you can live with. But it explained Harrison's spots and the reason he needs medicine to concentrate.
Detective Beckwith: Just because this Legius Syndrome is genetic, I still don't see why Hoyt would think Harrison wasn't his.
Thomas Eldon: Hoyt said a parent with Legius Syndrome is 50% likely to pass it on. It's that inheritable. Neither Hoyt nor Birdie have it. I think Hoyt knew someone who does.
Detective Magee: Explain what this mass email had to do with all this.
Thomas Eldon: Hoyt gave Birdie an ultimatum—either allow Harrison to provide a sample for a paternity test, or Hoyt would stop the child support payments. Birdie stalled and then slapped Hoyt with a civil suit. The initial hearing would have been in a couple of days from now. The email was in response to this civil suit.
Detective Magee: Why did Hoyt mass-email it to the firm?
Thomas Eldon: I think it was supposed to be just for me, but, given the tone of the email, he was so angry that he accidentally hit "reply all" from an old email of mine. It happens to the best of us at the worst times, right?
Detective Beckwith: Given there's no expectation of privacy then, you won't object to giving us a copy of that email.
Thomas Eldon: I can print it for you now.
Detective Beckwith: That would be fine.
Thomas Eldon: Are we done with our little discussion?
Detective Magee: For now. We may need clarification after we take a look at this email.
Thomas Eldon: I'm a phone call away.
Interview ended – 1:37 p.m.