Ezekiel Evans interview #2
Monday, October 23, 2023 – 10:30 a.m.
Zeke Evans is an old friend of the victim, Hoyt Biffle.
Detective Beckwith and Magee re-interviewed him at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Ezekiel "Zeke" Evans
Zeke Evans: Look who's back. I hear y'all are the ones who ordered the shakedown of my cell. It's cool. I was thinking about redecorating anyway. But you sonsab*****s owe me a new phone and a dime bag of weed when I get out of here.
Detective Beckwith: If you had told us about that note you had in your cell instead of us hearing about it from prison staff, it wouldn't have had to happen.
Zeke Evans: For real? All you woulda had to do was ask about it. I didn't take the note as a big deal or nothing. Otherwise, I woulda said something.
Detective Magee: You don't think it's a big deal to get anonymous threats?
Zeke Evans: See? There you go. The note isn't a threat. If the damn guards wouldn't be reading all of our damn mail, misunderstandings like this wouldn't happen, and my cell wouldn't look like an apartment from an old episode of "Hoarders" right now.
Detective Beckwith: If this note isn't a threat, explain it.
Zeke Evans: It's a warning for me to watch myself. I took it under advisement.
Detective Magee: From who? Who is "Slippery Lizard"?
Zeke Evans: I'm pretty sure I already told you.
Detective Beckwith: This isn't a game.
Zeke Evans: Never said it was. I'm just sure I told you.
Detective Magee: You like having us poking around in your business?
Zeke Evans: Fine. It's Alden's old phone phreaking handle. The note wasn't anonymous. I knew who wrote it all along.
Detective Beckwith: When did you get the note?
Zeke Evans: A week ago.
Detective Beckwith: Did you respond?
Zeke Evans: No.
Detective Magee: Why not?
Zeke Evans: You have to understand Alden. He's always been the paranoid sort. Once he gets it in his head that something's not right or someone's out to get him, he ruminates on it. He's going to give himself a heart attack someday.
Detective Beckwith: Do you know if he warned Hoyt, too?
Zeke Evans: Nope. I only know what he wrote me. I'm in prison, detectives. I don't have an ear on the ground on the outside, especially now that y'all took my cell phone.
Detective Magee: If you thought this note wasn't a big deal, why keep it?
Zeke Evans: Huh. It's only been a week. Guess I didn't get around to flushing it yet.
Detective Beckwith: All right, let's get into the contents of this note. Who's this Mammon?
Zeke Evans: One of the seven princes of hell.
Detective Beckwith: Who does Alden think he is?
Zeke Evans: Chas Laughlin. Back in the day, when we were hacking, we used to label our marks with the names of demons because we would only steal from bad guys. Get it? If the cops had seized any of our deepfake material, it wouldn't have any real names on it. So Laughlin became Mammon, the odious and portly devil of unrelenting greed.
Detective Magee: Huh. Fits.
Detective Beckwith: Chas Laughlin was one of your marks, then?
Zeke Evans: Yeah. About 15 or so years ago, Hoyt and I found that one of Laughlin's stooges named Thibodeaux was sloppy in laundering money from Laughlin's chop shop ring.
Detective Magee: How so?
Zeke Evans: Thibodeaux bought himself a failing nightclub called the Smooth Aviator in Bossier City, Louisiana, just outside Barksdale Air Force Base. He acted like he was going to turn it into a strip club, which, being next to a military installation, was a good front. He began to purchase "renovations" with chop shop money.
Detective Beckwith: From who?
Zeke Evans: Connected Shreveport construction guys with dirty unions. Thibodeaux would bring in their HVAC guys to put in $60,000 worth of air conditioning, and they'd only do $5,000 worth of work and launder the rest. Or purchase 12 titanium gold stripper poles and actually only install four molded plastic ones. You get it. Just do enough work to make it look legit.
Detective Magee: So, how did you figure this out?
Zeke Evans: Hoyt did. He had hacked the bank Thibodeaux had his money at and noticed the large volume of deposits and withdrawals. It looked suspicious to him, so I took on the role of an El Paso oil tycoon looking to invest in Thibodeaux's new digs.
Detective Beckwith: You met with him personally?
Zeke Evans: That's right. Thibodeaux was gullible, an easy mark. He gave me a tour of the Smooth Aviator, the whole nine yards. I could see that the inside hadn't had any real renovation done, even though Hoyt said several hundred thousand dollars had already moved through there.
Detective Beckwith: What did you do next?
Zeke Evans: Hoyt started using Thibodeaux's identity at the bank to transfer money into accounts of fake construction companies that were interlocked with our shell companies in Delaware and Bermuda. On my end, I convinced Thibodeaux that I would be investing big money into the Aviator to get Thibodeaux even more comfortable with his laundering scheme. Things fell apart, though.
Detective Magee: Why? What happened?
Zeke Evans: Thibodeaux was so pumped that his money laundering was working that he started paying more attention to actually getting the strip club off the ground than watching his money. As the payouts got more complicated, we were able to steal more. We were worried that Thibodeaux would attract attention from the feds, but instead, Laughlin must have found out that the dirty construction companies he was in league with weren't getting all their money.
Detective Magee: And Laughlin wasn't pleased.
Zeke Evans: No, I'm sure he wasn't. It put me in a bad position because I had gone to Oxford to work for the old man.
Detective Magee: Doing what?
Zeke Evans: Installing security at his auto shop in Oxford. I befriended his twit kid Gage at Proud Larry's over a couple of beers and sold him on the idea. That got me in to talk to Laughlin himself, and I convinced him to purchase the security system after marking it down 50%. What did I care? Laughlin's chop shop money through Thibodeaux had already purchased the system in the first place.
Detective Beckwith: Why did you even want to work for Laughlin?
Zeke Evans: Because we knew the Thibodeaux scam wasn't going to last. Alden thought he'd be able to make credible audio deepfakes of Laughlin's voice if we could get some good recordings and then use him instead of Thibodeaux for more money-making opportunities. So, while I was installing the security system, I was also wired up.
Detective Beckwith: Did Laughlin ever find out you were wearing a wire?
Zeke Evans: Nope. Unfortunately, I had to hightail it out of there after a week, though, because Alden alerted me that Thibodeaux's body got pulled out of a lake in Louisiana.
Detective Magee: Were you ever worried that Laughlin would come after you?
Zeke Evans: Nah, Hoyt covered our tracks too well. The security system I installed at the shop was legit, so Laughlin would have zero idea that anything was afoot.
Detective Beckwith: Given that note we found, Alden believes otherwise.
Zeke Evans: Like I said, Alden is paranoid. The Thibodeaux job looked more like a mob hit than something that Laughlin would do. If I was a detective in that case, I'd be looking at the connections those construction unions in Shreveport had with the Marcello crime family in New Orleans.
Detective Magee: Just for my own curiosity, did Thibodeaux have a demon moniker?
Zeke Evans: Oh, yeah. Surgat, the demon who "unlocks all doors."
Detective Magee: Nice.
Zeke Evans: By the way, did you find Alden?
Detective Beckwith: He's alive.
Zeke Evans: I figured. Look, I'm not worried about Laughlin. None of these guys scare me. If it's your time to punch out, you punch out. Worrying gets you nowhere. Besides, I have a parole hearing next week, and I'm already planning a trip back to my old stomping ground in Oklahoma.
Detective Beckwith: What if I told you that Alden says Laughlin threatened him face-to-face a few weeks ago?
Zeke Evans: No s**t? What did Laughlin say?
Detective Beckwith: He bumped into Alden at the Oxford Grillehouse and told him to "watch himself."
Zeke Evans: That's it? Ha! That's Alden for y'all—making mountains out of molehills. Flush that note. It's good for nothing.
Detective Magee: The parole board might not take too kindly to all that contraband we found in your cell, Zeke. Are you sure you can't tell us anything else about Alden or Hoyt that can help us out in our case? We can put in a good word for you.
Zeke Evans: Damn, I feel like I've already spilled my guts for y'all. Well, let me tell you this—I'd think you were crazy if you told me that Hoyt went totally straight. If there's shady people out there to be taken advantage of, Hoyt would've been out there doing it. In all the time I knew him, he got smarter, he got savvier, he got craftier. If he went totally legit, then I'm Taylor Swift's next boyfriend. Now, if we're done here, I have a cell to put back in order.
Detective Beckwith: We're done with you, Zeke. Good luck with the parole board.
Interview ended – 10:57 a.m.