Canvass – Biffle contacts


Investigating Officer(s): Det. P. Beckwith, Det. J. Magee
Incident No.: 005299-18J-2023
Case Description: Hoyt Biffle homicide investigation

YCSD Investigators spoke to the people listed in Hoyt Biffle's coded notebook to ascertain if any of them had information potentially relevant to Hoyt Biffle's homicide.

Many of the people contacted refused to answer any questions, citing their concerns about the potential criminal ramifications of doing so, and instead referred the investigators to their respective attorneys. All said attorneys declined to comment.

The interviews with those individuals who did speak to investigators are summarized below.


Brandy Catalan
Age 41, Memphis, Tennessee

Ms. Catalan is an art dealer in Memphis, Tennessee, of some renown for getting record prices for Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock paintings at auction. She insisted to investigators that she had never been blackmailed for anything in her life.

When pushed to reveal whether she was contacted by a stranger online using an alias in December 2020, she said someone using the name "Hieronymus Bosch" did. However, she claimed it was probably nothing more than some lonely and frustrated man looking for a hookup, and she ignored it.


Matthew Caufield
Age 47, Nashville, Tennessee

Mr. Caufield, a divorced father of two, was an investment advisor who, in the last three weeks, was accused of and pled guilty to bilking his clients out of thousands of dollars through fraud.

He admitted to investigators that he had been the victim of an online blackmailer with the handle "Hildegard of Bingen," although after he was arrested, the blackmail quickly stopped.

Caulfield denies being in Mississippi since July of last year and has never known anyone named Hoyt Biffle.


Mary Insley
Age 67, Port Washington, New York

Ms. Insley is a retired stenographer for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She said she wanted to get the truth out so she no longer has to live a lie and admitted to investigators that she and her late husband Oscar were involved in email phishing scams more than five years ago.

Oscar, who was a high-profile attorney at the law firm of Bradley, Gunderson, and Lang, had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in electronic shakedowns of New York businesses.

Insley said someone had discovered their scams online and had been blackmailing them. The blackmailer was having them pay sometimes by wiring money and sometimes with gift cards that the Insleys sent through the mail, always to different addresses in the southern parts of the country, like Texas or Alabama.

When asked to identify her blackmailer, she said that he always referred to himself as the former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, but she obviously knew that this was an alias.


Christopher Kelser
Age 38, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Mr. Kelser was an electrical engineer for Kings Electric and the father of three children. Kelser said he was working on a six-month project on the electrical grid at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs when one of his colleagues at work, Evan Deerling, was using his name in an online credit card scam.

When a blackmailer uncovered the scam last year, Deerling told Kelser of his illegal enterprise. Then, Kelser and Deerling worked together to try to keep the scheme quiet by paying the blackmailer, mostly with gift cards.

Police discovered Deerling's activities a month ago and charged him with a raft of internet crimes. Kelser was set to testify against Deerling in a deal with prosecutors when Deerling, who was out on bail, shot himself in the head just hours before his trial was to begin.

Kelser said Deerling never told him who he suspected his blackmailer to be; Deerling always referred to him as "Harald Bluetooth."


Scarlet Lamb
Age 22, Oxford, Mississippi

Scarlet Lamb is the twin sister of former Under Glass housemate Violet Lamb.

When investigators asked to interview her live-in boyfriend, Arthur Timmins, Scarlet told them that Timmins had gotten into a bar fight at The Rebel Yell, where another patron broke his jaw with a tequila bottle. For the last two weeks, Timmins has been at Baptist Memorial Hospital with his mouth wired shut.

Scarlet admitted to investigators that she had confided in her sister that Timmins was abusing her, but she was afraid to go to the police. Violet told her Hoyt Biffle had a way of getting things done, and he could handle Timmins if Violet asked him to. Startled, Scarlet asked if that meant hurting Timmins because she didn't want that. Violet assured Scarlet that Biffle is never violent, and he was handling her stalking problem with the COP guy, Preston Vance.

Scarlet told Violet she could approach Biffle with the situation. Violet did tell Scarlet that Biffle may ask for something in return, like an invitation to live at Under Glass. Scarlet said she would have been receptive to that arrangement if Violet also returned to Under Glass. Scarlet remembers Violet laughing at that notion, saying that Biffle would have loved having twin sisters at the house.

Scarlet believed that Violet asked Biffle to do something to Timmins on Scarlet's behalf but didn't notice anything different in Timmins' demeanor or behavior towards her in the last month. She speculated that Biffle didn't have time to do anything about Timmins before the latter got himself into a bar fight and was hospitalized.


Kelly Ostrom
Age 34, Belle Isle, Florida

Mr. Ostrom, a computer software developer working in film sound editing in the Orlando area, claimed to have been blackmailed online for the last three years by someone called "Humphrey Bogart."

Ostrom said "Bogart" claimed Ostrom was involved in identity theft online, which Ostrom denied. Ostrom does admit to paying the blackmailer by sending gift cards or wire transfers. Ostrom says that despite being proficient with computers, he could never identify who "Bogart" was or where he was located.

Ostrom claimed he has never left the state of Florida in the last three years.

Van Lise

Delaney Van Lise
Age 26, Modesto, California

Ms. Van Lise is an aspiring actress and model. She is in the process of moving to Hollywood, hoping for her "big break."

Van Lise denies being involved in any crimes, on the internet or otherwise, but she did say that for the last few months, she has had an online stalker named "Halle Berry," who is trying to get money out of her. Van Lise claims the stalker knows that her father, Horace, a successful San Francisco banking magnate and golf course designer, is sitting on a fortune.

She said she has informed "Halle Berry" that her father hasn't given her one red cent after she told him that she wanted to be an actress, so she has been living hand-to-mouth for the last year. Van Lise told investigators she wished her stalker was the real Halle Berry so she could ask her for some acting tips.


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