John Brewer interview
Monday, August 28, 2023 – 11:30 a.m.
John Brewer is the department head at the University of Mississippi's business school. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him in his office on the university campus.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- John Brewer
Detective Murphy: For the record, would you please state your name and address?
John Brewer: My name is John Brewer. I don't see why you need my address to ask me about someone who worked in my department.
Detective Murphy: It's just a standard question.
John Brewer: I resent the implication.
Detective Murphy: What implication?
John Brewer: That my residence is somehow connected to Kristi's death.
Detective Murphy: We're implying no such thing.
Detective Armstrong: Are you saying it is connected? Should we pursue that line of questioning?
John Brewer: Of course not.
Detective Armstrong: Then just answer the question, and let's move on.
John Brewer: Note that I'm answering the question under protest. I live at 117 Hillside Drive.
Detective Murphy: Thank you. First of all, we'd like your consent to search Ms. Waterson's office.
John Brewer: It's fine by me, but you'll probably need the school's permission as well as a search warrant. Is this your first investigation?
Detective Murphy: Actually, sir, as head of the department, you can authorize a search of your employee's work area. All you need to do is sign this consent form.
John Brewer: I'm not sure I should do that.
Detective Murphy: If you're uncomfortable doing it, we'll be happy to drop by the Dean's office and get him to sign it. We'll just tell him that you felt it was inappropriate for someone at your level to give us consent, and I'm sure he'll help us out.
John Brewer: You don't need to do that. Give me that thing.
Detective Murphy: Now, Mr. Brewer, we don't want you to sign it if you feel at all uncomfortable or pressured.
John Brewer: I feel fine. Give it to me. And it's Doctor, not Mister.
Detective Murphy: Thank you, sir. We'll take a look at Ms. Waterson's office after we've finished our conversation here. Do you know if Ms. Waterson ever received threats from anybody?
John Brewer: Not threats, per se, but anyone actually interested in an education who was unfortunate enough to draw Ms. Waterson as an instructor probably filed a complaint.
Detective Armstrong: And why is that?
John Brewer: Kristi was not familiar with the subject she was supposedly teaching. She was a political appointee with little practical experience or book learning.
Detective Murphy: Did that bother you?
John Brewer: It was a disservice both to the department and the students who take their education seriously. Of course, it bothered me. My hands were tied.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever try to do anything about it?
John Brewer: Like what? I told you, my hands were tied.
Detective Murphy: You never encouraged her to work on her teaching technique, expand her knowledge of the subject, improve her performance, anything like that? You were her boss, right?
John Brewer: I was her supervisor and department head, yes. I did what I could to try to get her to do her job as she ought to be doing it, but she was unreceptive. She simply wasn't interested.
Detective Armstrong: Do you remember any student in particular who complained more than the others about her?
John Brewer: There was a Weldon somebody. I've seen people who put less work into their dissertations than he put into his complaint letters.
Detective Armstrong: Weldon. Is that a last name or a first name?
John Brewer: Couldn't tell you.
Detective Armstrong: Meaning, you don't know, or you're not willing to tell us?
John Brewer: I don't know. If I ever did know, I no longer can recall.
Detective Murphy: Would you have copies of the complaint letters?
John Brewer: Complaints are shredded as soon as they're read. Sometimes before. The administration doesn't like waves. They'd prefer to keep an incompetent instructor who erodes the school's reputation than admit to a problem.
Detective Murphy: That sounds very strange, Mr. Brewer. This is university policy? To shred complaints about the faculty?
John Brewer: Not official policy, no. And it's Doctor.
Detective Murphy: Is it unofficial policy?
John Brewer: Look, what difference does it make?
Detective Murphy: We'd like to see those complaint letters. Are you saying you don't have them?
John Brewer: No, I don't have them.
Detective Murphy: Does anyone else have them?
John Brewer: Not that I'm aware of.
Detective Murphy: They did exist at one time, though, right?
John Brewer: What are you implying now?
Detective Murphy: I'm simply asking whether these complaints really were filed against Ms. Waterson or if your obvious resentment of her inspired you to … fabricate something that would make her look bad.
John Brewer: Don't be ridiculous. Of course, they existed.
Detective Murphy: They just don't exist now.
John Brewer: Correct.
Detective Murphy: I see.
Detective Armstrong: Where were you the night Kristi Waterson was killed?
John Brewer: I don't have to answer that.
Detective Armstrong: We could take you over to the Sheriff's Office and ask you again.
John Brewer: Don't bother. I was out with a colleague.
Detective Murphy: And the name of that colleague?
John Brewer: Emily Peyton.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Peyton works for the university?
John Brewer: She's an instructor in my department.
Detective Murphy: Like Kristi Waterson?
John Brewer: Like Kristi.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever date Kristi?
John Brewer: No.
Detective Armstrong: Did you try?
John Brewer: I was her supervisor.
Detective Armstrong: You just got through telling us that you're Emily Peyton's supervisor, and you went out with her, so that doesn't wash. Try again.
John Brewer: We didn't exactly click, Kristi and I.
Detective Armstrong: Do you and Emily click?
John Brewer: Well enough.
Detective Armstrong: Who did Kristi click with?
John Brewer: I wouldn't know.
Detective Murphy: She never brought anybody to department social events?
John Brewer: No.
Detective Armstrong: Kristi was an attractive young woman. Were you surprised that she never brought a date?
John Brewer: Faculty functions are exceedingly tedious. Not date events unless you're dating someone who enjoys listening to blowhards pontificate.
Detective Murphy: Could you describe your movements on Saturday evening, the night Ms. Waterson was killed?
John Brewer: Emily and I met at 6:00 p.m. for dinner. Left the restaurant about 8:00 p.m. She followed me to my house, where we spent the evening. She went home about 2:00 a.m.
Detective Murphy: How do you know she went home?
John Brewer: I don't. That's where she said she was going.
Detective Murphy: Where did you go for dinner?
John Brewer: Venice Kitchen.
Detective Murphy: And the two of you met there? You didn't pick her up?
John Brewer: We met there.
Detective Murphy: Will Ms. Peyton corroborate your story?
John Brewer: I'm not a mind-reader.
Detective Murphy: Is there any reason for you to believe that Ms. Peyton's version of the evening might differ from yours?
John Brewer: She's a woman, and a woman sometimes remembers things differently, even when she saw and heard exactly the same things a man did. Just talk to her.
Detective Armstrong: I see you've assembled quite a library of true crime books, forensic texts.
John Brewer: My personal reading habits are both none of your business and unrelated to the subject of our discussion.
Detective Murphy: Unrelated to a homicide investigation?
John Brewer: Fine. Reading about murder calms me.
Detective Murphy: Oh?
John Brewer: University intrigues pale in comparison.
Detective Armstrong: So your interest in those books has nothing to do with what happened to your brother?
John Brewer: My brother is not the subject of our discussion.
Detective Armstrong: Should he be?
John Brewer: No.
Detective Armstrong: You don't think—
John Brewer: I will not discuss my brother with you. I'll thank you to move on to another topic.
Detective Murphy: Was Ms. Waterson likely to receive tenure?
John Brewer: Whatever she desired, Kristi probably would have received.
Detective Murphy: Your job, even?
John Brewer: That wouldn't have surprised me one bit.
Detective Armstrong: How did Ms. Waterson get along with the other faculty members?
John Brewer: She was tolerated. Everybody knows better than to make waves.
Detective Murphy: Somebody didn't. Ms. Waterson is dead.
John Brewer: Can I ask a question?
Detective Murphy: Certainly.
John Brewer: Is this how you go about investigating a homicide? Asking uninvolved people unnecessary questions?
Detective Murphy: We talk to anyone who had an association with the victim, which includes you in this case. That's how we determine who's involved and what questions are necessary.
John Brewer: It's no wonder people get away with murder.
Detective Murphy: You think Ms. Waterson's killer will get away with it?
John Brewer: Wouldn't surprise me. Of course, she came from a wealthy family, so you'll probably actually try to find out who killed her.
Detective Armstrong: With all the reading you've done, you must know quite a bit about investigating a case like this. How do you explain what happened to Ms. Waterson?
John Brewer: There is a God.
Detective Armstrong: That's your whole theory? A smart guy like you doing all that reading, and that's the best you can come up with?
John Brewer: Look, I'm not going to do your job for you. You figure out who killed her.
Detective Murphy: Thank you, Mr. Brewer, for your time. We'll be in touch.
Interview ended – 12:13 p.m.