YCSD investigators talked with Rodney Collier's colleagues to confirm Rodney's whereabouts around the time Daniel Collier was last seen.
The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all the interviews conducted.
Age 33, University of Mississippi associate professor
Nina Carrington is an associate professor of costume design at the University of Mississippi. She had been busy during the spring portion of Ole Miss Theater's 2020-2021 season early on with the comedy Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play and later with Eurydice.
Nina said Rodney wasn't involved with Mr. Burns, but the demands of staging the play and its repeat performances ran into some of the early costuming deadlines for Eurydice. Rodney had his hand in costuming for Eurydice. Nina said that Rodney often was consumed as an instructor in a production since he's such a workaholic.
Nina said she saw Rodney on several occasions on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, January 2nd, 4th, and 5th, either at the Ford Center or on campus. She cannot recall specific times, except that she knows she saw him eating lunch at around noon on Tuesday.
Nina said that Rodney didn't seem like himself during that time. Nina always knew Rodney to exude an unnatural calmness, but he was quite short with people in the first part of January. Nina remembered that Rodney seemed to notice the change himself on Tuesday afternoon, catching himself in the act and then murmuring that he should get some water.
Sergio Luis Flores
Age 45, actor
Sergio Flores is an actor from McAllen, Texas. He has acted on stage in plays and musicals, in commercials, and has had some indie film roles. His most prominent roles have been in a Houston production of the musical Man of La Mancha where he played the lead, Cervantes; as Ricky Roma in a televised version of Glengarry Glen Ross for a Fort Worth public access station; and in a Doritos® commercial that played during Super Bowl XLIX.
Sergio met Rodney in 2020 when both were performing in the Theatre Oxford's Ten Minute Play Festival. Sergio recounted that the two of them hit it off and started dating in mid-October. By Christmas, they had become very close.
It took Sergio by surprise, then, when Rodney told Sergio that he didn't have the time to invest in a relationship in 2021. Rodney explained that the beginning of the second semester at Ole Miss and the planning for directing his own play at Theatre Oxford were consuming all of his time. Rodney said it wouldn't be fair to Sergio to have him play second fiddle to Rodney's career.
Sergio said they did go out for dinner one last time on Sunday, January 3rd. The goodbye was hard on Sergio, and he said he hasn't wanted to pursue another relationship since.
Age 29, University of Mississippi instructional assistant professor
Dale Tipton is the instructional assistant professor of lighting design at the University of Mississippi and one of Rodney Collier's younger colleagues. Dale has spent the early part of the 2020-2021 season working on the lighting of this year's Ole Miss production of Eurydice.
Dale mainly works individually with student members of the lighting crew and was at the university during the first week of January working on the preliminary design of the lighting for the spring performances.
Dale said Rodney was also working on the play. As an associate professor of theater arts and experienced Shakespearean actor, Rodney had a significant role in the production. Dale mentioned that Rodney was working at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts each day that Dale was there, which was Saturday and Monday, January 2nd and 4th, from noon to about 8:00 in the evening.
Dale can't be sure that Rodney was in the building every minute those days because Dale was so busy with the lights, but he is reasonably sure that he saw Rodney from time to time, either with students or staff.
Age 27, actress
Penelope Vann is a stage actress from Tupelo, Mississippi. She has worked in small playhouses throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, mostly taking roles in Shakespearean plays. In 2019, she has performed as Maria in Twelfth Night and Virgilia in Coriolanus.
At the beginning of the year, Penelope had applied to take night acting classes at Ole Miss to further her career goals. Rodney Collier encouraged her to do so after an audition on the evening of January 4th. Penelope recounted that Rodney was so impressed with her natural ability that he wanted her to do some acting on the side at the Theatre Oxford in the summer.
Rodney mentioned to her that he would like to direct his first play. He asked her to go over his treatment for a modern rendition of Titus Andronicus to see if she would be interested in the role of Lavinia. Although Penelope could tell that Rodney seemed stressed or overworked, she was excited for the opportunity, so she agreed.
The night before they were scheduled to meet, Rodney called Penelope, saying he was sick and would have to take a raincheck on showing her the Titus treatment. Penelope told him she understood. A few weeks later, Rodney told Penelope that some of his plans for Titus fell through, and he would keep her in mind if he was able to put the show together in the future. Penelope was disappointed but thought it was for the best for Rodney, who she believed was hurting his health by burning the candle at both ends.