Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 3:00 p.m.
Rodney Collier is Daniel Collier's estranged uncle.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke with him again at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Rodney Collier
Detective Magee: Thank you for coming in again, Rodney. I wish it could be under better circumstances.
Rodney Collier: I've heard the rumors that you found Daniel's body.
Detective Magee: Well, we're awaiting confirmation, but we believe so.
Rodney Collier: It doesn't seem like it could be true.
Detective Beckwith: I'm sorry for your loss. I know this is hard.
Rodney Collier: Thank you.
Detective Magee: Before we go on, could we get your name and address for the record?
Rodney Collier: Rodney Collier. 20 Bickerstaff Lane.
Detective Beckwith: We have some questions about Daniel, but we'd like to clear up a few things first. I hate to get too personal, but we talked with Sergio Flores, who said you broke up with him just before the first weekend of January. Then, we cannot account for your whereabouts that weekend.
Rodney Collier: I believe I told you I was sick that weekend.
Detective Beckwith: Was that the truth?
Rodney Collier: Yes, in a way. I was heartsick. I didn't want to end my relationship with Sergio, but it was time. I have so much on my plate this year. I'm directing for the first time.
Detective Magee: But we know you canceled your work date for that weekend as well.
Rodney Collier: Detective, would you feel like working when you just broke up with someone you were falling in love with?
Detective Magee: I get that, but I have a feeling you might be holding something back. Like that you were helping your nephew to steal from his employer?
Rodney Collier: No, it has nothing to do with that. I don't know anything about Daniel's work affairs.
Detective Beckwith: Then what does it have to do with?
Rodney Collier: Okay. I'm just going to tell you straight out. I have HIV. I've had it for seven years. It was down to undetectable levels in my body, but the disease has recently become resistant to my original drug regimen. My doctors are currently searching for something new.
Detective Magee: Is that why you split with Sergio? He didn't want any part of that?
Rodney Collier: Sergio doesn't know I'm HIV positive. I was fully expecting to tell him before we became sexually active, but then my health took that turn. If I don't find a new drug regimen, it would be better for Sergio to be free than watch me die.
Detective Magee: But you didn't give Sergio the option.
Rodney Collier: I don't need a lecture, detective. I'm not a child. I have handled my personal life in a way that's appropriate for me, and I'd like the rest to remain private. Daniel doesn't have anything to do with it, so if you don't have any more questions, I'd like to leave.
Detective Magee: I'm truly sorry, Rodney. I didn't mean to judge. Paul and I are just trying to get justice for Daniel and didn't intend to overstep. We do have some additional questions about Daniel if you'll answer them?
Rodney Collier: Okay. The last months have been hard on me, you'll understand. I do want help. You know I've always wanted to help.
Detective Beckwith: I'll admit, I believe you have been straightforward with us, so can you tell us why Daniel would use your name as an alias to steal from his work?
Rodney Collier: I have no idea. He was calling himself Rodney?
Detective Beckwith: No, he had someone helping him sell stolen goods who he called "Rod."
Rodney Collier: Maybe it was another Rod?
Detective Magee: Unlikely since Daniel also introduced "Rod" as his brother. Does he have a long-lost brother we don't know about?
Rodney Collier: No. Daniel was an only child. He doesn't have a brother, long lost or otherwise.
Detective Magee: So who is "Rod"?
Rodney Collier: Brandon Ebner would be my guess. If Daniel was involved in the shady business you say he was, I can't believe he would bring in an accomplice he couldn't trust. Brandon is the only person who fits that bill.
Detective Beckwith: Why only Brandon?
Rodney Collier: Daniel wasn't close with anyone else. He was a loner. He was like me when I was his age. Full of artistic passion without much time for anything else.
Detective Magee: When Daniel came over in the early morning of New Year's Day, did he have car parts in his car?
Rodney Collier: I don't know. I didn't look in his car.
Detective Beckwith: Did you ever store car parts for Daniel at your residence?
Rodney Collier: No, never.
Detective Magee: Did Daniel or Brandon ever talk to you about car parts?
Rodney Collier: Not that I can remember.
Detective Beckwith: Do you have any idea why Daniel would steal from Laughlin Auto Body?
Rodney Collier: I actually don't believe he would steal from work.
Detective Magee: We have good evidence to say he did.
Rodney Collier: Well, I can't think of any reason he would need money that bad. As far as I knew, he didn't have a drug problem. He didn't gamble. He didn't have any girlfriends to buy presents for.
Detective Magee: Online, he claimed to have a girlfriend.
Rodney Collier: That would be news to me.
Detective Beckwith: Daniel did have a large debt to pay back to a high school friend.
Rodney Collier: How much?
Detective Magee: $500
Detective Beckwith: Or $1000 if you ask the friend.
Rodney Collier: Then the only thing I can think of is that he wanted quick money to get out of Oxford and get to New York.
Detective Beckwith: So fast that he wouldn't give Brandon his cut of the cash from running stolen parts?
Rodney Collier: I don't know. Maybe. The last time I talked to Daniel, he did have that disagreement with Brandon, but Daniel said it was about not taking Brandon to New York, not about stolen car parts.
Detective Beckwith: So Daniel could have stiffed Brandon twice—out of New York and out of the stolen parts money.
Rodney Collier: I guess it's possible. I couldn't say for sure.
Detective Magee: What's your sense of what Brandon would do if Daniel had treated him like that? Would he hurt Daniel?
Rodney Collier: I'm thinking he could. They were close as far as I know, but Brandon might have felt betrayed enough to do something rash.
Detective Beckwith: What do you mean by "something rash"?
Rodney Collier: Daniel was tough and scrappy if he had to be, but he wasn't very big at all. Like his mother, he could and would pick fights that he might not be able to physically get out of.
Detective Magee: Did Daniel ever say anything about Brandon physically hurting him in any way when they argued?
Rodney Collier: Not to me, but I don't think Daniel would've admitted that to me anyway.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Rodney Collier: It's his nature. Always cool. Like nothing gets to him. He has his troubles, but he hides them. If he can't hide them, he runs from them. I guess Danny and I share that in common.
Detective Magee: Okay, Rodney, I think that that's all we have for you right now. We appreciate you coming in today. Take care, okay.
Rodney Collier: All right. Goodbye.
Interview ended – 3:41 p.m.