Friday, March 19, 2021 – 9:00 a.m.
Brandon Ebner was Daniel Collier's best friend from high school.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee called him into the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department again to clarify some discrepancies.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Brandon Ebner
Detective Beckwith: Sit down, Brandon. I would think you know the drill by now. Name and address.
Brandon Ebner: My name is Brandon Ebner, and I live at 225 Eagles Nest Lane in Oxford.
Detective Magee: I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this point that you're here again. Not since you seem to be incapable of telling a straight story.
Brandon Ebner: I don't know what you're talking about.
Detective Magee: I looked through the transcripts of your first four interviews, and there are holes.
Brandon Ebner: What do you mean?
Detective Magee: Like, when you broke into Mr. Gayle's house, why on earth would you pry open Daniel's bedroom window when you knew it was probably going to set off the alarm?
Brandon Ebner: I'm pretty sure I told you that I thought that the alarm was only for the garage.
Detective Magee: Okay, let's go through—again—all the things you did when you broke into Mr. Gayle's house. First, you pried open Daniel's bedroom window.
Brandon Ebner: Yes.
Detective Magee: Then you went searching through Daniel's room for evidence that he had gone missing?
Brandon Ebner: That's right.
Detective Beckwith: Where did you look?
Brandon Ebner: Like his dresser and his closets and through his nightstand, I think.
Detective Beckwith: And that's when you found Daniel's father's ring.
Brandon Ebner: Yes. It was on the nightstand.
Detective Magee: Are you sure? I thought you said you found the ring in his dresser.
Brandon Ebner: Oh, yeah, my mistake, it was in the dresser.
Detective Beckwith: After you searched Dan's room, you went through the entire house to look in the garage for Dan's car, even though you knew it wasn't in there. Then you went back to Daniel's room and crawled out the window.
Brandon Ebner: Yeah.
Detective Beckwith: Then you crossed Mr. Gayle's backyard, and Officer Willits caught you leaving through their back gate.
Brandon Ebner: Yeah, I explained this all already.
Detective Magee: Not yet. How long did it take to pry the window?
Brandon Ebner: I dunno. Five minutes?
Detective Magee: How long did it take to search Dan's room?
Brandon Ebner: Ten minutes at the most.
Detective Beckwith: And you still had to run through the house and back. How long did that take?
Brandon Ebner: I don't know.
Detective Beckwith: Guess.
Brandon Ebner: A minute or two.
Detective Magee: See, this is a problem, Brandon, since your story requires you to have at least 17 minutes for your little break-in.
Brandon Ebner: So what?
Detective Magee: Since Mr. Gayle's alarm is silent, you have no idea how long the interval was between the time the alarm went off and the time Officer Willits caught you on the Gayle property.
Brandon Ebner: How long was it?
Detective Magee: Eight minutes.
Brandon Ebner: So I was faster, big deal.
Detective Beckwith: Mr. Gayle said that he never found a thing disturbed in the house.
Brandon Ebner: So?
Detective Beckwith: So you never went in, did you?
Brandon Ebner: I did. I am telling you I did.
Detective Magee: If you went in for evidence of Daniel's disappearance and then tried to get away, why did you just leave the crowbar there under Daniel's bedroom window?
Brandon Ebner: I just did. Why does it matter?
Detective Magee: Because everything points to you prying that window open to get the police to come and arrest you.
Brandon Ebner: Man, y'all spend so much of your time figuring out small things that don't matter. No wonder you didn't have any time to save Danny.
Detective Beckwith: Did you really go into Mr. Gayle's house that day?
Brandon Ebner: Fine, I never went in. I got arrested on purpose to get attention for Danny.
Detective Beckwith: Or a story for your sister.
Brandon Ebner: I did it for Danny.
Detective Magee: We still have a problem. If you didn't go in, how did you get caught with Danny's ring? I think I know, but I'd like you to explain it, Brandon.
Brandon Ebner: Danny gave me the ring.
Detective Magee: When?
Brandon Ebner: New Year's Eve.
Detective Magee: Why?
Brandon Ebner: He just did.
Detective Beckwith: You better come up with something better than that, Brandon. From what we hear, Daniel never took that ring off. It was that important to him.
Brandon Ebner: I was more important to him.
Detective Magee: You can tell us why Danny gave you the ring. It's okay. What really happened during that fight at the party?
Brandon Ebner: We planned to go to New York together all December. Just the two of us. But on New Year's Eve, he told me he needed to go alone. He said he was leaving me in Oxford.
Detective Magee: How did that make you feel?
Brandon Ebner: I was crushed. I couldn't believe it. We were finally going to start our lives … together.
Detective Magee: As a couple?
Brandon Ebner: Yeah.
Detective Beckwith: Did he give you a reason for leaving you at home?
Brandon Ebner: He said that he needed a clean break from Oxford. From his family. I told him I needed that too. He said I was wrong. He told me the only reason why I was going was because he was going.
Detective Beckwith: Did that make you angry?
Brandon Ebner: Well, I shoved him hard. He said he understood if I hated him. I told him to take me home.
Detective Magee: Did he?
Brandon Ebner: Yes. We got into his car, and he drove me back home. I looked out the window the whole way so he wouldn't see me cry.
Detective Magee: Did he say anything to you during the ride home?
Brandon Ebner: Not until we were in my parents' driveway.
Detective Magee: What did he say?
Brandon Ebner: He said, "When my dad died, all I had to remember him by was this ring. You hold on to it for me until I come back, okay? That way, you can't forget me when I'm gone, and I have two reasons to come back."
Detective Magee: Then what did you do?
Brandon Ebner: I kissed him. Then, I got out of the car, and that was the last time I ever saw him.
Detective Beckwith: So why didn't you tell us about your relationship with Daniel from the start?
Brandon Ebner: Danny could have been alive in New York. I wasn't sure. If people found out about our relationship, Danny might never have come back to me.
Detective Magee: Why?
Brandon Ebner: Because Vince would throw him out of his house.
Detective Magee: Why do you think that?
Brandon Ebner: He hates gay people. He says it's against his religion, but I think he just uses that as an excuse. The Bible doesn't stop him from living with a woman that's not his wife.
Detective Magee: But he was already out of Vince's house, wasn't he?
Brandon Ebner: I mean, Vince would totally cut him out of his life, no contact. And he's the only family Danny had for a long time.
Detective Beckwith: So you faked a breaking and entering of Vincent's house to get arrested?
Brandon Ebner: I didn't see any other option of gaining attention for Danny that wouldn't have outed us.
Detective Magee: So if you thought Daniel could've actually gone to New York, when did you come to believe that his life was in danger?
Brandon Ebner: When someone was pretending to be him online.
Detective Magee: We've never established that.
Brandon Ebner: Well, you can now that you know Danny and I were together.
Detective Beckwith: How?
Brandon Ebner: Because the "Danny" online immediately got himself a girlfriend. That would never have happened.
Detective Beckwith: Are you sure?
Brandon Ebner: Yes, his Facebook status changed almost immediately to "in a relationship with" a girl I'd never heard of.
Detective Magee: We're aware. We've checked the name and haven't been able to find the woman.
Brandon Ebner: See, there you go.
Detective Beckwith: It could have been Daniel himself, hiding his sexual orientation online with a fake name.
Brandon Ebner: I don't believe that.
Detective Beckwith: I hate to do this to you, Brandon, but you've lied to us so many times that we're going to have to have some evidence to show your romantic involvement with Daniel Collier.
Brandon Ebner: I have some things in my room at my parents' house.
Detective Beckwith: Can you get them for us?
Brandon Ebner: You mean now?
Detective Magee: Yes, we'll drive you home, and you can get them for us. We have to be with you at the time.
Brandon Ebner: Okay.
Interview ended – 9:44 a.m.