Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 2:00 p.m.
Stella Dearborne is a bartender at Vine and Swine, a nose-to-tail restaurant and full bar on the square in Oxford.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke with her at the Vine and Swine restaurant.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Stella Dearborne
Detective Beckwith: Ms. Dearborne, I'm glad you could find time to talk to us today.
Stella Dearborne: No problem. I'm on break anyway.
Detective Magee: Could you give us your full name and address for the record.
Stella Dearborne: Certainly. My name is Estella Lynn Dearborne. I live at 10 East Long Street in Abbeville, Mississippi. I go by Stella.
Detective Magee: All right, Stella, what do you do here?
Stella Dearborne: I work as a bartender here at Vine and Swine. We are a nose-to-tail restaurant and bar. We've been open for a couple of months.
Detective Beckwith: Nose-to-tail?
Stella Dearborne: Like it sounds, we're an environmentally-conscious restaurant that makes use of the whole animal from nose to tail and everything in between. You should try some braised pig head. The cheek meat is fabulous.
Detective Beckwith: You cook a whole pig's head for people?
Stella Dearborne: Well, half a head really, and you need a bunch of your friends to help you eat it because it's a lot of meat and very rich.
Detective Magee: Don't look at me, Paul. You're on your own if you're eating a pig's head.
Stella Dearborne: Or just stop in for a drink. My bar program complements our food, but the cocktails aren't as intimidating as some of the fare.
Detective Magee: When we're off-duty. Now, a few questions for you. Are you familiar with the Yoknapatawpha Players?
Stella Dearborne: The acting group?
Detective Magee: Yes.
Stella Dearborne: A little. Some of them have been in here from time to time. Actors like places like the Vine. I don't know all of them by name.
Detective Magee: Who do you know specifically?
Stella Dearborne: Anna Kessler and Janet Weber … um, Goodman, that's his last name … and some guy the others just call Bird.
Detective Beckwith: Have any of these people been here in the last couple of weeks?
Stella Dearborne: Only Janet Weber.
Detective Magee: Did she come alone?
Stella Dearborne: No. There was another woman with her.
Detective Beckwith: Was the other woman an actress with the Yoknapatawpha Players?
Stella Dearborne: Not that I know of.
Detective Magee: So you didn't recognize her?
Stella Dearborne: No. She was trying really hard to be high class. She looked the part, but you could see that it wasn't in her walk, her demeanor. You know, like when a customer orders a martini but then wants it made with vodka and has it shaken.
Detective Beckwith: Not a Bond fan, huh?
Stella Dearborne: James Bond is not a bartender, and we stopped listening to Brits telling us how to do stuff circa 1776.
Detective Beckwith: Touché. So did the two women eat or just hang out at the bar?
Stella Dearborne: They stayed at the bar. Janet ordered a mojito. The other woman asked for a glass of Whitehall Lane cabernet sauvignon.
Detective Beckwith: How do you remember that?
Stella Dearborne: Because we don't sell Whitehall Lane by the glass. It costs us like $45-50 a bottle. We sell the bottle to customers for $75.
Detective Magee: Did she get something else?
Stella Dearborne: No, she just got all huffy and said, "Just get me a bottle, then, and you can forget your tip."
Detective Magee: Besides taking their drink order, did you talk with them?
Stella Dearborne: Given the woman's standoffish comment, I took the hint that they wanted to be left alone.
Detective Beckwith: How long were they at the bar?
Stella Dearborne: Twenty or so minutes, long enough for the woman to have two glasses of wine from her bottle.
Detective Beckwith: Can you give us an idea of their body language? Were they laughing, having fun?
Stella Dearborne: That's not the picture I got.
Detective Magee: What do you mean?
Stella Dearborne: Well, Janet looked uncomfortable the whole time. The other woman was doing most of the talking. It looked like the woman was trying to persuade Janet into buying a shabby timeshare or something.
Detective Beckwith: But you didn't hear any of what they were talking about?
Stella Dearborne: Not a word. I was mixing drinks for the other consumers on the other side of the bar most of the time. Maybe you could talk with Willow, the barback who was working that day. She was cleaning on that side of the bar.
Detective Magee: Willow?
Stella Dearborne: Willow Chambers.
Detective Magee: Is she working today?
Stella Dearborne: Yes. She comes in a few minutes.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, we'll talk to her. Can you remember how Janet and the other woman left the bar?
Stella Dearborne: I checked on them after Janet had finished her mojito. She told me she didn't want another one. The other woman asked for the bill.
Detective Magee: Did she pay with cash?
Stella Dearborne: No. When she ordered a $75 bottle of wine, I took her credit card and opened a tab.
Detective Beckwith: Did she pay for Janet's drink?
Stella Dearborne: Yes.
Detective Beckwith: So, do you still have a receipt of their purchases?
Stella Dearborne: Sure. It's a digital record, so give me a second to pull it up on the computer. Let's see … all right. Here it is—one mojito, one bottle of Whitehall Lane, $85, no tip as promised.
Detective Magee: Who is it charged to?
Stella Dearborne: One Cherie Atkinson.
Detective Beckwith: None other.
Detective Magee: Thanks for your time, Stella. Hopefully, we didn't use up your entire break.
Stella Dearborne: You didn't. Hope to see y'all back for those drinks.
Detective Beckwith: Count on it … along with a to-go bag of pig head for Magee.
Interview ended – 2:23 p.m.