Howard & Marion Neidelmen interview
Sunday, May 24, 2020 – 6:00 p.m.
The Neidelmens contacted the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department late Sunday afternoon to let them know they had arrived in Oxford.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy immediately arranged to meet with them at their daughter's residence later that evening.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Howard Neidelmen
- Marion Neidelmen
Detective Armstrong: For the record, ma'am, sir, could you please state your names and address?
Howard Neidelmen: Howard and Marion Neidelmen, 1500 Bay Road, #3408.
Marion Neidelmen: Miami Beach, Florida.
Detective Murphy: We want to thank y'all for meeting with us today. We know this is a very difficult time for both of you.
Howard Neidelmen: We want to do everything we can
Marion Neidelmen: to make sure whoever did this to our precious daughter
Howard Neidelmen: is brought to justice.
Detective Armstrong: Well, we appreciate it. When was the last time—
Howard Neidelmen: Do you know who did this terrible thing yet?
Marion Neidelmen: We heard on the news that
Howard Neidelmen: it might be a carjacking. We didn't think
Marion Neidelmen: you had that kind of thing here.
Detective Armstrong: Yes, well, we do have some leads we're following up. But what I was about to ask—
Howard Neidelmen: So was it?
Marion Neidelmen: A carjacking?
Detective Murphy: No, we don't think so. There were too many things at the scene that were inconsistent with a carjacking. Frankly, it was the media that came up with the carjacking theory. We didn't have anything to do with that.
Marion Neidelmen: What does that mean?
Detective Murphy: It's really too early in the investigation for us to speculate.
Detective Armstrong: Could y'all tell us when you last spoke to Zoe?
Marion Neidelmen: It was…
Howard Neidelmen: Friday night.
Marion Neidelmen: Yes, Friday night. She called to tell us she had spoken with her agent, and she thought she would be signing the contract for her new book next week.
Howard Neidelmen: This week.
Marion Neidelmen: Yes, it would be this week now.
Detective Murphy: You said she thought she'd be signing the contract this week. She wasn't sure?
Howard Neidelmen: They had been negotiating that contract
Marion Neidelmen: for months now.
Howard Neidelmen: Nancy always fought to get everything she wanted.
Marion Neidelmen: Zoe, dear.
Howard Neidelmen: Yes, Zoe. I still forget sometimes.
Detective Armstrong: Forget?
Howard Neidelmen: To call her Zoe.
Marion Neidelmen: Since she changed her name.
Howard Neidelmen: It's been… what?
Marion Neidelmen: Five years.
Howard Neidelmen: But she was Nancy
Marion Neidelmen: for thirty years
Howard Neidelmen: before she changed it.
Detective Murphy: Did you talk about anything else during that conversation Friday night?
Marion Neidelmen: You mean, did she say
Howard Neidelmen: she thought someone was going to kill her?
Marion Neidelmen: Of course not! We talked a little about our bridge club.
Howard Neidelmen: And she mentioned something about Dani.
Marion Neidelmen: Oh. Yes. Dani.
Detective Murphy: Dani?
Howard Neidelmen: Dani Bonner.
Marion Neidelmen: Her so-called best friend.
Detective Armstrong: So-called?
Marion Neidelmen: She's no friend if you ask me.
Howard Neidelmen: She got Zoe into a lot of trouble back when they were in college together.
Marion Neidelmen: Might still be getting her in trouble. We just don't hear about it now.
Howard Neidelmen: Marion, the woman is married with two children now. I don't think—
Marion Neidelmen: Don't pretend to defend her, Howard Neidelmen. You know you don't like her any more than I do.
Detective Murphy: You said this woman got your daughter in trouble? What kind of trouble?
Howard Neidelmen: It wasn't anything too bad.
Marion Neidelmen: She has a cruel sense of humor, that Dani. Always tricking Zoe into helping her play mean practical jokes on people.
Howard Neidelmen: They got in trouble with the university administration a few times, but—
Marion Neidelmen: But nothing. The girl is a bad influence, plain and simple.
Detective Murphy: You think she could have been involved with your daughter's death?
Howard Neidelmen: No, I don't think so.
Marion Neidelmen: No, probably not.
Detective Armstrong: You said Zoe mentioned her in your last conversation. What did she say about her?
Howard Neidelmen: Something about the twins.
Detective Armstrong: The twins?
Marion Neidelmen: Dani's daughters. She always flaunted them in Zoe's face to show off that she had her own family, and Zoe didn't.
Howard Neidelmen: Zoe always wanted to get married and have children, but now…
Marion Neidelmen: She'll never have that chance.
Detective Murphy: Would y'all like to take a break?
Marion Neidelmen: Just give us a minute.
Howard Neidelmen: We'll be all right. It's still so hard to believe
Marion Neidelmen: she's gone.
[Interview suspended for five minutes.]
Detective Murphy: Are you ready to continue?
Howard Neidelmen: Yes, let's go ahead.
Marion Neidelmen: We want to help you if we can.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. Do you know if Zoe was having trouble with anyone in her life?
Marion Neidelmen: Trouble?
Howard Neidelmen: What kind of trouble?
Detective Armstrong: Any kind. Any arguments with anyone? Anyone she didn't get along with?
Marion Neidelmen: Zoe gets along with everyone.
Howard Neidelmen: She's quite a charmer, my daughter.
Detective Murphy: Do you know if she was dating anyone?
Marion Neidelmen: Zoe always has lots of dates. She's very popular.
Howard Neidelmen: There's Jack.
Marion Neidelmen: Yes, he's the only one she ever mentioned by name.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you Jack's last name?
Howard Neidelmen: Jack Swanson.
Marion Neidelmen: Yes, that's right.
Detective Armstrong: Have either of you ever met him?
Marion Neidelmen: Oh, yes. We both have.
Howard Neidelmen: When we visited Zoe for her birthday.
Marion Neidelmen: That's when we met him.
Detective Armstrong: And…? Did you like him?
Marion Neidelmen: Oh, yes, he's a very nice young man.
Howard Neidelmen: He is a little young for Zoe…
Marion Neidelmen: Oh, Howard, don't be so old-fashioned. So he's a few years younger. So what?
Detective Murphy: How much younger, Mr. Neidelmen?
Howard Neidelmen: About ten years younger, I think. That's too young for her, in my opinion, but Zoe always does whatever she likes, so who am I to say anything?
Detective Murphy: You seemed to be saying earlier that your daughter was dating other men besides Mr. Swanson. Do you know who they were?
Howard Neidelmen: No, she never told us about anyone else.
Marion Neidelmen: But I know she did go out with other men occasionally.
Detective Armstrong: You didn't meet any of them when you were here?
Howard Neidelmen: No, we didn't.
Marion Neidelmen: She only introduced us to the man she really cares about, if you ask me.
Detective Murphy: I see. Did Mr. Swanson know she was seeing other men?
Howard Neidelmen: He must have.
Marion Neidelmen: Zoe wouldn't keep that a secret from him.
Howard Neidelmen: I'm sure he did know.
Detective Murphy: How did he feel about her seeing other men? Was he jealous?
Howard Neidelmen: Not that we heard about.
Marion Neidelmen: He must have been a little jealous. Zoe casts quite a spell on people. They all love her.
Detective Murphy: Do you think Mr. Swanson might have been jealous enough to want to hurt her?
Howard Neidelmen: No, I don't think so.
Marion Neidelmen: He's a very nice young man.
Howard Neidelmen: I can't imagine him wanting to hurt her in any way.
Detective Armstrong: Is there anyone at all you can think of who might have wanted to hurt Zoe?
Howard Neidelmen: No.
Marion Neidelmen: No one.
Howard Neidelmen: Zoe gets along with everyone.
Marion Neidelmen: No one can ever stay angry with her for long. She's always been that way.
Detective Armstrong: I know y'all just got in, but you folks have any idea how long you'll be in town?
Marion Neidelmen: Oh, we don't know yet. We have a lot of
Howard Neidelmen: arrangements to make.
Marion Neidelmen: We haven't decided when we'll go back.
Howard Neidelmen: We'll probably be here for several days.
Marion Neidelmen: Maybe until the end of the week?
Detective Murphy: Will you be staying here at Zoe's house?
Howard Neidelmen: Yes, unless that's a problem for your investigation.
Marion Neidelmen: She had so many happy times here. We feel closer to her here.
Detective Murphy: I understand. In the short time you've been here, have you run across anything in your daughter's belongings that might give us any leads?
Howard Neidelmen: I don't know…
Marion Neidelmen: There's the safe.
Howard Neidelmen: Oh yes, Zoe has a safe in her bedroom.
Marion Neidelmen: And you're welcome to look through her notes and things if you think it would help.
Detective Murphy: It certainly might help. If we find anything that looks useful, would you object if we took it away with us?
Howard Neidelmen: No. That'd be fine.
Marion Neidelmen: We will get anything we give you back eventually, right?
Detective Murphy: Yes, ma'am. If you would show us the things you mentioned, we'd like to take a look at them now. And if you don't mind, we have a consent form here that we'll want you to sign, just for the record. We'll write down the item or items we'd like to take into evidence, and then you can sign it to show you gave us permission to take them. Okay?
Marion Neidelmen: That sounds fine.
Howard Neidelmen: Oh, Detective? Before we do that, there's just one more thing.
Detective Murphy: Yes, sir?
Howard Neidelmen: For Zoe's birthday this year, we gave her a ruby and diamond cocktail ring. And last Christmas, we gave her an antique Rolex watch. We didn't find either of them here.
Marion Neidelmen: We found her pearl and gold ring, her diamond pendant, her ruby bracelet, her diamond and ruby earrings, and her Cartier watch. They were all in her safe.
Howard Neidelmen: But we didn't find the cocktail ring or the Rolex. Was she wearing them when…
Marion Neidelmen: you saw her?
Detective Murphy: I'm not sure about that, but we'll check on it as soon as we get back to the station and let y'all know. Will that be okay?
Marion Neidelmen: That would be fine.
Howard Neidelmen: Most helpful.
Detective Armstrong: No problem. We're glad to do it. Now, if you would show us Zoe's safe and where she kept her notes?
Howard Neidelmen: Of course.
Marion Neidelmen: Right this way.
Interview ended – 11:38 a.m.