June 12, 2012 - 8:45 a.m.
Billy Lee worked on Veronica Smith's vehicle after her tires were slashed. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Billy Lee
Detective Armstrong: Would you please state your name and address for the record?
Billy Lee: My name is Billy Lee. My address is 2222 Lee Loop in Oxford..
Detective Murphy: Can you tell us your relationship to Billee's Auto Service?
Billy Lee: Yes, ma'am. I own the shop and work there nearly around the clock. Once I added the tow service, I couldn't seem to enjoy a quiet evening at home. Or a loud evening out.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know a Veronica Smith?
Billy Lee: Sure do. Put new tires on her car a while back.
Detective Armstrong: You remember all your customers by name like that?
Billy Lee: I try to. Makes them happy. But she was special. It’s not every day you get someone with all four tires slashed.
Detective Armstrong: That’s what she came in for?
Billy Lee: Yeah. Well, actually I brought her in. Couldn’t exactly drive it like that. Triple-A paid for the tow.
Detective Armstrong: How does that work?
Billy Lee: It's a rotation system. I'm the official Triple-A tow every sixth day. Just chance that her tow went to me instead of some other garage.
Detective Murphy: Did Dr. Smith not usually bring her vehicle to your shop?
Billy Lee: Nah. Her car was new, less than a year old. She probably brought it to the dealer for her regular maintenance. If I remember correctly, I was running a tire sale that week. The dealership would've jacked her.
Detective Murphy: What do you remember about the state of her tires?
Billy Lee: They were cut to ribbons. Some ant with a box cutter went to town on those rubber tree plants.
Detective Murphy: Do you still have her tires?
Billy Lee: 'Fraid not. I keep on top of the recycling. Otherwise I'd be up to my chin in scrap.
Detective Armstrong: You said "box cutter." Do you have reason to think that’s what was used on the tires rather than a knife, for instance?
Billy Lee: No, that was just the phrase that leapt to mind. Have to say I like the image of an ant walking around on two legs wielding a box cutter. But then that's me.
Detective Armstrong: Maybe you should introduce a mascot for your shop.
Billy Lee: I'm not sure I'd want an ant. Maybe a bulldog. Billee the Bulldog. That work for you?
Detective Armstrong: Sure.
Detective Murphy: What did Dr. Smith say about her tires being slashed?
Billy Lee: If I recollect, she wasn't too happy. ‘Course most people who end up in my shop aren't too happy. But then I imagine you're familiar with that feeling, you being the police.
Detective Murphy: And here I was thinking you were thrilled to come down here today.
Billy Lee: Coming here did give me a reason to turn off my phone, but I'll still be glad when the door hits me on my way out.
Detective Armstrong: Did Dr. Smith say who might have slashed her tires?
Billy Lee: Not to me.
Detective Armstrong: Did she mention whether anything like that had happened before?
Billy Lee: Is that why you think she killed herself? When I saw the story in the paper, I thought it might have been a guilty conscience, killing that patient the way she did. Allegedly.
Detective Armstrong: When you changed the tires, did you check for or notice any other damage to the car?
Billy Lee: I didn't really. She wasn't a regular customer, and I've already got enough work.
Detective Murphy: Did she get her car back that same day?
Billy Lee: The car sat in the shop overnight actually. I was still on call for tows, but the shop was closed already. We took care of it first thing the next morning.
Detective Armstrong: How did Dr. Smith get home?
Billy Lee: A friend of hers.
Detective Murphy: Man? Woman?
Billy Lee: Woman.
Detective Murphy: Did you get her name?
Billy Lee: Nope. She never got out of the car that I saw.
Detective Murphy: The next day, when the car was ready, did you take it to her?
Billy Lee: She came and picked it up. Same friend gave her a ride, I think.
Detective Armstrong: Do you see a lot of slashed tires?
Billy Lee: Can't say I do.
Detective Armstrong: You remember the last time you had one?
Billy Lee: Probably. Long enough that I couldn’t tell you when. But you never know, especially the way things are these days. Someone down on their luck ties one on, sees a fancy car, decides the scales need to be balanced.
Detective Armstrong: You heard any talk about anything like that happening?
Billy Lee: Wouldn’t y’all know that better than me?
Detective Armstrong: People don’t always notify the police about something like that, but they do always get their cars fixed.
Billy Lee: That’s true. But I haven’t heard nothing like that.
Detective Murphy: What was your impression of Dr. Smith?
Billy Lee: She was angry about being inconvenienced. She struck me as the kind of lady that was accustomed to getting her own way. I remember thinking, insurance or not, she's not going to have to pay this bill out of her own pocket.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever hear from her again after you replaced her tires?
Billy Lee: Nope.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else about this you haven’t mentioned yet? Anything about the car or Dr. Smith?
Billy Lee: Like what?
Detective Armstrong: You tell us.
Billy Lee. Can’t think of a thing.
Detective Murphy: All right. Thanks for coming down. If you remember anything else. please give us a call.
Interview ended: 9:03 a.m.