Trevor O'Shea interview
Monday, January 9, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.
Trevor O'Shea has known Andrea Stover since they were in high school drama club together.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Trevor O'Shea
Detective Armstrong: Mr. O'Shea. Thanks for stopping by. How's the spring musical shaping up?
Trevor O'Shea: All right, Detective. A few little rough patches, but Maryanne will be terrific. She's a great kid.
Detective Armstrong: That's good to hear. Now then, for the record, please state your name and address.
Trevor O'Shea: Trevor Ryan O'Shea, 2216 Delores Drive.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you. Now then, I wonder if you could tell us a little about how you knew Andrea.
Trevor O'Shea: We go way back, all the way back to high school. I guess you could say we're the kids who stayed close to home. I've been wondering about that lately — what would have happened if she'd left, made a name for herself elsewhere. The road not taken.
Detective Murphy: How precisely did you meet?
Trevor O'Shea: In the spring musical, come to think of it. Funny. She was a freshman who got a good part, and I was a junior. We were friends until I graduated, then pretty much kept in touch. We were at Ole Miss together a couple of years, too.
Detective Murphy: Were you ever romantically involved?
Trevor O'Shea: No.
Detective Murphy: Even after you came back to Oxford?
Trevor O'Shea: No, never. Don't get me wrong. I thought it about it from time to time, especially in high school. You know how boys are. "Young men's love then lies/Truly not within their hearts, but in their eyes."
Detective Armstrong: Er, I don't exactly follow.
Trevor O'Shea: Sorry. It's Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet." And always hated when I went around quoting like that, but it sometimes seems so appropriate.
Detective Armstrong: Sorry, again I've lost you. And?
Trevor O'Shea: And — Andrea, that was my nickname for her. Very fitting. She always wanted more.
Detective Armstrong: But not more than friendship.
Trevor O'Shea: No. No, she was never interested. I wasn't, really, either. As I said earlier, in high school I would have a crush here and there. Let's face it. She was beautiful and smart and everything a geek like me would have found attractive, but there was something fundamental that never really clicked. I think I was scared of her, too. She was so over the top. I admired her courage, but I never really wanted to go there myself.
Detective Armstrong: What about in college?
Trevor O'Shea: No. By then she was already too wild for my tastes. She was experimenting pretty widely.
Detective Murphy: With whom?
Trevor O'Shea: Gretchen Doyle, among others.
Detective Murphy: Did you know Ms. Doyle?
Trevor O'Shea: Yes. We were in the same circle of friends. We weren't close, but we'd see each other here and there. We still run into each other in town every once in a while.
Detective Murphy: As far as you know, was there any ongoing relationship between Ms. Doyle and Ms. Stover?
Trevor O'Shea: What, you mean now? No. They had a fling in college, and that was it. They're still friends, but there's nothing sexual between them.
Detective Murphy: You seem to know a lot about Ms. Stover's personal life.
Trevor O'Shea: I guess we talked about it, sure.
Detective Murphy: Did you talk about it since her release?
Trevor O'Shea: I only saw her twice. She mentioned the guy, Frank, she was seeing from the theater group, just in passing. We were on the phone, and she had to go because she was running late to go meet him.
Detective Murphy: Did she mention dating anyone else?
Trevor O'Shea: No.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever meet Frank Tuttle?
Trevor O'Shea: No.
Detective Murphy: What about other people from the theater group? Do you know them at all?
Trevor O'Shea: No.
Detective Murphy: So your only connection to Oxtales was Ms. Stover.
Trevor O'Shea: Correct.
Detective Murphy: But you attended plays?
Trevor O'Shea: Sure. But I never hung out backstage or at rehearsals. Mostly I went because I was Andrea's friend. I didn't even really think too much of her work.
Detective Murphy: Why not?
Trevor O'Shea: It was too showy. Some of her methodology — using shock value, etcetera — was valid, but sometimes it was just gratuitous. She wanted to be notorious, over the top, and she did whatever she had to do to get there, whether or not the artistic merit suffered.
Detective Armstrong: And yet you sent three students to work with her.
Trevor O'Shea: Yes.
Detective Armstrong: Why?
Trevor O'Shea: It was a huge lapse in judgment. But at the time, I don't know, these kids were so full of energy. I remember like it was yesterday. Mark, in particular, was so full of zest, and his friends were caught up in it. I thought they needed a different kind of challenge. That was the biggest mistake I've ever made.
Detective Murphy: Was that the first time you'd connected students with Oxtales?
Trevor O'Shea: Yes. The first and last.
Detective Murphy: What about other theater productions? Did you place students with other local groups?
Trevor O'Shea: Sure. Of course, a lot of the enthusiastic or talented ones are already involved in stuff outside school — children's' theater, The Big Yuk Improv, the summer theater program at the college. But sometimes the most interesting ones hang back, and that's where I like to give them a nudge. Encourage them to try something new.
Detective Murphy: And that's what you did with Oxtales?
Trevor O'Shea: That one time, yes. I usually had them volunteer The Big Yuk shows or even New Stage in Jackson. I know the directors, so it was a similar arrangement as what I did that one time with And. Andrea, I mean. Sorry. Of course, Mark was all over the place already. I'd already gotten him into children's theater, and he was doing it nonstop, but I wanted him to see what life was like at a professional company.
Detective Murphy: What about the others?
Trevor O'Shea: His friends had never done much of anything outside chorus parts, but this one season — I don't know — they were all going about their roles with such gusto. This was in the fall play. We did "Much Ado About Nothing," and Larry was all of a sudden completely immersed in Don John. It seemed like he'd discovered another part of himself, and with Mark, they were really flying. The time seemed right to give them a new challenge. It just went so incredibly wrong. I'll regret it for the rest of my life.
Detective Armstrong: What about Benny Dees? How was he involved?
Trevor O'Shea: He wasn't in the play. No, but the three of them were in my drama class together.
Detective Armstrong: The Shakespeare class?
Trevor O'Shea: No, that's only for seniors. I teach a general theater arts class. A lot of people take it to fulfill their arts elective requirement, and that's pretty much what Benny was doing. He seemed to like hearing about what Mark and Larry were up to in rehearsals, and sometimes he'd hang out and watch. That was fine with me. I didn't think much of it. But then I guess he sort of got caught up and went along for the ride when they volunteered to work at Oxtales. All these little, seemingly meaningless events just cascaded into place, and the outcome was awful.
Detective Murphy: You weren't arrested or prosecuted. Was there other fallout?
Trevor O'Shea: Of course you know there was, but this is for the record, isn't it?
Detective Armstrong: Please.
Trevor O'Shea: I was suspended starting in June, through the summer session and then fall semester. And of course, I'm being watched constantly now, still. I have to have my reading list approved by the goddamn PTA, and rehearsals are monitored by the principal. And of course, I can't do anything like what I just talked about: connecting students with theater outside school. I'm completely hamstrung.
Detective Armstrong: But you aren't leaving?
Trevor O'Shea: No. I love it here. I love the kids and being where I first started down this road. It's a neat circle. It just wouldn't be the same anywhere else.
Detective Armstrong: So I take it you weren't too happy about the suspension?
Trevor O'Shea: To put it mildly, I was devastated.
Detective Armstrong: It seems you held Ms. Stover accountable for that.
Trevor O'Shea: For a time, yes. I felt betrayed. But eventually, I realized we both made mistakes. I made the mistake of sending the kids to her without finding out about the show first, and she made the mistake of not telling me what went on. And I betrayed her too.
Detective Armstrong: How?
Trevor O'Shea: I had to promise never to see her plays again. Who knew what that really meant, at the time? That was in August. "There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow."
Detective Armstrong: Right. I take it you didn't visit Ms. Stover while she was incarcerated.
Trevor O'Shea: No. Too angry.
Detective Armstrong: But you were friends again later? How was that? She only wrote you that one letter,+ and it was not what I'd call congenial.
Trevor O'Shea: She called just before Christmas and said she was making a gesture in the holiday spirit — which is funny because she hated all that sentimental crap — but I think she meant it. She seemed to be going through a rough time.
Detective Armstrong: What kind of rough time?
Trevor O'Shea: It's like those COP people were in suspended animation, just waiting for her to step out of the jailhouse to resume their activities. So maybe she felt she needed some comfort, an old friend. We talked for a couple of hours that night, and after that, we saw each other twice and talked on the phone.
Detective Armstrong: And everything was copacetic between you again?
Trevor O'Shea: We weren't exactly friends the way we'd been before — there was this awful thing between us — but we were trying to find our way back. We didn't do a lot of talking about what had happened, but at some point, she wanted to know where the kids were now. She told me about the letters Benny sent her and was feeling guilty about the way it turned out for him.
Detective Murphy: You weren't angry with her?
Trevor O'Shea: Not anymore. We'd both suffered in our ways.
Detective Murphy: When was the last time you saw her?
Trevor O'Shea: We went to dinner on the Monday after Christmas.
Detective Murphy: After that, did you talk on the phone?
Trevor O'Shea: No.
Detective Murphy: How did she seem when you saw her?
Trevor O'Shea: The same. A little subdued maybe, but she'd been that way since she came home. She wasn't going a million miles an hour. Maybe she was tired. But she perked up when she talked about her work, same as ever. Going on about the new production and how she planned to show the COP people a thing or two. That worried me.
Detective Murphy: Did she ever mention any specific threats from them?
Trevor O'Shea: No. I think she viewed it as a battle of ideologies. I don't know if she ever considered actual physical harm, but I worried about it for her.
Detective Murphy: Do you think they could've been responsible for her death?
Trevor O'Shea: You mean, did they kill her? I don't know. I'd like to say yes, to be vengeful. But honestly, I don't think so. It's easy to talk viciously, but to commit a vicious act? Most of us can't even imagine it. I certainly can't.
Detective Armstrong: All right then. Just one more question — can you tell us where you were Sunday, January 1?
Trevor O'Shea: Sure. I wish you didn't have to ask me, but I understand. We had dinner with my folks. We do that every week. They left around 9:30, and after that, Lucy and I just zonked out on the couch and read. The Magic Mountain. We like to read books together and talk about them. I guess that's what happens when you don't have a TV.
Detective Murphy: Did you see anyone else during the rest of the evening?
Trevor O'Shea: No. One of the kids, Brent Dyer, you know him? He called about 10:00 wanting to know what the homework assignment was for the next day. I reminded him that school didn't actually start back until Thursday. Lucy and I laughed about that. I give out our number, and usually the kids are pretty good about using it, but every once in a while, you get the panicked last-minute call like that.
Detective Murphy: And the next morning, what did you do?
Trevor O'Shea: We went shopping for baby furniture. We were hoping to catch some good after Christmas sales.
Detective Murphy: And how did you hear about Ms. Stover?
Trevor O'Shea: My dad called. I guess it was maybe 10:30 in the morning. I was pretty upset. Lucy and I gave up on the shopping and went home. We couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it.
Detective Armstrong: All right. Well, thanks for talking with us. We'll give you a call if something else comes up.
Trevor O'Shea: Sure. Anything to help. "Foul deeds will rise,/Though all the earth overwhelm them, to men's eyes."
Detective Armstrong: Thanks, I think. Hamlet?
Trevor O'Shea: That's right.
Interview ended 2:41 p.m.