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Was Eli really as ambivalent about his co-worker Caroline Jordan as he sounds?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 3:40 p.m.

Eli Rice is a stock boy at Santa's Toy Shoppe, where he worked with Caroline Jordan.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Eli Rice

Detective Armstrong: Good afternoon.

Eli Rice: If you say so. It's really not all that good to me.

Detective Armstrong: Too bad. State your name and address for the record, please.

Eli Rice: Eli John Rice, 310 North 14th Street, Oxford.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you, Mr. Rice. We'd like to talk to you about Caroline Jordan.

Eli Rice:
 I heard what happened to her. That's messed up, man.

Detective Armstrong:
 How did you hear about it?

Eli Rice: It's all over the news.

Detective Murphy: How well did you know Caroline?

Eli Rice: I worked with her at the store. We weren't buddies, but she was OK. I can't complain about her.

Detective Murphy: Were you at the Christmas party at her house last night?

Eli Rice: Sure. Free booze! Any place that's offering free beer, I'll be there. I'm not stupid.

Detective Murphy: Did you notice anything untoward?

Eli Rice: Untoward? That's not in my vocab.

Detective Armstrong: Was anyone unruly or trying to cause trouble?

Eli Rice: Unruly? Now that's funny. We were all unruly after too many drinks. We had a ball.

Detective Armstrong: Are you having any problems at work with anyone?

Eli Rice: No, nothing important. We sometimes have words over some silly thing or another, but nothing serious. Hey, wait. You don't think I had anything to do with Carly's death, do you?

Detective Armstrong: So you got along with her?

Eli Rice: Sure. Some people got bent out of shape when Morgan promoted her to full time, but it didn't bother me.

Detective Armstrong: Why not?

Eli Rice: My job is permanent, and I wasn't worried about anyone taking my place. The people who got their panties in a bunch were all temps or what do you call it? Seasonal employees, that's it.

Detective Murphy: How well do you know Mr. Pierce?

Eli Rice: Pretty well. We talk a lot. He tells me some of his personal problems, and I share mine. It's nice to have someone to talk to

Detective Armstrong: What kind of personal problems?

Eli Rice: Women. The usual stuff. Like, my girlfriend dumped me for this loser, and I was looking for someone to take her place. Morgan had a thing for Carly. That's probably why she got the promotion. She'd be at the store every day, and he could hit on her a little easier. He was cool.

Detective Armstrong: Did you see him at the party?

Eli Rice: How could I miss him? It was just for the employees at the toy store, and Morgan couldn't have hidden if he'd wanted to. He was Santa Claus.

Detective Armstrong: Was anyone behaving strangely at the party?

Eli Rice: Everyone acted like they always do until we had a little too much booze, and then everyone loosened up. It was crazy. Funny crazy, I mean. No problems.

Detective Armstrong: Can you think of anyone who would want Caroline out of the picture? From the store or anywhere else?

Eli Rice: No, not at all. I didn't know her too well because we have different jobs, but I just didn't like her.

Detective Armstrong: Why not?

Eli Rice: I thought she was a cold fish. If the boss didn't have the hots for her, I would've tried to warm her up for myself, just to see if she was as cold as she seemed. You know what I'm saying? Didn't dare try that, though. Probably would have gotten me fired.

Detective Murphy: Did you talk with Caroline much at work?

Eli Rice: No, not really. I handle the stock, so I spend more time in the back, and Carly worked up front.

Detective Armstrong: What about the rest of the employees? Did you hear ever anything that would make you think there was a problem?

Eli Rice: Everyone always has some kind of complaint, but nothing along the lines of hurting anyone. It's usually just griping about how they work harder than the next one. It's like that everywhere I ever worked. Everyone thinks they're number one and do the most work and get the biggest workload. You know how it is.

Detective Murphy: We found this picture of a novelty knife in Caroline's house. Do you know anything about it?

Eli Rice: Oh, I forgot about that. She was showing it to everyone. The actual knife, I mean, not the picture. She said she'd just gotten it as a gift from someone as a joke because she loved murder mysteries.

Detective Murphy: Did she say who gave it to her?

Eli Rice: No, she never did. Not to me anyway. I figured it was a friend or neighbor. Is that what was used to kill her? That was a big knife!

Detective Murphy: Did you see what happened to the knife after she showed it to everyone?

Eli Rice: After she passed it around, she put it back under the tree.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you for your help, Mr. Rice. You can go now.

Eli Rice: OK. If I think of anything, I'll contact you. Carly was too young to die, especially the way she did. I'd like to see whoever did that to her burn in hell.

Interview ends – 4:05 p.m.

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