Clean-shaven man with short blond hair

Jake Hemphill interview

Monday, June 13, 2022 – 9:55 a.m.

Jake Hemphill found Douglas Reed's body in Meeting Room 10 at the Yoknapatawpha County Conference Center.

Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed him in another meeting room at the YCCC.


  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Detective E. Parker
  • Jake Hemphill

Detective Murphy: Good morning. Are you Mr. Hemphill?

Jake Hemphill: Yes, I am. Can't say that it's been a good morning, though.

Detective Murphy: My name is Detective Murphy, and this is Detective Parker. I understand that you were the one who found Mr. Reed. Would you mind answering a few questions for us?

Jake Hemphill: Not at all, detectives.

Detective Murphy: Let's start by having you state your full name and address for the record.

Jake Hemphill. Jake Hemphill, 153 Avent Street.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. What time was it when you discovered the body?

Jake Hemphill: Around 7:30 a.m. As soon as I walked into the room and saw Doug just … lying there with all that blood, I went looking for help. Yvonne Boyd, she works here, and she was in the hall. I told her about Doug, and she called 911.

Detective Parker: Did you know Mr. Reed?

Jake Hemphill: Doug was one of my coworkers at the University of Mississippi. We're both professors in the English Department.

Detective Parker: How long have you known him?

Jake Hemphill: He transferred to Ole Miss in 2018. I guess that would make it four years now.

Detective Murphy: Can you elaborate a bit on the nature of your relationship with Mr. Reed?

Jake Hemphill: We were never especially close, but I respected him as a colleague. Everyone would agree that he was very good at what he did.

Detective Murphy: Were the two of you collaborating for this literature conference?

Jake Hemphill: The Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. And yes, Doug and I were both members of the Publications Committee. Then again, Doug was involved in the Planning Committee as well. He was an overachiever like that, I guess.

Detective Parker: Can you give us the names of other committee members that Mr. Reed was working with?

Jake Hemphill: Sure. There's Carol Fitch, the chair of the Planning Committee. She's also the senior secretary of the English Department. Jill Osborne is working as her assistant. Monte Marcos is a grad student studying under Doug and helping him out with the conference. I think it's because his dissertation is Faulkner-related.

Detective Parker: What about other people that Mr. Reed was recently in contact with?

Jake Hemphill: He's dating Nora Percy. She also teaches at Ole Miss but in a different department. I forget which. And I've seen him and Yvonne together quite a bit lately.

Detective Parker: Do you know why he was spending so much time with Yvonne if he was dating Nora?

Jake Hemphill: I assume it was conference-related since she's the Events Manager here.

Detective Murphy: Mr. Hemphill, when was the last time you saw Mr. Reed prior to his death?

Jake Hemphill: Gosh… It was just last night at the buffet supper at Rowan Oak for the conference attendees.

Detective Murphy: And what time was that?

Jake Hemphill: I caught a glimpse of Doug when the buffet started at 6:00 p.m. but didn't see him again after that.

Detective Parker: Why was that? Did he leave?

Jake Hemphill: I don't know. I didn't give it any thought, but now that you mention it, he might have. I didn't see him working the crowd like he usually does.

Detective Murphy: Any idea where he might've gone?

Jake Hemphill: I wouldn't know. Maybe he went home early to prepare for the conference today.

Detective Parker: Can you think of any reason for Mr. Reed to come back here last night or early this morning?

Jake Hemphill: Maybe he wanted to do one last check-up on his presentation materials for the conference. Doug was very fastidious about his work.

Detective Parker: Do you remember if anyone else left the buffet supper early?

Jake Hemphill: It's hard to say. There were at least 100 people or more at Rowan Oak, and everyone left at different times.

Detective Murphy: What time did you leave Rowan Oak last night, Mr. Hemphill?

Jake Hemphill: Well, I had three glasses of wine, which meant I stayed for at least three hours. Between 9:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Detective Murphy: Did you go anywhere after that?

Jake Hemphill: I drove straight home and went to bed. I needed to be well-rested for my presentation, which is the first scheduled event for this morning. Or was supposed to be, at any rate.

Detective Murphy: Can anyone verify your whereabouts from the time you left Rowan Oak until you discovered Mr. Reed this morning?

Jake Hemphill: One of my neighbors might have seen me pull in last night. My car was in my driveway all night.

Detective Parker: What were you doing at the YCCC so early this morning? The conference wasn't scheduled to start until 9:00 a.m., correct?

Jake Hemphill: That's right, but the breakfast started at 8:00 a.m. This presentation means a lot to me, to my career. I've been working on it for the past two months and wanted to double-check that all the presentation materials were in order and ready to go. I owed at least that much to Dr. Carlson.

Detective Parker: Who is Dr. Carlson?

Jake Hemphill: My partner in this presentation. He's what you might call our guest of honor at this year's conference. Andrew Carlson is a world-renowned Faulkner expert. He has countless publications under his belt and commands enormous respect in the literary field, especially among academic circles. It's an honor to have him here and an even greater honor to be working with him.

Detective Murphy: Which room was your presentation supposed to be in?

Jake Hemphill: Actually, the one where I found Doug.

Detective Murphy: Was Mr. Reed also a collaborator in this presentation?

Jake Hemphill: No, not to my knowledge.

Detective Murphy: Did you and Mr. Reed have plans to meet here early this morning? Perhaps to discuss conference matters?

Jake Hemphill: We had no such plans.

Detective Murphy: Then do you have any idea why he would have been in that room?

Jake Hemphill: No, I don't.

Detective Parker: Almost there, Mr. Hemphill. Do you know if Mr. Reed had any enemies, anyone who would have wanted to hurt him?

Jake Hemphill: Um… I can't think of anyone who would've wanted to kill Doug. He's had his share of workplace disputes, just like everyone else. I know that he was at odds with the Publications Committee over the order of the presentations. He wasn't very popular with the Planning Committee either—something about wanting to move the conference to LA for a TV sponsor.

Detective Parker: Who would you suggest we talk with to move this investigation along?

Jake Hemphill: I can only think of the people I already named: Nora, Yvonne, Monte, Carol.

Detective Parker: I think that's all for now. Thank you for your help, Mr. Hemphill. We'll be in touch if we have further questions.

Jake Hemphill: You're welcome, detectives. You know where to find me.

Interview ended – 10:18 a.m.


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