Carol Fitch interview
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 – 9:31 a.m.
Carol Fitch has been the English department's senior secretary for many years.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Carol Fitch
Detective Parker: Good morning, Ms. Fitch. Thank you for coming in. Please state your name and address for the record.
Carol Fitch: My name is Carol Fitch. I live at 665 North 14th Street.
Detective Parker: Ms. Fitch, I'm sure you're already aware that one of your co-workers was found dead at the Yoknapatawpha County Community Center on Monday morning.
Carol Fitch: Well, yes. All the committee members learned about it within the hour. After all, most of that day's conference activities had to be postponed. What happened was… nothing short of tragic.
Detective Murphy: By tragic, are you referring to the death of Douglas Reed or the fact that the conference was affected?
Carol Fitch: Of course, I'm referring to the death of a valued co-worker.
Detective Murphy: How long have you known Mr. Reed?
Carol Fitch: Since he started working at Ole Miss four years ago.
Detective Murphy: And how would you characterize the relationship between you two?
Carol Fitch: Doug and I occasionally had our differences, but we respected each other as co-workers and maintained a professional relationship.
Detective Parker: What do you mean by differences?
Carol Fitch: Well, Doug was a man of tremendous talent and accomplishments and had an ego to match. He was part of the English faculty, and I am merely administration. It was plain to see that he didn't care much for us or appreciate the work we did.
Detective Parker: When you say "we," who else are you referring to?
Carol Fitch: I have an assistant named Jill Osborne. Doug tended to blame the poor girl for every little thing that went wrong.
Detective Parker: Such as?
Carol Fitch: More recently, losing out on the chance to co-present with Dr. Carlson, a renowned Faulkner expert. Doug was the one who reached out to Dr. Carlson and got him to come on board for the conference, but it was Jake Hemphill who landed the honor of presenting with him.
Detective Murphy: How do you think that happened?
Carol Fitch: I'm not privy to the details, but even I could see that Doug's numerous … advances on Dr. Carlson were a bit obsessive. The bottom line is I don't think Dr. Carlson appreciated being stalked.
Detective Murphy: But why pick Jake Hemphill out of all the English Department faculty?
Carol Fitch: I don't know. Maybe Dr. Carlson saw some potential in Jake.
Detective Parker: What was Dr. Reed's reaction when he found out that the guest of honor would be co-presenting with someone else?
Carol Fitch: Oh, he was livid. I'd never seen him so worked up before. Doug didn't lose out to just any co-worker. He and Jake have been competing professionally ever since Doug first set foot in Ole Miss.
Detective Parker: Sounds like they have a history. Can you elaborate a bit more on the nature of their relationship?
Carol Fitch: Jake and Doug had a lot of things in common. They both came from the West Coast. They're about the same age. Maybe because of that, they saw each other as rivals.
Detective Murphy: What kind of rivals? Friendly? Hostile?
Carol Fitch: Both of them acted perfectly civil toward each other. It was more of a cold war.
Detective Murphy: So who was winning?
Carol Fitch: They took turns. Doug received the tenure-track associate professorship that Jake had been eyeing a couple years ago. I guess winning over Dr. Carlson was Jake's way of making a comeback.
Detective Parker: Sounds like Dr. Hemphill lost out on a pretty big promotion. Isn't a tenure-track professorship a big deal in the academic world?
Carol Fitch: Yes, it offers a status boost and also ensures more research funds.
Detective Parker: Do you think Dr. Hemphill was angry or jealous enough to kill Dr. Reed for getting the promotion that he wanted?
Carol Fitch: Goodness, no! Jake was sorely disappointed, but he's such a gentleman that he even congratulated Doug. I can't imagine him murdering anyone.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Fitch, what do you know about Dr. Reed's personal life?
Carol Fitch: I'm certain he was dating Nora Percy, a professor in the Business School.
Detective Murphy: Can you give us any details about their relationship?
Carol Fitch: Well, I'm just as certain that they weren't exclusive.
Detective Murphy: As in, an open relationship?
Carol Fitch: Open from Doug's end, more like. He was quite the womanizer.
Detective Parker: So Dr. Reed was seeing other women on the side. What about Ms. Percy?
Carol Fitch: I don't know Nora well enough to say.
Detective Parker: Do you know how she felt about Dr. Reed's other dalliances?
Carol Fitch: Like I said, we aren't that close, but she seems like an upstanding woman, and no self-respecting woman would be content with an unfaithful man.
Detective Murphy: Was Dr. Reed dating anyone else recently?
Carol Fitch: I think he may have had an affair with Yvonne Boyd. She's the conference center's events manager.
Detective Murphy: What makes you say they had an affair?
Carol Fitch: Doug and Yvonne had been making a habit of staying late at the conference center supposedly to work on conference-related issues. They've also had quite a few private meetings with just the two of them attending.
Detective Parker: Ms. Fitch, you're a member of the 2022 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference committee, correct?
Carol Fitch: Yes, detective. I'm chair of the planning committee.
Detective Parker: To your knowledge, was Dr. Reed scheduled to present or lecture early on the morning of June 13th?
Carol Fitch: No, Doug's first appearance was supposed to be as a speaker on a panel scheduled at 10:00 a.m. He had a lecture after that and a few more events in the afternoon.
Detective Parker: If that's the case, do you know what he was doing at the conference center so early in the morning?
Carol Fitch: Not really. Then again, Doug was a bit of a perfectionist. I wouldn't have been surprised if he was there to check his presentation materials for the hundredth time.
Detective Murphy: What was the first presentation scheduled for that day of the conference?
Carol Fitch: Well, there was breakfast at 8:00 a.m., and we had planned to kick off the conference with a bang, namely Dr. Carlson's and Jake's presentation at 9:00 a.m.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Fitch, before we wrap up, we need to go over some logistics. Standard procedure, you understand.
Carol Fitch: Of course, detective.
Detective Murphy: Can you tell us where you were between the hours of 7:00 p.m. on June 12th and 8:00 a.m. on June 13th?
Carol Fitch: I arrived at the Rowan Oak buffet supper at 6:30 p.m. and stayed until 9:00 p.m. That's when I left with Jill to go to her house.
Detective Parker: What time did you and Ms. Osborne arrive at her home?
Carol Fitch: Around 9:30 p.m.
Detective Parker: Can anyone verify that?
Carol Fitch: I'm not sure. Possibly one of her neighbors?
Detective Parker: How long did you stay at Ms. Osborne's?
Carol Fitch: I didn't leave until a little after midnight. By the time I got home, it was almost 12:30 a.m.
Detective Murphy: Even though you had to be up early for the conference?
Carol Fitch: Well, yes, it wasn't one of my best decisions, but Jill had been very upset at the buffet dinner after a brief run-in with Doug. I imagine it hadn't been pleasant for her, so I decided to accompany her home and have a few glasses of wine.
Detective Murphy: Did anyone see you arrive home later that night?
Carol Fitch: I doubt it. All the neighbors' lights were out by then.
Detective Murphy: What time did you arrive at the conference center on June 13th?
Carol Fitch: Around 7:45, 7:50 a.m. Of course, by then, well, Doug had been found, and it was chaos.
Detective Murphy: Thank you for your help, Ms. Fitch. That will be all for today. We'll be in touch with any further questions.
Carol Fitch: You're welcome, detectives.
Interview ended – 9:59 a.m.