Wednesday, June 15, 2022 – 10:59 a.m.
Jill Osborne has been the Administrative Assistant in the English Department at Ole Miss since 2018.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Jill Osborne
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in today, Ms. Osborne. Would you please state your name and address for the record?
Jill Osborne: Yes, ma'am. Jill Osborne. 418 North 15th Street, Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Are you nervous? Would you like some water?
Jill Osborne: Yes, ma'am.
Detective Murphy: Yes to which?
Jill Osborne: Sorry, ma'am. Yes to both, ma'am.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Osborne, may I call you Jill?
Jill Osborne: Yes, ma'am.
Detective Murphy: Thank you, Jill. You don't have to call me "ma'am."
Jill Osborne: Sorry, ma'am— I mean Detective Murphy. Habit. My father was a drill instructor at Parris Island. He was very keen on respecting authority.
Detective Parker: Gotcha. We're just gathering information, Jill. There's no need to be nervous. Unless you have something to hide?
Jill Osborne: No, nothing. No. Not from you, anyway.
Detective Parker: From who then?
Jill Osborne: No one. It was just a kind of joke.
Detective Parker: I don't get it.
Jill Osborne: I'm not very funny. That's why. I had a dirty little secret in the department until Professor Reed found out. Then it was just a dirty little fact.
Detective Murphy: What was that?
Jill Osborne: I'm well-read, so I'm familiar with all the authors the academics loved. But my favorite author was considered to be … or rather, not considered to be a writer of literature.
Detective Parker: Danielle Steele?
Jill Osborne: Oh my God, no!
Detective Parker: Well, it was just a guess.
Jill Osborne: Sorry, that was rude. See how our prejudices can be so offensive?
Detective Parker: Did Doug Reed chastise you for your taste in literature?
Jill Osborne: Yes. He was particularly offended.
Detective Parker: Did that bother you?
Jill Osborne: Yes, of course. He acted so elitist with everyone, but with support staff, he was brutal.
Detective Murphy: How so?
Jill Osborne: Dr. Reed took any and every opportunity to publicly humiliate me.
Detective Murphy: That sounds extreme. Is it possible it just seemed that way because he was higher ranking in the department than you are?
Jill Osborne: No. I'm comfortable in a subordinate role.
Detective Parker: Did you observe him acting this way with others?
Jill Osborne: All the time. He was particularly mean to Carol Fitch and me in our roles as administrative staff, but he also treated his peers badly.
Detective Parker: Which peers specifically?
Jill Osborne: Jake Hemphill was a favorite target. Jake's very sweet. Dr. Reed was relentless in his attacks on him.
Detective Murphy: Do you think Dr. Hemphill is capable of murder?
Jill Osborne: No. Jake would never. He wouldn't even push back when Dr. Reed shoved him.
Detective Murphy: Literally shoved?
Jill Osborne: Yes. Dr. Reed would pass by Jake in the hallway and intentionally bump into him.
Detective Parker: Was Dr. Reed physically aggressive toward anyone else?
Jill Osborne: Not that I saw. Not like that. Although, he was sexually aggressive toward women. At least, I think so.
Detective Parker: Toward you?
Jill Osborne: No, I was not in his league.
Detective Parker: Were you upset by his lack of sexual attention?
Jill Osborne: Not at all. Besides, I know his girlfriend, Nora Percy.
Detective Murphy: Why would that make a difference?
Jill Osborne: Because it's degrading and disrespectful to date someone who's in a relationship. I feel sorry for Nora. Everyone knew that he was sleeping around.
Detective Parker: Was Nora angry about it?
Jill Osborne: She just kind of accepted it.
Detective Murphy: Did you know for a fact that Dr. Reed was sleeping around?
Jill Osborne: Well, no, but recently when I was in his car, I saw a dress that Yvonne Boyd had been wearing the day before.
Detective Parker: Why were you in his car?
Jill Osborne: He told me to get it washed. When I get it washed, I'm supposed to look around and take any clothes he's left in it to the dry cleaners. If I don't check under the seats and in the trunk to be sure that I've got everything, I get yelled at.
Detective Parker: Is it in your job description to do personal errands for department members?
Jill Osborne: No, but I…
Detective Parker: Does Carol Fitch do personal errands for the professors?
Jill Osborne: No. She told me I didn't have to, but it was less humiliating than having him scream at me. Plus, he'd already written me up for incompetence.
Detective Murphy: Who did he report this to?
Jill Osborne: Professor Johnson. The department head.
Detective Murphy: What was Dr. Johnson's reaction?
Jill Osborne: I think he—Professor Johnson, I mean—kind of let it slide. I work closely with him, and he can see that I'm not incompetent.
Detective Murphy: Were there any issues between Dr. Johnson and Dr. Reed?
Jill Osborne: I never saw anything serious. They were tennis buddies, so I guess they liked each other.
Detective Parker: Not even when Dr. Johnson let your incompetence slide?
Jill Osborne: No. And I'm not incompetent. Just a little nervous, maybe, around Dr. Reed and Laurence Bricker.
Detective Parker: Were they friendly?
Jill Osborne: No, but Dr. Bricker isn't friendly with anyone.
Detective Parker: Did you witness any confrontations between Dr. Reed and Dr. Bricker?
Jill Osborne: Dr. Bricker didn't tolerate Dr. Reed's bullying, so yes. There were confrontations.
Detective Parker: Did these confrontations ever escalate into anything serious?
Jill Osborne: Not that I ever saw, but there was always tension between them.
Detective Murphy: What was Dr. Reed's relationship with Andrew Carlson?
Jill Osborne: Strained. Poor Dr. Carlson tried to avoid the drama, but Dr. Reed aggressively pursued him.
Detective Murphy: That's not the first time you've used the word "aggressive" to describe Dr. Reed. Are you sure it's a fair assessment?
Jill Osborne: Considering that Dr. Carlson took steps to keep Dr. Reed away from him, I'd say that "aggressive" is appropriate,
Detective Murphy: Would you say that Dr. Carlson felt threatened?
Jill Osborne: Yes, I believe he felt that way.
Detective Parker: Jill, we need to know where you were between approximately 7:00 p.m. on June 12th and 8:00 a.m. on June 13th?
Jill Osborne: Um, let's see. I went to Rowan Oak for the buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. and stayed until 9:00 p.m. That's when I left with Carol to go to my house.
Detective Parker: Interesting.
Jill Osborne: How so?
Detective Parker: That's almost word for word what Carol told us.
Jill Osborne: Well, that's a good thing, right? Because that's what happened.
Detective Parker: Did anyone see you leave Rowan Oak?
Jill Osborne: I was talking to Monte Marcos just before we left. He was talking about taking a video of Dr. Reed at the conference center.
Detective Murphy: What video is that?
Jill Osborne: I'm not sure. I didn't see a video.
Detective Murphy: Did Mr. Marcos tell you he had recorded Dr. Reed at the conference center?
Jill Osborne: Oh, I see what you're saying. I wasn't sure what he was talking about. He may have been saying he planned to take a video when Dr. Reed was giving his presentation or whatever at the conference. Monte was Dr. Reed's assistant, so he would've been In charge of that.
Detective Parker: What time did you leave Rowan Oak?
Jill Osborne: Around 9:30 p.m.
Detective Parker: You said 9:00 p.m. before.
Jill Osborne: I did? Sorry. I'm not sure. It's whatever Carol said. I was upset at the time, which is why we left.
Detective Parker: Why were you upset?
Jill Osborne: Dr. Reed had yelled at me for not letting him see Jake and Dr. Carlson's presentation materials. I was upset and embarrassed and just wanted to go home. Carol came to my house and stayed until around midnight.
Detective Murphy: Did anyone see you arrive at your house?
Jill Osborne: Not that I know of.
Detective Murphy: What about the next morning?
Jill Osborne: I arrived at the conference center at around 7:40 a.m. I drove there straight from home.
Detective Parker: Can you think of anyone who might've wanted Doug Reed dead?
Jill Osborne: Dead? No. I can't believe anyone would've intentionally killed him. It's so awful.
Detective Murphy: Thank you, Jill. We'll contact you if we have any further questions.
Interview ended – 11:28 a.m.