Dark-haired man with a round face and dark facial hair, wearing a baseball cap

Gus Heller interview

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 – 2:30 p.m.

Gus Heller traveled to Oxford with Rolf Warner.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him in the Rebel Inn motel room he shared with the victim.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Gus Heller

Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name and address for the record?

Gus Heller: Gus Heller. I live at 250 10th Street NE in Atlanta, but I'm staying here at the Rebel Inn for as long as we're in town.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. You were acquainted with Rolf Warner?

Gus Heller: Yes, we knew each other when we were children. After I came here to the US, we stayed in touch and, of course, we're working together. Or we were, before...

Detective Murphy: What were you working together on?

Gus Heller: We're creating a video game.

Detective Murphy: And Mr. Warner came here from Germany to work with you on this?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Murphy: Why? I mean, why didn't you work with someone who was already in this country?

Gus Heller: Rolf has an exceptional talent for this kind of game design. We felt like he could do it better and faster than anyone else. We had worked together in the past, we'd known each other for years, and we felt we could work well together on this project.

Detective Murphy: What were you doing in Oxford?

Gus Heller: We were considering using Rowan Oak, among other places, as a setting for our game, so we wanted to take some photographs and learn more about the area to determine whether it would work for our project.

Detective Murphy: You are also traveling with a woman, right?

Gus Heller: Yes. Lita Harrison.

Detective Murphy: And what's her role? Is she helping you create the game, or is she along with you for personal reasons?

Gus Heller: She is playing one of the characters in the game. She's with us because we need to get photographs of her in each of the locations we're using for the game.

Detective Armstrong: So she's an actress.

Gus Heller: She is for us.

Detective Murphy: Is that how she makes a living? Are you paying her to be in the game?

Gus Heller: She's agreed to work for a low rate up front in exchange for a piece of the profits when the game comes out.

Detective Murphy: So how does she support herself now?

Gus Heller: She has a job in Atlanta.

Detective Murphy: What kind of job?

Gus Heller: She is a dancer at a club called The Pink Posy.

Detective Armstrong: So, she's a stripper?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: But she's branching out to act in your game?

Gus Heller: I don't appreciate your attitude, detective. Lita is a very nice young lady. She's had some hard times, but she found a way to support herself when she had very few options. There's nothing wrong with that.

Detective Armstrong: Hooker with a heart of gold, huh?

Gus Heller: She is not a hooker!

Detective Murphy: Gentlemen, please. How long have you been in Oxford, Mr. Heller?

Gus Heller: We arrived Monday afternoon.

Detective Armstrong: How did you get here?

Gus Heller: We drove from Atlanta.

Detective Murphy: When did you leave Atlanta?

Gus Heller: Monday morning.

Detective Armstrong: So you drove straight through from Atlanta to Oxford?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Murphy: Did any of you know anyone in Oxford before you got here?

Gus Heller: No.

Detective Murphy: Have you become friendly with anyone since you got here?

Gus Heller: We've met some people around town. Lita's very outgoing, and she's met quite a few people. Rolf talked to a couple of people about our project and what we were doing here. He must've talked to one or two of the local actors because people have been coming by and leaving resumes for us with notes saying they'd like to appear in the game if there's a role for them.

Detective Murphy: Would you briefly tell us everything you've done since you arrived in Oxford?

Gus Heller: Monday, we checked into our motel rooms and then walked around the university campus and the town, visited some of your local shops. We stopped for a beer and dinner, but we came back early because we were all tired from the trip.

Detective Murphy: And yesterday?

Gus Heller: Yesterday, we visited Rowan Oak to take the tour and see the grounds. Then, we drove to Memphis to visit Graceland. We stopped by Tupelo on the way here on Monday to visit the Elvis Presley birthplace.

Detective Murphy: And the three of you were together all the time?

Gus Heller: Yes, primarily. We weren't together every moment, of course, but most of the time, we were in the same area, if not together.

Detective Murphy: Was it a day trip? You returned to Oxford yesterday evening?

Gus Heller: Yes, that's correct. We ate dinner in Memphis, and then we came back here.

Detective Murphy: How late were you out last night?

Gus Heller: I'm not sure. When we got back here from Memphis, we stopped by a local pub, but Rolf and I came back to the motel before Lita. We wanted to get up early to visit Rowan Oak, but she wanted to stay for another drink. I don't know when Lita returned. It was sometime after I was asleep.

Detective Armstrong: Doesn't Lita have her own room?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: So how could you know when she came in?

Gus Heller: I didn't know, but her room is next to ours, and if I had heard her come in, I probably would have spoken to her or phoned her to see that she arrived safely.

Detective Armstrong: But since you were asleep, you didn't do that?

Gus Heller: No.

Detective Armstrong: Did Rolf?

Gus Heller: I… I couldn't say. He might have.

Detective Murphy: How would you characterize your relationship with Ms. Harrison?

Gus Heller: Lita and I are … close.

Detective Armstrong: Is she your girlfriend?

Gus Heller: I never thought of it that way exactly, but yes, I guess so.

Detective Murphy: And Mr. Warner? What was his relationship with her?

Gus Heller: I don't know exactly. You should ask Lita.

Detective Murphy: Was Mr. Warner aware of your relationship with Ms. Harrison?

Gus Heller: I don't know. I didn't tell him about it.

Detective Armstrong: Why not?

Gus Heller: It's a personal relationship. It's private between Lita and me. There was no reason to tell him.

Detective Murphy: Were you deliberately hiding it from him?

Gus Heller: Yes, I guess so, in a way.

Detective Armstrong: Why? Why not tell him?

Gus Heller: As I said, there was no reason to tell him, and I thought it would be better not to tell him. Rolf could be competitive, and I didn't want to get into a competition with him over Lita.

Detective Armstrong: Did you think he would be jealous?

Gus Heller: I don't know.

Detective Armstrong: Were you jealous of his relationship with Lita?

Gus Heller: No.

Detective Murphy: Let's talk about today. Did you see Rolf today?

Gus Heller: Yes, we went to Rowan Oak together to take some photographs.

Detective Murphy: What time?

Gus Heller: I would say around 8:30 a.m.

Detective Murphy: Were you aware that Rowan Oak was closed then?

Gus Heller: Yes, that was the point. We wanted to take some photographs of the exteriors without people.

Detective Murphy: I see. And did you take these photographs?

Gus Heller: I did not, no. I'm sorry to say that Rolf and I had a disagreement. I left before we had an opportunity to take any photographs.

Detective Murphy: What was this disagreement about?

Gus Heller: It had nothing to do with what happened to him after I left.

Detective Murphy: Then it should be no problem to tell us what it was about.

Gus Heller: Rolf and I disagreed often. It was not serious.

Detective Murphy: Okay, but what did you disagree about this time?

Gus Heller: It was personal. About Lita.

Detective Murphy: What about her?

Gus Heller: That morning before we left, I saw Rolf and Lita in a … passionate moment. I was not pleased about it, and I told him so.

Detective Armstrong: What kind of passionate moment? Were they in bed together?

Gus Heller: No! I saw him kissing her. That's all.

Detective Murphy: And that made you angry?

Gus Heller: Yes, it did. I'm not proud of it, but it did. I was not aware he had that kind of relationship with her.

Detective Murphy: So she was having a sexual relationship with both of you, but she wasn't telling either one of you about her relationship with the other?

Gus Heller: It seems so.

Detective Armstrong: And you were mad at him about that? Not her?

Gus Heller: I was upset with both of them.

Detective Armstrong: But you didn't argue with both of them.

Gus Heller: No, Lita was not with us.

Detective Murphy: Did you have a disagreement with her about it later?

Gus Heller: No.

Detective Murphy: Why not?

Gus Heller: She wasn't at the motel when I returned. When I next saw her, it was when we learned what had happened to Rolf, and it didn't seem important then.

Detective Armstrong: Because he was out of the picture, and you didn't have to worry about him moving in on your girl anymore?

Gus Heller: No. Because his death was much more upsetting than anything else that was troubling me. Even if I had wanted to speak to her about it, it was not the appropriate time.

Detective Murphy: You said you and Mr. Warner argued, and you left him at Rowan Oak. Is that correct?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Murphy: How did the two of you get to Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: We drove.

Detective Murphy: And how did you get back to the motel after the argument?

Gus Heller: I walked back.

Detective Murphy: Why?

Gus Heller: Why?

Detective Murphy: Yes, why? Wasn't it your car that the two of you took to Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: Yes, but Rolf drove, and he had the keys. I didn't want to argue with him about the car because I was too upset about the other issue. I decided to walk back.

Detective Armstrong: And leave your car for him?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Murphy: We found a white Mercury Tracer parked on Old Taylor Road near Rowan Oak with Georgia license plate number FXI 221. Is that your car?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: You weren't worried or surprised when Rolf didn't come back?

Gus Heller: No. I assumed he was staying away to let our disagreement fade before he returned.

Detective Murphy: What time did you and Mr. Warner leave the motel to go to Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: Shortly before 8:00 a.m., I think.

Detective Murphy: Can you be any more specific about the time? Was it five minutes before 8:00 a.m. or fifteen minutes?

Gus Heller: I don't remember any more specifically than I've said.

Detective Armstrong: You said you got to Rowan Oak about 8:30 a.m.

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: It doesn't take that long to get to Rowan Oak from here. Did you stop somewhere on the way?

Gus Heller: Yes, we stopped at the Chevron to get something to eat. They have Krispy Kreme® doughnuts there, and Rolf likes them very much.

Detective Murphy: What time was it when you left Mr. Warner at Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: I don't know. It wasn't long after we arrived.

Detective Armstrong: So you got mad at each other pretty fast?

Gus Heller: The disagreement started in the car before we arrived at Rowan Oak.

Detective Murphy: What time did you get back to the motel after you left Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: 9:00 or 9:15 a.m.? I don't know exactly.

Detective Murphy: And the last time you saw Mr. Warner alive was when you left him at Rowan Oak?

Gus Heller: Yes.

Detective Murphy: He was still alive when you left?

Gus Heller: Yes, of course! Do you think I would kill my best friend?

Detective Armstrong: Your best friend who was sleeping with your girlfriend.

Gus Heller: That doesn't mean I killed him! Why would I do that? He was my best friend! And I need him to finish this project. I don't know what's going to happen with our game now. I wouldn't kill him, and I didn't kill him.

Detective Murphy: Do you know of anyone who might have wanted to kill him?

Gus Heller: No.

Detective Armstrong: What about Lita? Do you think she would kill him?

Gus Heller: No, of course not. Why would she?

Detective Murphy: Does Ms. Harrison have any admirers or boyfriends who might resent her relationship with you and Mr. Warner? Anyone who might have wanted to get you and Mr. Warner out of her life for any reason?

Gus Heller: No, none that I know of.

Detective Armstrong: Are you sure about that?

Gus Heller: As sure as I can be, but you should ask Lita if you don't want to take my word for it.

Detective Armstrong: We'll do that.

Detective Murphy: How much longer were you planning to stay in Oxford?

Gus Heller: Just a few more days.

Detective Murphy: Where are you going when you leave here?

Gus Heller: We were planning to go down to New Orleans if we had enough money left, but now I'm not sure what Lita and I will do. We'll probably just go back to Atlanta.

Detective Murphy: You understand we're going to need you to stay in Oxford a little longer?

Gus Heller: Yes, but what do I do when I can't afford to stay here anymore?

Detective Murphy: You let us know if that becomes a concern, and we'll reevaluate our situation. I'm sure you want to stay as long as you can to help us find out who murdered your friend.

Gus Heller: Yes, of course.

Detective Armstrong: Are you running low on money? Is that why this is an issue for you?

Gus Heller: No, we're not running low, but I don't want to spend all the project's money on motel rooms and eating out in Oxford. If I'm going to be able to salvage this game without Rolf, I'm going to need money to hire someone to take over for him. We're trying to devote all our money right now to getting this game off the ground, putting together a demo to show investors so we can raise more capital.

Detective Murphy: Where did the money you have come from?

Gus Heller: Rolf and I have both done well the last few years. We invested most of our savings in this project because we really believe we've got something great.

Detective Murphy: Was one of you the majority investor?

Gus Heller: No, we invested equally. We were 50–50 partners.

Detective Armstrong: But now you're running out of money?

Gus Heller: Well, no, we're not running out of money, but we need to spend the money to make the game the best it can be.

Detective Murphy: Did you or Mr. Warner have insurance policies? Life insurance or business insurance? Anything that might pay out now, after the death of one of the business partners?

Gus Heller: No. Rolf wanted to get some kind of business insurance, but I didn't want to spend the money on it. I never thought anything like this would happen.

Detective Murphy: All right, Mr. Heller. That's all the questions we have for now. We'll be in touch with you soon. And you have our condolences on the loss of your friend.

Gus Heller: Thank you.

Interview ended – 3:24 p.m.


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