Karen Lewis interview
Friday, February 3, 2012 - 3:45 p.m.
Karen Lewis was Philip Fontaine's secretary. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Karen Lewis
Detective Murphy: For the record, could you please state your name and address?
Karen Lewis: Certainly, My name is Karen Lewis and I live at 307 Bramlett Blvd, apartment number 2.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you for agreeing to talk with us today.
Karen Lewis: It is my pleasure.
Detective Murphy: How long have you worked for Mr. Fontaine?
Karen Lewis: 25 years this past April. Mr. Fontaine brought me a bouquet of roses in a crystal vase to celebrate the event.
Detective Armstrong: That was very considerate of him.
Karen Lewis: He was always a gentleman. I still can't believe he's gone.
Detective Murphy: Did he have many enemies?
Karen Lewis: Mr. Fontaine was admired by everyone who knew him.
Detective Armstrong: Even Mr. Coleman?
Karen Lewis: Perhaps not as much as others, but I still believe Mr. Coleman admired Mr. Fontaine in some way. That poor man.
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Coleman?
Karen Lewis: They both loved Serena, Mr. Fontaine's second wife.
Detective Armstrong: Fontaine's supposed to have a couple of kids running around that aren't on the books too.
Karen Lewis: A vicious rumor. There are gossips who will say anything to soil a good man's reputation, Detective.
Detective Murphy: Did Mr. Coleman have feelings for Serena Fontaine before or after her marriage to Mr. Fontaine?
Karen Lewis: Before, of course. And I truly believe she had feelings for him, but Serena attached herself to the man with the better financial prospects, understandable given her own lack of income. You know about the plantation Mr. Coleman built?
Detective Armstrong: Fontaine's Folly?
Karen Lewis: He renamed it Serenity Manor. Mr. Fontaine thought Mr. Coleman was simply causing trouble, but I believe Mr. Coleman still had feelings for her.
Detective Murphy: Did she return those feelings?
Karen Lewis: If she did, I have no knowledge of her acting on them. Not like another wife I could mention.
Detective Armstrong: Would that be Ashley Fontaine?
Karen Lewis: She is a Fontaine in name only.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean by that?
Karen Lewis: I dare say she's been inside more motel rooms than AAA.
Detective Murphy: Sorry, I must have choked on something. Exactly what do you mean by that?
Karen Lewis: Just look at her. It's obvious she married Mr. Fontaine for his money, and everyone knows she runs around on him.
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Fontaine wasn't exactly the perfect husband.
Karen Lewis: Can you blame him? A man depends on his pride to sustain his self-image. If he can't get what he wants at home, he'll go find it elsewhere.
Detective Armstrong: Was he seeing anyone in particular?
Karen Lewis: I wouldn't know.
Detective Armstrong: You managed his calendar. Who did he see on a regular basis?
Karen Lewis: He saw his family, he worked with Mr. Beecher, and he worked out with his personal trainer from the health club, Miss Dawn Thurman.
Detective Murphy: Was Mrs. Fontaine seeing anybody in particular?
Karen Lewis: She was never particular about whom she saw. I wouldn't be surprised if she chased her own stepson.
Detective Armstrong: Grant?
Karen Lewis: Yes, Serena's boy. Ashley was too careful to have one of her own,
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever have any dealings with Grant?
Karen Lewis: He would stop in the office from time to time, looking for money.
Detective Armstrong: Did Mr. Fontaine usually give it to him?
Karen Lewis: Along with a lecture that went in one ear and out the other. That poor boy is troubled something awful. I can't imagine the toll this tragedy will take on him.
Detective Murphy: Did the two of them argue?
Karen Lewis: Mr. Fontaine was a very good father.
Detective Murphy: But did they argue?
Karen Lewis: Not overly loudly.
Detective Armstrong: Did Mr. Fontaine ever argue with anybody else who came to the office?
Karen Lewis: I thought he was killed by a burglar.
Detective Murphy: We have to investigate all possibilities.
Karen Lewis: Mr. Fontaine could be very passionate about the business.
Detective Armstrong: Could you be more specific?
Karen Lewis: He liked to shout.
Detective Armstrong: Did he ever shout at you?
Karen Lewis: Never at me. As I said, he was always a gentleman.
Detective Murphy: Who did he shout at?
Karen Lewis: Sometimes at Grant when he came in. Sometimes he shouted at Joey, but it wasn't so much at Joey as at some situation, and he'd shout for Joey to take care of it. Often he'd shout when there was news of something Mr. Coleman had done.
Detective Murphy: I see. Do you manage the financial records for the company?
Karen Lewis: I do. An accounting firm handles the taxes.
Detective Murphy: Did Mr. Fontaine ever withdraw large amounts of money?
Karen Lewis: Many aspects of the development business are best addressed by cash payments. Discounts, you know.
Detective Armstrong: Did he make any withdrawals the week of the burglary?
Karen Lewis: He withdrew $15,000 that very day.
Detective Murphy: Do you know why?
Karen Lewis: He marked the entry as "research."
Detective Armstrong: What kind of research?
Karen Lewis: I couldn't say. I only keep the books.
Detective Murphy: Was there any pattern to the withdrawals?
Karen Lewis: I don't understand the question.
Detective Murphy: Mrs. Lewis, 25 years as a man's secretary and you don't know the man and his habits?
Karen Lewis: I knew him well enough to do my job and not stick my nose where it wasn't supposed to go, Detective.
Detective Armstrong: Was Mr. Fontaine's company stable?
Karen Lewis: The checks always cleared, You must realize that development is a risky business. Mr. Fontaine took chances. Sometimes he lost.
Detective Murphy: Are you familiar with Mr. Fontaine's will?
Karen Lewis: That would be between Mr. Fontaine and his attorney.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Fontaine never said you'd be taken care of? Never mentioned his plans regarding Mrs. Fontaine or his son?
Karen Lewis: He did not mention his plans, and I did not ask. Mr. Fontaine was the type of man who never truly believed he would ever die.
Detective Armstrong: There seem to be a lot of questions you didn't ask.
Karen Lewis: Sometimes, Detective, it's better not to know.
Detective Murphy: Who do you think might have wanted to kill Mr. Fontaine?
Karen Lewis: I can't imagine anyone being hateful enough to kill, much less to kill someone like Mr. Fontaine.
Detective Armstrong: You're obviously someone who notices details and thinks about what she sees. We're interested in your take on the matter.
Karen Lewis: The problem with being rich is that everybody wants a free ride with no strings attached.
Detective Armstrong: So if Mr. Fontaine was about to end someone's free ride, they might get angry enough to kill him? Who might those riders have been?
Karen Lewis: I worked hard for Mr. Fontaine, Detective. Go look inside the Fontaine house or maybe outside on the grounds, and you'll find people who didn't.
Detective Murphy: What do you want now, Mrs. Lewis?
Karen Lewis: I want my employer to walk through the front door of the office tomorrow and greet me with a wink and a flash of his crooked smile, just as he did every day for over 25 years.
Detective Murphy: I'm sorry.
Karen Lewis: Thank you. So am I.
Detective Armstrong: We may have more questions for you at a later time, Mrs. Lewis. Thank you for your cooperation.
Interview ended 4:01 p.m.