Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 9:00 a.m.
Bernice Darling is a certified nursing assistant at the Yoknapatawpha Acres nursing home. 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
- Bernice Darling
Detective Murphy: Good morning, Ms. Darling. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk with us again. Will you please state your name and address for the record?
Bernice Darling: Of course. My name is Bernice Darling, and I live in Oxford, Mississippi, at 108 Hickory Street. Please call me Bernice.
Detective Murphy: OK.
Bernice Darling: I heard that Jerry's death wasn't an accident.
Detective Murphy: Yes, that's true.
Bernice Darling: It's bad enough if Jerry's death had been an accident but murdered? That could mean someone who works with me is a killer. That's such an awful thought.
Detective Armstrong: Murder is never a pretty thing. Bernice, the last time we spoke with you, you mentioned that you overheard Richard Landrigan and Jerry arguing. Is there anything else you can tell us anything else about those arguments?
Bernice Darling: They had been arguing a lot lately. During one argument, I saw Jerry shove Mr. Landrigan. I don't know what the fight was about, but it sounded like a threat from Mr. Landrigan. I was surprised to see Jerry at work the next day. I was sure Mr. Landrigan was going to fire him.
Detective Armstrong: You told us last time that Sylvia Powell had been seeing Jerry Shaw, and he had broken things off with her. Can you tell us any more about that?
Bernice Darling: All I can tell you is what I told you before. I saw Jerry and Sylvia kissing. That's how I knew they were seeing each other. She was very upset and crying over the breakup.
Detective Armstrong: How upset?
Bernice Darling: Like anybody after a breakup.
Detective Murphy: Bernice, I know sometimes it feels uncomfortable to talk about things you think another person might not want you to reveal, but this isn't gossip. You're helping us catch a murderer. You understand?
Bernice Darling: I guess that makes sense.
Detective Murphy: Now what aren't you telling us about Jerry and Sylvia's breakup?
Bernice Darling: Well, I guess I did play it down some last time. I felt bad that she had been dumped. But I thought she was lucky to get rid of that guy, and I told her so. She was so outraged that he would dump her. She said he couldn't treat her this way and get away with it. She would make him pay. Oh my God! Do you think Sylvia killed Jerry?
Detective Murphy: Do you think she did?
Bernice Darling: No! She was just mad. People say stuff like that all the time — "I'm going to kill him" — but they don't really do it. Right?
Detective Armstrong: Let's change gears a little bit. You've worked at Yoknapatawpha Acres for quite a while, haven't you?
Bernice Darling: Yes.
Detective Armstrong: How would you characterize the standard of care there?
Bernice Darling: We do the best we can.
Detective Armstrong: What does that mean?
Bernice Darling: It's not like it was in the old days. With all the new healthcare laws, HMOs, PPOs, malpractice insurance to protect against people who sue for the littlest thing, it's just harder now.
Detective Armstrong: So it's harder to take good care of the patients?
Bernice Darling: Like I said, we do the best we can, but yeah, it's harder. We have to get approval for every little thing. Sometimes it takes a while to get it. Sometimes we never get it.
Detective Armstrong: You have to get approval from the insurance companies or from Mr. Landrigan?
Bernice Darling: Well, Mr. Landrigan deals with the insurance companies, and then he tells us what they said.
Detective Armstrong: Do you ever take care of Rose Jenkins?
Bernice Darling: I have. Not anymore, of course. Her daughter moved her out yesterday.
Detective Armstrong: Is that right? Do you know why?
Bernice Darling: Her daughter was very upset about Rose's care. It happens sometimes with family members who don't visit very often.
Detective Armstrong: Is it possible she had a legitimate reason to be so upset?
Bernice Darling: It's possible.
Detective Armstrong: Say if Rose had bedsores?
Bernice Darling: That happens sometimes. We try to prevent it, but it's not always possible.
Detective Armstrong: Malnutrition?
Bernice Darling: It's difficult to get Rose to eat sometimes. That's not uncommon with Alzheimer's patients.
Detective Armstrong: Maggots?
Bernice Darling: What?
Detective Armstrong: Maggots.
Bernice Darling: That doesn't make any sense. Who told you that?
Detective Armstrong: The doctor who examined her.
Bernice Darling: Oh my god. Oh my god. I haven't worked with Rose lately. I had no idea.
Detective Murphy: Have you seen any signs of possible neglect with any other patients?
Bernice Darling: What, like maggots? No! Of course not.
Detective Murphy: If you see anything like that, you'll let us know?
Bernice Darling: Yes. Yes, of course.
Detective Murphy: OK, Bernice, listen– are you listening?
Bernice Darling: Yes. I'm sorry. What were you saying?
Detective Murphy: We want to thank you again for talking to us. Now, since this is an ongoing investigation, we're asking you to keep our conversation confidential—everything we talked about. OK?
Bernice Darling: I most certainly will keep this to myself. I don't even know what I'd say if I did talk about it.
Detective Murphy: We appreciate your cooperation.
Bernice Darling: You think what happened with Rose has something to do with Jerry getting killed?
Detective Murphy: Do you?
Bernice Darling: I don't know. I mean, how could they? But then two terrible things happening at the same time…
Detective Armstrong: It's something to think about. All right, Bernice, that's all we have for you today. Remember: mum's the word.
Bernice Darling: I understand. You know, detectives, I didn't like Jerry, but I hope you catch the person that killed him.
Interview ends - 9:27 a.m.