Wednesday, September 19, 2012 – 5:30 p.m.
Tara Copeland is the receptionist and office manager at Pearce Brokers.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department. The interview was recorded with witness’s knowledge and consent.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Tara Copeland
Detective Parker: Good morning, Ms. Copeland. Thank you for coming in on such short notice.
Tara Copeland: Of course, of course. What happened to Annette was nothing short of tragic.
Detective Parker: For the record, could you please state your name and address?
Tara Copeland: Tara Copeland, 220 Elm Street, Apartment 5B.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Copeland, how did you come to know Annette Wyatt?
Tara Copeland: I guess you could say that my boss, Rita Pearce, had always been a fan of hers. I first heard her name not too long after I started working as a receptionist for Pearce Brokers. Rita would always go on these rants about how Annette was landing all these clients for her rival, Jeff Harte over at Harte Agency.
Detective Murphy: How long have you been working at Pearce Brokers?
Tara Copeland: It’s been, gosh, a little over six years now. That’s the longest I’ve ever stayed at any job.
Detective Parker: Did Ms. Pearce ever show any signs of ill-will toward Annette?
Tara Copeland: Not to my knowledge. Every chance she had, she would try to offer Annette a position at Pearce Brokers. Even though Annette always turned her down, Rita treated her like that goose that lays golden eggs in that fable.
Detective Parker: If I recall correctly, the farmers in the story ended up killing the goose.
Tara Copeland: Oh, I see. I didn’t mean it that way.
Detective Murphy: Let’s change gears for a minute. How would you characterize the relationship between Pearce Brokers and Harte Agency?
Tara Copeland: We started out as friendly competitors, made an effort to keep everything professional. But after a couple of years, what with the housing market crash and the recent economic downturn, business slowed down and both agencies became financially strained. Rita and Jeff, and their teams of agents, started fighting harder for clients. Somewhere down the line, the relationship turned sour. I think it’s because Jeff Harte isn’t as clean as he makes himself out to be.
Detective Murphy: What makes you say that?
Tara Copeland: I hear a lot of things from my receptionist job. It’s not based on solid evidence, of course. Harte’s good at covering up his tracks.
Detective Parker: What have you heard about Ms. Wyatt?
Tara Copeland: Only what I already told you. She was a good agent, didn’t seem to have much of a life outside of work.
Detective Parker: Did Ms. Wyatt have any enemies? Anyone who would want to hurt her?
Tara Copeland: Not really. I’ve only ever heard good things about her, like how friendly or funny she was. Personally, I thought she acted like she was too pretty or something. She was popular with the men, though, and didn’t hesitate to turn them down. Maybe one of them took it personally. It could be a crime of passion.
Detective Murphy: Do you know anything about Ms. Wyatt’s personal life, past or present relationships?
Tara Copeland: I wish I did. But her personal life was a closed book, locked and bound.
Detective Parker: How often did you see Ms. Wyatt?
Tara Copeland: Hardly ever. I’d see her around town sometimes.
Detective Murphy: When was the last time you saw Ms. Wyatt?
Tara Copeland: I don’t remember. Sometime in the last month probably, but I couldn’t tell you when.
Detective Murphy: You mentioned that Rita Pearce had asked Ms. Wyatt to come work for her. Do you the last time that happened?
Tara Copeland: I wouldn’t know.
Detective Parker: Tara. Come on. A person in your position? You know everything that goes on in a small business like that. How could you not know?
Tara Copeland: Rita doesn’t tell me everything. I know they’ve had discussions before, but Annette always went back to Jeff Harte. Everyone knew she was head over heels for him.
Detective Murphy: I thought you didn’t know anything about Ms. Wyatt’s personal life.
Tara Copeland: Oh, well, that wasn’t her personal life really. It’s not like they were together or anything.
Detective Parker: Would you know if they were?
Tara Copeland: Something like that? I’d hear about it.
Detective Parker: How would you hear about it?
Tara Copeland: This is a small town. People talk. And something juicy like that? I’d have heard.
Detective Murphy: Just a couple more questions, Ms. Copeland. Can you tell us where you were last Saturday night?
Tara Copeland: At the salon, getting my hair dyed. You can check with Peggy, my stylist. I’m not sure if red is my color…
Detective Murphy: What time did you arrive at the salon?
Tara Copeland: Around 6:30 p.m., my scheduled appointment time.
Detective Murphy: And what time did you leave?
Tara Copeland: At 8:00 p.m.
Detective Armstrong: Did you go anywhere after that?
Tara Copeland: I went to pick up my daughter from her babysitter, Angela Moran. She lives in one of the houses right across the street from my apartment. We talked for about an hour, and then I took my daughter home. Her bedtime’s at 9:30.
Detective Parker: How old is your daughter?
Tara Copeland: Seven. She’ll be eight in two months.
Detective Parker: Did the two of you do anything on Sunday?
Tara Copeland: I took my daughter shopping from 9:00 a.m. until noon for some of the early-bird sales. Then we went home.
Detective Parker: Just a couple more questions. Would you happen to know anyone by the name of Hankins or Sanders?
Tara Copeland: Yes, actually. They’re two of our recent buyers.
Detective Murphy: If you were in charge of this investigation, who would you speak to?
Tara Copeland: Jeff Harte, if you haven’t already. Maybe Meg Lancaster, the receptionist at Harte Agency. We receptionists hear almost everything.
Detective Parker: That’ll be all for now. Thank you for your help, Ms. Copeland.
Tara Copeland: Am I allowed to go now? I should be getting home to my daughter.
Detective Parker: Yes, we’ll be in touch.
Interview ends - 5:55 p.m.