Serious older man with white hair, mustache and goatee

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 – 10:15 p.m.

Ben Morgan is president of the Concerned Oxford Parents.

Detectives Beckwith and Magee spoke to him on the sidewalk in front of the Under Glass house.

Participants:

  • Detective P. Beckwith
  • Detective J. Magee
  • Ben Morgan

Detective Magee: Mr. Morgan, may we have a word with you?

Ben Morgan: It's about time. I've been sitting in this police car for hours now.

Detective Magee: Our apologies for that. We tried to get to you as soon as we could. I'm Detective Jo Allyn Magee. This is Detective Paul Beckwith. We're investigating the death of Hoyt Biffle.

Ben Morgan: Well, I don't know anything about his death, so…

Detective Beckwith: But, since you waited all this time, I'm sure you'd like to answer a couple of questions about why you were out in front of Biffle's business on the day he was found dead.

Ben Morgan: All right, but I'm telling you now that I don't know why Biffle died.

Detective Magee: Let's get your name and address first.

Ben Morgan: Ben Morgan. I live at 213 Washington Avenue.

Detective Magee: Okay, so you were saying that you didn't know about Mr. Biffle's death before you got here tonight?

Ben Morgan: That's right. Of course, I saw the police show up, but that's not a new occurrence for this den of iniquity.

Detective Magee: Why exactly are you here?

Ben Morgan: Because the First Amendment allows me and my neighbors to peacefully assemble to protest the continued pollution of pornography on our city streets.

Detective Beckwith: So you're here to picket Under Glass?

Ben Morgan: That's right. We have a legitimate concern that Under Glass is exploiting our young people by using their poor financial situation to extort nude pictures of them so that Biffle can, er, could profit from the images on the internet. We have always stayed out here, on the sidewalk parallel to the street, where lawful protests have always been allowed in American history.

Detective Magee: Who's "we?"

Ben Morgan: The Concerned Oxford Parents. COP, for short.

Detective Magee: And you feel you can speak for the others here?

Ben Morgan: Yes, they voted me president. I figured that's why y'all wanted to talk with me specifically.

Detective Beckwith: Tell us about your organization.

Ben Morgan: I love how coy you detectives are. You know about us. You've seen us before.

Detective Beckwith: I want it from your point of view.

Ben Morgan: Our creed is simple: We are concerned parents who want to protect the children of Oxford physically and emotionally from all hazards and influences that can adversely affect their well-being.

Detective Magee: What kinds of hazards and influences?

Ben Morgan: Manipulation from radical works of so-called "transgressives," ever-growing ungodliness from Hollywood, sexual exploitation, bigotry against religion, and so on. We've been combating these influences for years and have been very successful in stopping smutty performance art, closing down dirty bookstores and abortion clinics, and removing over a dozen books like "Fight Club," "A Catcher in the Rye," "The Chocolate War," and "Blood and Guts in High School" from Oxford schools and libraries.

Detective Magee: It seems you've been very busy.

Ben Morgan: The only campaign I can remember that we had to give up on eventually was banning William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" from Yoknapatawpha High School for promoting reincarnation and secular humanism. If we all didn't live in Faulkner's backyard here in Yoknapatawpha County, we would have won that battle too.

Detective Beckwith: And now y'all have won your battle over "Under Glass."

Ben Morgan: I hope you're not implying that one of us killed Biffle.

Detective Beckwith: I'm implying nothing of the sort. Just pointing out that a person you've had a problem with isn't a problem for you anymore.

Ben Morgan: If you're wondering if I'm sad he's dead, I'm not. This is what happens to people like Biffle. When you play on the wrong side of the tracks, sometimes you get hit by the train. We've been doing our work for years and seen it happen many times.

Detective Magee: I'm getting the impression that your difficulties with Mr. Biffle went farther than one of your standard pickets. What was your personal relationship with Mr. Biffle?

Ben Morgan: He certainly wouldn't be a guy I'd have a beer with.

Detective Magee: How about any one-on-one conversations?

Ben Morgan: No. The closest I got to the guy was during city council meetings a year or so back, when, as COP President, I argued to the board that Under Glass shouldn't receive a permit for zoning.

Detective Beckwith: Did you win that argument?

Ben Morgan: No. But I didn't expect to.

Detective Magee: So you never talked to him personally.

Ben Morgan: No. I didn't want to get to know him. I know his kind. That's all I needed to know.

Detective Magee: How long have you been picketing Under Glass?

Ben Morgan: Off and on the last two years.

Detective Beckwith: Besides going to the city council and pickets, what other protests have COP used against Under Glass?

Ben Morgan: After we failed to convince the city council, we just used pickets from there on out. Sometimes, there were confrontations between some of our members and one of the girls.

Detective Beckwith: Describe "confrontation."

Ben Morgan: One of the girls—usually that Ryder girl—picks out one of our members to insult, and that member counters with the Word. No violence. Just good advice from the Good Book. Ryder usually ignores the advice, and everyone moves on. We still are going to try. The point is that even though some of the girls, like Ryder, are sinning right along with Biffle, they still have the opportunity to be saved.

Detective Beckwith: But not Biffle?

Ben Morgan: Nope. He was welcomed to hell today. A place that he's been courting for some time.

Detective Magee: How well do you know Ms. Ryder?

Ben Morgan: Only enough to know that she's Biffle's right-hand woman when it comes to his debaucheries. I only know her name because one of the TikTok videos she made blasting COP made the rounds on campus, seriously affecting the numbers attending the youth ministries program at Faith and Glory Fellowship Church.

Detective Beckwith: Did you view this TikTok video?

Ben Morgan: Yes. It was vulgar and mendacious.

Detective Magee: How well do you know the other Under Glass housemates?

Ben Morgan: I don't know them personally. I do know some of their last names. Mitchell is the girl who's always threatening us with the police. Collins is the girl that we have the best chance to save. And a degenerate ex-con named Ken Ross helped Biffle run the place, which is apropos.

Detective Beckwith: Why do you think you have a chance to reform Ms. Collins?

Ben Morgan: She's the only one that reacts with some compassion for what we're doing here.

Detective Beckwith: How's that?

Ben Morgan: She's receptive to some of our members. She doesn't have the devil in her all the time like the rest of them. For the life of me, I can't understand why she stays with them.

Detective Magee: When was the last time you saw Mr. Biffle?

Ben Morgan: Two days ago.

Detective Magee: In what capacity?

Ben Morgan: He came out of his shed, where he controls his website, and taunted one of our members in the picket by handing him a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

Detective Magee: What did that member do?

Ben Morgan: Nothing. He didn't take it. Biffle set the bottle on the ground in front of him and laughed, saying, "You looked thirsty, my man." Then went to his truck and took off.

Detective Beckwith: What was the member's name?

Ben Morgan: Graham Newcastle.

Detective Beckwith: What was the make and model of the truck?

Ben Morgan: A white Dodge Ram. It's parked right over there.

Detective Magee: How did you know Mr. Biffle controls Under Glass from the shed?

Ben Morgan: Because he told the city council that's what he had the shed built for when he fought us over the zoning permits.

Detective Magee: What time did your picket begin today?

Ben Morgan: After work, at about 5:30 p.m. Most of us didn't get here until a little after that time because of the rain.

Detective Beckwith: Y'all picket in the rain?

Ben Morgan: It's written in Deuteronomy, "Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew."

Detective Beckwith: All right.

Detective Magee: You said, "Most of us didn't get here." Who was on time?

Ben Morgan: Graham Newcastle, Preston Vance, and Holly Hayes were here before me.

Detective Beckwith: Why were you late?

Ben Morgan: The rain, like I said.

Detective Magee: And you said you didn't see Mr. Biffle today?

Ben Morgan: Nope. He usually comes out of his shed at 6:00 p.m. and lets his flunky, Kenny Ross, run the place until morning. We try to start the picket before 6:00 p.m. so Biffle would know we were still a thorn in his side.

Detective Beckwith: Did you see Kenny Ross today?

Ben Morgan: Yes. I saw him pull up at about quarter to six.

Detective Beckwith: What was he doing?

Ben Morgan: What he usually does, as far as I could tell. He got out of his car, walked over to the shed, and went in. A few minutes later, the cops and an ambulance arrived, and the paramedics ran toward the shed. Obviously, something was wrong. We didn't know Biffle was dead.

Detective Magee: What car does he drive?

Ben Morgan: That Civic over there. Probably stole it.

Detective Beckwith: Have you ever been on the Under Glass property? Gone to the shed or to the front door, or to the backyard, that sort of thing?

Ben Morgan: No. I'm as close as I want to get to the house right here.

Detective Magee: Can anyone vouch for your whereabouts this afternoon?

Ben Morgan: The guys down at the insurance office could until 5:00 p.m. After that, I picked up drive-thru on my own at Abner's Chicken and then drove here.

Detective Magee: Okay, Mr. Morgan, that's all the questions we have for you now. If we have to touch base with you again, we'll contact you.

Ben Morgan: I'm easy to find.

Interview ended – 10:44 p.m.

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