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How did Rita happen to start her workweek by finding a body?

Monday, January 2, 2016 - 9:55 a.m.

Rita Ashbury discovered the body and called 911. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed in her office at Blaze Art and Media, which is in Building 2 of Oxford Centre, adjacent to the crime scene.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed in her office at Blaze Art and Media, which is in Building 2 of Oxford Centre, adjacent to the crime scene.

The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Rita Ashbury

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

Rita Ashbury: Rita Ashbury. 254 Rebel Drive.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. Can you tell us how you happened to be here this morning?

Rita Ashbury: I work here at Blaze Art and Media. We're in advertising. I'm the office manager.

Detective Murphy: Okay. Now, if you would, please tell us what happened when you arrived today.

Rita Ashbury: Sure. I came to work this morning. I was running a little late. I usually like to be here around 8:00, but my sister and I stayed up later than usual last night, so I overslept a little. So I didn't get here until about 8:20. I usually like to get here by 8:00, especially on Mondays to get ready for the week. But I got here about 8:20. Did I say that already?

Detective Armstrong: Yes, ma'am. It's all right. Try to relax a little, and just tell us what happened.

Rita Ashbury: Okay. So I got here, and I parked in front because I was in a hurry. I was going to move my car back to the parking lot in the back later, but obviously, I haven't gotten around to that yet.

Detective Armstrong: Yes, ma'am. What happened after you parked?

Rita Ashbury: Then I walked into the atrium to go in the door to the second floor there, and I was digging around in my purse for my office keys. I was having a hard time finding them. I hate being late. Everything's so much harder when you're rushing.

Detective Murphy: We can sympathize, Ms. Ashbury. Did you see the body while you were walking up to the door looking for your keys?

Rita Ashbury: Yes. Well, no. Sort of.

Detective Murphy: What do you mean?

Rita Ashbury: Well, I hadn't found my keys by the time I got to the door, so I put my purse down on the railing so I could really look for them. While I was digging in my purse, I saw something strange over in the middle of the atrium out of the corner of my eye. So I looked over there, and I realized it was a person.

Detective Armstrong: Was the person moving or doing anything?

Rita Ashbury: No, she was just lying there, which was weird because you don't normally see people lying in the atrium any time of the day and certainly not first thing in the morning. And not when it's cold like today. It's got to be cold lying on the cement like that.

Detective Murphy: What did you do after you saw the person lying there?

Rita Ashbury: Well, I looked at her a little closer. I walked down the skywalk some to get closer to where she was, and I saw all this blood around her head, and she wasn't moving, and so I knew she was dead or at least hurt real bad. So I knew I needed to call 911 right away 'cause, you know, I'm not a doctor or anything. There wasn't anything I could do. So I went back to the door, and I finally found my keys, so I let myself in and went and called 911.

Detective Armstrong: What did you do then?

Rita Ashbury: After I talked to the 911 lady for a little bit, then I got off the phone, did a couple of things to open up the office. I started some coffee 'cause I thought y'all might want some when you got here. You cops like to drink coffee, don't you? Would you like some?

Detective Armstrong: Not right now, thanks. Maybe in a little while. What did you do after you made the coffee?

Rita Ashbury: Then I went back outside to see if anyone was here yet.

Detective Murphy: Did you see anyone when you went outside?

Rita Ashbury: I saw the police officer driving up right then, and I waved at him.

Detective Armstrong: How long would you say you were inside before you went back outside?

Rita Ashbury: Oh, I don't know. Maybe five or ten minutes, maybe a little more. I don't know.

Detective Murphy: Did you recognize the person you saw lying in the atrium?

Rita Ashbury: You know, I don't know. She looks sort of familiar, but I can't really place her. Do you know who she is?

Detective Armstrong: Do you think you've seen her somewhere before?

Rita Ashbury: Yes, I think so, but I don't know where or when.

Detective Armstrong: Do you know if it was here in your office?

Rita Ashbury: I don't know. It could have been.

Detective Murphy: So when the officer arrived, you saw him. You waved at him. Then what happened?

Rita Ashbury: Then he got out of his car and came over to me, and I sort of walked him back towards where that woman was lying, but he didn't let me walk all the way over.

Detective Murphy: And had you walked up to the body prior to that time?

Rita Ashbury: No.

Detective Armstrong: Did you notice any other people in the area, either when you first arrived or when you came back outside?

Rita Ashbury: No, not really, not then.

Detective Murphy: What do you mean, not then?

Rita Ashbury: Well, you know, people start getting to work around 8:30, 8:45, and so I started to see people coming in over here in this building and the building next door around then, but I didn't see anyone before that.

Detective Armstrong: And did any of them go anywhere near where the body was?

Rita Ashbury: Oh no! Y'all were already here by then, and your officers kept them from going there.

Detective Murphy: But you don't know whether any of them went near the body before the first officer got here?

Rita Ashbury: Oh. No, how could I know that? There wasn't anyone around when I got here that I could see. That's all I can really say for sure.

Detective Armstrong: Okay, Ms. Ashbury. Thanks for your time. If you remember anything else, no matter how insignificant it may seem, please give us a call. You never know what might turn out to be important. And we'll be in touch if we have any more questions.

Rita Ashbury: Okay, I'll definitely call if I think of anything. Do y'all think that poor woman was murdered?

Detective Murphy: It's too early in the investigation to rule out anything at this point.

Rita Ashbury: Oh my! Well, you don't think I'm in any danger, do you? I mean because I'm the one who called 911 and reported it?

Detective Armstrong: No, ma'am, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You did the right thing by reporting it, and we thank you. We're going to let you get back to work now. You have a good day.

Rita Ashbury: Thank you, and you do the same.

End interview 10:18 a.m.

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