Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 12:30 p.m.
Andrea Stover's parents described Gretchen Doyle as their daughter's best friend.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Gretchen Doyle
Detective Murphy: For the record, could you please state your name and address?
Gretchen Doyle: My name is Gretchen Marie Doyle, and I live at 404 Sisk in Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you for coming in. I know it's tough to do this so soon. Here. We keep these tissues handy for a reason.
Gretchen Doyle: Thank you. I'm sorry. I can't seem to hold myself together. I apologize.
Detective Armstrong: That's okay. Just take your time, and if you want to take a break, just say so. We're not in any rush.
Gretchen Doyle: Okay. Thank you. I think I'm okay.
Detective Murphy: Ms. Doyle, what is your relationship with Andrea Stover?
Gretchen Doyle: We were best friends. It's been, what, almost ten years.
Detective Murphy: How did you meet?
Gretchen Doyle: We were in college. I was majoring in art, and she was in theatre —
Detective Murphy: That was at Ole Miss?
Gretchen Doyle: Sorry. Yes. Right here in town. I volunteered to do some set painting for the department and ended up working on one of her plays. Not acting, just the sets.
Detective Armstrong: Which play was this?
Gretchen Doyle: Um, it was "Six Actors in Search of an Author" by Pirandello. I'm not sure. It was so long ago. I can check if you want.
Detective Murphy: That's okay. And so you became friends?
Gretchen Doyle: Lovers. We had a romantic relationship. She was my first girlfriend, I mean romantic girlfriend. Before then, it was just boys.
Detective Murphy: How long were you… involved?
Gretchen Doyle: You mean romantically?
Detective Murphy: Yes.
Gretchen Doyle: Just a few months. I think the play was in February, and by summer, we stopped sleeping together.
Detective Murphy: Why did you break up?
Gretchen Doyle: I can't even remember now. I don't know, probably she was just ready to move on. She wasn't really bi or lesbian. She was just exploring. And we do have— did have— oh, God. I'm sorry.
Detective Murphy: Take your time.
Gretchen Doyle: We did have this amazing connection. We were soulmates, but not romantically. It's like it's something deeper than romance or sex, you know? Friends are somehow stronger than that. Beyond hormones, you know?
Detective Murphy: So you didn't want to end the affair?
Gretchen Doyle: What?
Detective Murphy: She broke up with you, not vice versa.
Gretchen Doyle: Oh. No, that's not what I meant. I mean, I don't really remember the exact details, but no, it wasn't like I was mad or obsessed. I didn't want her back. It was a mutual thing. I was just thankful it happened because it made me realize who I am. You know?
Detective Murphy: And so you were still friends?
Gretchen Doyle: Right. Absolutely. I guess I worked on two, maybe three more plays for her. I did acting too but not for her, just some summer stuff. Anyway, I worked on her plays, and we stayed friends through everything.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever have problems when she was seeing other people?
Gretchen Doyle: No. It wasn't like that. When it was over, our relationship became something else, and we never looked back.
Detective Murphy: And she never had problems with you seeing other people?
Gretchen Doyle: No. Love is more complicated than that. Just because two people have sex doesn't mean they're obsessed with each other forever from then on out.
Detective Armstrong: All right. So you were in touch when she went to prison?
Gretchen Doyle: In touch. Yes, of course. I was there when she was arraigned, sentenced, everything. You can check your records. I must have seen her in jail 40 times at least. We wrote letters practically every day.
Detective Armstrong: And how about after she got out?
Gretchen Doyle: It was like we picked up right where we left off. It was that kind of friendship, you know? I was just so relieved she was okay and free, and I could see her whenever wherever. It was so great to have her back. I'm sorry.
Detective Armstrong: That's okay. We'll give you a few minutes to collect yourself.
Gretchen Doyle: No, go on. I'll just have to keep going somehow.
Detective Armstrong: All right. Let's go back. You said you worked on two or three of Ms. Stover's plays. Those were Oxtales plays or in college?
Gretchen Doyle: In college. I never worked with Oxtales.
Detective Murphy: You never did any work for them?
Gretchen Doyle: No.
Detective Murphy: No programs, no design work?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I guess Owen — the guy who funds everything — sends all the promotional stuff to a shop in Jackson.
Detective Murphy: Did you know anyone she worked with there?
Gretchen Doyle: I met a couple of the people, but I didn't really know them. I'm not like Andrea. I guess I'm kind of asocial. I don't like to schmooze. I never went to any of their cast parties or anything.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember the names of people you met?
Gretchen Doyle: Frank, of course, and then there was some other guy — Dale maybe? — the assistant director. And I met Owen a couple of times, I know him from the arts council. I really don't know, otherwise. I really didn't run with that crowd at all. I mean, she would talk about them all, but I didn't know them personally. I think maybe that's part of why we were close. I was an escape from all that.
Detective Murphy: Who is Frank?
Gretchen Doyle: Frank Tuttle. He's the stage manager. They dated for a while. On again, off again, you know? She did a lot of on again, off again.
Detective Murphy: Was this recently?
Gretchen Doyle: I'm not sure. Sorry. I really don't know. A couple of times she said she spent the night, but who knows what that means? They could have just been talking.
Detective Murphy: This was after she was released?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes.
Detective Murphy: And what about before? Were they dating before she was arrested?
Gretchen Doyle: I guess it was a couple of years ago that they dated seriously for a while. Maybe 2013 to '14. They were pretty exclusive, but then she ended it for a while. She didn't want to get committed in that way. Andrea liked to keep her options open. He accepted her terms eventually. What else could he do? So they were just on again, off again until she went to jail.
Detective Murphy: Were there other boyfriends back then?
Gretchen Doyle: Oh sure. She dated a couple of actors who are gone now. Moved on. I don't remember their names. Artists. She dated that guy from Kudzu Kings, Tate Moore. And I set her up with someone at Blaze, but they didn't hit it off — Steve Markell. She had a lot of lovers. I don't remember them all.
Detective Murphy: Did that include other women?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I told you.
Detective Armstrong: And you didn't get back together romantically when she got out?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I told you, it wasn't like that. And I'm in a relationship already. It's exclusive. Y'all read way too many Penthouse letters. It's not like that. We're not sluts who will sleep with anything that moves, no matter what.
Detective Armstrong: All right. I apologize. Let's go back to Oxtales. Was Andrea working for Oxtales after she was released from jail?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes. She was working on a new production. I didn't know much about it except that she had high hopes.
Detective Armstrong: And how was it going?
Gretchen Doyle: Well, I only know what she told me, so it's kind of hearsay.
Detective Murphy: That's okay. What did she say about it?
Gretchen Doyle: Well, she talked about it a lot. Like I said, she was pretty excited and thought it would be a good show. But it was kind of rough coming back with everything that's going on.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean exactly?
Gretchen Doyle: Oh, you know. The COP people beating down the doors and handing out flyers and all the publicity. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but it was tough. I guess some people thought maybe she should tone it down a little until the ruckus died down.
Detective Murphy: What people?
Gretchen Doyle: Some of the people she was working with.
Detective Armstrong: So there was some infighting in Oxtales?
Gretchen Doyle: I don't know if I'd call it that, but yes. things could get kind of tense. But the creative process can be that way when you're working in a group. Everyone has ideas, and they don't always run along the same lines. But Owen really wanted to give her free rein, and he pays the bills, so that's really the bottom line.
Detective Armstrong: All right. I want to talk about what happened the night of Andrea's death. I know it'll be hard, but it's really important.
Gretchen Doyle: I understand.
Detective Armstrong: Did you see Andrea Sunday night?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes. She called me at home and said she got out of rehearsal and wanted to talk. So I met her at the Roadhouse.
Detective Armstrong: You didn't invite her over?
Gretchen Doyle: No. Ursula was there—
Detective Murphy: Ursula is who?
Gretchen Doyle: Ursula Raines, my girlfriend.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. She was at your house?
Gretchen Doyle: Right. Ursula was going to stay over, and I didn't want to keep her up or keep her from sleeping, so I went out. I met Andrea at the Roadhouse.
Detective Murphy: About what time was that?
Gretchen Doyle: It was about 10:30 when I met her. I guess she called just after 10:00.
Detective Murphy: And when you met her, was she upset?
Gretchen Doyle: No. Not really. I mean, she definitely wanted to talk, but I wouldn't say she was traumatized or anything. She wasn't any different from any other time we've met up.
Detective Murphy: So you do this regularly? Meeting up?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I didn't mean that. I mean, either of us can call and say, "I need to talk," and we'll do it. We talk on the phone or go to each other's house, whatever. We talk a lot, at least every day. Or talked … it's what friends do.
Detective Armstrong: All right. And so when you got to the bar, did you get there first?
Gretchen Doyle: No. She was there already.
Detective Murphy: And where did you sit? At the bar?
Gretchen Doyle: No. We have a table in the back. It's kind of like our assigned table, one of those circular booths. We had gin and tonics.
Detective Murphy: What did you talk about?
Gretchen Doyle: I guess she needed to let off steam. She was frustrated about rehearsal, things not going smoothly. I guess Dale didn't want to have nudity. And then Ethan — he's the playwright — he was upset about something she wanted to cut from the script. It all sounds a little … histrionic. From an outsider's perspective, you know? So she was telling me how rehearsal wasn't very productive and ended early. It was supposed to go 'til 11:00. And otherwise, I don't know.
Detective Murphy: What anything else bothering her?
Gretchen Doyle: We talked about the COP stuff and how stupid that is, stupid and stressful. I guess she's worried about her parents having to put up with all this too. Did you know that hack Penelope Young has a crew camped out on their lawn?
Detective Armstrong: Typical.
Gretchen Doyle: Anyway. I guess she was worried about a lot of stuff, feeling kind of low. Wondering if maybe Dale was right and maybe she should lay off. But I told her what I always tell her: that she's breaking new ground and she has to follow her instinct. She's brave like that. It's something I admire about her. She has integrity.
Detective Murphy: What else did she talk about?
Gretchen Doyle: Um, there's the whole convict thing. Being a registered sex offender and the COP people, all the hate mail. And she told me about Vincent Fischer.
Detective Armstrong: Officer Vincent Fischer?
Gretchen Doyle: Right. Her probation officer. He made a pass at her, and she wanted to report him. She did all the paperwork, but she was having second thoughts. She didn't want more trouble and was feeling like maybe she wouldn't do it. But I told her, screw Penelope Young and do the right thing, you know? I just think she was having one of those days where it was all too much.
Detective Murphy: She wasn't romantically involved with Officer Fischer?
Gretchen Doyle: No. She wasn't involved. She wasn't asking for it. He just out of the blue grabbed her, put his hand on her ass and said, "I'll be in your play if you want." That kind of thing. Wouldn't let go. I guess someone came in and that was the end of it, but she was ticked. So she wanted to report him, but she didn't because of everything that's going on.
Detective Murphy: Did you talk about Frank?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes, a little. She just mentioned he'd wanted to see her this past weekend, but she said no. Just the usual on again, off again thing.
Detective Murphy: What about Tate Moore?
Gretchen Doyle: Who? Oh. No. She hasn't seen him for ages, I think.
Detective Armstrong: Let's go back to Gretchen's parents. Were they angry about all the publicity?
Gretchen Doyle: They didn't say anything as far as I know, but Andrea could tell. It was hard for her, and it's always been hard for them. She's living with them so it's all coming at them: the hate mail and the cameras and all that. I imagine they're all a little fed up. She's come over to stay a couple of times just to give them a break.
Detective Murphy: She's stayed at your place?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes. Friends do that.
Detective Murphy: And your girlfriend doesn't mind?
Gretchen Doyle: No. Why would she? I told you. Andrea and I aren't romantically interested in each other.
Detective Armstrong: Did Andrea know your girlfriend?
Gretchen Doyle: They met, yes. They weren't friends or anything. Not that they were enemies. They just didn't know each other well.
Detective Murphy: All told, how long were you at the bar?
Gretchen Doyle: Until closing time, longer, I guess. I know Will. He works behind the bar. He let us stay while they finished closing up. I guess we left around 12:15.
Detective Murphy: And how much did you and Andrea drink?
Gretchen Doyle: We each had two G&Ts. Pretty strong.
Detective Murphy: What happened when you left?
Gretchen Doyle: I went home. I asked Andrea if she wanted to come with me, but she didn't want to. I had to work Monday, and she didn't want me to have to worry about breakfast or anything. She was feeling kind of zonked too, probably from the stress, and didn't know if she was getting sick or what. She just wanted to go straight home. That's what she said.
Detective Murphy: She didn't mention going to Oxford Centre?
Gretchen Doyle: No.
Detective Murphy: Do you know why she would have gone over there?
Gretchen Doyle: Not really. She mentioned once she thought it would be a great staging area. But she didn't say anything Sunday about it. Otherwise, I don't know.
Detective Murphy: So you left alone?
Gretchen Doyle: Yes, around 12:15. I went straight home. I was in bed by 1:00.
Detective Armstrong: And your girlfriend was there?
Gretchen Doyle: What? No, she left. She decided to go home and sleep. She left a note. She needed to be at work extra early Monday.
Detective Armstrong: So you were alone when you got home?
Gretchen Doyle: Right.
Detective Murphy: And what about the next morning?
Gretchen Doyle: I woke up as usual. I didn't hear anything until I got to the office and saw the crime scene tape. Steve told me. That's really all I remember after that. I'm sorry. I pretty much went home and stayed there.
Detective Murphy: That's all right. What time did you arrive at work?
Gretchen Doyle: I didn't look at the clock. Usually, I'm there at 9:00, so it was around then. I left home by a quarter 'til.
Detective Armstrong: So between leaving the bar and coming to work the next morning, you didn't see anyone?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I mean, I passed other cars on the road, but I didn't talk to anyone.
Detective Armstrong: All right, Ms. Doyle. I think that covers it. Is there anything else you want to add?
Gretchen Doyle: No. I'm sorry I'm such a wreck.
Detective Armstrong: That's all right. If you think of anything else — anything at all — will you give us a call?
Gretchen Doyle: Of course.
Detective Armstrong: All right. Thank you.
Gretchen Doyle: Goodbye.
End interview 1:43 p.m.