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How much does a fellow ex-con know about Andrea's situation since her return?

Friday, January 6, 2017 – 3:15 p.m.

Jim Taylor was acquainted with Andrea Stover, according to their sex offender registration officer.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Jim Taylor

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Taylor, thanks for coming in today.

Jim Taylor: Detective Armstrong, hello. How are you?

Detective Armstrong: I'm doing all right. Yourself?

Jim Taylor: Oh, hanging in there, hanging in there. You wanted to see me?

Detective Armstrong: Right. First, for the record, please state your name and address.

Jim Taylor: James Randolph Taylor, 314 Bramlett Blvd.

Detective Armstrong: You heard about Andrea Stover?

Jim Taylor: Of course I did. I knew her. Terrible.

Detective Armstrong: Well, we just want to ask you a few questions about that.

Jim Taylor: Anything I can do to help.

Detective Murphy: Mr. Taylor, how precisely did you know Ms. Stover?

Jim Taylor: Andrea had the same parole officer as me — Vincent Fischer. We met in the waiting room waiting for our appointments. He's always running late. We had the same day: Thursdays. She was at noon, and I was at 12:30.

Detective Murphy: How did you end up being acquainted?

Jim Taylor: I don't remember exactly when it was, but it was maybe the second or third time I'd seen her. We were all complaining about Fischer and how late he was, and she said she had a mind to walk right out the next time it happened. Said he was violating her freedom by keeping her here. I thought it was an interesting concept, and we started talking.

Detective Murphy: So that would have been, what, mid-December?

Jim Taylor: Yes. That sounds right.

Detective Armstrong: So you'd known Ms. Stover for about a month when she died?

Jim Taylor: Sure.

Detective Armstrong: How much time would you say you spent together in the probation office when you saw each other, on average?

Jim Taylor: In the office? Oh, just chit-chat really. She was usually heading out, and I'd be waiting for my turn. She would ask how I was doing and whether I'd been to Turner Center for volleyball. She was encouraging me to get back into social life, to reconnect. She wasn't like what the papers say. She was very warm in person.

Detective Armstrong: Did she ever mention Vincent Fischer at the probation office?

Jim Taylor: Just the usual complaints, like I said. He's always running late. He has no respect for our time. She liked to say that even though we served our time we were still being treated like criminals. She sure had a sense of right and wrong.

Detective Murphy: Would you say Ms. Stover seemed angry with Officer Fischer?

Jim Taylor: Angry isn't it, no. She just complained and joked with the rest of us.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever see Ms. Stover talking with anyone else in particular at the probation office?

Jim Taylor: No. She told me she had a lot to do. I guess she went right back to working in that theater group of hers, so she didn't exactly hang out there, except when we talked.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever meet anyone from the theater group?

Jim Taylor: No. I think one time one of her theatre friends dropped her off and picked her up. Sheila maybe was her name? But I didn't meet her, just saw her in the car and Andrea had mentioned she was being picked up.

Detective Murphy: Did Andrea ever mention anyone in particular from the group to you?

Jim Taylor: No. Funny, I knew a little about her from what she told me and more from the papers, but we didn't really talk about her. She really seemed like she wanted to see me put my life back together. She got me in touch with a therapist I've seen once or twice.

Detective Armstrong: So you didn't really know each other much from the office. What about outside the office? Did you have a relationship anywhere else?

Jim Taylor: I don't know if you'd call it that.

Detective Murphy: But you did meet outside that context?

Jim Taylor: Sure, once or twice. We just went for coffee after our appointments. That's all.

Detective Armstrong: How did that come about?

Jim Taylor: Look, I won't pussyfoot around. She was quite an attractive lady, and with everything I've been through, I was hoping for a little companionship is all. But we weren't intimate.

Detective Murphy: So what exactly did you do when you went for coffee?

Jim Taylor: We'd just go to the Huddle House or Applebee's and literally have a cup of coffee. Or, I guess, tea in her case. She drank some weird herbal stuff. She wanted me to try it, but I'm really a straight-up black coffee kind of guy. Maybe a snack. We weren't together more than an hour or two.

Detective Armstrong: How often did this happen?

Jim Taylor: Two or three times. Three.

Detective Murphy: And what would you talk about?

Jim Taylor: Oh, the same type of stuff as at the office. More of the same. You know… complaining about Fischer, and talking about what I was doing to get back on track with my life. Also the COP people. I guess we had that in common. They came after me pretty hard too when I got out.

Detective Murphy: I remember.

Jim Taylor: She was pretty upset about the whole thing.

Detective Murphy: How so?

Jim Taylor: Well, first off, she thought she was completely innocent, said the whole thing was about the freedom to create art and censorship and right-wing fanatics. I don't know about that, but I could see her point — that after serving your time, you should be able to get back to your life without being hounded.

Detective Armstrong: You think so, huh?

Jim Taylor: That's what doing your time is about. You've paid your debt to society, and now you should just be able to get on with your life. Kind of like what she said about Officer Fischer punishing us.

Detective Armstrong: Sounds like she mentioned Officer Fischer a lot.

Jim Taylor: Not really. No more than the rest of us, I guess.

Detective Armstrong: So would you say they got along okay? No worse than the rest of you?

Jim Taylor: I don't know about that. No, I guess they didn't get along too well.

Detective Murphy: In what way?

Jim Taylor: Look, will any of this get back to him? Because he could really mess with me. I'm trying to put my life back together. I don't want any more trouble.

Detective Armstrong: We'll keep that in mind, Jim. It's important we know what happened. We need to get to the bottom of this.

Jim Taylor: All right, then. Well, let's just say Officer Fischer has a reputation out in the waiting room for being a ladies' man.

Detective Murphy: In what way?

Jim Taylor: Well, he doesn't much respect the women assigned to him. He likes to touch them, I guess. It's just gossip in the waiting room, kind of a reputation.

Detective Murphy: Was Ms. Stover one of the ones he touched?

Jim Taylor: I guess so. That's what she told me.

Detective Armstrong: How did this come up?

Jim Taylor: It was funny. We were talking about my case. She was asking me a lot of questions, not accusing or anything, but I think she wanted to know how someone could've done that.

Detective Armstrong: How you could've abused your daughter?

Jim Taylor: I never touched her! My wife just made that up to get her away from me.

Detective Armstrong: Why would she do that?

Jim Taylor: Because she wanted to punish me, that's why. She made up the whole thing and ruined my life. And then she took off with my daughter, and I don't know where she is.

Detective Armstrong: After what you did, are you surprised?

Jim Taylor: I didn't do anything! I told you!

Detective Murphy: Gentlemen, enough. We're not here to rehash your case, Mr. Taylor. Our only interest is Andrea Stover. You were saying she asked you about your case. Do you know why?

Jim Taylor: She wanted to know how someone could victimize someone else. I couldn't see what she was getting at really. She was funny in that way. I'm not sure if she thought she was being therapeutic for me or what, but I felt pretty uncomfortable. And then she just said, "I'm being victimized, you know." Just like that.

Detective Murphy: Did she elaborate?

Jim Taylor: I asked her about it, and she said Officer Fischer had come on to her the past couple of times she'd seen him, and she didn't know what to do, didn't know who she could tell.

Detective Murphy: Did this conversation happen at the probation office?

Jim Taylor: No. Over coffee. I think it was the second time when we went to the Huddle House.

Detective Murphy: And roughly when was that?

Jim Taylor: I guess it was right before Christmas, the Tuesday before Christmas it would have been.

Detective Murphy: What did you say when she told you this?

Jim Taylor: Well, I asked her what she was going to do about it, and she said she wasn't sure there was anything she could do.

Detective Murphy: She didn't mention filing a complaint?

Jim Taylor: Not that time, no.

Detective Armstrong: So this wasn't the only time you talked about Office Fischer?

Jim Taylor: Not exactly.

Detective Armstrong: When else did you talk about him?

Jim Taylor: The next time we went out. By that time, I guess she'd done some thinking, and she was thinking of filing charges, so she mentioned that to me. She said she was tired of being oppressed by the system and treated like a second-class citizen.

Detective Murphy: And when was that?

Jim Taylor: It was the next week. The week before she… well, you know.

Detective Murphy: Was that the last time you saw her?

Jim Taylor: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: All right. Aside from what Ms. Stover told you, did you ever notice anything out of the ordinary between her and Officer Fischer?

Jim Taylor: Not really.

Detective Armstrong: Never saw them interacting?

Jim Taylor: Well… one time I was in a hurry, and he was running late as usual, but I had to be back at work. I knocked on the door and was just going to stick my head in and let him know I needed a break here, needed to get back to work. When I opened the door, I saw them.

Detective Armstrong: What exactly did you see?

Jim Taylor: She was sitting in the chair facing the desk, and he was standing in front of her but leaning down with one hand on either arm of her chair. He was too close, in my opinion. They could have just been having a discussion, but I don't think so.

Detective Armstrong: How did they react when they saw you?

Jim Taylor: When I opened the door, he stood back, and she jumped right up out of the chair and rushed out of the room. Didn't say anything to me on the way out.

Detective Murphy: When was that?

Jim Taylor: I'm not exactly sure. Before we talked about it.

Detective Murphy: Was there anything else you and Ms. Stover talked about? Did she mention anyone else she was angry at or thought might be angry with her?

Jim Taylor: Well, we talked about the COP people a lot. But otherwise, no. She didn't tell me much about her work or relationships.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever talk about being incarcerated?

Jim Taylor: No. I think we were both trying to put that behind us.

Detective Murphy: No enemies she made there she mentioned to you?

Jim Taylor: No.

Detective Murphy: Do you know who might have tried to kill Ms. Stover?

Jim Taylor: Honestly, no. I don't know if she ever actually filed charges against Officer Fischer. If she did, he's a slimeball all right, but I don't think he'd do that.

Detective Murphy: Anyone else you would suspect?

Jim Taylor: No. As I already said, I didn't know much about her life.

Detective Armstrong: All right. Now, Mr. Taylor, we need to verify your whereabouts the night of January 1.

Jim Taylor: Me? You don't think I had something to do with this, do you?

Detective Murphy: We need to ask.

Jim Taylor: I didn't realize I was… a suspect. Anyway, Sunday nights, I have volleyball practice at Turner Center. I guess I left there around 8:00. I grabbed something to eat at the store. Then I went home.

Detective Murphy: Which store was that?

Jim Taylor: Oh, I guess I went to Kroger's. That's where I shop usually.

Detective Murphy: And you went back to your apartment?

Jim Taylor: Yes. That's right.

Detective Murphy: Did you see anyone there? Any neighbors?

Jim Taylor: I ran into Mrs. Filbert who lives two doors down. We were in the parking lot. She was going out, and I was coming back.

Detective Murphy: Other than that?

Jim Taylor: No, I was in for the rest of that night. I like to get up early Mondays, get to work early and get started, go for a run before that.

Detective Murphy: Did you make any phone calls? Send any email?

Jim Taylor: No. I don't have a computer.

Detective Murphy: No friends stopped by?

Jim Taylor: No. I don't have many friends, you know. Not anymore.

Detective Murphy: And the next morning, you went for a run?

Jim Taylor: Yes. I'm trying to get back in shape.

Detective Armstrong: About what time was that?

Jim Taylor: I got up about 6:00, went for about five miles. I started down University from my house. Then west to South Lamar, north to Jackson and then east back home.

Detective Murphy: When did you first hear about Ms. Stover?

Jim Taylor: I read about it in the papers. I'm not exactly someone her relatives would have known to call.

Detective Armstrong: All right. Is there anything else at all you want to add? Anything else that might help us out here?

Jim Taylor: No. I can't think of anything, I'm sorry.

Detective Murphy: Well, if you do, give us a call.

Jim Taylor: Will do.

End interview 4:01 p.m.

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