Saturday, January 7, 2017 – 3:30 p.m.
Norman Higgins is a community activist who campaigns for close monitoring of sex offenders released into the community and clear advisories about their presence to anyone living nearby.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Norman Higgins
Detective Armstrong: Thank you for coming in today Mr. Higgins. Will you please state your name and address for the record?
Norman Higgins: Norman Higgins. I live at 2617 Jackson Avenue.
Detective Murphy: We appreciate you coming in to talk to us, Mr. Higgins.
Norman Higgins: I'd be glad to help in any way I can, but I don't know how I can help you.
Detective Armstrong: We are still trying to piece some things together, and we need all the information we can get about Ms. Stover and the people who knew her.
Norman Higgins: You understand that I didn't really know her, just her reputation.
Detective Murphy: So you never met her?
Norman Higgins: No, I never spoke to her directly. I saw her from a distance. The closest I ever got to her was in the courtroom at her trial.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever speak to her on the phone or her folks?
Norman Higgins: Heck, no. Why would I do that?
Detective Murphy: Would you know anyone who might have called her to tell her to stop her pornography?
Norman Higgins: No unless those fanatics at COP called her. That's not my style.
Detective Armstrong: What is your style, Mr. Higgins? We know you've taken an active interest in Ms. Stover ever since Oxtales produced "Snopes."
Norman Higgins: I monitor all registered sex offenders in Oxford, sir. I believe the community is entitled to know who the predators are in our community.
Detective Murphy: Yes, I understand your interest in registered sex offenders who return to the community, but your interest in "Snopes" is well documented in TV coverage of the picketers before Ms. Stover was even charged with any crime.
Norman Higgins: That's right.
Detective Murphy: Well, what was your interest based on?
Norman Higgins: It was based on that piece of filth that she insisted was "art" and unleashed on our community.
Detective Armstrong: But wasn't that outside of your usual area of interest? I thought you concentrated on released registered sex offenders.
Norman Higgins: That is my primary interest, it's true, but I was so sickened by that play and the harm it could bring to innocent children, I helped on the COP campaign to get her prosecuted and sentenced for a sex crime.
Detective Murphy: But children weren't allowed to see it, were they? What would be the harm to children except for the three high school kids who worked backstage?
Norman Higgins: No, no, you don't understand! It was that dance that simulated sex acts — some of them between men and boys — that I objected to. Someone inclined to an attraction for children might be stimulated to act out his fantasies after seeing that play. And that could certainly be dangerous to children in our community.
Detective Murphy: Then you did see the play?
Norman Higgins: I went after one of my friends called to tell me about it. It was disgusting. So when I heard that COP was alerting the DA's office and pressing for her prosecution, I pitched in where I could.
Detective Armstrong: Are you a member of COP?
Norman Higgins: No, that was the one project of theirs that I worked on.
Detective Murphy: Do you know Ben Morgan, the president of COP?
Norman Higgins: Oh, sure. We've had many a lively debate on the importance of each other's projects. We aren't friends. We don't travel in the same social group. My taste is more to bowling and poker with my buddies. Can you picture him in a bowling alley with a beer? To tell the truth, Detective, I don't really like some of the things COP thinks are so important.
Detective Murphy: Such as?
Norman Higgins: I mean, like trying to ban Harry Potter books. Some of the ladies who work for me tell me their children are reading like crazy because of those books, and they think that's great. They can't see anything wrong with them. I think COP gets carried away with little things that don't really matter. I don't want my name associated with them all the time.
Detective Armstrong: Were you happy with the result of the prosecution and Ms. Stover's resulting sentence?
Norman Higgins: I wish they'd locked her up and thrown away the key, but we can't have everything, can we?
Detective Murphy: You think they were too lenient with her sentence?
Norman Higgins: I think the courts are way too lenient on all those deviants, but I suppose they thought the punishment fit the crime. Now, if she had pled out, and been offered a fine and community service, I really would have been upset.
Detective Murphy: You seemed to concentrate on Ms. Stover being prosecuted. Why didn't you press for prosecution of anyone else associated with Oxtales?
Norman Higgins: Stover was the one who was so vocal about "her art," and she was the power behind getting it on stage. The others were just her flunkies.
Detective Murphy: Even the producer?
Norman Higgins: Especially Owen Norris. She just played him like a harp and got him to give money. I don't think he knew what she was up to.
Detective Armstrong: Were you aware of the flyers COP was distributing about Ms. Stover since she was home?
Norman Higgins: My God, man. You'd have to be unconscious to not be aware of COP's ravings. I believe in notifying the community of a sex offender's release, but you have to be careful to stay within the law. Law enforcement is pretty stodgy about preserving their rights after they are out.
Detective Armstrong: You don't approve?
Norman Higgins: Personally, I don't think they should have any rights, but the law says there are limits to how you can treat them. COP was dangerously on the edge there. I was afraid there was going to be a backlash and undo all we had fought for before she went to jail. Did you see that last flyer? "Warning" All they left off was the "Wanted: dead or alive."
Detective Armstrong: Have you heard anything about the new production Ms. Stover was planning?
Norman Higgins: Sure, I've heard rumors, but I'm not one for operating on rumors. I want to see the actual play first. COP is just positive it's going to be as bad as "Snopes." I say wait and see.
Detective Murphy: Do you have any theories about who might have killed her?
Norman Higgins: Sure. If I were you, I'd be looking at her friends and co-workers. There had to have been a lot of jealousy and damaged egos there. They are show people, after all.
Detective Armstrong: Incidentally, Mr. Higgins, are you familiar with the Oxford Centre complex?
Norman Higgins: Sure. My company has a contract for janitorial service at some of the offices and stores there. Oh, now, wait a minute. I can see where you're going with this. Just because my service works there doesn't mean I had anything to do with Stover's death!
Detective Murphy: Did you have a crew there Sunday night January 1st? They might have seen something that would be useful to us.
Norman Higgins: No, Detective. We don't work on Sunday nights. If there's work to be done on the weekend, we do it during the day in the offices and are through by Saturday night in the shops that are open on Saturday. Sunday is a night off.
Detective Armstrong: Just for the record, Mr. Higgins, where were you on Sunday night January 1st?
Norman Higgins: That's my bowling night, Detective. My bachelor buddies and I always get together on Sundays. It's the one night none of us has to work. I was at Oxford Premier Lanes from 7:30 p.m. until they closed at 11:00 p.m. Then a couple of us went over to the Wendy's and shot the bull for another hour or so. Check with the bowling alley — they all know me there — and I can give you the names of the guys I was with.
Detective Armstrong: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Higgins. We appreciate your help. Please give us a call if you think of anything else that might be useful to us.
Norman Higgins: Okay, but I doubt I know anything more. Goodbye.
Interview ends 4:28 p.m.