Roland Bland interview
Friday, April 11, 1958 – 5:45 p.m.
Initial neighborhood interviews with homeowners living near the Izard home on County Road 106 were conducted at the neighbors' homes on the afternoon and into the evening of the Izard murders, Friday, April 11, 1958.
Roland Bland lives north of Lydia Catlett on County Road 106.
- Detective Jack McPhail
- Roland Bland
Detective McPhail: Sorry to catch you right after work, Roland.
Roland Bland: That's all right. Anything I can do. I wasn't home all day today, but go ahead. Ask me anything. I sure hate to hear about the Izards being killed and those missing kids. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all those cars and all the commotion over at their house when I got home. Wish I could do something for them.
Detective McPhail: First, for the record, please state your name, age, address and occupation.
Roland Bland: Sure thing. It's Roland Matthew Bland, and I'm 29. My address is County Road 106, Box 213, Oxford, and I'm a painter. House painter, sign painter, that kind of stuff.
Detective McPhail: That's fine, just fine. Now can you tell me of your whereabouts after lunch today?
Roland Bland: That's easy. I've been over to Abbeville getting that new supermarket all painted up. Me and my whole crew were there all day, didn't even leave to go eat lunch. Mr. Westover — he's the owner — was paying us extra to get it finished by Monday. We're almost done, too, just a little trim work left, plus the big sign out front. Just got back a while ago, about 5:00.
Detective McPhail: So you weren't home at all since this morning?
Roland Bland: Nope. I'm sure sorry.
Detective McPhail: That's OK. I just have to make sure. You seen any folks or vehicles you aren't used to seeing around here since you got back home?
Roland Bland: Just you all.
Detective McPhail: How about in the last week or so? Anything out of the ordinary?
Roland Bland: Nothing I've noticed.
Detective McPhail: Seen any of your neighbors acting strangely?
Roland Bland: No stranger than usual. Just kidding. No, I haven't seen anything.
Detective McPhail: Strange cars hanging around, any door-to-door salesmen, anything along those lines?
Roland Bland: Nope.
Detective McPhail: What can you tell me about the Izards as neighbors?
Roland Bland: They're good people. Never had any trouble with them.
Detective McPhail: Can you think of anybody who might?
Roland Bland: Well, I heard about those factory layoffs while I was working this afternoon. Word travels fast 'bout something like that. People sure get mighty sore when they don't have a way to support their families no more. But I know all those guys — and the ladies too — down there at the factory. Some of the men are blowhards, but I can't imagine a one of 'em harming a fly. 'Sides, who would hurt Richard? And pretty little Miz Izard. Just makes me sick.
Detective McPhail: I understand.
Roland Bland: Well … and there's that bus driver. He might be mad too, but not that mad.
Detective McPhail: Bus driver? Who are you talking about?
Roland Bland: Elroy Murphy. Drives school bus No. 48 out by here. I think little Ricky rides it, at least in the afternoons, but I'm not sure.
Detective McPhail: What was Murphy's beef with the Izards?
Roland Bland: Weren't no real big deal, at least to anybody except Murphy. It was a week or two ago. See, Richard's wife had all those pretty flowers up at the house, and she'd just planted some new ones around by their mailbox out by the main road too. Looked real nice.
Detective McPhail: What does this have to do with Elroy Murphy?
Roland Bland: Well, Murphy ain't the best driver in the world — no offense, but he ain't — and he wasn't watching too much one day when he tried to do a turn-around at the end of Richard's driveway. Knocked that mailbox all hell to breakfast, purt' near ruint it. It hasn't never looked the same since even though Richard tried to knock the dents out of it. And the flowers, well, you know. They got all smushed up.
Detective McPhail: How'd the Izards take to that?
Roland Bland: You know how women are. Mrs. Izard was real mad when she saw it, Richard said. She made Richard call the bus shop supervisor and complain about ol' Murphy. Got him in big trouble too, to hear Elroy talk. I saw Elroy at the coffee shop the next day, and he said something about "one more bad mark in my file and I'm history! I could wring those Izards' necks!" But I don't think he meant it.
Detective McPhail: I'll have to check it out. Anything else you can tell me? Do you know your postman?
Roland Bland: Tommy Joe? Sure. Everybody knows him. He's a good ol' boy.
Detective McPhail: Can you think of any reason he might have to resent the Izards?
Roland Bland: Him? Naw. You got that all wrong. One of your guys told me Hinkley found the bodies. Is that right? But he's an innocent man.
Detective McPhail: What makes you think so?
Roland Bland: They were friends. You know how Tommy Joe likes to go on about how he was in the service? Well, you know, Richard couldn't serve on account of his bad back, so he was always asking Tommy Joe about this and that part of Army life. Tommy Joe just ate it up. He sure loves to talk about those days. They were fishing buddies too. Naw, you're wrong. Ol' Hinkley didn't have nothing to do with it.
Detective McPhail: Glad to hear you say that. Do you know what time Tommy Joe usually comes by?
Roland Bland: It varies, I think. I'm home sometimes in the afternoon, depending on if I got a current paint job or not. I've seen him doing his route, oh, as early as 2:00 and as late as 3:30. Depends on how much yapping Tommy Joe feels like doing that day with the folks he sees, whether he's delivering catalogs, stuff like that. I know he's always nice to old Miz Catlett next door, stopping to talk to her 'cause she's a shut-in.
Detective McPhail: OK. What else do you know about the Izards' enemies or their friends?
Roland Bland: Didn't have no real enemies, not that I know of. As for friends, why, everybody seemed to like them. They were church-going folks, nice to get along with. Good neighbors. Kinda quiet, but we like that out here.
Detective McPhail: Did they owe anybody money?
Roland Bland: Not that I know of, but Richard wasn't one to talk about such as that. You mean like one of them loan sharks?
Detective McPhail: I don't know. I've just got to cover all the bases.
Roland Bland: No, I don't think so.
Detective McPhail: When was the last time you saw them?
Roland Bland: Let's see now… I saw Richard yesterday evening. I think it was the day before that I saw the missus and the kids out.
Detective McPhail: All right, that's it, Roland. Thanks for your time, and good to see you. Hate it had to be about something like this.
Roland Bland: Me too. Wish I could be of help.
Detective McPhail: Roland, keep your eyes open for anything unusual, and let me know if you see or hear anything.
Roland Bland: I'll do that.