Tuesday, April 30, 2014 - 9:10 a.m.
After learning that JC Strong had returned to his home in Taylor, Detectives Murphy and Armstrong arranged for him to come in for an interview. The detectives interviewed JC Strong at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- JC Strong
Detective Murphy: State your name, age, address and occupation for the record.
JC Strong: JC Strong, 39. My address is 265 County Road 323 in Taylor. And I drive the mail truck from Memphis to Taylor, and that's my occupation. But I think you know all this, detective, don't you?
Detective Murphy: It's for the record.
JC Strong: Whatever.
Detective Armstrong: You haven't been at work lately. Why not?
JC Strong: I took some vacation time.
Detective Murphy: Where did you go?
JC Strong: Down to Florida to see my brother.
Detective Armstrong: Thought you were from New Orleans.
JC Strong: I lived there years ago. So what?
Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you were there?
JC Strong: I don't know. Long time.
Detective Armstrong: Months? Years?
JC Strong: Years. What does this have to do with anything?
Detective Armstrong: You sure you didn't go to New Orleans and not Florida?
JC Strong: Yeah, I'm sure. I got no reason to go to New Orleans. My brother lives in Florida.
Detective Murphy: What's your brother's name?
JC Strong: Roy.
Detective Murphy: Roy Strong?
JC Strong: Duh, yeah. What do you think?
Detective Murphy: And his address?
JC Strong: What the hell you need his address for?
Detective Murphy: Please, Mr. Strong. You agreed to cooperate.
JC Strong: I am cooperating. I just want to know why y'all need to get my brother involved in this.
Detective Armstrong: You never know when we might need to contact him to verify any information you give.
JC Strong: All right, all right. He lives in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in an apartment complex called Salt Spray, I think. I don't remember the address. I just know you hang a right past Bahama Joe's and go back two blocks, and it's there on the corner. I been going there for years and never asked for the address.
Detective Murphy: What's his phone number?
JC Strong: 850-543-XXXX. You want to call him up? We'll ask him some questions. Maybe he killed this girl.
Detective Armstrong: What do you mean by that?
JC Strong: What I mean is, it pisses me off to be dragged down here to speak about some dead girl I never even knew. I known plenty of cops willing to drag any old fool in and pin the tail on him, if you know what I mean. Well, I ain't wearing it.
Detective Armstrong: Strong, no one is pinning anything on you. You simply lived a stone's throw from where we found the head, so naturally you're on our list to question. But you've been conveniently missing since right around the time we started this investigation, and I have to say, that seems a tad suspicious. Now, if you'll permit us to continue?
JC Strong: Go ahead.
Detective Armstrong: You said you didn't know the victim, Laurie Daniels.
JC Strong: I did not know her. Not even to look at her. I remember her from years ago, but I never spoke to her. Never even caught her eye.
Detective Murphy: We have reason to believe that you were somehow involved with her sister, Melanie Daniels, when she was in high school, around 2005 or '06 perhaps. Do you care to characterize that relationship?
JC Strong: That? Man, that was nothing. She was a hot little girl, so I called her up every now and then. She loved to flirt but pretended like she was grossed out or whatever. One time, her daddy answered the phone, and he was so overprotective. He told me to go to hell. Then he must've had caller ID or something 'cause not an hour later he was on my front porch beating on my door with a damn baseball bat.
Detective Murphy: How did you respond?
JC Strong: I got my 12-gauge and loaded it with rock salt, then fired off a couple rounds at his crazy ass. That sumbitch ain't been back neither.
Detective Murphy: Have you even had communication with Mr. Daniels since that time?
JC Strong: Nope. Well, I take that back. I was up at High Point Coffee having my cup of joe one morning, probably about two, three years ago, and he come in just as prettied up as you please, getting his morning wake-up. He sees me sitting there and says to the cashier, "Since when did you start serving pedophiles?"
Detective Murphy: What did you say?
JC Strong: I tell you what. Lucky my friend Jim was with me or else I'd've chunked Daniels through the window. I mean it. But what do you expect, right? He's a lawyer. He makes a living out of smearing people's good names.
Detective Murphy: Did you know Mr. Daniels prior to your calling his daughter?
JC Strong: Nope. Never laid eyes on him. I heard his name a bunch. People always talking about what an asshole he was. You know what I mean, I'm sure.
Detective Armstrong: Let's get back to Taylor. Did you ever see or hear anything peculiar out near the creek? You're familiar with the area, I'm sure.
JC Strong: I've messed around over there before, sure. I like to walk in the woods like anybody. But, no, I ain't never seen nothing to make me believe there was killings going on. Although, there was that incident with the cows awhile back.
Detective Armstrong: Which incident?
JC Strong: Some fool kids spray painting cows. Can you believe that?
Detective Armstrong: Do you know anything about that?
JC Strong: Hell no. What you trying to say?
Detective Armstrong: Nothing. I'm just trying to get leads here. Do you know anyone else who hangs out in those woods or that pasture?
JC Strong: I know kids who go pick mushrooms every spring, but they ain't into no ritualistic killings or nothing of the sort. Hell, if you ask me, this looks like some out-of-town weirdness. I ain't never seen the likes of that shit.
Detective Armstrong: The likes of what?
JC Strong: Look, I read the newspapers, all right? I know what y'all found over there by Taylor Creek. And I'm just saying, nobody in my circles are smashing chickens and lopping off pretty girls' heads.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever see smoke rising out of that bottom?
JC Strong: Nope. Never did.
Detective Murphy: Ever heard screams?
JC Strong: Never did. Why don't you ask that Allison kid though. He's out shooting at the moon all the time. Hell, he's more of a suspect than me. I drive all night.
Detective Armstrong: Your neighbors seem to think you carry on and party a lot. Anything to that?
JC Strong: I have the occasional Saturday night throw-down. But I work at night, and I generally have to leave the parties fairly early. So what happens after I go is not my business.
Detective Armstrong: And what about you barreling through town on your motorcycle?
JC Strong: Sure, I like to ride, but I don't keep people up at all hours. Again, I have a job that keeps me on the road all night.
Detective Murphy: When do you typically go into work?
JC Strong: Well, I usually leave Taylor about 10:00 at night. I get to the post office up in Memphis around 11:15, 11:30 and have some coffee, shoot the shit. We get the truck loaded around midnight and I roll out around 12:15.
Detective Murphy: What does your job consist of?
JC Strong: I drop the mail off at various post offices between Memphis and Taylor: Olive Branch, Byhalia, Holly Springs, Oxford, Ole Miss and all kind of little one-horse towns in between. I usually end up back in Taylor around 8:20, 8:30 in the morning. I leave my truck at the post office and just walk down to my house.
Detective Murphy: And what do you do with your days?
JC Strong: Sleep pretty much. And other little things I'm not supposed to do.
Detective Armstrong: Such as?
JC Strong: You think I'm going to give myself away? You got to catch me in the act.
Detective Armstrong: Don't push your luck, fella. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to dig up enough to arrest you.
JC Strong: Seems like you're up to ears in crap already. You really got time to waste on any piddly shit I might be doing?
Detective Murphy: Mr. Strong, would you tell us what you were doing on Saturday, March 29th?
JC Strong: That was a while ago, detective. How am I supposed to remember that?
Detective Armstrong: Here's a calendar. Think back, if you can get through the haze of booze and marijuana and God knows what else. You better get those wheels turning.
JC Strong: Um… OK, I'm 99 percent positive that was the day I had to take the truck back to Memphis after my shift because they were inspecting it. I'd had some trouble with it, and they wanted to fix it up and everything.
Detective Armstrong: You work on Saturdays?
JC Strong: Yeah, sometimes. So that day, I turned around, after that long night of lonely driving, and I went back to Memphis. I pulled in around 10:00 in the morning.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do then?
JC Strong: While they were looking over the truck, I went into one of the guys' offices there and sacked out on his couch. I was out cold until probably about 4:30 that afternoon. After that, I walked a couple of blocks to this club I like to attend every now and then when I got some time to burn in Memphis.
Detective Murphy: What's the name of the club?
JC Strong: The Gentlemen's Cabana.
Detective Armstrong: A strip club?
JC Strong: How'd you guess?
Detective Murphy: How long were you there?
JC Strong: For a while. After that, I messed around with one of the dancers. I think I headed back to the post office at about 10:00 and took my truck back to Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Who was this dancer?
JC Strong: To be honest with you, I don't even remember her name. She was new, and I ain't been back since then.
Detective Murphy: Where did you two go?
JC Strong: Well, we walked down to this Waffle House and had a bite to eat around 6:30. And then…
Detective Armstrong: And then what?
JC Strong: Don't embarrass me, detective. I don't kiss and tell.
Detective Armstrong: Where did you go after Waffle House?
JC Strong: We went to the bathroom at the Waffle House.
Detective Armstrong: And then where?
JC Strong: And then the parking lot of a run-down Shoney's.
Detective Armstrong: And then?
JC Strong: Back to the club, to the dressing room. And then I left.
Detective Armstrong: You ever give anyone a ride when you're working? Someone who needs to get from here to Memphis or Memphis to here?
JC Strong: Nope. That's against the rules.
Detective Armstrong: Yeah. And, what? You never break the rules?
JC Strong: Not on the job, man. Not ever.
Detective Murphy: We understand you had a visitor at your house around that same time. A white male. Who was that?
JC Strong: That's my brother. His in-laws were coming to his place for a visit, and him and them don't get along too good, so he came up to hang with me here. No big deal.
Detective Armstrong: And how'd his wife feel about him not being home when her parents were coming?
JC Strong: I don't know. Not my problem.
Detective Murphy: How long was your brother in town?
JC Strong: Couple weeks. Came around the first part of April maybe?
Detective Armstrong: Does your brother have a job? What does he do for money?
JC Strong: Whatever he can to get by. He ain't big on work. He stays up here a lot 'cause his old lady is always giving him hell about it.
Detective Murphy: Do you know a guy named Forrest Burgess?
JC Strong: Can't say as I do.
Detective Murphy: You never met him?
JC Strong: If I did, I sure don't remember it.
Detective Murphy: What about a woman named Callie Shivers? You know her?
JC Strong: Yes, I do. A fine woman.
Detective Murphy: What's your relationship with her?
JC Strong: We're just friends right now. But I made a deal with myself to try and convert her from being a lesbian to coming home with me. 'Cause can't nobody do it like JC, know what I mean?
Detective Armstrong: Have you ever been to her residence uninvited?
JC Strong: I've been to parties out there. I never received a formal invitation, but then again, nobody does.
Detective Armstrong: Aside from parties.
JC Strong: I went over there with a friend once, but it became obvious we weren't welcome, so we split.
Detective Armstrong: Did she ever threaten you to ward off your sexual advances?
JC Strong: Look, I can get it anytime, anywhere. I don't have to deal with all that, all right? The only threatening that ever went down between her and me was my presence threatening her homosexuality. Know what I mean?
Detective Murphy: All right, Mr. Strong. I think that's enough out of you for one day. But we have to ask you to please not leave on any more spur-of-the-moment vacations while we're conducting this investigation.
JC Strong: One thing I've learned is, you can ask for anything you want. It don't necessarily mean you're going to get it.
Detective Murphy: Uh, yes. Before you go, Mr. Strong, would you be willing to give us a DNA sample?
JC Strong: Why would I do that?
Detective Murphy: To help us eliminate you as a suspect. After all, the crime scene was very near your home and you did disappear after the discovery of that crime scene. That could make some people suspect you.
JC Strong: I don't think so. Going on vacation isn't illegal. Living near a crime scene isn't illegal. If you want DNA from me, you'll have to do it the old fashioned way—with a warrant.
Detective Armstrong: You sure that's the tack you want to take?
JC Strong: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: All right, then. We'll be seeing you, Strong.
Interview ends - 10:04 a.m.