Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 3:00 p.m.
Elizabeth Barton is a longtime friend of the Marshall family and attended the reunion at Wall Doxey State Park on May 25, 2013. Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Elizabeth Barton
Elizabeth Barton: Hello, detectives.
Detective Murphy: Would you state your name and address for the record before we begin, please?
Elizabeth Barton: Of course. My name is Elizabeth Barton, and I live at 576 Webb Street.
Detective Murphy: Thank you. Why do you suppose we asked you to come in, Mrs. Barton?
Elizabeth Barton: Please call me Elizabeth. Or Liz. I think you want to know about Oscar Knight. Isn't that right? I read in the paper you were looking for him.
Detective Murphy: Do you know Mr. Knight, Liz?
Elizabeth Barton: Sort of. I knew Oscar years ago when we went to school together. I hadn't seen him for years.
Detective Murphy: Does that mean you've seen him recently?
Elizabeth Barton: Oh, yes. I saw him at the Marshall family reunion up at Wall Doxey. I had no idea Oscar was going to be there. It was a complete surprise, and I didn't even recognize him at first. Steve pointed him out to me. The Marshalls are a large family, and there are always a lot of relatives and friends at their reunions. But this was the first time I remember Oscar being there.
Detective Parker: Who is Steve?
Elizabeth Barton: Steve Marshall. I've known him since school days, too. We were in the same classes. I've been to a lot of basketball games and parties with Steve. My family and his have been friends for many years.
Detective Parker: Did you have any sort of altercation with Oscar Knight at that reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: How in the world did you know about that? It wasn't a big deal, Detective. Oscar was just being obnoxious is all. I think he'd been drinking, and I just wasn't having any of it.
Detective Parker: Did he say something that upset you?
Elizabeth Barton: He said I was really looking my age. That isn't something that most people would say to a man, let alone a woman. It was rude. I told him he should leave the reunion before he embarrassed the family.
Detective Murphy: How did he respond?
Elizabeth Barton: He just laughed. He actually said it was nice to know I still cared.
Detective Murphy: Was he right? Were you trying to stop him from embarrassing himself?
Elizabeth Barton: Absolutely not. I don't care if he embarrasses himself. I just wanted him to do it away from me and the people I care about.
Detective Murphy: Was this typical behavior for him? Pushing people's buttons?
Elizabeth Barton: It certainly was when I knew him. I have no idea what he's like now, but he didn't seem like he's changed at all. He's always been like that, drunk or not.
Detective Parker: Was he drunk at the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: Not drunk maybe, but I think he was feeling it a little. The problem began when he wanted me to have a drink with him. I told him no, and he said I was still a prissy little thing. I told him he was just as overbearing as I remembered him and walked away.
Detective Parker: Did he try to stop you?
Elizabeth Barton: No, he didn't do that. I think he realized that would be a big mistake. He would've been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail if he'd done something like that. No, he just kept following me around, and I wasn't interested in talking to him anymore. I told him to do everyone a favor and leave.
Detective Murphy: So you knew Mr. Knight in school. How would you describe your relationship back then? Were you classmates? Friends? More than that?
Elizabeth Barton: Back then, Oscar and I were classmates and friends, sort of. I was young and naive, so to me, he seemed like an interesting guy. He was very smart, and he always talked about how he was going to be rich someday. I thought he was a pretty nice guy. But when I saw his true colors, I decided that he wasn't worth my time and told him I didn't want to be around him anymore.
Detective Murphy: And how did he take that?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't think it bothered him at all. I believe he left town shortly after that, and I haven't seen him since. Good riddance is what I said.
Detective Parker: You said you saw his true colors. What does that mean? Did he dump you or something?
Elizabeth Barton: I found out he wasn't the nice guy he was pretending to be. I was young and stupid. I'm a lot smarter now.
Detective Parker: You sound like you're still a little angry about that?
Elizabeth Barton: It was ages ago.
Detective Murphy: So how did Oscar seem to be when you talked to him at the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: At first, he seemed fine. We just made small talk about old times, but when I smelled alcohol on his breath, I started moving away from him. He didn't like it and started following me.
Detective Murphy: Why did he do that?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't know. Oscar always loved to aggravate people, so I assume that's why.
Detective Parker: What time did you get to the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: Oh, it wasn't too early, but it was before noon. I wanted to make sure I got there before everyone sat down for lunch, and I wanted to get my food on the table too.
Detective Parker: Do you know what time Mr. Knight got there?
Elizabeth Barton: No, I have no idea.
Detective Parker: What time did you leave the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: I left earlier than I normally would have, but I didn't want to run into Oscar again. I always love going to the Marshall reunion because I know so many of the people there. But after the unpleasantness with Oscar, my day was ruined. I didn't want to have to talk to him again, so I left around 3:00 in the afternoon. Pauline told me later that she had a run-in with Oscar, too.
Detective Murphy: Pauline?
Elizabeth Barton: Pauline Jones. She and I have been friends for 20 years.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you what happened between her and Oscar?
Elizabeth Barton: She said Oscar said something nasty about me, and she slapped him. I wasn't surprised that she would slap him. Pauline is a very loyal friend.
Detective Parker: Did she tell you what he said?
Elizabeth Barton: No, she said she wouldn't repeat it, but knowing Oscar, it was probably something crude and offensive.
Detective Parker: Did she tell you anything else he might've said?
Elizabeth Barton: I don't know. I think she said he was talking about meeting someone later that evening, but he seemed very secretive about it. As if anyone would care what he was doing.
Detective Parker: Did say anything to you about meeting someone later?
Elizabeth Barton: No, not a word. But I didn't talk to him long enough for him to share any of his plans for the evening with me.
Detective Murphy: Have you seen Oscar since the reunion?
Elizabeth Barton: No, and I hope I never do again.
Detective Murphy: Is there anything else that you can remember that might help us in our investigation?
Elizabeth Barton: No. Since I left the reunion early, I didn't hear much. I just hope he won't come back to the reunion next year. I bet I'm not alone in that, either.
Detective Murphy: All right. I think we're done for now. If you remember anything else, please give us a call.
Elizabeth Barton: I will. Good day.
Interview ends: 3:21 p.m.