Smiling older woman with a gray-blonde pixie cut

Magnolia Harbison interview

Saturday, January 11, 2020 – 1:30 p.m.

Magnolia Harbison is Rose Jenkins's roommate at the Yoknapatawpha Acres nursing home, where Jerry Shaw worked. Her son, Ed Harbison, arrived as the interview was wrapping up.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked to Mrs. Harbison at Yoknapatawpha Acres.

Detective Murphy: Good afternoon.

Magnolia Harbison: What's good about it? No such thing as a good anything in this prison.

Detective Murphy: Why don't you tell us your name, and we'll go from there?

Magnolia Harbison: Ha! So we start off with games? I'm sure you have the names of every poor soul in here by now, but I'll play your game. I'm Magnolia June Harbison.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. You don't sound too happy to be here.

Magnolia Harbison: You think you would? You can come and go whenever you please. You haven't been dumped in this disgusting place by a son who is supposed to love you. I wouldn't leave a dog here.

Detective Murphy: I'm sorry you feel that way, Mrs. Harbison. Do you know why we want to talk with you today?

Magnolia Harbison: So you're another one of those idiots who thinks that everyone in a nursing home is loony tunes? Just wait. You'll see one of these days what it's like to get old and be treated like a piece of dirt. Of course, I know why you're here. It's about Jerry. You think I crawled out of this bed and murdered him? I wish.

Detective Armstrong: Why would you want to murder Jerry Shaw? We've been hearing nothing but kind words about him.

Magnolia Harbison: You liar! I never heard anyone say anything good about him. He was a scumbag. He wouldn't do anything he was supposed to.

Detective Armstrong: Like what?

Magnolia Harbison: Like hanging a clock on the wall or helping me into a chair or bringing me a measly piece of toast.

Detective Armstrong: Why didn't you complain about him?

Magnolia Harbison: I did complain. For all the good it did me. If I'd had a pocket full of cash to hand over to him every time I needed help, he probably would've camped by my bed. Where am I supposed to get any money? They took everything away from me before I got sentenced to spend my last days in here. I don't even have my home anymore.

Detective Armstrong: Do you know anyone who would want Mr. Shaw dead? I mean bad enough to kill him?

Magnolia Harbison: Everyone who ever met him, I'd guess. Oh, except for that silly nurse's aide that fawned all over him. Disgusting! She has the IQ of a salad bar.

Detective Armstrong: Ahem. Which aide would that be, Mrs. Harbison?

Magnolia Harbison: Her name's Erin. I saw Ed looking at her sideways. He'd better watch out or that Julie will throttle him. I'd love to see that.

Detective Murphy: Ed who?

Magnolia Harbison: Ed Harbison, that's who. My wimp of a son. He wouldn't even hang the clock for me. Afraid he might knock a hole in the wall and have to pay for it. He has my money. I let him and that wife of his move into my house with me, and then he moves me in here. I bet this happens to a lot of parents. No-good kids.

Detective Armstrong: Have you talked to anyone else about Jerry? I mean any of the other patients who might have a grudge against him?

Magnolia Harbison: What do you not understand about me being stuck in this bed? I can't go anywhere by myself, you idiot. Maybe you'd make a good match for Erin. Or maybe Rose.

Detective Murphy: You mean your roommate, Rose?

Magnolia Harbison: Oh, my Lord. Is there no sane person left on the planet? Of course, I mean my roommate, Rose. How many people do you think I see in here?

Detective Armstrong: It sounds like you don't care for her much either.

Magnolia Harbison: She mumbles and squirms around constantly. If I were going to murder anyone, it would be her. I turn the TV up loud so I can't hear her over there. When I get in trouble for that, they take the remote away from me. Then I want to jump up and down and pull my hair out. But of course, I can't. This is a nuthouse. Snakepit!

Detective Murphy: You seem to be getting agitated, Mrs. Harbison. Maybe we should go.

Magnolia Harbison: Of course. Why should I have any visitors or anyone to talk to? I'll just have another fascinating conversation with my roommate.

Detective Armstrong: We didn't mean to upset you, ma'am.

Magnolia Harbison: Just go. I'm used to being abandoned.

Detective Armstrong: Is there anything we can get you before we go?

Magnolia Harbison: Can you take me home and evict my ungrateful son and his no-good wife?

Detective Armstrong: Um…

Ed Harbison: Mom, be nice.

Magnolia Harbison: What are you doing here?

Ed Harbison: I came to see you.

Magnolia Harbison: Lucky me.

Detective Murphy: We're going to go now, Mrs. Harbison, but maybe we can come see you again? You might remember something that could help us.

Magnolia Harbison: If I remember anything else, maybe I'll tell you, and maybe I won't. I will tell you this. I'm going to miss ol' Jerry walking up and down the hall out there. I won't be able to call him names now like I used to. My luck is about as rotten as it can get.

Ed Harbison: Oh, Mom. Don't be like that.

Magnolia Harbison: Don't tell me what to do. This is all your fault, you know.

Detective Murphy: Mr. Harbison, would you mind walking us out?

Ed Harbison: Not at all. Mom, I'll be right back.

Magnolia Harbison: I'll be right here where I always am, thanks to you.

Interview ended – 1:58 p.m.