Interview: Follow-up with Heather Brandt
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 9:50 a.m.
Heather Brandt is RJ Brandt's mother. Her 12-year-old son brought a human skull to school. The interview was conducted at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department and interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Heather Brandt
Detective Armstrong: Mrs. Brandt, thank you for talking to us again. Would you please state your name and address for the record?
Heather Brandt: Not a problem, Detective. My name is Heather Brandt and I reside at 205 Brittany Dr.
Detective Armstrong: Thank you. As you know we've been running some tests on that skull your son found, and it is a real human skull.
Heather Brandt: I figured. Seems like nothing ever goes right for us. Just one more thing to deal with.
Detective Murphy: We know the hurricane was a horrific ordeal to go through.
Heather Brandt: Yes, it was.
Detective Armstrong: Is there anything else going on that's weighing on your mind?
Heather Brandt: Oh no, not really, just trying to make enough money for the family. Just all of it is difficult.
Detective Armstrong: As I was saying, we have determined that the skull is human‒
Heather Brandt: I don't see how that would be of importance to me, Detective. RJ said he dug up the skull from the backyard. I got no reason to doubt that.
Detective Murphy: It turns out the skull is that of an approximately two-year-old female
Heather Brandt: That's terrible, but kids used to die a lot more back in the olden days, didn't they?
Detective Murphy: I'm not sure I know what you mean.
Heather Brandt: Well, nowadays, we've got medicine and doctors and things, but back then, they didn't.
Detective Murphy: Back when?
Heather Brandt: You know, olden times.
Detective Murphy: Uh-huh. So you think the skull is from a long time ago?
Heather Brandt: Well, yeah. Isn't it?
Detective Armstrong: You know, Mrs. Brandt, RJ said something that has us curious. By any chance, did he have a sister who died?
Heather Brandt: Oh... Detective, that's such a painful memory. I don't know if you've ever lost a child, but even thinking about it can be awful.
Detective Armstrong: We understand. How did your daughter pass away?
Heather Brandt: My daughter died from SIDS. I'm sure you can understand that I don't want to talk about it.
Detective Murphy: We know it's difficult. We just have a few more questions. How old was your daughter when she passed away?
Heather Brandt: She was just about to turn two when she passed.
Detective Murphy: And when was that?
Heather Brandt: 2004.
Detective Murphy: You were living in Biloxi then?
Heather Brandt: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: How did RJ take his sister's death?
Heather Brandt: How do you think? Why do you keep harassing me about something you know is painful for me to talk about? As far as I can see, that has nothing to do with my son bringing a skull he dug up in the backyard to school. I don't want to answer any more questions about my daughter. Is there anything else you want talk to me about?
Detective Murphy: Actually, yes. We've talked with your neighbors, and they mentioned RJ hangs out with "the Lowell boy." Do you know who that is?
Heather Brandt: Sure. Tristan. Him and RJ are friends.
Detective Murphy: Do you know anything else about him?
Heather Brandt: Like what?
Detective Murphy: Where he lives? What grade he's in? Have you met his parents?
Heather Brandt: RJ knows where he lives.
Detective Armstrong: Your neighbors seem to have some concerns about the amount of time that RJ is staying at home alone. Working late hours, are you, Mrs. Brandt?
Heather Brandt: I do work long hours, and my husband does too. RJ is twelve. He's old enough to spend a couple hours after school by himself. What's the big deal?
Detective Armstrong: No need to be short with us, ma'am. We're simply trying to piece this together.
Heather Brandt: I'm sorry. I'm just upset. I told you I don't like talking about my daughter. I'd like to leave now.
Detective Murphy: Certainly. We do appreciate you coming in today and apologize if we upset you.
Interview ends: 10:08 a.m.