Interview: Tristan Lowell

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 4:00 p.m.

Tristan Lowell is a 15-year-old friend of RJ Brandt. The interview was conducted at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Because Mr. Lowell is a minor, his grandmother and legal guardian, Mrs. Mabel Specter, was also in attendance. The interview was recorded with the witnesses' knowledge and consent.


Detective Murphy: For the record, could you please state your name and address?

Tristan Lowell: My name is Tristan Lowell. I live at 238 Brittany Drive in Oxford.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. And, ma'am, your name and address for the record please?

Mabel Specter: Mabel Specter. I'm his granny. Same address.

Detective Murphy: You're Tristan's legal guardian?

Mabel Specter: That's right.

Detective Armstrong: We just have a few questions for you, Tristan. Shouldn't take long.

Tristan Lowell: Take as long as you want.

Detective Armstrong: How do you know RJ Brandt?

Tristan Lowell: I met him in the neighborhood. We just started talking. He's into the same stuff as me.

Detective Armstrong: Like what?

Tristan Lowell: You wouldn't understand.

Detective Murphy: Maybe we're smarter than you think. Try us.

Tristan Lowell: It doesn't matter. Adults always lie about it, but me and RJ know the truth. People always try to tell you if you just do what you're told, follow the rules, get good grades, everything will be fine. But it's not true. None of that matters. It doesn't matter what you do. Life is going to bite you in the ass anyway.

Mabel Specter: Tristan!

Tristan Lowell: I know you want pretend different, Granny, but life isn't fair and I'm not going to say it is. Look what happened to Mom and Dad. They didn't do anything to deserve that, and neither did I. But it still happened. And look at RJ. He lost everything in Katrina, and then his sister died too, and then there's all that crap with his folks.

Detective Murphy: What crap with his parents?

Mabel Specter: Well now, I don't know if we should talk about that, Tristan. Gossip ain't polite.

Tristan Lowell: Granny, it ain't gossip. I know what I know.

Detective Murphy: Please tell us. What do you mean by "crap"?

Tristan Lowell: He's hurting, you know? And I guess his folks aren't doing so good either. Maybe it's lucky they didn't all die in Katrina, but they don't act like people who think they're lucky.

Detective Murphy: What do you mean?

Tristan Lowell: They like the drinking life a little too much.

Detective Armstrong: RJ's parents have a drinking problem?

Tristan Lowell: Well, it might not be a problem for them, but yeah, it is for RJ. Bums him big time.

Detective Armstrong: How so?

Tristan Lowell: You mean besides them not being around much and like that?

Detective Armstrong: Yeah, besides that.

Tristan Lowell: I don't know. I mean, RJ outright said‒

Detective Armstrong: So these are your suspicions? Not something you've actually seen?

Tristan Lowell: So what? You don't always have to see something to know it's true.

Detective Armstrong: And you suspect... what?

Tristan Lowell: Let's just say sometimes he's come around with some funky-ass bruises. Like that, you know?

Detective Murphy: You're saying that RJ's parents abuse him? Beat him?

Mabel Specter: Tristan, you got no proof of that.

Tristan Lowell: Granny, you think the same as me.

Mabel Specter: I'm just saying we don't know anything for sure.

Detective Murphy: How often did you observe injuries on RJ?

Tristan Lowell: I don't know. Not all the time. Just sometimes he'll have a big old handprint on his arm. A few weeks later maybe he'll have marks on his neck. I don't know. He never says direct what happened. Just stuff like "tough night" or he wished they'd stayed out all night instead of coming home.

Detective Murphy: When was this?

Tristan Lowell: I don't know. Just sometimes

Detective Armstrong: Did he ever see a doctor? Go to the emergency room?

Tristan Lowell: Not as far as I know. He just got good at covering it up.

Detective Murphy: Did that make him want to lash out?

Tristan Lowell: What do you mean?

Detective Murphy: Did it make him want to hurt anybody?

Tristan Lowell: You mean like kill a little kid and cut off their head and bring it to school. I doubt it. He'd probably like to kick his Daddy's butt sometimes. Wouldn't you?

Detective Armstrong: Aside from that, is there anything else bothering RJ?

Tristan Lowell: Isn't that enough?

Mabel Specter: Tristan, don't be smart.

Tristan Lowell: Sorry, Granny. No, I think that was more than enough to bother him. I don't know if he could stand much more.

Detective Armstrong: Did he tell you about the skull?

Tristan Lowell: Sure, he told me he found it.

Detective Murphy: What did you think when he told you?

Tristan Lowell: I guess I thought it was kind of strange. But then strange stuff happens all the time.

Detective Murphy: He told you he found it where?

Tristan Lowell: Said he dug it up in his yard. He was always digging back there anyway. His way of venting, I guess.

Detective Murphy: Why didn't you tell him to contact the police, when he found the skull?

Tristan Lowell: Yeah, I guess I should have. Just didn't think of it. Besides, in the next breath he was talking about wrestling moves and all. He loves that wrestling. Don't see the big deal myself.

Detective Armstrong: Anything else that RJ said or did that struck you odd?

Tristan Lowell: Not really.

Mabel Specter: Tell him about the food.

Tristan Lowell: Oh, that ain't nothing.

Detective Armstrong: About what food?

Tristan Lowell: Nothing really. He's just always hungry. You know, when he comes over, he eats a lot.

Mabel Specter: Poor boy eats like he ain't had a meal in a month of Sundays. Makes me wonder if they even feed him.

Tristan Lowell: Granny! They ain't starving him or anything.

Mabel Specter: Maybe not, but they can't be feeding him healthy.

Detective Armstrong: OK, I think we get the picture. Anything else you want to add?

Tristan Lowell: Not really.

Detective Armstrong: OK Tristan, Mrs. Specter, thanks. If you think of anything else, please let us know. And if we have any more questions, we'll contact you.

Tristan Lowell: OK.

Mabel Specter: Yes, sir.

Interview ends: 4:22 p.m.