Suspect #1 interview
Friday, March 26, 2021 – 9:00 a.m.
Vincent Gayle is the guardian of Daniel Collier.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee asked him to come in for another conversation at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Vincent Gayle
Detective Beckwith: Vincent Gayle. Have a seat. We have a lot to talk about. You understand that you're here under your own volition and are free to go at any time?
Vincent Gayle: Sure.
Detective Magee: We need your full name and address to start.
Vincent Gayle: Vincent Gayle. 3 County Road 169, Alesville.
Detective Magee: Let's begin with the search of your garage.
Vincent Gayle: What about it?
Detective Beckwith: We've found quite a bit of evidence there that you're going to have to explain. If you don't, it's going to look very bad for you.
Vincent Gayle: I have no idea what y'all are talking about.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, then, let's get into the specifics. We need to understand is why there's a pool of Daniel's blood on your garage floor.
Vincent Gayle: There was no blood on my garage floor. If there was, don't you think I would have seen it?
Detective Beckwith: Not if it was cleaned up with bleach. We found it, though, along with the blood you couldn't get to that soaked into the grooves between the floor and your tool bench legs.
Vincent Gayle: Are you saying Daniel was murdered in my garage?
Detective Magee: The amount of blood suggests that. So how do you explain it?
Vincent Gayle: I don't. It never happened.
Detective Magee: Where did Daniel park his car in your garage?
Vincent Gayle: Near the tool bench. So?
Detective Beckwith: We have the remains of blood pools there in that spot as well as associated blood spatter on Daniel's car.
Vincent Gayle: What does that mean?
Detective Beckwith: It means that this attack on Daniel happened at a time when Daniel and his car were in your garage at the same time.
Vincent Gayle: Okay?
Detective Beckwith: That narrows our timeline quite a bit since you told us that Daniel was alive before you left for Bible study on January 2nd and that he and his car were gone when you returned.
Vincent Gayle: So someone killed Daniel in the garage while Sharon and I were at Bible study?
Detective Beckwith: Like who?
Vincent Gayle: Uh … Laughlin's guys. You gotta know they're criminals. Maybe Daniel double-crossed them or stole from them or something. Pissed them off. Maybe Daniel let them into the garage, and they attacked him while we were at Bible study.
Detective Magee: Were you aware Daniel was stealing from Laughlin?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah, I had my suspicions.
Detective Magee: Why weren't you bringing that up when we talked before?
Vincent Gayle: I didn't know if he was stealing for sure.
Detective Magee: Or you didn't want us to find the parts Daniel stole, which were still sitting in your garage.
Vincent Gayle: I didn't know that any of the spare parts in my garage were Laughlin's.
Detective Magee: I don't see why Laughlin would kill Daniel in your garage, clean it up, and then just leave his stolen parts sitting a few feet away on your shelves.
Vincent Gayle: Maybe they didn't look for them. Maybe he thought Daniel sold them already.
Detective Beckwith: Come on. You're a car guy, and your parts stash mysteriously grows twofold, and you don't ask Daniel about it?
Vincent Gayle: It wasn't my business. Daniel was an adult with his own life. I didn't pry.
Detective Magee: That's not what Daniel's friends say. They say you were arguing with him all the time.
Vincent Gayle: That's not true. I loved the boy.
Detective Beckwith: Are you sure you didn't just love his trust fund?
Vincent Gayle: How dare you? I loved that boy like he was my own son.
Detective Magee: Well, that makes sense, Vince, since he was your own son.
Vincent Gayle: What are you talking about?
Detective Magee: We compared your blood sample with Daniel's blood samples. You're a DNA match. There's a 99.9% chance you are Daniel's biological father.
Vincent Gayle: My God…
Detective Beckwith: You never suspected?
Vincent Gayle: No. It was a one-time thing.
Detective Magee: Did Mark Collier know about your affair with his wife, Amanda?
Vincent Gayle: No. It was a weak time for me. My dad just died. His company was in dire straits. I knew I was going to lose my job within a year or so.
Detective Magee: What does that have to do with Amanda?
Vincent Gayle: I went into a bar where Amanda happened to be drinking with her college friends. It was totally chance. I was Mark's best man in their wedding, so she knew me. She was comfortable with me.
Detective Magee: And?
Vincent Gayle: After her friends left, we kept drinking in the bar. I told her my troubles. She listened. She felt sad for me … with me. We connected. Before I knew it, I took her in the backseat of my car.
Detective Magee: You had to recognize that Daniel was born nine months later.
Vincent Gayle: Amanda said she had an IUD, and I didn't have to worry. Now, I guess I know why Amanda wanted me to be Daniel's godfather.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, Vincent, it's time to come clean. We know that Daniel was involved in a gay relationship—
Vincent Gayle: Daniel wasn't gay.
Detective Beckwith: —with Brandon Ebner. We know that your religion regards such relationships—
Vincent Gayle: I said Daniel wasn't gay.
Detective Beckwith: —as immoral. If your conflicted feelings about Daniel being gay—
Vincent Gayle: Damn it, you're not listening! I said Daniel wasn't gay!
Detective Magee: Just because you didn't want to deal with it doesn't make it untrue.
Detective Beckwith: Your neighbors saw you drive out Dan's car on the night of January 2nd to clean the garage. They saw you burning evidence in the burn barrel out back the day after. We know you killed Daniel. Was it because you couldn't stand that your son was gay?
Vincent Gayle: No. I loved him. … I loved him.
Detective Beckwith: There's so much evidence against you.
Detective Magee: Vincent, it seems that you want to tell us—tell someone—what happened. You can't carry this thing anymore, thinking about it day in, day out, night after night. You need to just get it out.
Vincent Gayle: I loved him.
Detective Magee: I know you did. It shows.
Vincent Gayle: I didn't want him to be gay.
Detective Magee: It's okay.
Vincent Gayle: I didn't want him to be dead.
Detective Magee: Just tell us how it happened. Take your time.
Vincent Gayle: He was dead when I got there.
Detective Magee: Where?
Vincent Gayle: In the garage.
Detective Beckwith: What happened?
Vincent Gayle: She dropped his car on him.
Detective Magee: Who?
Vincent Gayle: Sharon.
Detective Beckwith: Sharon dropped the car on him?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah, while he was changing the oil. He was under the car, and she released the jack on him.
Detective Magee: On purpose?
Vincent Gayle: By accident, she said. I'm not sure.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Vincent Gayle: Because she hit him in the head a bunch of times with the jack handle.
Detective Beckwith: How do you know that?
Vincent Gayle: She told me. I was in the house, watching the news, and she came running in from the garage all bloody, screaming. She says she accidentally dropped the car on Daniel and then tried to pull him out from under the car on his creeper. When she got him out, he was choking and gagging, so she hit him in the head with the jack handle to stop him from suffering.
Detective Magee: And you didn't believe her.
Vincent Gayle: I didn't think anything. I just ran to the garage. And there he was, half on a busted-up creeper with his head bleeding badly. I looked at him. It was like he wasn't even Dan.
Detective Beckwith: If it was an accident, why didn't you just call the police?
Vincent Gayle: It looked too bad. There was so much blood. Plus, I had a garage full of car parts stolen from one of the most dangerous guys in Oxford. I didn't have an option. I had to get rid of the body.
Detective Beckwith: Describe what you did next.
Vincent Gayle: I put a plastic bag over his head since it was bleeding a lot. The bag was a heavy-duty car parts bag, so it held the blood in pretty well. Sharon and I talked about what we should do. She said we should just go to Bible study like usual so we'd have an alibi. I told her that I didn't need an alibi because I didn't do anything wrong.
Detective Magee: What did she say?
Vincent Gayle: She said that I wanted her to go to prison and that I didn't love her. I said I did and still wanted to marry her. She said this was a good time to prove it.
Detective Beckwith: Y'all are engaged?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah, on New Year's. We hadn't told anyone yet.
Detective Magee: Did you go to Bible study then?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah, after Sharon changed her bloody clothes.
Detective Magee: Where did she put them?
Vincent Gayle: In the wash.
Detective Magee: Do you remember what she was wearing?
Vincent Gayle: No.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, what about Daniel's body? You just left it there in the garage as you went to Bible study?
Vincent Gayle: Yes. It sounds cold, I know, but you have to believe me. I was in shock. It was too much to process, and at Bible study, at least, I felt like it never even happened. When we got home, though, it hit me hard.
Detective Magee: What did you do next?
Vincent Gayle: I drove his car out on the driveway so we could clean under it.
Detective Magee: Okay.
Vincent Gayle: When I went back into the garage, I got a camping tarp that was big enough to wrap Daniel in. I took his head out of the car parts bag and rolled him up in the tarp.
Detective Beckwith: What did you do with the car parts bag?
Vincent Gayle: His creeper was broken and bloody, so I put it into the car parts bag to burn it all out in the backyard.
Detective Beckwith: Where in the backyard?
Vincent Gayle: In the burn barrel we got out there.
Detective Magee: What was Sharon doing at this time?
Vincent Gayle: Cleaning the garage floor and jack with cleaner. Once she was done, I moved Daniel's car back into the garage.
Detective Magee: Okay. What did you do then?
Vincent Gayle: I opened his car's trunk to put his body in there. It was full of Laughlin's stolen car parts. I took them out and put them on the storage racks nearby. When the trunk was empty, I put Daniel's body in.
Detective Magee: Did Sharon say anything to you during the cleanup?
Vincent Gayle: She kept thinking out aloud about the places we could put Daniel's body. She suggested Clear Springs because it was near the place where Daniel and his friends just had the cabin party, so it would look like Daniel's friends killed him in case someone found him.
Detective Beckwith: Did you agree?
Vincent Gayle: I couldn't think of anywhere better, so I got a heavy cylinder head that had been in Daniel's trunk and a camping backpack from the garage shelves. I put the cylinder head in the backpack and put the backpack in the backseat of the car.
Detective Beckwith: What was the cylinder head for?
Vincent Gayle: Weighing the body down. It was old and heavy from a ‘60s muscle car, not a modern aluminum head.
Detective Magee: Did you leave then?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah, after I got some ratchet straps to hold the cylinder head to the body and put them in the backpack.
Detective Beckwith: What time was this?
Vincent Gayle: I don't know, like 1:00 a.m.?
Detective Beckwith: Did Sharon go with you?
Vincent Gayle: Yes. I needed her to carry the cylinder head.
Detective Magee: Describe what happened next.
Vincent Gayle: We drove to the Clear Springs Trail parking lot, right off River Road. I parked as close to the trees as I could. I backed in. I got Daniel's body out of the trunk, and Sharon put on the backpack. We went down the trail to the swamps. When we got to a place we could dump him, we strapped the head to him and threw him into the water. It wasn't as deep as I first thought, but we had to leave him there. It would be too hard to get him out.
Detective Beckwith: Did you strap him to the cylinder head in the swamp?
Vincent Gayle: On a trail boardwalk there. Yes.
Detective Magee: What about his wallet, ring, cell phone, and any other identifying materials?
Vincent Gayle: I threw his wallet and cell phone in a dumpster in town later. He wasn't wearing his ring. I just figured it was at home.
Detective Magee: What happened then?
Vincent Gayle: We went back home. We had to decide what to do with the car.
Detective Beckwith: What was your plan?
Vincent Gayle: I wanted to dump it on some back road somewhere, but Sharon got the idea that we should pretend that Daniel went to New York like he told people he would.
Detective Beckwith: What was her plan?
Vincent Gayle: To take clothes out of his closet like he packed them and then ditch his car at the Memphis airport like he took off from there. Then Sharon said she would pretend to be Daniel on Facebook for a while until people believed he was in New York.
Detective Magee: This was all Sharon's plan?
Vincent Gayle: Yeah.
Detective Magee: When did you go to ditch Daniel's car at the airport?
Vincent Gayle: A few days later. Tuesday maybe? I took Daniel's car. Sharon followed me in our car. When I got to the airport, I dropped the car off in the lot, took the duffel bag with Daniel's clothes in it, and went out to the pick-up area where Sharon was waiting for me.
Detective Beckwith: What did you do with Daniel's clothes?
Vincent Gayle: I tossed them in a dumpster out back of Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken restaurant in Memphis.
Detective Magee: Then what did you do next?
Vincent Gayle: We went home. Sharon continued to be Daniel online. I tried to forget.
Detective Beckwith: Why didn't you get rid of Laughlin's stolen parts?
Vincent Gayle: I meant to, but after Daniel's body wasn't found in a month, I thought that maybe I could get away with keeping them. I mean, what is Laughlin gonna do? Report his stolen parts stolen?
Detective Magee: Is there anything else we need to know, Vincent?
Vincent Gayle: Only that I didn't kill Daniel. It was an accident. We panicked and did things we shouldn't have, but it was all an accident.
Detective Beckwith: Are you sure Sharon didn't kill Daniel on purpose to get at his trust fund?
Vincent Gayle: I don't think so.
Detective Beckwith: Are you sure Sharon didn't do it so that when you got married, you could start your family anew?
Vincent Gayle: You know, why don't y'all ask Sharon these questions?
Detective Magee: Oh, we will. In the meantime, Vincent, stand up and place your hands on the table.
Vincent Gayle: You're arresting me?
Detective Magee: We're charging you with first-degree murder.
Vincent Gayle: No, I want a lawyer.
Detective Beckwith: A bit late on that one.
Vincent Gayle: You're not letting me have a lawyer?
Detective Beckwith: You get to have a lawyer, but we're done asking questions.
Vincent Gayle: You didn't read me my rights.
Detective Magee: You weren't in custody. You could have left at any time.
Vincent Gayle: Fine, I want to leave.
Detective Beckwith: You don't have that option anymore. I'll read those rights for you now.
Interview ended – 9:53 p.m.