Interview: Ben Moreland
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - 11:37 a.m.
This witness, who discovered the body, was interviewed at the crime scene, the grounds of Rowan Oak on Old Taylor Road, by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy. The interview was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Ben Moreland
Detective Murphy: For the record, sir, could you please state your name and address?
Ben Moreland: My name is Ben Moreland. I live at 603 Tyler Avenue in Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: You're an employee at Rowan Oak?
Ben Moreland: Well, my paycheck comes from the University, but I usually work over here at Rowan Oak.
Detective Armstrong: How long have you had this job?
Ben Moreland: Been working here near to three years now.
Detective Armstrong: What do you do here?
Ben Moreland: I'm a groundskeeper. I do what needs doing to keep the place looking nice. Cut the grass, weed the beds, pruning, planting, repairs, things like that.
Detective Murphy: You told the first officer that you didn't recognize the victim, is that correct?
Ben Moreland: I never seen him before. If I had, I expect I'd remember.
Detective Murphy: Why is that?
Ben Moreland: A big heavyset fella in a heavy coat, pretty hard to miss, don't you think?
Detective Murphy: Tell us how you came to discover the body.
Ben Moreland: I come after the pickaxe. That one right there.
Detective Murphy: You're pointing to the small, wood-handled pickaxe which appears to have a reddish-brown substance on it. Is that correct?
Ben Moreland: Yes, ma'am. Anyways, I needed it to do some work I was fixing to do.
Detective Murphy: What work was that?
Ben Moreland: I had to dig up a big ol' boulder down yonder and knew I'd need the pickaxe to get her out.
Detective Murphy: Why didn't you go to the shed for it? Isn't that where one would expect to find tools?
Ben Moreland: Well, that's where it come from this morning. Look, I went to the shed early when I got here and got the pickaxe. I was taking it down to the boulder that I wanted to get up, but I got a call from Base to come to the office‒
Detective Armstrong: You carry cell phones?
Ben Moreland: No sir, radios. Walkie-talkies, y'know? Anyways, I didn't feel like taking the pickaxe back to the shed and then going back to get it when I was done. So... well, I know I shouldn't have left it here, but who'd think I'd find what I found?
Detective Murphy: Was anyone else around when you left the pickaxe? Did you see anyone?
Ben Moreland: No, I didn't see anyone. It was early, around 7:30, 8:00, something like that. Who would be around for cripes sake? Anyway, when I come back for it, there it was and there he was.
Detective Murphy: What time did you come back for it?
Ben Moreland: It must've been about 9:30, maybe closer to 10:00.
Detective Armstrong: You didn't come back for two hours or more? You were in the office for that long?
Ben Moreland: Yeah. And no. I went up to the office. Turns out they wanted some paperwork done about employee insurance. Today is the last day to put in the paperwork. Anyways, that took a little while. Then when I was heading out to get back to my work, Pilar asks me can I come over to give her a hand with a jammed door in one of the outbuildings. So, then I went over there for a spell. So, after all was said and done, it was about two hours before I come back.
Detective Armstrong: Why were you moving the boulder in the first place?
Ben Moreland: We need to move it because we're going to lay in some new pipe and it's in the way. Know what I mean?
Detective Murphy: OK. What did you do when you saw the body? Did you touch the body in any way?
Ben Moreland: Excuse me, ma'am?
Detective Murphy: I mean, did you move the body or anything else, touch anything?
Ben Moreland: Oh no, ma'am. I think I just started shouting my head off about the bloody man laying under the tree. Didn't even really know I was doing it 'til Steve come running over asking me what I was hollering about. He saw for himself soon enough. I think he called Base after that, told 'em what was going on, and they must've called y'all.
Detective Murphy: You're absolutely sure you didn't touch anything?
Ben Moreland: Well, I did touch the pickaxe - I mean when I brought it down first thing this morning, but not after I seen that dead guy or nothing like that. I mean, you could see the blood on his head and chest and all from a pretty good distance. Not like I'd've thought he might still have a pulse or something. You know?
Detective Armstrong: OK, we got the picture. Who else was on duty during this time period, say from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.?
Ben Moreland: Well, there's a group of us work over here most days - me and Joe Swift. Pilar Adams, she was working over yonder by the Tenant House... and Steve Potter, I think, was working with Pilar. Linus might've been here, but I didn't see him.
Detective Armstrong: Who's that?
Ben Moreland: Linus Broadwell? He's the curator? Oh, I thought everybody knew that. Leastways, he thinks everybody knows it.
Detective Murphy: Do you know how we can get in touch with Mr. Broadwell?
Ben Moreland: I'm sure they got his phone number over in Administration on campus, but you probably won't have to call him.
Detective Murphy: Oh really? Why not?
Ben Moreland: Soon as he hears about this here, he'll be tracking you down. You can count on it. Yep, ol' Linus, he'll give you an earful, that's for sure.
Detective Murphy: I see. And what about the person who wanted to see you in the office? Who was that?
Ben Moreland: Oh you mean Shelly? Yeah, she's the bookkeeper, office person. Ah, what's her last name? It's Chapman, I think. Shelly Chapman. I don't know. We don't talk much. I get my check in my slot at the end of the week, don't have much cause to see her, y'know?
Detective Armstrong: Is Shelly over there in the office now?
Ben Moreland: I expect she might be. You should ask her where all everybody was. They keep track of everybody over there.
Detective Armstrong: We'll be sure to do that. Anything else you can tell us, Mr. Moreland?
Ben Moreland: No sir, I don't think so. Usually I just do my work and never come in contact with anything, except an obstinate rock or tree branch. This... nope, this sure ain't usual.
Detective Armstrong: OK, we may have further questions for you. Stay in touch.
Ben Moreland: I ain't going nowhere, that's for sure.
Detective Armstrong: Thanks for your time.
Ben Moreland: Any time, Detective.
End interview 11:54 a.m.