Friday, February 15, 2019 – 11:37 a.m.
Ben Moreland discovered the body on the grounds of Rowan Oak on Old Taylor Road.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the crime scene.
- 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 a 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: Well, I got my personal phone, but I got the call from Base on the radio. We all carry 'em when we're working. Walkie-talkies, you know?
Detective Armstrong: Yes, we understand. Go ahead.
Ben Moreland: 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: Okay. 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 thought he might still have a pulse or something, you know?
Detective Armstrong: Okay, 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: Okay, 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.
Interview ended – 11:54 a.m.