Tuesday, August 31, 2021 – 10:00 a.m.
Meg Lancaster was one of Annette Wyatt’s co-workers at the Harte Agency.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective E. Parker
- Detective S. Murphy
- Meg Lancaster
Detective Murphy: Thank you so much for coming in to talk with us. Please state your name and address so we can begin.
Meg Lancaster: Sure, it’s so nice to meet you both. I've never been inside a police station before. You could sure use some bright and cheery décor. It’s rather depressing in here. My name is Meg Lancaster, and I live at 15 Beauregard Circle, here in Oxford.
Detective Parker: I think you brighten it up just fine.
Meg Lancaster: Why thank you, Detective.
Detective Murphy: How long have you lived here in Oxford?
Meg Lancaster: I was born and raised in this beautiful town. That would be 30 years I have had the pleasure of existing in Oxford.
Detective Parker: Well, aren’t you just a ray of sunshine.
Meg Lancaster: I know my place in this wonderful universe. I value each and every minute I get to spend on this earth. It’s a great day to be alive.
Detective Murphy: Yes, but as you know Annette Wyatt isn’t alive today, and that’s why we’re here talking with you.
Meg Lancaster: Yes, I do know. It’s a terrible thing. But people die and are born every single day. It’s the way the earth maintains balance. Her presence here will be missed and mourned, but another’s arrival is being celebrated across town as we speak. We can’t let these things get us down.
Detective Murphy: Tell us where you work and what your title is, Meg.
Meg Lancaster: I am the receptionist and office manager for the Harte Agency on University Avenue.
Detective Parker: How long have you worked there?
Meg Lancaster: Jeff hired me in 2011.
Detective Murphy: Do you like working there?
Meg Lancaster: Yes, very much.
Detective Parker: How many people are on the payroll, Meg?
Meg Lancaster: It’s just the five of us. Well, now it’s four.
Detective Murphy: With Annette gone, who’s left?
Meg Lancaster: Jeff, of course. Kurt Grubman, Sofia Church and myself. There is also Elliott Owens, but he only comes around when we have network or support issues. Elliott isn’t really a Harte employee though. I’m not sure why I even mentioned him.
Detective Parker: Did all of you get along with Annette?
Meg Lancaster: We all strive to get along with our fellow beings.
Detective Parker: But?
Meg Lancaster: Well, I mean, everyone does their best to get along, but I’ve heard the others talk about her.
Detective Murphy: What did they say?
Meg Lancaster: I heard Sofia say that Annette was extremely competitive and that no matter what, Annette always had to do better than everyone else. About my third week of work for Harte, I heard Kurt telling Jeff that he couldn’t believe that Annette worked until 10:00 p.m. the night before just so she could close one more deal that he did.
Detective Parker: That was several years ago though. Surely he had gotten over that by now?
Meg Lancaster: You have to understand that none of us disliked her. We all got along. Annette just had some qualities that got to us is all. I’m sure we have qualities that bothered her.
Detective Murphy: Can you give us an example?
Meg Lancaster: Kurt didn’t trust her. Even though Jeff was happily married, Kurt thought that Annette wanted Jeff and didn’t care who she hurt to get him.
Detective Parker: Annette "wanted" Jeff?
Meg Lancaster: From what I know, Jeff and Annette used to date a long time ago. It was obvious by the way she acted that Annette still had feelings for Jeff.
Detective Murphy: So everyone knew Annette had feelings for Jeff?
Meg Lancaster: Sofia may not have figured it out yet, but Kurt and I had. It wasn’t just in my head.
Detective Parker: How did Jeff respond?
Meg Lancaster: I think Jeff is the one who broke it off with Annette, and as far as he’s concerned, Annette is nothing more than an employee to him now. Did you know that Jeff and Elena are expecting their first child later this year?
Detective Murphy: How about you, Meg?
Meg Lancaster: I’m not expecting. Whatever made you think that?
Detective Parker: I meant, how was your relationship with Annette?
Meg Lancaster: I knew the pecking order. I believe that Annette felt I was below her because I was just the receptionist. I guess the best way to explain our relationship would be to say it was simply business.
Detective Murphy: Did Annette have any other qualities that got to you or your co-workers?
Meg Lancaster: I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but Annette was very promiscuous.
Detective Parker: And that bothered you?
Meg Lancaster: I think people should live and love as Nature intends.
Detective Murphy: Do you think her lifestyle could have had something to do with her death?
Meg Lancaster: That is certainly a possibility, I guess.
Detective Parker: When did you last see Annette?
Meg Lancaster: I left work Friday at 5:15 p.m. Annette was still there, and I told her I was looking forward to her report on Monday.
Detective Murphy: What type of report?
Meg Lancaster: Jeff thought one of us had been slipping client information to Pearce Brokers because they seemed to be stealing our clients right out from under our noses. He asked Annette to investigate and see if there was any truth to it. She said she would give us her report first thing Monday morning and announce who the leak was.
Detective Murphy: You said you were looking forward to it?
Meg Lancaster: Yes. I wanted to know who it was. Jeff is a great man, and he deserves employees who are loyal to him.
Detective Parker: This Elliott you mentioned, even though he wasn’t there often, did he get along with Annette okay?
Meg Lancaster: Actually, he had a terrible crush on her for a while and became a bit of a stalker at the office for a few weeks, and then he just suddenly stopped showing up. But he's been back at it for the last couple of weeks. It seems that he and Annette have become close friends.
Detective Murphy: How did Annette feel about all this stalker attention? Before he stopped coming around?
Meg Lancaster: Oh, you know Annette. She loved attention from any man. She’s had more men than Planters has nuts. I’ve heard Annette brag about how she uses them, and then throws them out like yesterday’s trash when she’s finished with them.
Detective Parker: If you had to guess, who would you think the leak was?
Meg Lancaster: Sofia.
Detective Murphy: Why do you think it was her?
Meg Lancaster: Don’t get me wrong. I think Sofia is great. She never forgets any of our birthdays. She makes us cake and sings "Happy Birthday" to us and everything. She’s very thoughtful. I would guess her because she has been with us the shortest amount of time, and she worked for Pearce before she came to Harte.
Detective Parker: Interesting. Did Annette have any enemies that you know of?
Meg Lancaster: There is a lady named Chris Frost. A while back, Annette took her on as a client, and she spent a lot of time showing this woman houses. Ms. Frost has repeatedly called the office to complain about how Annette treated her.
Detective Parker: Interesting. Why's that?
Meg Lancaster: Ms. Frost felt that she and Annette had become friends, and once the papers were signed, she said Annette wouldn’t return her calls or anything. She was very upset. Very upset.
Detective Parker: Can you think of anyone else?
Meg Lancaster: Maybe Elena Harte, Jeff’s wife. Whenever she came in to the office, you could tell she was jealous of Annette. The two would always eye one another but hardly ever spoke.
Detective Parker: Why do you think she was jealous?
Meg Lancaster: I’m sure she knew that Jeff used to have a thing with Annette. One time, Elena came in with Joanna, and Jeff and Annette were sitting in the waiting area talking, and I heard Joanna say to Elena, "Look at how she looks at him. I told you." Then she murmured something about putting a stop to it.
Detective Murphy: Who is Joanna?
Meg Lancaster: Oh, sorry, she’s Kurt’s wife and Elena’s best friend.
Detective Parker: Where were you Saturday night?
Meg Lancaster: I met Chad after he got off work for dinner and drinks, and then I went home. I moonbathed in my backyard until about 10:00 p.m., and then I lit some nice aromatic candles and meditated for a while. I had a glass of sweet red wine, and then I went to bed.
Detective Parker: Who is Chad?
Meg Lancaster: Chad Nixon, he’s my boyfriend.
Detective Murphy: Who has access to the office when it’s closed?
Meg Lancaster: We all do. Oh, and the cleaning company, but they come on Friday evenings.
Detective Parker: Does the office have a security system?
Meg Lancaster: We used to have cameras, but Jeff felt they were a waste of time. He said that since we were located in a strip mall and the place was so well lit, the chances of them ever being needed was just too minimal to mess with.
Detective Parker: Do you know why Annette was in the office Saturday?
Meg Lancaster: No. I would guess that she was finishing up her report on the leak maybe? I really have no idea.
Detective Murphy: Meg, do you know if there was a nail gun in the office?
Meg Lancaster: Umm … yes, I’m pretty sure we have one.
Detective Parker: Would you happen to know what brand or what color it was?
Meg Lancaster: I know it was Hitachi because Jeff had me order it along with a few other tools online for him.
Detective Murphy: Was this a recent purchase then?
Meg Lancaster: Oh, no, it was a couple years ago. The agents use them to make quick fixes on the properties, if need be.
Detective Parker: Did you ever use the nail gun?
Meg Lancaster: No.
Detective Murphy: Never?
Meg Lancaster: Never.
Detective Murphy: Meg, if you were handling this case, who would you talk to?
Meg Lancaster: I guess the two people who were the closest to her would be her best friend, Naomi Fields, and her boyfriend, Darren Barksdale.
Detective Parker: You think they would hurt her?
Meg Lancaster: No, but they could probably give you useful information about her life and maybe her enemies.
Detective Parker: You mentioned moonbathing on Saturday night. Did anyone see you during this event?
Meg Lancaster: I don’t know. Maybe the neighbors did. Did you know we had a blue moon in August? There won’t be another one until August 2023. Anyway, I'm planning to moonbathe tonight. Want to join me?
Detective Parker: No, thank you, and good luck with that. Don’t forget your moonscreen.
Meg Lancaster: Your loss. You really should go sit under her. It’s quite a sensation to feel one with the universe.
Detective Murphy: We’ll see what we can do. Thank you for coming in.
Interview ended – 10:31 a.m.