Jeff Harte interview #3
Sunday, September 5, 2021 – 9:00 a.m.
The detectives asked Jeff Harte what he had to say about Elliott Owens's recent allegation that Annette Wyatt was the person giving information to Pearce Brokers and whether that could have been a motive for Wyatt's murder.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Jeff Harte
Detective Parker: Good morning, Mr. Harte. Thanks for coming in again on such short notice.
Jeff Harte: Morning, detectives. Is this about the identity of the murderer? Have you found out who murdered Annette?
Detective Murphy: Not exactly. We received some unexpected information recently that we need to follow up on.
Jeff Harte: You mean the investigation is still going on? I thought we already addressed everything at our last meeting. In excruciating detail, I might add. I thought you said it was Chris Frost.
Detective Parker: We never said that, sir. And we didn't ask you here today to discuss the identity of Ms. Wyatt's killer, but rather the identity of the leak at Harte Agency.
Jeff Harte: I'm not sure what you mean. I've been more than understanding about my employees being called out of work to be interviewed, but what do my company's internal affairs have to do with this investigation?
Detective Parker: Maybe a lot more than you realize. The Harte Agency's lost clients, the mole for Pearce Brokers, Ms. Wyatt investigating that situation—we're looking into these leads as the missing links to the case.
Jeff Harte: My top agent was found murdered at my office. It's a terrible, tragic situation, but that in no way reflects the way I run my business.
Detective Murphy: There's no need to be defensive, Mr. Harte.
Jeff Harte: The Harte Agency's reputation has already suffered a lot as a result of these recent events. I refuse to have my entire life's work devalued by the depraved actions of a killer. So, forgive me when I say that this line of investigation seems to be nothing more than clutching at straws.
Detective Murphy: Let's cut to the chase. Did you know that Ms. Wyatt was the Harte Agency employee leaking information to Pearce Brokers?
Jeff Harte: Detectives, this must be some joke.
Detective Parker: That's what we've been told during the course of our investigation.
Jeff Harte: Who would say such a thing? Annette was the one I asked to find the leak at Harte Agency. Not to mention that she had been a loyal employee for over ten years. Whoever told you that Annette was the leak—clearly, they were lying.
Detective Murphy: I know this must be hard to accept, Mr. Harte, but think about it. Ms. Thompson, the Hankins, the Rogers—how did Pearce Brokers know exactly what your clients wanted and exactly when to swoop in? If information was being transferred from inside the Harte Agency, it makes no sense that it would take Ms. Wyatt weeks to discover the leak, especially with the help of your IT man.
Jeff Harte: I assumed that the leak was good at covering up their tracks.
Detective Parker: And has the Harte Agency lost any more clients to Pearce Brokers since she was killed?
Jeff Harte: Well, no. But that's hardly enough to incriminate Annette.
Detective Murphy: So you don't believe that Ms. Wyatt could have been the leak.
Jeff Harte: Absolutely not. It's a ridiculous accusation.
Detective Murphy: Even if the evidence could be found in Ms. Wyatt's email communications with Ms. Pearce?
Jeff Harte: I have no need to look at Annette's emails because I know there is nothing to see.
Detective Parker: Let's pretend that you did find irrefutable proof that Ms. Wyatt was giving away inside information from the Harte Agency to Pearce Brokers. Before she died, that is. What would you have done?
Jeff Harte: Like I said—
Detective Parker: I know, Mr. Harte. But just humor us.
Jeff Harte: If that happened—which I doubt—no question Annette would have been tricked into doing so. Or blackmailed. And I would have done everything I could to help her out of such a situation.
Detective Murphy: Based on our investigation, we understand that Annette was also preparing to leave the Harte Agency so she could go work for Pearce Brokers. How would you respond to that, Mr. Harte?
Jeff Harte: Another baseless accusation. It seems Annette had more enemies than I thought.
Detective Parker: It's not entirely baseless. Did you know that Ms. Wyatt had been in regular contact with Ms. Pearce in the last couple of months leading up to her death?
Jeff Harte: That's not unusual. We're competitors, but we still work together on deals sometimes. That's normal. And I did ask Annette to investigate Pearce Brokers. Part of that job included getting close to Rita Pearce. Now that I think about it, that devious snake of a woman might've had some part to play in Annette's murder.
Detective Murphy: How so?
Jeff Harte: Maybe she found out what Annette was up to. Or maybe Annette did find out the identity of the leak, and Rita wanted to keep her quiet.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Harte, did you know that Ms. Wyatt and Ms. Pearce had met for coffee the Tuesday before Ms. Wyatt was killed?
Jeff Harte: No, I don't think Annette told me about that, but meeting with the competition for coffee isn't exactly considered betrayal in the business world.
Detective Parker: So you don't know that they talked about that day.
Jeff Harte: Probably just Annette trying to get information, and Rita being as elusive as she could.
Detective Murphy: What if we told you that we have information that Ms. Wyatt was planning to leave you and go to work at Pearce.
Jeff Harte: That's impossible.
Detective Murphy: Is it, Mr. Harte?
Jeff Harte: Of course! That's not possible. Whoever told you that must be trying to cover something, either for themselves or for Rita.
Detective Murphy: So there's not a chance in the world that Ms. Wyatt would have ever betrayed you?
Jeff Harte: That's right.
Detective Parker: If only she'd had as much faith in you.
Jeff Harte: Excuse me?
Detective Parker: You can't think of any reason Annette might've been upset enough to leave?
Jeff Harte: Absolutely not.
Detective Murphy: Didn't she want you to make her a partner in the business?
Jeff Harte: I told you, just as I told her. It wasn't the right time.
Detective Parker: Why not?
Jeff Harte: Excuse me?
Detective Parker: Why wasn't it the right time? By your own words, Annette had been a loyal employee for over a decade. She helped you build the business from nothing into the success it is today. Why wouldn't you make her a partner?
Jeff Harte: It just wouldn't have worked out. It wasn't the right time.
Detective Murphy: When would've been the right time?
Jeff Harte: I— I'm not sure. It was a complicated situation.
Detective Murphy: Maybe so, but it sounds like you could've handled it better.
Jeff Harte: What is that supposed to mean?
Detective Murphy: You think you treated Annette fairly? You think she didn't deserve to be a partner? In the business, of course.
Jeff Harte: It wasn't about what she deserved. Of course, I knew how valuable she was. I've already told you that.
Detective Murphy: Then what was it about?
Jeff Harte: It just wasn't the right time.
Detective Murphy: Yes, you've mentioned that, but why?
Jeff Harte: I don't have to explain my business decisions to you.
Detective Murphy: No, you don't. But it does make us wonder why you don't want to talk about it.
Jeff Harte: What difference does it make? It doesn't have anything to do with the b*****d who killed Annette. That couldn't possibly have had anything to do with whether or not she was a partner.
Detective Parker: We hope you're right about that, Mr. Harte. I think that wraps up our discussion for today. Thank you for all your time and help.
Jeff Harte: You're welcome. If you don't mind, I'll be heading home now.
Interview ended – 9:22 a.m.