STATEMENT OF: Tara McDowell
The following is an interview with Tara McDowell. Theinterview was conducted on 2/3/98 starting at approximately 1425 hours.
beginning, 0 minutes
Q. State your name, please.
A. Tara McDowell.
Q. And your date of birth, Ms. McDowell?
Q. Home address?
Q. And your Social Security number?
Q. You were acquainted with Anastasia WitbolsFeugen, were you not?
A. Yes, very closely.
Q. And you also knew Justin Bruton?
Q. How close were you to Anastasia?
A. It's sort of hard to categorize that sort of thing. But for a period of I can't remember how many months, I was with them at least every other day, if not daily. When they started their whole cycle of breaking up, getting back together, breaking up, getting back together, it was not uncommon for me to be on the phone with Anastasia attempting to console her and then get Justin calling me on the other line. They were both over here all the time. I was over there all the time. When I was dating my ex-boyfriend, um, Abraham Kneisley, there were the six of us that sort of hung out all the time. What became six of us. Five of us at first. And we did pretty much everything together. We were over there alot. I spent the night at the house on a couple of occasions. Like I said, it's kinda hard to categorize what sort of friendship we had.
Q. Well, your relationship to Anastasia has been described to me as being her confidante.
Q. Would this be accurate?
A. Yes. (laughs)
Q. When was the last time you saw Anastasia alive?
A. I saw her . . . Thursday, I believe
. . . before she had it . . .
Q. Okay, so that would have been one week prior to her death?
A. Um, I'm pretty sure it was Thursday. I'm, not 100% sure on that. We went out and had coffee at Java Joe's and hung out for a couple of hours.
Q. Do you recall any of your conversation you had with her?
A. I recall it very vividly, actually. Ah, She seemed actually to be in pretty good spirits about the whole Justin thing. It was not uncommon, Anastasia, within her – within the confinement of her relationship with Justin, ah, suffered a lot of her own personality, a lot of what she wanted. And her biggest concern was being with Justin.
A. They would go on these break-up, get back-together, break up, get back together, break up, get back together, and she couldn't ever really deal with it. The thing that rings most true to me about the night she was killed is her saying, her asking Justin why don't you love me any more. Because I heard her say that sort of thing all the time. Why doesn't he want me? Ah, but the night that we went up to Java Joe's, she seemed – really positive. She felt that her relationship with Justin was going to be okay. He was planning on telling his parents he wasn't going to school anymore. Telling his parents he had no intentions of taking the Prozac anymore. Ah, getting a job. And they were going to get an apartment together after he could afford to get a car of his own, he was going to send back the car that he got from his parents. He was, they had both come to the conclusion that their relationship, a lot of the problems within that relationship, had to do with his depending on his parents. I don' t know how much of that Justin was actually going to do, had he lived. I couldn't see it happening. But she seemed pretty positive about it that night. We also discussed my relationship with Raven. . . and . . .
Q. And Raven is?
A. Uh, Raven is the guy I dated directly after Brahm. He lived with me for a while.
Q. And his name is?
A. Robert Hershbach.
A. He, ah – we actually broke up the day of her funeral (chuckles). Ah, we were – she had gotten to know Raven just incidentally. You know, she'd come over here and he was here. Ah, she didn' t exactly like Raven, nor did Justin, but I remember she seemed so positive that night. It was really odd because she had been so, so very depressed. And it suddenly I think occurred to her that if things weren't going to be okay, she was going to have to figure something major out for herself, and be happy for herself. Which is what I had been telling her the entire time, you know, that her life couldn' t depend on Justin. But she had a hard time accepting that.
Q. Good, now that would be the last time you saw and talked to her?
Q. Did you talk to her in between?
A. You know, I don't believe I did. I really don't think I did. No. I think I talked, I know I talked to Justin at lease once in the interim—
Q. Do you remember --
A. on the phone.
Q. -- about when that would be?
A. I think -- All I know is it was sometime that weekend.
Q. That week?
A. That weekend. Somewhere in between Friday and Sunday. I really don't know. I think he called me or I called him, I'm not sure which. I know I talked to him on the phone and we talked really briefly. We were going to get together.
Q. It was my understanding that he went to Tulsa, Oklahoma that particular weekend.
A. I know I talked to him before he left.
(unknown male voice)
We saw him and Byron at Sun Fresh. We were shopping, right?
A. Yeah! What night was that?
(unknown male voice)
That was on Friday night, I believe.
A. Was that that week or the week before?
(unknown male voice)
I believe it was that week (remainder unintelligible)
A. Yeah. So I wish I'd gotten a hold of you before, because so many of these things are kinda fuzzy. But some of these things are very, very sharp and clear. Cause I've had a lotta time to think them over. And they are fine in my memory. Then certain things are kinda fuzzy. But I know I saw them, we were pretty drunk (laughs), I think we saw them at the grocery store.
Q. Well, let’s -- maybe I could get just a little bit of background and history then. I would be interested in Anastasia and Justin's uh, visiting cemeteries.
A. You know, that was funny because her father asked me about that. Apparently her father seems to think that they might have encountered a group of people enacting some sort of ritual. It seems kinda fuzzy about what ritualistic thing is going in mind there. Or that the might have been practicing some ritual of their own. They were not in to that. I mean, a lot of the speculation like, whereas, yes he can understand where it comes from, but it's completely unfounded. Cause they were not into that sort of thing.
But as far as going to the cemetery, I think a lot of that had to do with being under 21, living in a town like Kansas City, having a certain amount of macabre interest and they were headed for Mt . Washington, and Mt. Washington is an absolutely beautiful cemetery to be in. It is especially if you take photographs, it's just a fantasy. You go in, you're in love. I'm not sure what they were going to do. It probably would have just consisted of running around in the cemetery as if it were a park. Because I know that at the times that I have, 90 percent of the times that I have visited a cemetery, I'd either been participating in one way or another in photographs being taken or just as if I was hanging out at a park. I think, like I said, mostly has to do with being under 21 in Kansas City, without much money and not knowing what to do.
Q. Did Anastasia frequent the Mt. Washington cemetery?
A. They didn't go that often, you know.
Q. Ballpark. How often did Anastasia go? How often did they go?
A. I know that they had gone at least twice that they had spoken about. I'm sure they had gone, you know, a few more times than that. Byron really is the one who goes more frequently. Brahm and I had a time period in which we were hitting all the cemeteries in this area that were of interest. The more attractive cemeteries to be in. There's a big difference between Lincoln Cemetery, for example, where she was killed or whatever, as far as picturesque there's really nothing going for that cemetery. Other than the fact that Charlie Parker's buried there and Anastasia was killed there, there's nothing of notoriety about that cemetery. It's a very flat, boring, uninteresting place to be.
Q. Do you now if Anastasia had visited that particular cemetery before?
A. You know, I never heard her mention it.
Q. How about Byron or Justin
A. I never heard anybody mention Lincoln Cemetery, that's the funny thing. We couldn't even find it. We had to ask directions from the people at the Amoco.
Q. There was no time that you can recall being invited to go to Lincoln Cemetery?
A. No, I never heard any, I honestly had never heard anybody, I think there was one night that I was at Mt. Washington, this is before I really started to hang out with Anastasia and Justin, because Mt. Washington, one portion of it buts up against Blue Ridge Cut-off I believe. And then right across from Blue Ridge Cutoff is Lincoln. And I think there might have, I seem to recall one evening going over the street and being in this portion of the cemetery. I thought it was just an extension of Mt. Washington. And it was really uninteresting to be in, so I went back. But that was the closest I'd ever come. And nobody had ever said hey, let's go up to Lincoln Cemetery, because there's – really no reason to. You know – unless you're a jazz freak. (laughs)
Q. Did Justin and Byron stop by your apartment the evening of October 22?
Q. Could you tell me about that? About what time did they arrive?
A. That's the thing that bugs me the most. I'm not sure what time they came by. I don't have a clock in my living room, I was just sitting at home reading, and then boom. They just showed up.
Q. Was anybody else there?
A. (Coughs) Raven. That would be Robert, was here. In fact we had a couch set up diagonally on the other side of the apartment from where I was sitting. They showed up. I spoke to them at the door for a few minutes. They didn' t want to come in so I went out in the hallway and talked to them for a few minutes, because the two animals. . .
Q. Okay, what do you mean they didn't want to come in?
A. That was the really odd thing. They just stopped by. They didn't want to see what I was doing that night. They didn't want to hang out. They just wanted to come by. I spoke to Byron about two weeks ago I think it would be. The day that the most recent story came out in the newspaper. He came by to let me know about it. And he said that the reason they came by was to get the key for Abraham's Datsun, which I still had. But I don't recall them asking me about keeping the car. And I don't understand why I wouldn't have given it them that night if they had asked. Because I had it right there, on my side table. It's right there. I'm not 100 percent sure about that. But I do remember them showing up, they told me what they had been, Kelly was not with them. It was just Justin and Byron. They told me what they had done that night.
Q. And what was that?
A. They didn't mention having been with Anastasia at all. They said that they had run around, done some errands, gone to FuncoLand at which point Justin had a stamp on one of his hands, I don't know which hand. And showed me the stamp.
Q. What is -- where is Funco?
A. FuncoLand? I believe it's in Independence.
Q. What is it?
(unknown male voice)
There are a couple of them.
A. Yeah, so --
Q. What is it?
A. It’s – ah -- they sell video games, video game systems. They trade, they have used video games and stuff. They do a bunch of, I've never been to one, so I don't really know. But it's just one of those variety stores. I think they have a lot of kids' stuff. And then the video games.
Q. And where else had they been?
A. Ah, I'm trying to remember if they said specifically. They mentioned they were going over see Abraham at my friend Paul's house been house-sitting.
Q. They had been or they were going to?
A. They were going to. They were on their way over there. Because I asked them what they were doing that night, cause it seems, I mean, I'm not accustomed to having people just show up, friends of mine, just show up at my house and say here's what I've been doing tonight, and leave. So you know, they showed up I'm like well what are you doing tonight? I figured they'd come buy because they wanted to do something. They were like, oh, we're on our way over to Abraham's. Abraham being my ex-boyfriend. We sometimes get along, sometimes don' t. I knew that wasn’t gonna – that was definitely – I wasn't going over there with them, (laughs) Ah, they were probably only here for about 10-15 minutes, max. Ah, I guess that I don't remember what time they came by. I think it was sometime around 10:00, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that. Cause I know it was after he left.
A. After Cameron left to hit Atlantis. (pause) A club in Westport.
Q. Okay, Cameron was there that night?
A. Yeah, he left at about 9:30.
A. He remembers (inaudible)
Q. And Raven was here all night?
A. Just playing video games. Doing his typical, disinterested Goth boyfriend thing.
Q. Okay, Cameron had left prior to Justin and Byron getting there. And about what time did Cameron leave?
A. About 9:30 I think. That's what he remembers.14 minutes
Q. Before the tape ran out, you said that the approximate time that Cameron left to go to work, correct?
A. No, to go to Atlantis.
Q. Go to Atlantis.
A. To got out to a club in Westport. He assumes he left by 9:30. Could have left earlier cause he went over to a friend's house. So I'm operating under the assumption that they showed up sometime between say 9:00 and 10:30. I really don't remember what time it was, Which is kinda, it's really bugged me.
A. It's really, really bugged me. I found out that Anastasia was dead that Friday. And I found out about Justin Sunday. And I couldn't, I mean, I found out, as soon as I found out about Anastasia, the first thing I thought of was the fact that they had been over here that night and even then I didn't know what time it had been. Not even really speculatively. It was just, it's been very frustrating for me.
Q. Do you remember anything else that you talked about?
A. That night?
Q. Anything else that they told you where they had been.
A. Nothing specific.
Q. Did he mention Anastasia at all?
A. (Emphatically) He didn't say a word about Anastasia. I had no idea that they had even been with Anastasia that night. You know, they didn't even mention Kelly. I didn't know that they had been with Anastasia until I found out that she had been killed and she had been with them prior to her-murder. I had no idea. You know. Which I don't want to make it sound like I suspect either of them, it's just that was sorta odd because Byron and Justin had gotten to the point where most frequently they would bitch at me about Anastasia.
A. Uh, when Anastasia got into her depressions about Justin, she could be very aggravating. I tried to be there for her as much as I could. Prior to Anastasia's murder, Byron had a message on his, outgoing message on his pager, was something along the lines of, and they told us about this. They were talking about this when we ran into them at the grocery store. Ahm, Something along the lines of "If this is Anastasia, don't bother leaving your number or leaving a message, because nobody's going to call you back. Nobody wants to talk to you." She would call an unbelievable amount of times a day. I mean, she really, like I said earlier, she had subverted with a lot of her personality into Justin. And a lot of who Anastasia wanted to be at that point was so inextricably entwined with Justin that when she wasn't with Justin, she really didn' t know what to do. And she would call me to call Byron. I mean, 10, 15 times a day. And always upset, you know. If you expressed that may be you were busy or maybe you had something going on and it just wasn't the best time to talk, you know, could I call you back, she'd start crying. I mean, I remember her asking me, I told her father this when he came by on Sunday and I remember him asking me, very very vividly, her crying asking me was I still her friend. And she. . .
18 minutesQ. Why was she doubting whether you were her friend?
A. She wasn' t doubting me, specifically. There was no reason for her to doubt me. It was that Byron had been her friend originally, had become very close with Justin and Byron had gotten to a point where he really wanted as little to do with Anastasia as possible. Out of aggravation. You know. I don' t know if he regrets that now. I really don't care, because he was rather callous to her for a while. I understand that he was getting both sides of the story just as I was. You know. He was having both of them, he was around Justin at that point a little more frequently than I was. Because I knew that Anastasia needed somebody. And I had a lot of crap going on in my life and I couldn't be there every day to deal with both of them. I couldn't do it.
A. I mean, that's within the confines of friendship, that's not anything extraordinary that you request, it's just they would break up, get back together cycle went on for so long, and I had so much chaos going on in my life at that point that I couldn't really do it all the time. So I sorta had to choose which one of them I was going to counsel. (laughter) You know. And I chose Anastasia because it was very apparent to me at that point that Anastasia had very few friends. She had very few people she felt she could talk to about Justin that she felt she could trust if she wanted to talk to them on a daily basis.
Q. When Justin and Byron left here that evening, did they say where they were going?
A. They said they were going over to see Brahm, he was house-sitting over at my friend Paul's house, right over off 39th Street. And according to Brahm they were there, so I don't know about. So I don't know anything about what they did before they got here or anything about what they did after they left other than that they'd been to FuncoLand. And, I don't know.
Q. Do you know of any firearms that Justin or Byron owned?
20 minutesA. To the best of my knowledge, Byron did not own a firearm. However, his father may well have.
Q. Byron's father.
A. Byron's father. He was living with his father at this point. Byron's father may well have owned at least one gun. I wouldn't know. I don't believe Justin had a gun. I know he had had a gun, I never saw it, you know, we never discussed it directly. He did say at one point that he'd had a gun and he'd gotten rid of it. And this was at least a couple months before this whole thing happened.
Q. Did anybody mention what kind of a gun?
Q. Did anybody mention how it was gotten rid of?
A. No. Certainly he may have sold it, he may have just dumped it, I don't know.
Q. Did Anastasia ever say anything about this gun?
A. No. Ah, I know that she also mentioned something about him having gotten rid of it. But nobody ever said how he'd gotten rid of it, or even at that time, that time period wasn't of importance. As so often happens, as I'm sure you know, the things that would be nice to know in hindsight you never know that you're going to need that information. I was never aware that I was going to need to know that he'd had a gun or you know, what sort of gun he had.
What's really ironic, is I heard from a few, Brahm especially, that there had been direct, that investigators had made direct comments regarding to you know anybody that has a .22? So I'm going under supposition that it was a .22. The think that strikes me as ironic about that is that right before I moved in to this apartment, somebody had shot at the back of my apartment building and one of the bullets almost came in to my living room, and two of the bullets hit in between my apartment and the downstairs apartment. One of them I believe went in to the downstairs apartment, and it was a .22. So I found that kind of ironic afterwards. Because we don't, Brahm and I don't know if that person – whoever was shooting at the building was shooting at us and if they were, it was a .22 and Anastasia was killed with a .22. That makes it sorta interesting. Because we have a lot of common friends, not good, but .. .
Q. After you found out about Anastasia, what did you do, if anything, to try to find out some information about what may have happened?
A. I talked to Byron quite a bit. Talked to Brahm at the funeral. There really, I've lost friends before. I don't deal with that well.
Q. Lost friends as in death?
A. Yes, in death. And there was one notable, very traumatic event, and I don't deal with this sort of thing very well. I don't think anybody ever really does. Byron came by that night, you know, he stood in my living room, he sort of hemmed and hawed. Byron, what is it, tell me? You know. I remember saying that. And he's like I don't know how to say it. I'm like then, “Just say it.” Cause he knows me, that's one of the most frustrating things in the world for me if Somebody doesn't know how to say something, then obviously they need to not say it at all or damn being polite and just say it. And he just stood there and looked at me. He had the oddest look on his face and I couldn't tell if he was just sad. I really wasn't concerned about it once he said what he said. “Anastasia's dead and nobody can find Justin.” Oh. Great.
And I, the funny thing is, the night before, I had been on a walk and I just happened, actually it would be that morning, it was about 3-4 a.m. and I picked up Friday's paper. And I had it and I hadn't looked through it yet and the first story about Anastasia was in Friday's metro section. Reporting a body found in a cemetery. And I didn' t believe Byron until I saw the story. I read the story to Byron really briefly. And kind of a blur. I was pretty upset. I know that, I've always had the feeling that if Justin had something to do with it, if Justin did kill Anastasia, Byron was definitely involved. But nothing has been said for me to have a suspicion one way or the other. Ah, Like I told Anastasia's father, I'd come to the point where it's not that I don't care who killed Anastasia, it's more that I know chances are pretty good that we're never going to figure out exactly who killed her, you know? And if Justin did kill her, part of me doesn't ever want to know that. So I didn't go too far out of my way to try to figure out what happened. I mean, I talked to Byron, I talked to Anastasia's father that night. Ah –
Q. Did Byron share with you any of his thoughts on what may have happened?
A. Not really. I don't think Byron shared his thoughts on what may have happened with anybody. I think he's been pretty aware, whether it's because he was involved in it or he's conscious that a lot of people may, well a lot of people do think that he was involved in it. He's been remarkably closed mouthed about it. He relates the events of that evening, that's it.
Q. Byron and Justin, were they, uh . . .
A. They seem odd?
Q. No. Were they romantically involved?
A. Weird. I hadn't heard that one yet. Not to the best of my knowledge.
Q. That was a question, not a statement of fact.
A. (Laughter) There's been a lot of speculation from a lot of people, and everybody that knew them or knows Byron knows that I was around, that's just one theory or idea that I hadn't heard. Not to the best of my knowledge. I do know they were very close, but I do know Byron is bi-sexual, but Justin I don't think he'd ever enacted a bi-sexual experience, although he admitted to having feelings of it, I don't think that they ever did anything, but I really don't know.
Q. It is my understanding that you canvassed the business area over on Truman Road from 435 to Blue Ridge, gas stations, adult bookstores.
A. We couldn't find the cemetery.
A. Raven, my next door neighbor Chuck, and Cameron, and I.
A. And I want, the biggest reason that I went out there is it was a pilgrimage of sorts for me to see where Anastasia, you know, had died. I'm really not quite sure why Chuck had decided it was an entertaining thing to do. He had no, emotional ties to really any of us. But we couldn't find it. We drove up and down Truman Road, cause it said it was on Truman Road. Drove up and down Truman Road and we couldn't find it because it's not really on Truman Road. It's up the hill off Truman Road. There's no sign. So we had no idea where it was. We kept driving back and forth. We didn't really canvass insofar as asking, you know,trying to find anything out. We just drove up and down, we stopped at a few of the places trying to figure out if anybody knew where this was. The really ironic thing is we finally found it because we stopped at that, Amoco is what it is? .
A. Right there at the intersection and I remember I went in and I asked, "Do you happen to know--" and I knew the address I can't remember it now, but I asked him, this address, "Do you know where Lincoln Cemetery is?" "Oh, that's where that girl was killed." And I was just like, "Yeah that's why I'm looking for it." And one of the gentlemen, I can't remember his name right now, but one of the gentlemen working there had seen Anastasia that night
Q. Did you talk to this gentleman?
A. Yes, He said he'd already talked to the police. He said that he saw Anastasia get out of the car at the stop sign, or stop light or whatever.
Q. Did he say get out of – what kind of a car?
A. He didn't say that. He just said get out of a car at the stop sign, and he had seen her just walk past him. She was walking, unusually quick I guess. He said she seemed really agitated, seemed upset, angry and she just walked right past him, across the street, went right up the hill and went into the cemetery.  *
* -- [NOTE: Ms. McDowell is describing her encounter with Don Rand, who was also a witness for the defense. Please see this reference for his actual statement to police. What she is recounting here is not what he told police at the time of their canvas, but is close to what he described during his own direct testimony, that is before he was forced to recant it under cross-examination. Mr. Rand, under cross-examination, could not explain why he had changed his testimony, and would not admit that he had ever spoken to Ms. McDowell.]
Q. He told you he saw her go up the hill into Lincoln Cemetery.
A. He said he saw her go up the hill. He didn't see her go into Lincoln. He said he saw her go up the hill.
A. He didn't say anything about seeing a car following her.
Q. You see there is an entrance to the cemetery right there across the street.
A. 'Cause there's a hill. . .
Q. There is a driveway, you can't miss it. You know it's a driveway to somewhere and it goes up into the cemetery.
A. Yeah. The way we went up was the hill that goes past that little shack.
Q. Um-hum. Right off of Truman Road?
A. Yes. And he saw her walk up there.
Q. He saw her walk up that road?
Q. That's what he told you?
A. That's what he told me.
Q. That road leading up then to the cemetery.
A. Past the little shack. He saw her go across the street and start to go up there. And he didn't say anything about having seen a car follow her. He didn't say anything. He said he'd already talked to the police, you know. So I didn't really think to pay too much attention to what his name was or anything. I should of. It's just. . .
Q. Did he say about what time, or did you ask about what time that was?
A. I should have, but I didn't. I just, my biggest thing with this has been if anybody's going to be able to figure it out. It's going to be not out of any overwhelming respect for detectives or the police or anything like that, but if anyone's going to be able to figure it out, it's going to be the people that have most of the information, which would be the police department. I think that I would really be just spinning my wheels. When I read that newspaper story, and it mentioned that it had been in October,and I knew it was in October. I mean I knew the day, everything, but I hadn't, I hadn't finalized the fact that it had been three months. Three months and I was just sort of, this is something I need to do to. Not having been a daily issue, it's been a daily issue for this entire time. Anastasia's dad came by and brought me, after we talked, after somebody maced us accidentally, he came by and brought by these (indicates reward posters), you know, which I understand what they're doing, but I think it's futile.
Q. Did you do any of the memorial there up in the Lincoln Cemetery?
Q. Do you know who did it?
A. Hmm-mmm. I'm assuming friends or her family. Of Anastasia's other some
Q. You didn't put anything there?
Q. So then you didn't put any photographs or anything of this nature? Do you know of anybody that did?
Q. For a fact. Not speculation.
A. No. I haven't heard of anybody putting anything up.
Q. Anything else at all that you can think of about Justin and Anastasia, Byron, Kelley, any other of their associates or acquaintances or activities of that night that you know of? Anything else at all you can remember that you can tell me.
A. See, that night, it's just, I don't really know much about that. I don't really know much about the date of that. Because I hadn't talked to them that day. So I didn't know what they were planning to do. When they came by, obviously I had no idea that anything important had happened that day. You know, for all intents and purposes it was just another average day in all of our lives, you know. So I didn't.. I'm not really friendly with Kelley. So, It's not that I dislike her, it is that she dislikes me. She is, for a short time Byron thought he was in love with me, and he had been dating her for a while. Told me this while he was still dating Kelley. I don't know if she found out about that or not, . but I received a series of hang-ups one night, *69 the number, that's my habit and it was Kelley. And she was freaking because she was convinced that Byron and I were sleeping together.
So Kelley and I don't have much of an association going. She's convinced that I'm sleeping with her boyfriend and well, I'm convinced I'm not. (laughter) I don't talk to Kelley much. As far as most of Anastasia's and Justin's friends, I think of them as did not get along with most of the people they knew. Case in point being Peige Turner.
A. I have my distinct, very obvious reasons for not liking Peige, mainly that she talked about Anastasia behind her back a lot and I just
Q. Could you expand on that just a little bit?
A. I don't know if it's because she didn't like Justin. I don't know if it's, I know she doesn't, I know Peige and Byron had quite the falling out at one point. But I recall meeting people that knew Peige. Never heard anything directly from Peige, cause Peige doesn't speak to me. She knows exactly who I am, and she says Hi every now and then. I don't speak to her, so she sees no reason to speak to me. I just –
(unknown male voice)
[goodbyes, then interview resumes]
A. I remember specifically that she had said things about Anastasia, some of them were true. It's just. . .
Q. Such as?
A. Such as Anastasia has lost all personality. Anastasia was, I remember on one occasion somebody telling me, I was with Anastasia, actually. And we were at Westport Coffee House and somebody says, oh, you're Anastasia!
You're the one! Oh, boy. They just started talking about how much they had heard about Anastasia being like a no-good friend, blah blah blah. She talked behind people's backs. All the little bullshit like 16 year old stuff that should have been taken care of when you're 16, but some people still do well into their 30s. It was never anything very specific. It was never anything really bitter.. It's just I remember Anastasia being really hurt by that. And Anastasia being a close friend of mine, Peige being an absolute -- stranger, you know, . I was going to be more concerned about the fact that my friend was hurt. And it was something that this person I didn't know was doing.
Q. Was there anything in particular between Peige and Anastasia?
A. I don't know if they ever had a direct argument. I was rather surprised to find out that apparently Peige and Anastasia had been in still fairly frequent communication up to about the time of Anastasia's death, because every time I heard Anastasia talk about Peige, she mentioned that she didn't like her anymore. I don't know, it's just that I never really saw Peige that much. The only other one of their acquaintances that I know really well, because I kind of accidentally set Justin up with this girl Ashley. And during one of the time periods when he was broken up with Anastasia he sort of casually dated this girl. And, I don' t know Ashley's last name. She worked at Taste, which is a clothing store in Westport, and she spent quite a bit of time with Justin for about a week and a half, two weeks before Justin decided he was going to just go back to Anastasia.
Oh, I guess I should mention Alex, too. I introduced Alex to both Anastasia and Justin. I know you have you spoken to him. He was, he developed quite a fascination with Anastasia. She was a great girl in so many ways. And Alex kind of had to war with the fact that he was really attracted to Anastasia. And he saw her hurting so much, and Alex, whatever of his beliefs I do not personally espouse, Alex is good as far as, he's someone that I would commonly refer to as being a healer. Not physically, it's just he looks at things in such a different way, he helps you to look at things in a different way, like becoming a minitherapist. On call, you know. And he's done a lot of (inaudible) relationship work. So he was, that's 90 percent of the reason I introduced him to Anastasia. Because I figured he'd be good for Anastasia. At least as a friend.
Q. When Mr. WitbolsFeugen and Karen Turner were here Sunday, did you speak of Peige's feelings as you knew them?
Q. She had towards Anastasia?
A. I didn't say a word.
Q. Is there anything that you've told them that you have not shared with me?
A. I got more into the history of their relationship than I did the events of that evening. To be perfectly honest, I can't remember the entire conversation. He taped it. I'm sure if you asked him, he'd make the tape available. I would verify anything that was said within that. You know. It was kind of an odd thing to have him just show up. And I don't ever quite know how to deal with Anastasia's father. But. . .
Q. Had you met him before or something?
A. I met him on, yeah, I met him at the funeral and the wake. And I talked to him on the phone a few times. And knowing what, well hearing what I'd heard about Anastasia's relationship with her step-mother especially, and in turn with her father, I wasn't immediately friendly to him.
Q. If we could, what did Anastasia tell you about her relationship with her father and her home life?
A. Mmm, the first thing in specific that I remember Anastasia saying about her home life. She apparently her step-mother typed up a contract, if you will, of conditions if Anastasia were to continue living there. And she brought it over and I remember I was laughing at it because the whole thing seemed to farcical to me, but of course this was her living situation, so, it was more important to Anastasia. It contained things such as no firearms, no alcohol, no use of tobacco and any drugs. No sex in the house, something about at any given time if she was on the phone, watching television, using the computer, doing anything such as that, and another person in the house asked her if they could use any of the above items I she was to get off them immediately. I mean it was all stuff like that. I got the – I got the -- I can't even use the word “impression”. I got the distinct impression, I don't know another word to use in that circumstance, from Anastasia that her step-mother was not entirely fond of her. I don't know. .
Q. Was there any physical abuse?
A. Not that I know of. Not during this most recent incarnation at her home, I had the impression from Anastasia quite a few times that there had been some very distinctive abuse, I don't know if it was emotional, or physical, but from her family before. She as never distinct about which parent. You know, so I don't know if it was her father, I don't know if it was her step-father, I don't know.
Q. And like you just said, you emotional, physical or sexual.
A. Yeah, right. Going by what I myself know having been abused as a child, she obviously lived through something when she was younger. But that is . . .
Q. Did she ever speak of it?
A. No. And I never tried to make her. That was one of the big respects that I had for Justin, Justin had for me, I had for Anastasia and Anastasia had for me. We all had our separate traumas, time periods in our lives whatever they might have been. Nobody forced issues like that.
Q. Well you do understand that issues like that might have some bearing on what has happened to Anastasia and Justin now.
A. I know.
Q. So, if there was something I would really appreciate your sharing it.
A. I don't know specifically. I know there was definite emotional abuse from Justin's family to Justin. But I don't know any distinct incidences of physical or sexual. Emotional abuse being so hard to classify, it's just there are always distinct reasons other than rebellion and a child turning into an adult for a person to hate their family for whatever reason. And I saw so many examples of that with both Anastasia and Justin. One of the things, Anastasia was very, the relationships with her family, I think a lot of her dislike for the family situation, I'm talking about currently as far as what I know, rotated around their religious views as opposed to hers and her stepmother. Often a key point in that sort of thing. And Justin's, I couldn't even begin to try to explain what I understood of Justin's family life. If they seemed to overwhelm him, they control him. I think a certain part of that can be understood by the fact that they were supporting him financially. You know, it's hard to say. I understand that his father is very upset as I think any parent would be. It's just funny because I never got much of a feeling of familial love from Justin.
Q. Do you know anybody that owns a car with the license plate MORBID?
Q. Who is that?
A. That would be Byron.
Q. That is his car?
A. Yeah, that's Byron's car. Byron's had that car, at least, what, nine months, ten months maybe. I don't know, I don't believe, yeah he got the license plate right after he got the car. It never had a normal plate so to speak.
Q. Does he drive the car?
A. Mmm-hmm. He didn't drive it for a while because he got into a little bit of a wreck and then there were some mechanical problems with the car.
Q. Remember when he had that wreck?
A. When he was still living with Justin and Anastasia, still sleeping on their couch. Right before he moved back in with his family. I think it was about. . .
[tape 1 runs out 44:48; blank through 54:58]
TAPE NUMBER 2
Q. The last question I was asking you was if you could recall approximately when Byron had an accident or wrecked his car that he drives.
A. I would say somewhere between July and August, around there, because I seem to recall it being right before I moved into this apartment. I moved in here in September.
Q. Do you remember what damaged was caused?
A. The front end of his car kinda sneers. He's got a big dent off -center in the front grill and bumper of his car. And he had some interior, mechanical damage. I don't know if it was from the wreck or if it was just something else. I really wouldn't know about that part of it. I don't drive personally. I don't know anything about cars. So people don't really want to talk to me about their vehicles. But I know it took a little bit to get fixed. I think it was the alternator, but I'm not sure. And it took him a little bit to get it fixed ‘cause he wasn't working and didn't have any money, but he got it fixed. He drives, he's driven it ever since. I saw him at one of the Goth Industrial Raves in Olathe, the last one, which was – the 15th – I think.
Q. The 15th?
A. Of last month.
A. Yeah. He was driving it then. So I'm assuming he's been driving it the entire, every time I've seen him, he's been driving the car.
Q. Anything else you can think of that. . .
A. Might be of relevance?
Q. Again, whether it would be their personal lives, their associates, how about drugs?
A. Drug lives?
Q. Justin –
A. I know that Justin was playing around a little bit with acid. Not a whole lot. But he acquired a vial of liquid that had six hits in it. And it was, I guess he got it, it was supposed to be for him and Anastasia. They were each going to take three. Which I told them right off that was a bad idea. But he went ahead and took all six. And I think this was about two weeks.
Q. You said six hits of acid at one time?
A. Liquid acid at one time. And this would be about two weeks, I think, before all this happened. Uh, I didn't see him while he was tripping, but he showed up over at my house right after he'd stopped tripping, actually it was about three weeks. He showed up at my house a day after he had stopped tripping and he slept and everything. He still seemed very – very disillusioned. I mean, that much acid will do that to people. He showed up, he was talking about the aquarium that was underneath the floor of his apartment. And he called some woman and she explained that all condos in this area have aquariums under the floor and there was nothing that could be done about it. And he was, he told me he was laying on the floor for a while listening to the aquarium and he thought there were people in the aquarium. Don't really know about that, but just seemed very, very disoriented about it. And he seemed pretty off, I think definitely due to that for about 3-4 days and then he seemed to come back to himself. So . . .
Q. How about Anastasia?
A. Anastasia? They had done acid a few times together. Never that much. Like a hit each. I think they'd done it like twice. The first time Anastasia did acid with Justin was the first time either of them ever tripped. No, I'm sorry. It was the first time she had ever done acid. He had tripped I believe once or twice before. They experimented a lot with, I don't know if they had an Anarchists cookbook, they were getting it off the internet, or if they had some other thing.But they experimented a lot in making,they went in this little phase where they were trying to make like, if I can remember it. Absenthe.
A. Absenthe. It's a drink. There are two different forms of Absenthe. One is just a port wine with an assortment of different herbs. And it's supposed, I don't know exactly what it's supposed to do, but the other Absenthe, the one glamorized in certain movies, the one that many poets of the 19th, 18th century drank is moderately hallucinogenic. Taken on a long term is poisonous, I believe. And involves, it's an alcohol base, but it is in a glass and a spoon with a sugar cube in it resting on the top of the glass, and you pour the drink over the sugar cube in a glass. That's all I know. But they were trying to figure out how to make this stuff. I don't know if I can blame myself for their interest in that. It's like I seem to recall mentioning Absenthe to them. I don't remember why, but they were always sort of seeking out different things to make. Justin at one point toyed with the idea of making acid. But he didn't know how. Nobody was going to tell him. Justin wasn't exactly stable, so nobody was going to say here, you know, let's show you how to make like a whole bunch of acid so you can just take all of that and go insane for the rest of your life. And I think he attempted it, but what he was making was something other than acid. I don't think it had any sort of qualities as far as narcotics of any sort. Or hallucinogenics or, they were into making pipe bombs. They were trying to make pipe bombs. They got the whole thing figured out, but they couldn't get the fuse to work. And I think a lot of these sort of things were mostly Justin's.
Q. When was the interest in the pipe bombs?
A. That would be, cause that one's been about a month. That would be from mid-September to early October.
Q. Did you ever see any of these pipe bombs?
A. Hmm-mmm.They called me on a couple of occasions and wanted me to go out with them and set off these pipe bombs that they had made. They were trying some new fuses to see if it would work. . And they wanted me to go out with them and go out to some deserted wherever and set off these pipe bombs. And as entertaining as that seemed to them, I wasn't much up to the idea of participating in a felony and/or maybe getting a little pipe bomb shrapnel stuck in my leg. So I, nah. If it didn't go off, it would be boring. If it did go off, we' d probably get arrested, so it didn't seem that entertaining to me.
Q. Do you know where they went?
A. No. I'm not sure exactly. Byron would know where they went. And so would Abraham because they both went with them on at least one occasion.
A. I don't know if, there are certain, of course in anybody's life there are certain things that you know, family, whatever, law enforcement officials don't know about. You know, especially people like Anastasia and Justin that do these sort of things. But I was talking to Anastasia's father this weekend and he was really, really inquisitive about the stun gun. And I realized he had no idea of any of their interests in any of this. You know, they were constantly, Justin wanted to learn how to make explosives. I mean, I'm not sure what the end-all result of this was going to be, but he was a relatively destructive person. I mean, I hesitated to characterize him in that manner a little while after all this happened, because I didn't want that to put him in a bad light. It's just when you are 20 years old and you're .living, you know, a fairly cushy lifestyle, you don't have to work, you don't have to go to school, you know. You have nothing to do. Spend money is what you do.
Q. That would explain Justin.
A. Yeah. Anastasia was interested in whatever Justin was in. Anastasia was interested in whatever Justin was interested in.
Q. Just that simple.
A. Anything Justin wanted to do, Anastasia would do it. I mean, that sounds overly simplistic, but that's how it was.
Q. Anything else at all that you could, uh . . . ?
A. I'm trying. . .
Q. I know they argued a lot. with each other? Did they ever get physical?
A. Not to be best of my knowledge. And I do believe that one or both of them would have said something if something had happened along those veins. I think that they, on Anastasia's part, she didn't really have a whole lot of aggression that she was willing to release against Justin. And Justin had whatever amount of aggression, he released by doing acid. I mean, these are very simple characterizations and I don' t mean to over-simplify. It's just that I show simple it is. Just like with Anastasia being interested in whatever Justin was into. That's how their relationship went. If Justin decided they were together, they were together. If Justin said they're – he made all the decisions. I don' t know if anybody told you about the ill-fated New Orleans idea. This would be sometime in, again, mid-maybe late September. Possibly even very early October. I was out, we were out having, myself, Raven, Justin and Cameron were out having dinner. And I just – no, I'm sorry, Cameron wasn't there. Myself, Raven and Justin. I just spontaneously decided I want to go to New Orleans. Never been. It sounds like a great idea. And I have spare money. You know. Justin always had money. Cameron had money. Everybody but Raven had money and we figured you know, he just won't drink while we're down there.
Like you can either stay and be by yourself, or go with us and pretty much don't drink, don't really get to do much cause you don't have money. And this was like a great idea. Justin was really enthusiastic about it. I was really enthusiastic about it. Well I got home, and I counted my money and I looked at the bad checks that I've had that I had to pay off, and I was like, well, shit. I can't do this. This was the week I'd picked up Zoey, bought my little puppy. And I. said no way I was taking a 3-month old miniature Pinscher with me on a vacation or leaving him at home by himself. And I really didn't want to kennel him. I had just gotten him. So I pretty much, I said well let's do it next week. You know, let's set it for next weekend. I can do this next weekend. It's just, I had to figure everything out financially and yada yada yada. So we ended up not going. Well the next day Justin and Anastasia showed up here and they were back together briefly and they were going that day, to rent a U-Haul, pack everything in the U-Haul, get as much money out of Justin's, you know, various available funds, ATMs, whatever, and drive to New Orleans. Just move to New Orleans. Just not tell anybody's family and just go. And they of course ended up not going, but I remember them both looking very disturbed because I immediately went off. It was a completely neurotic idea.
I mean, as irresponsible as it is to just decide on the spur of the moment you're going to go take a vacation, you know, in another state. It was twice as irresponsible to think, hey we've been back together for two days, you know, we've been breaking up and getting back together, breaking up and getting back together, we've been back together two days, and we're going to move to another state where nobody knows us. And live there. Bad idea. And I did everything, I told them, I said if you're going to go you're going to go, but I let them both know that if they broke up neither of them was going to come back to Kansas City and live in my apartment while they tried to figure out what they were doing. Cause I could see that, I could see this happening. You know, if they were that desperate to alienate their family and it didn't work, and they came back to this area, they probably wouldn't want much company from their family right away, anyway. And I just pointed that out to them.
Neither of them, as much as I care about them, neither of them was going to get to go off on this crazy little mission and then come back and live with me.Then they ended up not going. I can't remember exactly what their motivation for not going was, but I think it occurred to them, much as it occurred to me the day before, that as nice as it would be to just, you know, we're young, you know. We don't really have any responsibilities. Let's go. Just take off. You just go on this little vacation. You know. As nice as that sort of thing is, it's very hard to do because even though. You're thinking, oh gee, I'm a kid, I don't have like a regular job, I don't have this and that, you know, just go. There's still so many little things which can't, you know. You can't just leave that. Maybe some people can, but they weren't that type of person and neither was I. I'm trying to think of anything else that's important.
Q. When was this trip planned?
A. My New Orleans trip? It was going to happen that day.
A. Late September.
Q. Late September. And so then Anastasia and Justin.
A. The next day.
Q. The next day.
A. I know where they got the, I know where she got the idea. They got the idea from me cause Justin was supposed to go with us. I think that he decided that he wasn't going to go along just for a vacation, for a visit, like a weekend, he'd just move there. Seemed like a great idea to them at the time, but I'm really grateful that they didn't do it.
Q. Knowing Anastasia as well as you did, knowing Justin, you seem to know him pretty well also. Would there be anybody else that either one or both would have confided in different things, that might be able to give me any additional information? That you're aware of.
A. Mmm, for Anastasia no, not really. For Justin, nobody that you haven't already talked to. I mean, I'm sure that, I know he confided a lot in Byron. Byron isn't going to give up any more than he wants to, though. And...
Q. Do you think Byron was there when Anastasia was killed?
A. Like I said before, I think if, I can honestly say with absolute certainty, that if Justin had something to do with it, Byron knew that.
Q. Even if Justin had something to do with the death of Anastasia?
A. If so, (inaudible), you know. Except if he could be. There's so many things that point to it, that say “yes”. You know. But. . .
Q. Do you know of any time that they would play any games with firearms?
Q. There had been some rumors and speculation of . . .
A. Russian Roulette.
Q. . . . Russian Roulette type of thing.
A. Not that I ever experienced them doing.
Q. Did you ever know Justin or Byron to carry a firearm in their vehicle?
Q. There was some mention of a stun gun. any...Do you know if --
A. Tazers. Anastasia had one and I know Byron had one.
Q. Okay, you know for a fact Anastasia had one?
Q. Did she carry it with her?
A. No. She carried it with her on a few occasions, and I told a guy about this. I'm not sure who it was, but they, I mean they're not hard to get.
Q. Oh, no.
A. Tazers. There's so much_for God's sake, they're everywhere. And they wanted to see how they worked. They didn't want to shock one of the three of themselves, and so they tazed a drunk guy behind Mill Creek down in Westport, they tazed him. He was just sitting there on the steps, and they walked up and stuck it to his neck. Held it there for a minute, then pulled it away. You know.
Q. Did it faze him?
A. I think it had some minor affect, but to the best of my knowledge, the tazer that Anastasia had wasn't really that powerful. And he was drunk. I guess the guy was just about passed out anyway. So how would you tell?
Q. But she did own one.
A. Yes, she owned one.
Q. Do you know where she got it?
A. No, I'm not sure. She could have gotten it anywhere. I'm sure she had one.
Q. Did you know Anastasia to carry a purse?
A. I never saw her with a purse.
Q. How about a wallet?
Q. How do you know that?
A. I saw her take it out when she had thing to pay for it.
Q. And do you know what the wallet looked like?
A. No. Just a wallet. I think it was black, but I'm not sure. I think it was a men's wallet.
Q. Did she carry it in her back pocket.
A. Two fold, I think. She had it in her back pocket. I can't remember which though. I don't think she always had it on her, either. Cause I know sometimes she would just stuff money in her pockets. But especially when she moved out of Justin's and she was driving, she always liked to have her license on her.
Q. You say she stuffed money in her pockets. Did she have, did she make a common practice to carry some cash with her or money?
A. I don't remember Anastasia carrying very much money on her, really. I really never knew her to carry much. That's one of the things that was intriguing to me. I heard that they had found her with no money. They found her wallet, but no money. She never really had that much money. I mean, sometimes she'd have like 5 bucks, and maybe she'd have ten bucks. But I never saw her with more than like 20. You know, she never carried very much money. I mean, I don't have, I don't have a checking account. I don't have a check card. I no longer have a bank account because I wrote some bad checks. And so I either have a lot of money on me, or I have no money on me. It's just how it is. I don't normally go out of the house with five bucks. I'll go out of the house with like forty bucks, you know, eighty bucks, but I won't go out with like more than 100. But I never really knew her – I never really knew either of them to carry that much cash. I think Justin occasionally had a pretty good amount of cash, but it was his money from his family that he carried. I just never knew her to have that much money. I never saw her carry a purse. She wasn't feminine like that.
Q. Her foot attire. Did she have any favorites?
A. Her boots.
Q. Boots. Not low cut, but just boots.
A. I think they'd come up to about here. They would be the twelve-eyelet, most likely. Doc Martins.
A. I'm pretty certain she had Doc's, but I'm not sure.
Q. Do you now of any other type footwear that she had? Would you remember –
A. She had some low – they looked kinda like old orthopedic shoes. Really low, little thick, like old police shoes, orthopedic shoes, but real low like black oxford, real simple style. She had some of those. She wore those a lot, too. She really liked her boots.
Q. Did she have anything that would resemble a sandal that you've ever seen?
A. She has them, but I never saw her wear them. You know, she's like almost every other girl. She's gonna have girl shoes. She had some black, I think they were like Birkenstock, but she had like some black kinda semi-formal. . .
Q. The word you used, "Birkenstock"?
A. [Laughter] They're flat sandals with two leather straps, usually. Right over the toe.
Q. Would these be Doc Martens?
A. No. Those would be completely different.
Q. Okay. Well it was my understanding. . .
A. It's a brand name.
Q. . . . that Doc Martens had this style of sandal.
A. Yeah. I never saw her, I guess, it never ever really saw her wear sandal seems like,
Q. So it would be unusual for her to wear something like that.
A. Yeah. Definitely. I know though she was living with her father and she borrowed her sister's clothes alot. And her sister was kinda hippie, you know, kind of dressed differently than Anastasia, than I ever knew Anastasia to And I saw Anastasia on a few occasions, she'd come over and Anastasia was big on jeans and real simple shirts. Black. Her boots or a little shoe She dressed very, very simply. Almost boyishly. And I remember her coming over and she was wearing this bright green shirt with like a little fish on it, fish on the back She'd borrowed it from her sister because she didn't have any clean clothes. I don't know if they had the same size shoe, I don't know if she borrowed the shoes from her on occasion.
Q. You brought up she didn't have any clean clothes. Was it Anastasia's responsibility to maintain her own washing of clothes and everything?
A. Yeah. To the best of my knowledge I was never at her father's house when she was still living there. Actually, I've never been in her father's house period. But I pretty much got the impression it was up to Anastasia to feed herself, clean up after herself, take care of her clothes, da da. She was kind of like I am. She would not really notice that her clothes were dirty until she would open up her drawer and have like one thing to wear. You know, I mean a lot of us are like that. And she definitely was as well. I mean, she just wouldn't notice. I know from seeing pictures of her and stuff, that she had at one point dressed a lot differently than she dressed when I knew her. So I don't know how much of that clothing she still had.
Q. Anything else at all?
A. Not really. There's so much information up there about all this. There s so much that isn't really relevant.
Q. If you should think of something else that might be relevant, would you try to get in touch with me?
A. Yeah, this time. Now that I know you're not going to try to like run me for warrants or something.
A. Like I said, I don't even think I have one was run about two weeks ago, but --
[Tape abruptly stops]
End of interview.