Interview with Joe Price

Date:August 21, 1996

NAME(S): Lisa McPherson                  ORIG. DATE REPORTED: 12/6/95 
INCIDENT: AOA/Death Investigation        VI WILL PROSECUTE: Y N 
LOCATION: 644 Pierce Street              PAGE 1 OF 19 

Today's date is 8/21/96. This is gonna be a taped interview with Joe Price. The time of the interview is 1455 hours. This is going to be concerning the Lisa McPherson death investigation, Report 95-29158.

Det. Sudler: For the record Joe, I'd like you to state your name, date of birth, and home address.
Price: My name is Joseph Price. My date of birth is X/52. I currently reside at X Florida.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And what is your home phone number Joe?
Price: X..
Det. Sudler: Okay. How are you employed Joe?
Price: I work for Morton Plant Hospital as a clinical nurse specialist...nurse liaison. I've been working at Morton Plant since September of 1995.
Det. Sudler: And what type of background do you have in nursing?
Price: I've been a nurse for 18 years...since 1978. Most of those years I have spent working in psychiatry.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And part of your duties and responsibilities at Morton Plant Hospital would be to evaluate patients in the Emergency Room, to see if they meet Baker Act criteria and make ,the evaluations for their admission under those criteria?
Price: Correct. My job is to do psych consults...psychiatric assessments. I do determine whether or not people meet Baker Act criteria and that's.. that's my job. I am called to the ER...various ER's. ,People walk in to my office. I go to the medical floors to do psych consults. I go to people's houses every now and then. And that's my job.
Det. Sudler: Okay. On November 18th, Lisa McPherson was brought into Morton Plant Hospital. Do you recall that day and that time involving Lisa McPherson?

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Price: I do vividly. I remember being called...okay...1 remember being called to the Emergency Room. When I arrived to the Emergency Room, Dr. Lovett was the doctor on duty at that time. He told me that he had a young lady there that he wanted me to assess that...
Det. Sudler: Who...who called you to the ER? Was it one of the nurses on staff there or....?
Price: Usually that's who calls me. I.. I don't remember who called me. Usually's the clerk.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And you were on duty at that time?
Price: I was on duty at that time.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And do you remember what time of day it was roughly?
Price: It was around 10:00 at night.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And you went down to the Emergency Room and you met with Dr. Lovett?
Price: Right.
Det. Sudler: Was he the attending physician?
Price: He was her attending physician.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: And when I arrived, I spoke with him, which is the normal procedure that doctors give me. Just a rundown of what they wanted me to do and why the patient was there. He had told me that this lady was a member of the Church Of Scientology... that there were members of the church at her bedside with her, which is not normally the case when I go to the Emergency Room. He told me if...if I wanted them to leave, that I should ask them to leave...and if they wouldn't, that the would call security and...and have them removed. When I went into the cubicle where Lisa was laying in bed, there were at least three members of the church there. One gentleman was

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dressed in a very nice suit. He identified himself as a lawyer I believe. At that point, they resisted in me talking to her initially. They thought I was a psychologist of psychiatrist. Dr. Lovett was at my side at that time. And we told them that I was a registered nurse and all I wanted to do is talk to Lisa to make sure that she was okay.
Det. Sudler: The individuals that were by her you remember any of their names?
Price: No.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: No, I don't.
Det. Sudler: They...they just introduced themselves. Did they all introduce themselves as members of the Church of Scientology?
Price: Correct. They did.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Were any of them in uniform?
Price: No.
Det. Sudler: Or were they all the same clothes?
Price: They were in plain clothes...street clothes.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And each...there was a male and two females?
Price: I think there were two males. I know there was at least one male and one female. I think the other person was..was a male but he was just on the periphery in the background.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And Lisa was on a gurney in the ER?
Price: She was in a hospital bed.
Det. Sudler: Okay... in a hospital bed.
Price: Lying in a a cubicle.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And these individuals were around her bedside at the time you met her?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. How did she appear to you? How did

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she look?
Price: She was laying in bed kind of passive. Uh... she....initially that's how she looked. And I presented myself to her. I introduced myself to her and asked her did she want to speak with me. And I also asked her if she wanted me to ask the people around the bed to leave at that time. She... she was slow to respond in... to all of my questions. There was always like a slight hesitation when I asked her questions. And my assessment consists of...1 just ask "Are there any medical problems?"..."Do you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure?" I think her responses to all those questions were "No". And then know...1 asked her who she lives with...if she was married. I remember her saying that and that she didn't mind if the...her...she described it as her friends from the congregation... if they stayed at her side. And so they did and I completed my assessment. When I did ask her questions, like I said, she had a slight hesitation before she would respond. At times, she would cross her eyes and I confronted her with that. And I said "Lisa, I notice when I ask you a question you cross your eyes." And she had her eyes crossed when she answered and she said "Well, it helps me concentrate better". I...1 thought that was kind of strange behavior on her part.
Det. Sudler: Were these questions that you were asking her questions that would take a lot of concentration?
Price: Not really. I.. I asked her questions such as "Do you have any prior psychiatric history?" She responded "No". I asked her was she currently thinking of hurting herself or anybody else and she responded "No". I confronted her with her alleged bizarre behavior. By

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that I mean that reportedly she had just been involved in a car accident and took off her clothes and ran down the street. And I asked her why she did that. And she said...her response was "I just wanted to get attention...1 didn't want to be arrested". And she thought that, by taking her clothes off and running down the Street, that she would get other attention other than being arrested.
Det. Sudler: The individuals that were with her, were they receptive to this lineof questioning?
Price: They did not interrupt me while I was questioning her. I did notice and I felt that she was intimidated by their presence. So, after I initially interviewed her, I went and spoke to Dr. Lovett and we...we talked about it. And I believe he accompanied me back and we asked them would they mind if I talked to her alone. And they hesitated a little bit, but they did leave the general area. They walked a few feet away and went around the corner. And I know in my heart that they wanted to be within hearing distance of what I was saying to her. In fact, when I would turn my head, I would see them peeking around the corner from time to time. the second time that I spoke to her...1 spoke to her... it was just me and her. And I asked her questions such as did she feel that she was being held captive...did she feel that she was being intimidated by anyone from the church. And she responded "No", but my feeling was that...that she was intimidated by them.
Det. Sudler: And you base that. on her hesitation to answer questions when...when they were around or...?
Price: Just....even when we were alone, she would...when I would ].ook her in the eye and ask her questions... she would look around and look up behind me like

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trying to look and see if they were peeking around the corner at her... if they were there listening to our conversation.
Det. Sudler: When you did your evaluation with Lisa, did she meet any of the Baker Act criteria that you've been trained know...notice and record?
Price: No, she did not. She was alert and oriented times three. Her memory was. .was not impaired although she was slow to respond. She did not meet the Baker Act criteria. In fact, when I was finished my assessment, I called the psychiatrist on call, which is the normal procedure. After I do an assessment or evaluation, I call the doctor on call. And it was Dr. Dyjani. And I spoke to him and gave him my report. And he told me "Well Joe, we can't...we have no basis to Baker Act this lady and keep her here". Umm...and at that point, the...the members of the church were there. And I remember this one...he was...he was smaller in height...he was like about 5'7" or 5'8", which...I'm 5'6", so he was like my size.. And he was the one who did most of the talking. He showed me a brochure that..that they have printed out on psychiatry. And I don't have a copy of it, but the basis of the brochure was that they believe...according to this brochure...according to their literature...that all psychiatrists will either rape or sexually intimidate or molest their female patients. So they don't believe in having a male psychiatrist talk to a female client. That was from the brochure. At that time they, as members of the church, assured myself and also.. I don't want to get...1 don't know if they assured Dr. Lovett, but they did in fact assure me that they would guarantee her safety... that they would make sure that

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she would not help know...that they wouldn't let her drive anymore that day because they felt that she may be a little upset about being in the car accident. So they assured me that she would be safe. IJmm...she was discharged from the ER. Now, I don't have responsibility for discharging people from the ER. The medical staff there does. As far as I was concerned, the people did not meet Baker Act criteria and we could not keep her in the hospital against her will. But I did remain in the ER until the time that she was discharged. When she was discharged, she left accompanied by at least six and probably more members. They identified themselves as members of the Church of Scientology and there were at least three of the people from the church on either side of her walking down the hallway. While she walked down the hallway in the middle of the hallway, they were on either side of her and they escorted her out of the hospital.
Det. Sudler: Were...this group of six individuals...were they males and females?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Were any of them in uniform or...?
Price: I don't believe. There..there were people in...outside in the waiting area of the Emergency Room that were in fact in uniforms. I remember that there were a few.
Det. Sudler: How many people did you talk to or did you see that either identified themselves as members of the church or you saw wearing the...the uniform of the church?
Price: At least two. Like I said, the one small guy with the nice suit on and there was a female that did a lot of speaking for...on Lisa's behalf. And she identified herself as "a friend". But she also identified herself as a member of the congregation.

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Det. Sudler: Okay. So how many individuals were know in know... in the waiting room and...?
Price: It's hard to really say, but I would say at least ten...probably more.
Det. Sudler: Okay. When Lisa was released from the hospital... in reviewing the medical records, it indicated that Dr. Lovett had released her against medical advice. What does that mean? I guess AMA... released AMA...
Price: Ummm.. I can't...I speak from the psychiatric standpoint, but to me "against medical advice" means that he feels that she needs further evaluation.
Det. Sudler: Okay. When a patient signs themself out...there's a form that looks like it had Lisa's signature on it and there was a witness area. Did you notice anybody signed that form or did Lisa sign any forms in front of you for know.. to be released from the hospital?
Price: No. From a psychiatric standpoint, I was called to do the assessment and I did that. She did not meet the criteria to be kept against her will as far as the Baker Act goes. At that's up to the medical staff to determine whether or not they want to keep her there for any medical evaluation.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Did you notice if Lisa had any physical injuries or did know...have any bandages on her or anything that looked like she may have been injured in the accident?
Price: Not that I recall, but when...when I do my assessments, I don't do a. .a physical assessment perse. The medical staff does that, so as I'm standing over her and talking to her... looking at her face...I believe she had a sheet over her and I believe she was in

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a hospital gown. I'm not really sure if she was in a hospital gown. So I was just looking at her face and I did not see any physical injuries on her face that I recall right now...not that I recall.
Det. Sudler: Did any of the individuals that were with her...they mentioned that they were going to take care of her and make sure that she was okay... did they give you any details of how they planned to do that or...?
Price: No details were given. They just assured me that she would not harm herself...that she would... that she would be safe...that they would care for her safety.
Det. Sudler: When Lisa was released from the hospital, did she walk out on her own power?
Price: She did walk out.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: Nobody held her up or. .or that sort of thing. She walked out.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And there were six people with her...three on each side?
Price: At beast.
Det. Sudler: And she was in the center?
Price: In the middle.
Det. Sudler: Okay. What was your impression of that?
Price: My impression was that "My God, this lady's a prisoner". And that was...that was my impression.
Det. Sudler: Do you think that the persons with Lisa were interfering with her decision that night? And maybe know...the medical people you think that their presence was an interference in everybody doing their job?
Price: I can speak from... from my far as the patient answering me, I felt that their presence

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intimidated her into maybe saying things to me that, if they weren't there, she may have responded otherwise.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: Such as...for example...asking know... "Lisa, do you need you want our you want my help?" I felt at that point that maybe she would've responded. This is my own personal feeling... that she would have maybe said "Yeah, I...1 think I need some help...something's wrong here with me". But she denied to me and that's what I have to go by...that...that anything was wrong.
Det. Sudler: If a person would come to the hospital in a state of crisis that might be...might not meet the Baker Act criteria, what would the hospital do under certain circumstances like that? Is there a social service agency or somebody that they could refer that person to know... outpatient counseling or something?
Price: Right. I...I have at my disposal a list of referral services...resources...however you want to say it. But if...if someone doesn't.. I mean I in fact did ask her did...did she want me to refer her to... to a doctor or..or a therapist. And she responded no. I mean I have.. I have access know...a large amount of information as far as doctors and therapists go. And I could have and in fact would have liked to have referred her to someone. But she said that she didn't want one and the people from the church assured us that she would be safe.
Det. Sudler: Was Lisa hostile toward you or. .or the medical staff? I mean did she appear that she didn't want your help?
Price: Was she hostile? No, she was not hostile. I would say that she was kind of passive. And as I said before, she was slow to respond to my questions. She seemed a

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little bit guarded and fearful...frightened. And... you know...i don't know...i mean I can only assume what that is from... whether it was from just being in the car accident know..being fearful that she was intimidated by the other members there.. I don't know.
Det. Sudler: She didn't share any of those concerns with you about anything that was bothering her?
Price: No, she did not.
Det. Sudler: Did she give any explanation for taking off her clothes?
Price: What she said to me was that she wanted...she did it to get attention...that she felt that if she... you know.. I asked her point know... that seems rather strange behavior to take off your clothes and run down the Street. And again, she was slow to respond and she said "Well, I did it to get attention because I didn't want to get arrested". And that's...that was what she said.
Det. Sudler: Okay. So she...she didn't want to get arrested. She just wanted attention. And she didn't give a specific reason for that attention?
Price: No.
Det. Sudler: Okay. The individuals that were withher... initially I guess they resisted your involvement because of your background in mental health.
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: How so did they do that? I mean, did they say that it was against their religion...their religious beliefs to do that or...?
Price: When I arrived, what I was hearing from the one gentleman... and there was a lady....was that they did not believe in psychiatry.. that they didn't

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want a "psychiatrist or psychologist" talking to Lisa. At that point, I assured them and Dr. Lovett assured them that I was not a psychologist or a psychiatrist that I was a registered nurse and I just wanted to talk to Lisa.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And how was Lisa's feelings toward that at that point? Was she privileged to this conversation too?
Price: I don't believe that she heard that conversation.
Det. Sudler: Okay. That was done with them separate from Lisa?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. When you talked to Lisa, how did you introduce yourself to her?
Price: I always introduce myself to patients as "Hello, my name is Joe Price... I'm a registered nurse in psychiatry". And that's...that's how I present myself.
Det. Sudler: Was she receptive to that?
Price: She was kinda passive. Umm...again I...she's laying in the bed... I come over to her righthand side and stand next to her looking down on her... looking in her face trying to get some eye contact.
Det. Sudler: Okay. But by the mere mention of the word "psychiatry", she didn' know...balk at know... assessment of her or didn't give you know.. belief that she didn't want you to do an assessment of her?
Price: No.
Det. Sudler: Okay. At anytime did anybody try know... intercede on her behalf during your evaluation?
Price: They did not answer questions for her while I was talking to her. I remember the young lady who introduced herself as a member of the church and she was just dressed in regular street clothes. But I remember she introduced herself as a member.

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Wanted to talk to me outside of Lisa's presence and I don't remember that conversation too well. But I believe that she just reinforced the idea that she would be okay with them...that she would be safe with them... that they would make sure that she would be okay.
Det. Sudler: Did you see how Lisa left the hospital? Did she drive away in a car with somebody or...?
Price: I did.not see that. What I did see was her walking down the hall...again with at least three people on either side of her...walking down the hall to the Emergency Room exit.
Det. Sudler: Do you remember what Lisa was wearing when she left?
Price: I believe she.. I mean...1.. I think that she had on just a casual know...a one piece pullover dress. I believe that's what she was wearing. And a pair of sandals I think. That's my recollection.
Det. Sudler: In your experience, how would you describe Lisa's mental state at the time that you did the evaluation?
Price: That's...that's hard to say. I'm not a psychiatrist. Her...her mental I wrote on...on the Emergency Room progress note... that she was alert and oriented... that she was able to think abstractly. And by that I mean I asked ask questions like "Tell me what this means to you...people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". And she was able to respond correctly to that statement. Umm... mental. status-wise did I...did I...she wasn't suicidal...she wasn't homicidal. Was there any psychosis going on at the time. By that I mean was she out of touch with reality. I don't.. I don't think so. She was...her behavior was kinda strange I described before...I mean...people don't

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normally take their clothes off and run down the street. When I'm...when you're in conversation with somebody, they generally don't cross their eyes. She was kinda slow to respond to me. So that was her mental status I saw, it. And again, I'm not a psychiatrist so I...i don't...i can't diagnose people as being schizophrenic or having some kind of psychotic disorder. But as far as her behavior, it... it seemed and appeared to be a little strange.
Det. Sudler: Okay. The, individuals that were with her, you don't recall any of their names or anything like that?
Price: No, I don't. I wish that I did.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Umm...did...they also have discussions with Dr. Lovett I take it....these individuals that were with her.
Price: I believe so.
Det. Sudler: How much time roughly did you know.. talking with Lisa during the evaluation?
Price: Probably about a half an hour.
Det. Sudler: Did anything change in her behavior or demeanor during that half hour?
Price: No. It was consistent. Again, she was passive. She seemed kinda anxious and fearful.
Det. Sudler: Okay. How did she look to you a nurse would observe a patient? Did she look healthy...did she know...frail..well nourished?
Price: Physically Lisa appeared to be a healthy 36 year old female of average weight and height. Physically she looked okay to me upon just talking to her and looking at her. So she looked healthy to me physically.
Det. Sudler: You didn't notice any physical abnormalities that

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she had or any... like I said... any medical problems that...that she didn't look like she was emaciated know...undernourished know... anything like that?
Price: Not at all.
Det. Sudler: Okay. So her height and weight were know... for her size?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. What about her complexion...her...her skin tone and color?
Price: I remember her as.. I mean for a resident...a resident of Florida...she looked a little pale maybe. And I believe she had some freckles.
Det. Sudler: Okay. But there was nothing unusual about her skin? There were no rashes or marks or anything on her that you could see?
Price: Not that I...not that I remember.
Det. Sudler: Okay. So basically she just looked like a healthy individual?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Is there anything else that you can recall that happened that night that we may not have covered?
Price: No, not really. But to me, it was just very strange and that's why remember it so vividly...that...I mean I've never had someone come over I mean when I arrive to the Emergency Room and just straight out tell you that they don't believe in psychiatry and that they really don't want your help or need your. help and be given a brochure like I was given. I mean he...he...the one gentleman...and this is the same guy...I wish I remember his name...he was more than happy to give me that brochure. And I don't

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know if he was trying to recruit me or...or what. I mean...I mean at that point when he gave me the brochure, that was the feeling I had.... like is he trying to recruit me...what's going on here...
Det. Sudler: Can you describe him?
Price: He was about. SIDE TWO OF TAPE
Det. Sudler: Continuing this tape on...the tape on Side 2.
Price: Okay. This gentleman was probably about 5'7" or 5'8"...maybe 150 lbs. maybe...well dressed in a nice suit. It may have even been a silk suit. He...he was very well dressed and he...I remember him introducing himself as a lawyer. And he was the one... he had a briefcase with him and he did a lot of the talking for Lisa to myself and to Dr. Lovett.
Det. Sudler: Did he have an accent or speak with any abnormalities in his speech or anything?
Price: I don't remember.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: I don't remember. I know he spoke english and I don't know if there was an accent. I don't remember that.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Alright. And he just represented himself as being affiliated with the Church of Scientology?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: During his introduction to you.
Price: Absolutely.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And you''ve been with Morton Plant since 95?
Price: Right. September of 95.
Det. Sudler: So almost a year now you've been with...with them?

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Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Would you describe this as an unusual occurrence in your... in your background?
Price: Yes. It's not what normally happens when...when I do an assessment or an evaluation. Generally I am able to just speak with...with the patient and...and get the information from them. If they are incoherent I mean there are times when I have to call family members or friends or if they're present to talk to them. But generally there aren't people in the same room with the patient when I do my assessment.
Det. Sudler: So the norm would be to have a one on know... interview with somebody?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. What would be the benefits of that...a one on one interview?
Price: That the patient, if they're able to, can speak freely for themselves and not feel intimidated or concerned about what the other people are going to think or feel. And they know... tell me things in private that they wouldn't tell me when other people are there. I mean that doesn't just go for the Church of Scientology. That goes...I mean if...if a husband is there, he might not want his wife to know certain things that have been going on. I mean if they're using drugs or if...whatever. So.. I mean you get a more honest feel because in psychiatry when I'm on a one to one, what I say to that patient confidential. And I tell them that.
Det. Sudler: Okay.
Price: That know...if you don't want me to tell anybody else what you tell me now, it's between me and you and it stays that way.

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Det. Sudler: Do you think that...
Price: I have to do that.
Det. Sudler: Do you think that was the case with Lisa? Do you think she could speak to you freely?
Price: My gut feeling is no.
Det. Sudler: Because of the individuals that were there?
Price: Correct.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Do you have anything else that you need to add?
Price: No. I'd just like to say that I'm sorry that this young lady isn' no longer with us. And when I saw her, she was a healthy...physically healthy young lady. And when I heard that she was dead, I was really shocked.
Det. Sudler: Prior to this interview, I just showed you a report that we had... some notes from the ER notes that you took that night. Was that a fair and accurate representation of...of the ER report that you did that night...those notes?
Price: From my assessment point of view...yes.
Det. Sudler: Okay. And I understand that you've got another report that I apparently don't have a copy of that you did that night.
Price: Routinely I do assessment consists of a three-page assessment that I do, which is not part of the Emergency Room record. Which is part of the Department of Psychiatry that doesn't go on the Emergency Room record. If people are admitted to the hospital, it becomes a part of their chart. It goes on their chart.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Can I get a copy of that?
Price: I'll try to get you a copy of that.
Det. Sudler: Okay.

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Price: If I...if I have access to one...sure.
Det. Sudler: Okay. For identification purposes, I showed you a... a facial shot of Lisa McPherson. And granted it was a.. a post-mortem shot taken sometime after her...her death. But that facial shot...did you recognize that individual as being Lisa?
Price: I did.
Det. Sudler: Was' that a. .a fair representation know... the individual that you saw that night?
Price: She looked a little thinner in the picture and she had a couple of scratches on her nose. And I don't recall her having scratches on her nose when I talked to her. But sure, I could recognize her as being Lisa.
Det. Sudler: And that was the same individual that was in there?
Price: Absolutely.
Det. Sudler: Okay. Alright. Mr. Price, I don't have any further questions,. I'll go ahead and conclude the interview now. The time is 1532 hours.

REPORTING: Det. Ron Sudler/elg ID NO: 608 DATE: 8/21/96 STATUS: Active EXCEPTION TYPE: _______ DATE CLEARED:___________ R.ANCE TYPE ______ 1. Extradition Declined rrest 2. AR of Prim. Offense, Secondary Offense. w/o Pros ~dult _____Juv 3. Death of Offender 5. Prosecution Decl Kceptional. 4. V/W Refused to Cooperate 6. Juv./No Custody rifounded REVIEWING:____________________ DATE: SA. INFO: ____________ 19