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Statement of Beatrice A. Miller

Statement of Beatrice Annabelle Miller, 12:30 pm, November 3


Mrs. Miller, please describe everything you can remember about the birthday party last night, leading up to when your sister became ill.

Well, we all dressed for dinner and gathered in the dining room at about eight o'clock. Everyone sat down together and we had a lovely meal. It was vegetarian, as a courtesy to George Edward, and very tasty. Everybody seemed to be in high spirits. Mr. Lewis was very interested in the stuffed ostrich I made for Julia. I gave it to her just as we were sitting down to dinner, and kept it by her on the table. I chatted with Julia about the trips Simon and I take from time to time. We always invite her to come along with us sometime but she never does. Um. I was trying to bring up the subject of money, delicately. You see, Simon and I needed to borrow just a little bit, and Julia has helped us out in the past. She was very kind to us. I didn't think her birthday party was quite the time to mention it, but we hadn't managed it earlier in the week and she would be in a good mood for the party, anyway . . .

But let's see what else I can remember. I also talked to George Edward and Maggie, who were across the table from me. I'm so delighted with Maggie; she is such a sweet person, and I know she and George Edward will be very happy together. Simon talked to her a good deal during dinner, too, and he agrees with me. She and George Edward are only just married, and really none of us had met her before the birthday party because it was a short engagement. Maggie is quite artistic; she drew a little sketch of my ostrich chick this week that was just adorable. She told me she had recently left her former career and was hoping to start a little art gallery with paintings and drawings, as well as art supplies to sell to people.

Simon and Deborah were too far down the table from me to really talk to. A good thing, too, because I'm never really that comfortable talking to Deborah. She gives off rather a forbidding aura, I think, and I've never really gotten used to it, though Simon likes her quite a bit. Obviously she was very devoted to my sister and she's always very polite and considerate, but I don't think she likes me either. We just happen not to get along is all. But she's been with Julia for nine years and it has been a great comfort to Simon and me to know that Julia was being looked after as she got older. Julia was twelve years older than me, you know, and she couldn't live alone.

But dear me--the dinner party. We all just stuffed ourselves on that good food til nobody could bear the thought of eating dessert just yet. The catering people packed up and left, and we all sat around and chatted some more. People came and went; I know Julia left for a few minutes and we all gossiped about what we'd gotten for her present. Then Maggie proposed we have the cake and sing, which we all agreed to as it was getting on for ten o'clock. I went off to the kitchen to get the cake and the candles. We all sang to Julia, and Maggie helped her cut the cake while Deborah passed out plates, first to Julia and then everybody else. The cake was delicious. We were sitting around talking when Julia began to feel ill. She complained of numbness, and then slumped over on the table and fell into these convulsions. None of us knew what to do, it seemed, but Jake Lewis, who knew some first aid. He told Deborah to call 911 for an ambulance while he tried to help poor Julia, but nothing seemed to do any good. By the time the ambulance got there she had died; it was ghastly.

Then Jake Lewis started bossing us all around, which was just as well I suppose because the rest of us were just a mess. He got us out of the room and into the front hall, and then the first set of police arrived, which Jake said was usual for a 911 call. We family members, and Deborah, all went to the hospital then, but of course poor Julia was dead and there was nothing more to be done. Everyone was very kind, really.

Thank you, Mrs. Miller. Now, had your sister ever complained of feeling ill in the same way before?

No, not that I remember. She's been getting a little vaguer as the years pass, but I don't remember her ever really being sick, except for colds. Sometimes when we'd visit she'd feel a little under the weather, though we really don't see her that often. We do live rather a ways away, you know, and we're traveling so much. But she never complained of numbness before, or seizures.