2000-02-00: "Afternoon with Judith Phillips, Photographer", Interviewed by Mary Mcardle Suma (Mame)
Transcript provided by Starry assisted by Sassey, Canadiana & Shaggy
Mame: she had a bob?
JP: uh, huh. A real short one, and I said to Patsy, What happened to her hair? And she goes OH I just got so sick of fighting with JonBenét about combing her hair. We would fight all the time, so I just got sick of it and I took the scissors and cut her hair. (laughs)
Mame: Oh she cut it herself?
Mame: How old was she about 3?
JP: yeah, she was about 3 and shortly afterward I did the photo shoot for the Colorado women's news article and spent some time in the home and JonBenét still had that short bob of a hair cut. She reminded me of a little girl who had some tomboy qualities to her. As I searched around the house for lighting situation of where I was going to take these pictures of Patsy and then the children, she would follow secretly behind. I would hear some noise and I'd turn around and there was JonBenét .
Mame: But at that point , at three she could still be the child
JP: Yeah, she was dressed in very child-like clothes, she and my daughter played up her in her bedroom. In fact, my daughter later told me that during one of her visits that during this time, that she went up to JonBenét room and JonBenét showed her all the trophies from all the pageants, her ribbons and stuff like that and my daughter said 'what are these?' and she said 'oh my mom just wants me to get into these pageants and these are trophies that I earned' and my daughter said 'wow, cool'. She said (JonBenét) 'but the trophies really don't belong here, they belong in my mom's room' . Yeah.
Mame: and that was when she was older?
JP: Yeah. And then (couldn't hear).......the hair dye. It was the summer of I think it was 95. She came back, Patsy came back, I saw her early after they had returned, hadn't seen JonBenét , but she had arranged a meeting with me and another woman who wanted to meet Patsy, to I think, get some money from Access Graphics for a fundraiser. So, I kind of put the two of them together and really the two of them did a lot of talking, but that's the luncheon where I noticed that Patsy had this humungous diamond ring, and I looked and I said 'oh, my god Patsy, where did you get that?' And she said that she had got it in Texas, when they had stayed in Texas in the summer for a short time and she saw all these Texas women with their big rocks and she wanted one too. laughing...so, it's the biggest thing I have ever seen. And that one symbol of that big rock told me that there was something different. I felt...
Mame: Were you shocked? Obviously when you saw the bleach blond hair.
JP: Yeah, I was shocked. That's why I asked Patsy...'what did you do to JonBenét hair? You didn't dye it did you?' And she said no, no, no..It was the hot summer sun in Charlesvoix that dyed her hair.
Mame: And it was obviously bleached?
JP: laughing....yes. It was obviously bleached....It was obviously bleached..I thought how stupid do you think I am...I didn't respond, but I thought. I said oh isn't that interesting.
JP: Of course I saw the physical changes with her hair and that she was dressed up like at her Christmas party she was dressed up in this Cinderella ball gown. I had never seen her in clothes like that. You know, I hadn't seen that before.And she was so perfectly coiffed you know, makeup. And when I did the photo shoot in the studio the one where she and her mom and Burke and Nedra were there. I saw her, really I left it up to the people to decide, how they wanted to present their family. I didn't say you had to wear these kinds of clothes, and so I was always very interested to see what mothers would bring to wear.
Mame: couldn't hear
JP: laugh. So when I saw these elegant outfits I was, um, she, they were the only people that I'd ever photographed that way. And JonBenét had this incredible, beautiful white dress on, and then they applied the makeup and I photographed her, it was obvious to me that this was a little girl that had changed a lot, that I didn't know. No, I did not see the stress of JonBenét at all. What I saw in that photo shoot which was really the last time I, no, the second to last time I saw her alive, was that Patsy was in a frenzy, that she was late as usual, and she probably had another appointment that she was already late for so it was....c'mon, get...you know, she was real tense, and the kids were like real stiff and real obedient to her, they knew not to cross a certain line and then when I took the pictures, especially of JonBenét alone, I allowed her to be free and be herself and on some level, it was difficult for her to handle that. I remember I had to talk to her, encourage her, not to be quote, on, you know I wanted a deeper picture.
JP: Roxie Walker and her husband Stewart Walker called us, they knew ...
Mame: they were neighbours?
JP: They were neighbours that lived across the street, that were very close friends of Patsy and John's. And they wanted to let us know what we were about to embark on when we came back into town. And , they found us in Chicago, at my twin sister's house and talked to my ex-husband, Robert, and when he got off the phone, his face was completely white. I kept saying what's the matter, what's the matter, what's going on? And he said there has been a tragedy and I said what? He said JonBenét . and I said what?! He said JonBenét has been murdered.. You know all these things flash through your mind, disbelief and horror and depression, and you want to reach out and ...
Mame: And did you connect up with them at that point, talk with them at that time at all?
JP: We tried to but they wouldn't answer their door. And I left various messages, and I think Fleet called my ex-husband Robert back because Robert, we had decided that if there was room on the plane to go to Atlanta, that one of the two of us would go to the funeral. And so Fleet did call back and talk to Robert and we found that there was absolutely no room on the plane left anywhere. So we more or less, they took off the next morning for Atlanta and we were here in Boulder wondering...
Mame: when did the police first speak with you?
JP: I think in April, not sure,……March or April ……
Mame: and did you ask to be spoken to? Or did they take it upon themselves to…
JP: they called me first and asked if it would be okay if they could interview me down at police headquarters. And I said, sure.
Mame: did they want to know more about what type of person Patsy was?
JP: well they asked, they interviewed me 3 times. The first time was short and Steve Thomas and Gosage was there and there was a woman whose name I don't recall, those were the 3 that interviewed me. It was taped and I didn't have a problem with that at all. They asked odd questions like , do you know this person as related to John Ramsey? They were naming off at least a half of dozen female names and, no I've never heard of that person before and no, I never knew that person before. And they would ask….
Mame: Not related as relatives, but the connection in terms of his life, who they were?
JP: yeah, women involved with John. They were hinting at an affair. I said, Why did you ask me the names of these women? They said, well, it's believed that John Ramsey had had quite a few affairs, not only in Atlanta but also here in Boulder. Do you know of anything? I knew, really none. (Laughs). John has such a devious quality about himself there was no way that he would let anybody know about his trysts whether they were real or not. But I found it interesting the line of, the police line of questions and how it went. Then they asked me if I knew about Patsy, if I saw her anger, if I saw her lose her temper and if I knew if she had ever had any relationships here in Boulder, you know questions like, personality type questions.
Mame: Prior to the murder?
JP: No, this was after the murder. She [Susan Stine] and I were the only two from our softball team to have arrived early and she was sitting there on the bleachers and I said, very reluctantly, Hi Susan, and she tore me apart by saying Why would I want to talk to you? You sold the pictures to the tabloids. You better get yourself a good (that was the time she said you better get yourself a really good attorney) and she kept pointing her finger at me. (Repeats) You better get yourself a really good attorney.
JP: yes, very threatening. We're going to come after you. And I just laughed and I said, Susan, you don't know what you're talking about. And she said Oh yes I do. I do know what I'm talking about. It may take a couple, a year or two, but we're going to come after you and you better run and hide. Of course, by that time, there were other members of my softball team that were arriving and they overheard Susan and it was embarrassing. There were people all over the place. And I finally said to Susan, Susan, I don't feel this is an appropriate place to discuss this. I'd more than happy to discuss it at my house later.
Mame: that was what, February March?
JP: March. Right, right. And when I read Jameson's website about that particular meeting I knew it was full of Susan Stine's lies. It was pathetic. It was the fact that she accused me of coming to the meeting drunk. That I constantly pressured Patsy into signing a model release for the photographs. Why would I do that when I had a copyright of the photographs in the first place? My behavior towards Patsy, afterwards, you know it was just one lie after another. And you know she was just spewing her venom to Jameson and it was, I mean, when I read it, it really bothered me, so I really try to stay away from those kinds of websites. They're so full pack of lies and there's so much hatred and rage coming from Susan Stine, that it's.. All she wants to do is hurt.