Lisa McPherson Files - Interview of Steven SouthThis is an interview
with Steven South, a co-worker of Lisa McPherson's at AMC Publishing.
SF: Sharon Feola
JC: Jorge Carrasquillo
SS: Steven South
RC: Ron Cacciatore
SF: Today's date is March 12, 1997. It is approximately 1645 hours. Be
conducting an interview with Steve, what's your middle name?
SF: Dale? D-A-L-E?
SS: that's correct.
SF: And it's Steve, or Steven?
SS: Steven, with an n.
SF: Thank you. Conducting an interview with Steven South, regarding the Lisa
McPherson investigation. Present in the room is Mr. South's attorney, Ron
Cacciatore, Detective Jorge Carrasquillo of the Clearwater Police Department,
and this is Sharon Feola, an agent with FDLE. Um, Steve, is just uh, state your
name and your date of birth for the record.
SS: Steven Dale South, um, X, 1956.
SF: Okay, and I don't know Steve, if you're aware but as a state law
enforcement officer, I'm empowered to take sworn testimony.
SF: Okay. I'm gonna ask you to raise your right hand.
SF: Do you swear or affirm the statement you are about to make is the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
SS: Yes, I do.
JC: She's going through a divorce, she's not in good standing with the church, I
guess she owes some money, so it was a real tough time, but she was able to
handle that mentally fine?
SS: As far as I know. My, my interaction with her at that point would be very,
JC: But you did have contact with her, and there no outward signs of her having
a psychotic breakdown?
SS: No, about the most I could say, she was she was really upset the whole
JC: Now let's leapfrog to 1995, the beginning of 95. She's going out or dating
Curt Payne, do you know him?
SS: Yes, I know Curt.
JC: Did you have any conversations with Lisa about that particular relationship?
SS: Um, no, no, uh, I knew she was going out with Curt. That seemed to be
going along fine. There was at one point that she broke up with him, what
caused that or brought that about I don't know.
JC: And how did she handle that?
SS: Um, pretty much standard Lisa, just kept going.
JC: And you didn't see any problems? What I'm trying to get at, some people
have told us because of that particular breakup, because of the low productivity
in her job, she was having problems, and that's when she went into the Ft.
Harrison Hotel the first time, to get her act together.
JC: Youve known her probably from 1980. Would that sound like Lisa?
SS: Um, unfortunately, I'm on the other side of the building, so when see Lisa,
SF: Doing her job
SS: She's doing her job, she's doing her thing, she's being Lisa. If she's being
upset, she, I don't see it, I don't know about it, so, it's not something, you know,
on a list of confidantes, I'm probably way down here.
JC: Well, who would be number two or number one on her list of confidantes?
SS: I mean, you're probably looking at, and you probably know this already,
Bennetta and Brenda would be like one and two in there, would be the closest
people that she's to.
JC: To confide in, upon having any problems.
SF: We got one last question.
SF: When, when she didn't turn up for work for that time period, did anyone, or
was there any talk around the office, Steve, about any weird behavior she was
exhibiting in Orlando?
SF: I mean did y'all talk about that, I mean, someone may have made a
comment about, yeah, what's up with that?
SS: The closest thing I can come to that is, um, I'm just trying to recall this as
best I can here. Brenda made some kind of comment regarding Lisa having a
problem, and the closest thing I can, sitting there talking there, talking to herself,
mumbling to herself, uh, and that would be about the closest thing that I
SF: How about Katie? Do you recall her saying anything?
SF: Katie Chamberlin?
JC: I have one question for you. At any point, any time, did you articulate or
write a report regarding Lisas behavior?
JC: For AMC or the church?
JC: So there would be no assigned reports with your name in her files
SS: How far back do you want to go? Nothing in the last five years.
SF: that's fine.
SS: Because we were on staff together at one time.
JC: Okay, so back prior to five years cause I'm going to subpoena all her
SS: that's fine.
JC: And that's why I'm asking.
SS: I don't think you'll find anything with my name on it earlier than five, maybe
seven years ago.
JC: So, prior to that there might be something?
SF: Okay, we'll see since you were on staff?
SF: Would it be proper procedure if someone did observe this behavior, either
mumbling to yourself, or just, would you, would it be a policy of the church that
you write that, a report and send it to someone?
SS: Well, there's a couple different things there. If one was a staff member of
the church and saw
SF: Public, Lisa's public.
SS: Public. If you were, if Lisa's public and I'm public, no, there's nothing, no
hard fast rule that you have to sit down and write a report, no.
SF: Unless, maybe you knew where that person was gonna be going to get
help, and you wanted maybe wanted to give
SS: That would be
SF: some insight into her behavior?
SS: Right. That would be the only indication. It's like if you were going to a
counseling session for some situation that was coming up in life then your friend
knew you, and knew who your counselor was and saw you doing something
really strange, they would might write up a report or call her (inaudible) and say,
hey, this is something real weird going on but as a matter of course of a public
on, you know, on another public, it's not necessarily true.
JC: Before (inaudible)
JC: Is it common for an employee to direct another subordinate to write a report
on a person?
SS: Depends on the circumstances. So, if there's something that I have
firsthand knowledge of, and that superior, senior doesn't have firsthand
knowledge of, that would be correct. It's given a situation like, if someone didn't,
I do this all the time, because I'm right at the end of the production, you know, it's
like, I do
JC: But the report doesn't go back to the employer, it goes to the church?
SS: No, that would be, anything that I would do would be, one copy would go to
internal, internal records, and one copy would go to that person that I'm writing
the report on, only for the purpose of getting whatever thing that is, whatever
outness is, correct.
JC: Lets be real frank about it. My understanding is that Bennetta directed
Craig Burton via, through Brenda Hubert directed Craig Burton to write a report
on Lisa? Is that common?
SS: No, that wouldn't be common, but it would not be
SF: Unheard of.
SS: unheard of.
JC: Would a copy of that report be given back to Bennetta or would it be taken
to the church?
SS: Um, depending on the instances and the circumstances, anything that
would affect job or job performance or something on your job, there would
probably end up with, uh, to Bennetta if it's uh, any other kind of circumstances it
would go directly to the church.
JC: I think, that, (inaudible)
SF: I just want to ask you something since you've been in the church for quite
awhile. How do you normally, how would the church handle someone that was
handle some of those psych, something psychological, or an episode of
schizophrenia, or manic depressive, or a psychotic episode, how would, you
know, what would be the standard procedure for that?
SS: Um, rest, relaxation, go look a lot of trees, you know, basically quite place.
SF: Okay, but what if, let me ask you this Steve, what if someone was just, lost
it? doesn't know who they are, what they are, you know, can't establish time,
manner, place, or, you know,
SS: (laughs) Totally. I don't know.
SF: Taking her clothes off and walking down the road.
SS: that's really strange and, um, I was, like I said, I was on staff, I was on staff
for two and a half years. That wouldn't be anything that I would attempt to
handle as a staff member.
SF: What would you do with that person?
SS: Luckily I never ran into that situation, I don't know of any policy that covers
that situation. The closest policy I know of is basically, you know, rest, food,
SF: And what if that ain't working?
SS: Then I have no solution.
SF: Okay, if that's not working, what would be the next step?
SS: That I have no answer for. I really
SF: Let me ask you this. Are you, is the church that against psychiatric
SS: We've just generally found that psychiatric assis
RC: (inaudible) no answer, don't guess.
SF: I just, but you, that that is not an avenue?
SF: Okay, how about hospitalization?
SF: Okay, I just, you know, I mean, there comes a point in time when you can't
SS: General, generally, this is personal.
SF: I understand that.
SS: But generally taking someone, putting a set of electrodes next to their head,
and giving them nice little shock treatment, you've fried your brain, you made
them nice and quiet. Giving them drugs to uh, uh, calm them down, you've just
made them a nice quiet little zombie. You haven't solved any problems, you
haven't found out what their problem is, all you've done is made them nice and
quiet, and zombies, and if that's what society wants that's fine, but you haven't
helped that person, all you've done is
SF: prolonged it, or hidden it.
SS: Right, your basically hitting it. I mean, I had a doctor friend of mine who
basically his joke on the whole thing was, a guy comes in to him and has
constipation, and he writes out a prescription for some ammonium and sends it
off. The pharmacists misreads em and gives him Valium, so he's over there
taking his Valium, and he comes in to see the doctor two weeks later, and the
doctor says, well, how's it going with your diarrhea? and he goes, I still have it
but I don't care.
SF: Same philosophy.
SS: Same philosophy, you know, help the person, just don't make em nice quiet
little zombie robots.
JC: Let me ask this. When the (inaudible) go from mental to physical, what
happens then? Do you believe in medical doctors?
SS: Oh, sure.
JC: So if Ron has gone from the point of being just crazy to physically ill, do you
provide medical attention for that person?
SS: Oh yeah, you would refer, when I was on staff, I was on a position of what
was called a qualifications secretary, and part of that, one of my functions was
the medical liaison
SF: That was my next question
SS: and so
SF: What is their function?
SS: Their function is as such, someone has a physical incapability or incapacity
is to get them with a doctor.
SF: All right, now, if she was in the mental frame where she couldn't make those
decisions for herself, because she is obviously having some kind of a mental
breakdown, would the medical liaison office or someone that had their senses
about them, make decisions about her physical, not mental, her physical well
SS: I personally would, I don't know what policy is, or what someone else would
SF: Okay, so it depends on the person that's carrying that staff at that time, or
wearing that hat?
SS: As far as I know.
JC: See, we're trying to find out if Lisa died from an accident and it was truly an
JC: That happens, but if someone was negligent, or, or, deliberately not provide
the physical need, then that's not an accident, that's deliberate, and we need to
hold that person accountable.
SS: I understand.
JC: And that's what we're trying to find out. We're not investigating the Church
of Scientology, we're not investigating you, we're just trying to find out was
someone accountable for her when she started to physically deteriorate.
JC: And didn't take any actions to get her the proper, uh...medical assistance
that she needed, and I respect your philosophy
SF: and I respect your candor too
JC: about psychology, I understand that, as long as the person's not physically
a danger to themselves, then try any counseling you want, but when that person
goes beyond the mental plane into the physical plane, and you can start seeing
they lost twenty, twenty five pounds, and they're not sitting up, they're not
talking, they're not walking, then someone
SF: they're not drinking, they're not eating
JC: should step in and say, lets get the physical body repaired.
SS: Yeah, I, personally, now, you're, just what I would, right, and what
whoever's in charge, whatever's the policy is, I don't know.
JC: And, and, and we're just getting, you know, picking your mind a little bit, so
we have a better understanding, and it's great that you the medical liaison officer
SS: Medical that's part of the functions, I was holding this position, and part of
that, there's a medical liaison officer, and since no one was in that it
SF: it's kind of the go-between, isn't it, between the church member and any
need that they may have.
JC: And I think you put it beautifully, you know, as long as the person's not a
detriment to themselves you deal with the psychotic break any way, but once
that person becomes physically a detriment to themselves, you said, I would
seek medical attention, and I think most people would do that.
SF: Common sense.
SS: Yeah, it's common sense, I mean,
SF: And I don't disagree with your philosophy about how to treat someone
whos mentally incapacitated, you know, I don't disagree with that, but there
comes a point when they can't make decisions about their physical well-being,
and someone needs to do it for them. Perfect.
RC: Is that it?
SF: This will conclude the interview with Steve South. It is approximately 1715