It’s Aug. 3, 2016—two days following the grisly discovery of Henderson and Davis.
Hazelwood, then 20, is led into the small two-chair room. He sits in the chair facing the camera at the end of the table for the next four hours.
He looks around the room. His eyes fixate on the ceiling.
The officer who brought him to the room asks him his name.
“Do you want me to call you Jeff or Jeffrey?”
“Whatever works,” he says with a smile and brief laughter.
“OK, Jeff, we'll be right back with you.”
Bennett enters the room and Hazelwood shifts in his chair.
Dressed in an orange and white striped jail outfit, he is curled in the fetal position, knees to his chin and his hands in his lap, shaking and fidgeting uncontrollably—his long, brown hair conceals much of his face.
Alone in the interrogation room, he wraps his arms around his knees, he starts sniffling; his hand begins to quiver and he starts to gasp and cry.
“I loved her…”
“I don't know what's going on… It’s all my fault… I don't know what to do anymore, I don't know what's going on,” he says to himself, crying.
Bennett walks in and asks him what is wrong.
He talks about his marriage and how it was falling apart.
She quietly listens to him, with an understanding nod.
“And these things in my head won’t go away… the voices. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“He's standing right over there!” he says, pointing to the other side of the room.
Once he calms down, together, they recall his timeline from Sunday, Aug. 1.
He worked his job at Walmart from 2 to 11 p.m., and then hung out with his girlfriend. They went to Roswell Park to star gaze. Had sex in her backyard on a blanket—went inside and watched TV. At 2:30 a.m., he headed to his grandma’s house.
The detective tells him that there was a crime in Roswell.
“It’s horrible, horrible,” he says.
The crime, she tells him, occurred directly between his girlfriend’s house and his grandma’s house, further revealing to him that she has his car driving in that location on video.
“I have you pulling into where the incident occurred," she says. "I have you getting out of your car and walking around a little bit. I have you walking towards where the incident occurred. And I have you on video where the where the incident occurred. Tell me why you were there when that happened.”
“I'm scared to say something. It was awful. They were both covered in blood. It was awful! Awful! Awful!” he tells her sobbing.
“What did you see?” she questions him.
“They were laying on the ground, blood was everywhere, it was everywhere. They were on the ground. The guy only had on boxers, the girl had nothing. It was weird.”
“The voices that I hear, they're not real, and the things I touch, they're not real, so I didn't think it was real,” he tells her.
“But it was real… When did you go to the gas station?” the detective tells him.
“What do you mean? I don't remember this. Gas stations have video cameras. I know what kind of car you drive. I have you on video. You and your car. At what point did you go there?”
He tells her that he found a gun with bullets, in a case and inside a bag, behind the QT, but only after he found the two teenagers behind the Publix.
She challenges his tale, saying that if there was a gun behind the gas station, employees who take their smoke breaks out back would have found the gun before he allegedly did.
“Where did the gun come from?” she probes him, as his crying become more frequent and at a higher pitch.
“I don’t know…”
She asks where his grandpa’s gun is, and he only answers with “I don’t know.”
The detective tells him that he’s making up a story.
“I'm not making up a story,” he whimpers. “I found it! I didn't take it!”
She doesn’t believe his tears or his story.
“Why can't you be honest with me?”
He mumbles under his breath and into his trembling hands.
Later in the interview, he begins to tell the detective about a man named "Matt."
Matt, he tells her, wanted to practice with his grandfather's gun, so he gave it to him.
“That guy, he scares me. I don't want him going after her… He scares me.”
“You story is getting all messed up at this point,” she tells him, unscathed by his emotion.
His legs begin shaking and he curls his body up tightly and pushes his head to his knees.
The detective tells him to stop and think for a minute before talking again, about how he already established a timeline, which matches perfectly with the surveillance video they obtained—and now his story isn’t matching that.
She tells him that he saw the cars pull into the parking lot and then he pulled in and parked in a different area. He rebuts it.
Shaking his head… “I didn’t do it,” he whispers.
“Did you know them? she asks him.
“Did you recognize them when you saw them?”
“No… They were covered in blood.”
“You followed them in to the parking lot,” she tells him.
“What do you mean?”
“I have you on video. I have you on video camera. There’s a camera pointed at the parking lot. There are cameras in that entire shopping center.
So, I have them pulling into the parking lot.
You pulling into the parking lot.
You park at a different location from where they park.
You walk around your vehicle.
You go towards them.
You shoot them.
Then, you run away.”
He shakes his head no.
“You leave and then you go to the gas station, and you pump gas into your car, in a gas can, and then you come back to the Publix… and you go back to the bodies.”
“I didn’t shoot them,” he says softly.
“There was no one else in that parking lot.”
“I heard the shots,” he pleads.
“There was no one else in that parking lot.”
“I heard the shots,” he whispers.
She reassures him that she has watched the entire video and that he is the only other person, other than two dead bodies, in the parking lot.
Businesses close, employees go home, no one enters the parking lot until the two teens.
“And then you enter the property. There are only three people on the property and two people are dead.”
“I didn't do it. I didn’t. I wouldn't do that,” he says.
“So who did it?”
“I don't know…”
Right now, she tells him, lying is going to get him in trouble.
“What happened when you got out of the car and went back there? What made you mad? What made you dislike them so much? What made you want to hurt them?”
“I didn’t,” he cries.
“What about those people made you want to do that to them?”
“I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t. I heard shots.”
“I can see you firing the weapon…”
“It’s not me!”
“You shoot them and then run back to your car.”
“It’s not me!”
“Who else was there then? Tell me who else was there.”
“I don’t know!”
“So, some invisible person shot them while you were walking towards them?”
He sits, just shaking, repeating, “It wasn’t me.”
“Why did you need to wear a mask? Did they know who you were?”
He denies wearing a mask.
But she reminds him that they found the mask he was wearing in the back of his car.
He attempts to explain that he was afraid of someone in the parking lot.
“If there some crazy person in the parking lot, you thought you could put a little plastic Halloween mask on your face and you would be OK? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, Jeffrey. Are you kidding me?”
He admits to taking their jumper cables from the victims, but denies taking the victim’s wallet. However, he used it at the gas station after they were killed.
“You stepped over her bloody, naked body and dug through her car and stole her wallet? And you stepped over his bloody, naked body and got his jumper cables out of the back? Or did you step on his bloody, naked body? Did you step on him?”
After adamantly denying his involvement, the detective picks up a stack of photos in a file folder and begins sorting through them. She holds one up and asks him if that’s what Carter looked like after he killed him.
He shutters, shielding his face.
He turns away from Bennett and hides his face in his hands, facing the wall, crying and mumbling.
“You think you're a horrible person? Why are you a horrible person?”
“I robbed the dead.”
“What about robbing them of their lives?”
“Did you do this? Did you put her like this?” she questions him, pushing a photo towards him, forcing him to see Henderson’s dead body.
“People don't fall down with their legs spread apart like this,” she says, as she punches the photo down on the table.
What should happen to the person who did this to them, she questions him.
“Should they go to prison forever? Should they go to the electric chair?”
Annoyed and defeated, she tells him, “‘I didn't do it’ is not a sufficient answer anymore. Because that's not true.”
His feet, donning matching, bright orange socks, shake up and down and his hands vigorously shake against his legs, he asks her to see the video she is referring to.
She holds up a photo from the surveillance video.
“That's you, running away, after the first time you shot them.”
The only thing he can say is, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t.”
He agrees with her that the man he’s afraid of and who “actually” killed the two teenagers, is the “bogeyman.”
His hands and feet are in a rhythmic flutter as she shows him photo after photo of evidence that incriminates him and no one else.
“Who shot the gun?”
“I don’t know!”
“Do you have a twin?”
He tells her again that he went behind Publix because he was curious to see what they were doing.
When he makes his way to the back of the grocery story, he sees them undressing. He says they were standing in the parking lot, taking off their clothes—and then heard the gunshots.
He’s afraid, he tells her, that he was afraid of the man who shot them.
“I didn’t see the other guy.”
But the detective reveals to him that whoever shot them was holding a gun to their head when they were shot at close proximity.
“You didn’t just hear it. You heard it because you did it.”
“They fell like nothing…”
“They fell like nothing? That’s what happens when you get shot in the head. You die, immediately. All brain functions stop,” she shouts at him, while looking down at her cell phone.
For another, five minutes, he continues to tell the story of the “other man” and that he “didn’t do it.”
“How do three people go behind a building; one person comes out; two of them are dead; and a random person pops up and shoots them?” she probes. “Was he taking his clothes off in the middle of the parking lot too? No, because he wasn’t there.”
They argue about the validity of his story.
I have the video of the parking lot. I am not going to give you the pleasure of showing you shooting people again.”
As she leaves the room, he mumbles, “I didn’t do it; I couldn’t.”
With his arms crossed, his hands stop shaking, but his leg continues to rock back and forth into his other leg, but still situated in a fetal position in the chair. He silently stares at the floor.
His hand tick returns a few minutes later, while he remains alone in the interrogation room. His fingers curl up inward, facing his chest and they begin to quiver.
After Bennett returns to the room, Hazelwood begins asking about the “fancy people” from the TV show—his fingers tremble in front of his face.
She asks if he’s referring to the detectives? No, the other ones, he says.
He tries sounding out a word.
“A lo, lo, a lo-wyer… a lower, lower, a lawyer? There I go.”
So, at this point, you want to speak to an attorney?”