Chapter 1 - Morning April Fools Day 2003 - Episode 2Listen to podcast
Initial Interview by NYPD Detective Mark Cohen 4/1/2003
Donna Langhorne (8:13 A.M.)
Q: Ms. Langhorne, this is an informal interview. However, you do have the right to an attorney of your choosing. If you cannot afford an attorney, the City will provide one for you. Moreover, any statements you make to me today could be used against you in a court of law. This interview is being taped. Do you understand and agree to these conditions?
Q: Do you wish to be represented by an attorney?
A: Not at this time.
Q: If, at any time during this interview, you wish to be represented by an attorney, please make that known and the interview will cease until representation has been arranged. Is that understood?
Q: I am now handing you a consent form in which you acknowledge that I have advised you of your right to be represented by any attorney and that you have elected to proceed without an attorney at this time. Are you comfortable signing this form?
Q: The transcript of this interview will show that you reviewed the consent form, signed it and handed it to me. What is your full name?
A: Donna Reynolds Langhorne.
Q: Are you married?
Q: Is Langhorne your married name?
Q: What was your name before you were married?
A: Donna Maria Reynolds.
Q: What is your husband’s name?
A: Francis Langhorne.
Q: Have you ever used any other name?
Q: What was that?
A: Maria Reynolds.
Q: Why and when did you use Maria Reynolds as your name?
A: From 1987 through 1990, I modeled for the Cleck Agency.
Q: What kind of modeling did you do?
A: Mainly swimsuits.
Q: Why did you stop modeling?
A: (laughs) Is that germane to your investigation, detective?
Q: Anything could be germane to the investigation. Should I repeat the question?
A: I quit modeling to go to business school.
Q: Have you ever used any other names?
Q: Have you ever been married to anyone other than your current husband?
Q: Do you and your husband presently reside together?
A: Do you really need all of this personal information? I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the public announcement of Larry’s death.
Q: Ms. Langhorne, these are routine questions we must ask each witness. I apologize if they are personal or tedious and I know your time is very valuable but there are rules I have to follow in every case of violent death. Do you and your husband presently reside together?
A: Yes ... yes, we do.
Q: What is your address?
A: 195 East 95th Street.
Q: Is there an apartment number?
A: No, it’s a brownstone.
Q: What is your husband’s occupation?
A: He is an attorney.
Look, detective, I appreciate that you’re following your rules. I have some rules I need to follow as well. As a public company we must make prompt disclosure of a material event — and Larry’s death is a material event. This is an SEC rule and my company is at risk if I don’t follow it. Isn’t there some way you could ask me just the pertinent questions now and come back later and find out all about me?
Q: Ms. Langhorne, I will try to conclude this interview as expeditiously as possible. Where and when were you born?
A: I was born on April 15th, 1966 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I have a Masters Degree from Harvard Business School.
Q: And before that?
A: Do you want every school I ever attended?
Q: If you recall them, yes.
A: I went to PDS — Princeton Day School — from kindergarten through high school. I then attended Princeton University and graduated in 1985. As I said, I have a Masters Degree from Harvard Business School. I am also a CPA.
Q: How long have you worked at ... uh... hackoff.com?
A: The name embarrasses quite a few people, detective. You get used to it. I’ve been with hackoff since 1997.
Q: In what capacity did you join the company?
A: I joined hackoff as CFO — Chief Financial Officer — and have held that position ever since.
Q: What was your prior employment?
A: I worked at Ernst & Young.
Q: What kind of company is that?
A: It is one of the major worldwide accounting firms.
Q: How long were you at Ernst & Wong?
A: It’s Ernst & Young, detective. I was there from 1991 after I received my MBA until I joined hackoff in 1997.
Q: Where were you employed by Ernst?
A: At various locations in New York and New Jersey. I’m afraid I don’t have the addresses memorized.
Q: I can get those later. How long have you known the deceased?
A: We were classmates at Harvard. We kept in touch after that. When he founded hackoff, he offered me the job as CFO.
Q: So you first met in 1990?
A: Actually, 1989. Larry went to Harvard for his undergraduate degree; I went to Princeton. We met at Harvard B-School in 1989.
Q: Harvard B-School?
A: Harvard Business School. It’s a graduate school.
Q: What was your relationship with the deceased while at Harvard?
A: We were friends.
Q: Friends. Could you be more specific?
A: What do you mean — “more specific”? We were friends.
Q: What sort of friends?
A: Do you mean were we fucking?
Q: I mean ... uh ... what was the extent of your relationship with the deceased when you were in school together? That does include any sexual ... any intimate relationship you might have had.
A: Are these answers private?
Q: This is not generally public information and is not released as part of FOI (excuse me, Freedom of Information Act) requests. However, as I explained at the beginning of our interview, anything you tell me may be used in a court of law and this interview is being taped. Would you like me to repeat the question?
A: No. But please understand that I’m sensitive about this because my husband doesn’t know about my relationship with Larry at Harvard. Anyway, yes — Larry and I did have an ... “intimate” relationship. Meaning, we had sex. No big thing; we both saw other people. It lasted for a while, then it ended.
Q: When did your relationship with the deceased end?
A: When he died. Oh, you mean the ... the “intimate” part? The sex? That ended before we got our MBAs. But we stayed friends.
Q: Ms. Langhorne, don’t take this the wrong way, but was your ... intimate relationship with the deceased the reason that you have your current position at, uh ... hackoff?
A: Why shouldn’t I take it the wrong way? (laughs) The fact that I know Larry and we kept track of each other has a lot to do with him offering me this job and me taking it. The fact that we were once “intimate” has nothing to do with my having this job. I’m the best CFO hackoff could have had and Larry damn well knew it. I didn’t exactly jump at the job, though. I had other offers; a lot of startups needed CFOs then.
Q: Why wouldn’t you “jump at the job”?
A: Isn’t it obvious? Larry’s a bright guy, but his record is somewhat ... irregular. He’s been to jail, for one thing. I wasn’t all that sure I wanted to be CFO of a company headed by an ex-con, even if he was an old friend. You do know about his jail time, I assume?
Q: What convinced you to take the job given the deceased’s “irregular” record?
A: We’re in the business of stopping hackers from doing what Larry showed could be done to the banks. Larry had the perfect background for this business. It really does take one to catch one, detective. Not only is this the truth, it’s also a great story. I did due diligence before taking the job and I knew VCs loved the story.
Q: What are VCs?
A: Venture capitalists or “vulture” capitalists as some people call them. They supply money to a company before it goes public, then they take lots and lots of money out.
Q: So what did the VCs “love” about hackoff.com?
A: I told you: They loved the STORY. They talked to bankers and bankers loved the story; thought it would make for a great IPO. There were too many stories that all sounded the same in 1997. Too many “Two Geeks and a Website” stories. An experienced hacker solving one of the toughest problems in e-commerce was new and different. It was a clutter cutter.
Q: Was that why you took the job? Because the company was a something “cutter”?
A: Clutter cutter, Detective Cohen, clutter cutter. (laughs) I took the job because the company had a great fucking story; we would be able to raise a lot of money; we would have a great IPO and we would all get rich. And it all happened exactly that way — though not without a lot of hard work and not without my doing a great job as CFO. Hackoff sounded like a winner and it was a winner.
Q: Let’s get to this morning...
A: Well, finally! I’ve got to get to my Board meeting and I’ve got an announcement to write ... on a deadline.
Q: You discovered the body of the deceased — correct?
Q: At approximately what time?
A: Approximately 7:00 AM. That’s when I usually come to work.
Q: Did the deceased usually come to work at the same time?
A: Are you kidding? We were lucky if he breezed in around ten or eleven.
Q: Where did you discover the body of the deceased?
A: In his office.
Q: Did you usually go into the deceased’s office when you came to work? You did say he was rarely there at that time.
A: You have a suspicious mind, Detective Cohen. I guess that’s what makes you a good cop. No, I don’t ... didn’t usually go into Larry’s office in the morning. But on my way into my office I could see that his door was ajar. That’s very unusual; he’s careful to lock it. So I went to close it. And when I went to close it I looked inside and there was Larry lying on the floor.
Q: Go on.
A: That’s it. That’s how I discovered Larry’s body in his office.
Q: So what did you do next?
A: I went into the office to see why Larry was lying on the floor.
Q: What did you think?
A: I thought maybe he had a heart attack or maybe he’d OD-ed on something.
Q: Did the deceased take drugs?
A: Do you mean illegal drugs?
A: Not that I know of.
Q: Did he take drugs when you were in school together?
A: Yeah. We did some drugs. We even inhaled. You’re not going to arrest me for that NOW, are you?
Q: Do you know if the deceased was recently a user of illegal substances?
A: No. I don’t. I said that, didn’t I?
Q: But your first thought was that he OD-ed...
A: That was my second thought. My first thought was that he’d had a heart attack. He didn’t exactly have a stress-free job. I don’t know why I thought he might have OD-ed. It was just strange for him to be lying there.
Q: What did you do when you went into the room where the deceased was lying?
A: I checked the scene.
Q: You what?
A: I checked the scene. First Aid 101: When you see a victim—
Q: At this point you thought the deceased was a victim of something?
A: We all took CPR, detective. In CPR, any person you come across lying on the floor is “the victim”. Doesn’t matter how they got there. And when you come across a victim, you check the scene. Make sure there are no other victims; no live wires; no poison gasses. And you have to make sure the scene is safe for you to give first aid. So I checked the scene.
Q: What did you see when you “checked the scene”?
A: I saw a gun lying on the floor next to Larry. That seemed a pretty obvious cause of death. I didn’t see anything else unusual.
Q: So then what did you do?
A: I got down on the floor next to Larry so I could see whether he had a pulse.
Q: And did he have a pulse?
A: When I got down next to him I could see the big hole in his head. I could see INTO his head. I knew he couldn’t be alive. There was no first aid I could give. There was nothing I could do for him. He was dead — awfully dead.
Q: Then what did you do?
A: I called 911.
Q: Did you pick up the gun?
A: No. I’ve seen enough cop shows to know not to do anything like that, not to tamper with evidence.
Q: So your fingerprints shouldn’t be on the gun.
A: Actually, they probably are.
Q: Why? If you didn’t touch the gun, why should your finger prints be on it?
A: Because the gun was always on the conference table in Larry’s office. We picked it up and played with it sometimes during meetings. It was a joke.
Q: Are you sure this is the same gun that was on Larry’s conference table?
A: I don’t know much about guns, but it looked the same. And I don’t remember another gun on the conference table when I found his body, but I’m not sure I really looked. I wasn’t too rational once I saw the hole in his head.
Q: What kind of joke was the gun?
A: Just a joke. When things went badly, we talked about shooting ourselves but we really didn’t MEAN it. Sometimes we’d point the gun at each other jokingly during disagreements. Sometimes we’d pretend we were playing Russian Roulette when we had a tough decision to make.
Q: Pointing a gun isn’t very smart. Weren’t you afraid it might be loaded?
A: No. We never thought about it as an actual gun. It was just a toy as far as we were concerned.
Q: Are you saying you thought it was a toy gun?
A: No. We knew it was a real gun because it had some sort of story behind it. Some guy Larry’d been in jail with gave it to him; told him, “This is the way you rob banks — not with computers.” That’s all I remember of the story. I meant it was LIKE a toy. We played with it. I never thought of it having real bullets. I certainly never thought that anyone would shoot themselves with it.
Q: You think Larry shot himself?
A: Yes. Don’t you? We’re in the process of writing a press release which says exactly that. One of your cops told me Larry has powder burns on his right hand.
Q: Which cop?
A: I don’t know; one of them. Like I said: a cop. He was wearing blue.
Q: We have no official opinion of the cause of death at this time. Ascertaining the cause of death is the purpose of this investigation. No policeman is authorized to speculate as to the cause or discuss evidence with witnesses.
A: I see. Do you have an “unofficial opinion” of the cause of death?
Q: We have no opinions at this time. This interview will go more quickly if I ask the questions.
A: Please — go ahead. I really do need to get to my Board meeting.
Q: At any time after discovering the body did you touch the deceased, his clothes, or the weapon?
A: I didn’t touch the gun — I said that. I did touch Larry’s neck to take his pulse. He was very cold.
Q: You said you could see that he was dead of a bullet wound. Why would you take his pulse?
A: I don’t know. I think I touched his neck anyway; maybe just because meant to take his pulse. He was very, very cold.
(interview continued in next episode)