Did Bill and Haden have a heart-to-heart talk before they went to sleep in the early hours of Thursday 21 April 1932?
1. Bill testified to the investigators and to the court that he and Haden had a heart-to-heart talk in the early hours of 21 April, after they had retired to the sleeping porch. In that talk, Haden revealed that he had lied to Bill and Chubbie about his age, his university degree and his venereal disease, among other things. Only Bill’s account has survived of this conversation. However, that such a conversation almost certainly occurred is supported by independent evidence.
2. Bill testified that Haden said he was only 26 or 27 whereas he had claimed to be 31 when Chubbie interviewed him. In fact, Haden’s university entrance paperwork indicates that he was 28 when they first interviewed him and turned 29 while staying at Coral Gables with them. Still, it is evidence that he had indeed lied when he first told them his age.
3. Haden told Chubbie that he was suffering his attack of venereal disease for the first time. This is not the type of subject that would come up in general conversation, so Chubbie would have had no way of knowing whether Haden was telling the truth or not.
4. After Chubbie and Haden collected Bill from Miami airport on the evening of 20 April 1932, Bill asked if there was any alcohol in the house. Chubbie revealed that they weren’t drinking because Haden had a venereal disease and had been told not to drink by his doctor. This is almost certainly the first time Bill learnt about Haden’s disease.
5. In their heart-to-heart talk, Bill said that Haden admitted that it was a recurring disease. It seems highly unlikely that Bill could have known this unless Haden revealed it himself.
6. That it was indeed a recurring disease was revealed in Richard Lavender’s testimony during Bill’s trial. Lavender told the court that during his and Haden’s long journey across southern American, Haden told him that he had a recurring venereal disease.
7. Haden reportedly told Bill during the heart-to-heart that he didn’t have a university degree.
8. This is not the type of information that Haden would have revealed – or his mother – when he was trying to get work as a writer. My own research confirms that it was true. Haden told them that he had a degree from Columbia. In fact, he attended Colgate University, New York in 1923/24 and Stanford University in 1924/25. There is no evidence to suggest that he completed his degree.
Bill and Haden almost certainly did have a heart-to-heart talk in the hours before Haden’s death or Bill wouldn’t have known the information that he communicated to the investigators and to the court in the aftermath of Haden’s death.