MILDRED BAGSHAW AND THE JEWELRY STORE MURDER


By Richard Ciciarelli



"Something's going on here, Ma'am," the cab driver said to Mildred Bagshaw. "Look at all the cop cars."

Mildred had already spotted the flashing lights on the black-and-whites parked in front of Kenmeyer's Jewelry Store.

"You want I should take you home?"

"No," Mildred said. "Drop me off here. That will be just fine."

After paying for her ride and watching the cab drive away, Mildred walked slowly up to the yellow police tape that cordoned off the front of the jewelry store.

"Mrs. B," a familiar voice called. "What are you doing here?"

Police Sergeant Farley, an old friend of Mildred's, came walking out of the store, notepad in hand.

"My wristwatch is in need of repair," Mildred said. "I always come here when I need a new battery for it or if I have jewelry that needs cleaning. What happened, Sergeant?"

"Jesse Kenlaw, part owner, got himself killed."

"Oh," Mildred's right hand went to her mouth. "Mr. Kenlaw always waited on me. He seemed like such a nice man. Was it a robbery?"

"Doesn't look that way." Farley shook his head. "Nothing seems to be missing, and there's money in the cash register."

"How odd," Mildred said.

"Yeh. So's the way he was killed," Farley said. "He was beaten over the head with his own gun. Pretty brutal."

"Sergeant," a voice called from the front door of the store, "I've done my preliminary exam. The body can be removed now."

"Thanks, Doc. Can you give me a rough time of death?"

"Very rough. I'd say some time between eleven and midnight last night."

"Odd time for a man to be in his store," Farley mumbled. "I wonder why he was here so late?"

"As I understand it," Mildred said, "Mr. Kenlaw was part owner of the store along with a Mr. Meyer."

"That explains the name Kenmeyer," Farley said.

"Yes, well, Mr. Kenlaw once told me he always opened the store at nine a.m. and worked until noon. Then his partner, Mr. Meyer, came in and took over until closing time, which is usually five p.m."

"That still doesn't explain why Kenlaw was here at midnight."

"Maybe his wife can tell us that."

"Us?"

"Well, Sergeant, I have helped you on a few cases in the past, you know. And people tend to tell an old woman like me things they'd never tell the police."

Farley smiled and sighed.

"Okay, Mrs. B, I have Kenlaw's home address. Let's go."

On the way to Jesse Kenlaw's house, Mildred asked, "Who found Mr. Kenlaw's body?"

"A passerby noticed the door to the jewelry store was opened. He looked inside and saw the body."

"No chance this person killed Mr. Kenlaw?"

"Nope. The guy is in his seventies and weighs a hundred ten pounds at most. He couldn't have beaten Mr. Kenlaw that severely."

Mildred nodded, and the rest of the drive passed in silence.

The Kenlaw house sat on the south side of town on about two acres of land. A semi-circular driveway led to a modern ranch house.

Farley and Mrs. Bagshaw were admitted to the house by a pretty blonde woman who introduced herself as Margie Kenlaw.

When Farley explained why they were there, Mrs. Kenlaw blanched and sank into a chair.

"Could you tell me why your husband was at his store so late last night?" Farley asked.

Mrs. Kenlaw took a deep breath. "I was just getting ready to go to bed when the phone rang. Jesse answered it and said he had to go out for a while."

"What time was this?"

"Just before the eleven o'clock news came on TV."

"Did he say who was calling?"

"No, but I had my suspicions."

"Suspicions?"

"Mrs. Kenlaw means a woman, Sergeant," Mildred said. "Or am I mistaken?"

"No, you're quite right," Margie Kenlaw said. "You see, for the past several years our marriage hasn't been what you'd call ideal. I knew Jesse was seeing other women. I thought this was just his latest fling calling."

"And you never realized he didn't come home last night?" Farley asked.

"We've been sleeping in separate bedrooms," Margie Kenlaw explained. "I never knew when Jesse went to bed or what time he got up. I just assumed he had gone to open the store, the same as usual."

"You wouldn't happen to know the name of this woman he was seeing, would you?"

"I would," a voice from behind them said.

Farley and Mildred turned to see a twenty-something young man.

"That's my son, Jake," Margie Kenlaw said.

"Her name is Anne Lacy," the young man said.

"And you know this...how?" Farley asked.

"She used to be my girlfriend," Jake explained. "Dad always said I had an eye for the women." Then, after a pause, "I had the eye — he had the money."

"So I gather this wasn't the first girlfriend of yours he stole?" Mildred asked.

"You gather right, lady. Anne was the third."

"May I ask where you were last night between eleven and midnight?" Farley asked.

"Where I often am," Jake said. "At the casino outside of town."

"Jake has a problem with gambling," Margie Kenlaw said.

"Yeh," Jake agreed. "Unlucky at cards and unlucky at love."

"Can anyone verify that?" Farley asked.

"Ask the blackjack dealer," Jake said. "I was at his table long enough. He should be able to identify me."

The ringing of the doorbell interrupted the conversation. Jake went to the front door to answer it. Seconds later a large man strode into the room and wrapped his arms around Margie Kenlaw.

"Margie," he said, "what's going on? I went to the store to start my shift and there were police all over. One of them told me Jesse had been killed, so I came right over here."

"This is Ted Meyer," Margie Kenlaw said. "Jesse's partner."

Farley introduced himself and Mildred.

"Mr. Kenlaw was murdered with his own gun," Farley said.

"I get the feeling," Jake interrupted, "that these two think either Mom or I killed him."

Meyer held Margie closer.

"No," he said. "I'll save you the trouble of investigating. I killed Jesse. I lured him into the store last night and shot him with his own gun. I don't even remember how many times I pulled the trigger. Then I just dropped the gun and left."

"There's no need to protect us," Margie said.

"I take it," Mildred said, "your husband wasn't the only one having an affair."

Margie Kenlaw blushed.

"That's why I shot him," Meyer said, "He wouldn't give Margie a divorce."

"You'll excuse me if I don't arrest you right now," Farley said, "but I'm not sure I believe your confession. I'll need more proof. Come on, Mrs. B, I think we're through here for now."

Mildred followed Sergeant Farley out of the house and into the car, deep in thought.

"Something's wrong, Sergeant," she said as they left the driveway.

"Certainly," Farley agreed." Kenlaw was beaten to death, not shot. Meyer thinks either Mrs. Kenlaw or her son killed Mr. Kenlaw and he's covering for them."

"Oh, he's covering all right," Mildred said. "But not for them."

"What do you mean?"

"I'd imagine if you beat someone to death with a gun, you'd get blood on your clothes."

"Probably. Why?"

"How long would it take to get a warrant to examine somebody's house for bloody clothes?"

"You're onto something," Farley said. "Whose clothes? I'll get the warrant right now."

* * *

The next day Sergeant Farley sat in Mildred's kitchen drinking coffee and eating her famous chocolate chip cookies.

"You were right," he said. "We found a shirt and pair of pants with blood on them. Tests proved it was Jesse Kenlaw's blood. How did you know?"

Mildred smiled.

"When Ted Meyer blurted out that phony confession, he wasn't protecting Margie or Jake Kenlaw. He was protecting himself. He knew Jesse Kenlaw was beaten to death. He said he shot him so you'd disregard his confession and dismiss him as a suspect.

"But he also knew Jesse Kenlaw was lured to the jewelry store and killed the night before his body was found. Why didn't he assume Jesse was killed during his usual nine to noon shift?"

"Mrs. B," Farley said between chews, "you're amazing."


Richard Ciciarelli is a member of Mystery Writers of America and since 1982 has published numerous short stories in some of the country's top magazines and on-line mystery sites. The author has published over 80 short stories.

This is the author's 2nd Mildred Bagshaw story published on the omdb! website. The first was "In Vino Veritas" which was published in August, 2011.

Mr. Ciciarelli is the author of the popular Charles Blake III series of short stories first introduced to omdb! readers in "A Private Murder" followed by "Ghost of a Chance" and "Scent of Murder." He also writes the Sheriff Sam Hartnet series. "Murder in the Crystal Palace"and "Sheriff Sam's Triumph" both feature Sheriff Sam Hartnet. "A Rose by Any Other Name," is a non-series short story also previously published on omdb!.


Copyright 2012 Richard Ciciarelli. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!


Return to Over My Dead Body! Online.