|Can you solve this mini-mystery?|
THE CRIME CRUSADER
By Richard Ciciarelli
It was well past midnight when my partner, Larry, and I were admitted to the home of crusading reporter Jack Bennett by his butler.
“Exactly why did you call the police?” I asked.
“Tonight was my night off,” the butler said. “Before I left, Mr. Bennett told me he would be working late and to knock on the door to his den to let him know when I returned.”
“I got home a while ago and noticed there was no light showing under Mr. Bennett’s den door, so I assumed he had retired. But when I checked his bedroom, he wasn’t there and his bed hadn’t been slept in.”
“Was that unusual?”
“Yes. If Mr. Bennett said he was working late, then he was working late. If he went out he would have left a note for me on the table in the hallway.”
“What do you want us to do?” I asked.
“I have the key to Mr. Bennett’s den. I’d like you to go with me when I enter.”
“Mr. Bennett has a strict rule: No one is allowed in his den, not even me. I’m worried and I’d like someone from the police department with me when I go in.”
“You stay here,” I told him. “Come on, Larry. Watch your step.”
We entered the den and Larry reached to his left to flip a light switch. The room came alive with light.
Bennett’s den was furnished in dark oak paneling. To the left was a dark leather sofa, to the right a filing cabinet, and straight ahead a large mahogany desk with a computer on it. Slumped onto the desk was the body of Jack Bennett, the handle of what looked to be a letter opener sticking out of his back.
“Call the precinct,” I told Larry. “And keep that butler out of here.”
Larry left the room and I did a quick search of the area around Bennett’s body. The reporter’s right hand was on the desk near his head. Upon closer examination I noticed that he had scratched something into the desktop with his fingernail. It looked like the numeral one.
On the desk to the left of the computer were three file folders. One was labeled “Carl Webber,” another “Bart Morris” and the third “Aces Collins.”
Larry re-entered and I pointed to the folders. “What do you think?”
“Webber is the guy who owns the garbage collection services. Morris is a big man in construction, and we’ve been after Collins for years for his connections in the drug trade.”
I nodded. “And each of them is suspected of – shall I say influencing – some of our politicians and even members of our own department.”
“You think one of those guys killed him?”
“It’s possible. When the ME gets here we’ll get an estimate of when Bennett was killed and then we’ll talk with them.”
“What’s this?” Larry pointed to the scratch mark on Bennett’s desktop.
“I’m guessing Bennett tried to leave us a clue as to who stabbed him, but he died before he could finish.”
“Got any idea what it means?”
“Not off the top of my head.”
Just then members of the department entered, led by Captain Pierce.
“What have we got here?”
I explained everything from the time we received the butler’s call to the time the Captain arrived.
“So you think one of those three killed Bennett – or had him killed?”
I thought a second and then smiled.
“Captain, I might know exactly who killed Bennett.”
WHO DO I SUSPECT?
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