Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Margi Desmond

Ten minutes after the Hunt High School Parent Teacher Association meeting started, Mrs. Helen Weems bustled her way to a seat at the front of the classroom. "Excuse me," she whispered loudly to the speaker at the podium. "Traffic was unbearable."

PTA President Shannon McDougal cleared her throat and continued, "The proceeds generated at this year's annual craft fair will be used to fund various extracurricular activities including the chorus's trip to sing for the Governor and First Lady at the State Capitol in May." Parents looked at each other, nodding in approval and satisfaction.

"When's the craft fair?" Mrs. Weems asked while texting on her new phone.

Mrs. McDougal smiled politely. "Per our earlier discussion, we set the date for March eighteenth."

Mrs. Weems hit send and looked up at Mrs. McDougal. "I'm sorry, when?"

Someone in a back row exhaled loudly while Mrs. McDougal reiterated her answer. "March eighteenth, Mrs. Weems. Perhaps we could meet later and review what you missed."

"Sure, that would be great. But quick question..." Mrs. Weems's phone chirped and she read the message. "Where are we going to get the crafts to sell?" Her thumbs moved swiftly over the keyboard, replying to the message she'd received.

"A signup sheet is being circulated around the room. Everyone has agreed to provide items for the sale," Mrs. McDougal explained. "As I said..."

"Hold on a sec." Mrs. Weems hit send and looked up at Mrs. McDougal again. "Okay, sorry. What about a clipboard?"

Mrs. McDougal addressed the audience of PTA members. "Perhaps we should take a ten-minute coffee break while I update Mrs. Weems." Parents jumped out of their chairs and stampeded toward the coffee service located at the back of the classroom.

Mrs. McDougal took Mrs. Weems aside and reviewed discussion items she'd missed at the beginning of the meeting. Having been updated, Mrs. Weems excused herself to make a call while Mrs. McDougal poured a cup of coffee before assuming her place at the podium. After a few minutes she called the meeting to order, but was interrupted by a bloodcurdling scream.

"Call 911!" Agnes Linton shouted. "Mrs. Weems is dead!"

Officer Padgett answered the emergency call.

"I watch all those crime shows on television, so I knew to keep everyone out of the room," Mrs. McDougal explained.

"Good thinking." Officer Padgett flipped a small pad open and grabbed the pen he kept conveniently located behind his right ear. "Who found the body?"

"I did," Agnes Linton answered. "I was walking back from the ladies' room down the hallway and saw the light on in the classroom. I knocked, and after receiving no answer, opened the door and discovered Mrs. Weems lying dead, clutching the pashmina scarf around her neck."

"Do you know anyone who'd want to hurt her?"

Mrs. Linton thought for a moment. "Now that you mention it, she'd been getting text messages all night."

"And she excused herself to make a phone call," Mrs. McDougal chimed in. "Do you think that person is the perp?"

"Hum. It's possible." Officer Padgett opened the door and flicked on the lights, revealing Mrs. Weems in the middle of the floor. Upon initial investigation, it looked like she had indeed been strangled with her scarf, leading Padgett to think the crime was one of impulse rather than premeditation. "Did you touch anything?" Padgett asked Mrs. Linton.

"Absolutely nothing," she answered. "Like Mrs. McDougal said, I watch those television shows too, and I know not to contaminate the crime scene."

Officer Padgett reached for her handcuffs. "Mrs. Linton, you have the right to remain silent..."


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