Can you solve this mini-mystery?



 By Richard Ciciarelli



Police Detective Henry Dickens pointed to the body of a woman in a canvas folding chair atop a small hill.

“Mayor Walker here,” he told detective Betty Ransom, “always gives a little speech before the fireworks display. This year, instead of the usual happy birthday to our country, she said that someone in her administration was embezzling money from the city and that tomorrow, after the holiday, she was going to reveal that person’s identity to us.”

Ransom looked at the dead woman who sat slumped to one side, a large hunting knife protruding through the left side of the canvas chair and into her back.

“Apparently that person wanted to keep Mayor Walker quiet,” she said. “And whoever it was knew that after the mayor’s speech every year, she came to the top of this hill to sit and watch the fireworks.”

Dickens nodded in agreement. “And that person planned this in advance. People don’t walk around carrying hunting knives with them. Our killer knew Mayor Walker was on to him.”

“Were any city employees here tonight?” Ransom asked.

“Yes. We did a quick canvassing of the crowd after Mayor Walker’s body was found. Eloise Carter, the city clerk; Angus Jones, the highway superintendent; and Joan Beevil, the assistant mayor, were all here.”

“It’s possible one of them waited until the fireworks show began, then snuck up here and stabbed the mayor. The noise of the fireworks would drown out any cries she would make.”

“And everyone in the crowd would be too busy watching the pyrotechnics to notice anyone,” Dickens said. “We should interview those three first thing tomorrow.”

The next morning Eloise Carter sat across a table from Detective Ransom in an interrogation room.

“Yes, I was at the fireworks display,” she said in answer to Ransom’s question. “I go every year with my husband.”

“Then you heard Mayor Walker’s speech?”

Carter nodded. “And I was certainly surprised. I can’t imagine anyone in service to our city stealing like that.”

“Did you stay with your husband the whole time?”

“Yes.” Carter paused. “Except for the five minutes or so when I went to buy a soda.”

“When was that?”

“Just after the fireworks started. I figured there wouldn’t be too many people in line then so I wouldn’t have to wait.”

The next person questioned was Angus Jones.

“My wife and I were with our grandchildren,” he said. “We sat in our usual spot near the bandstand.”

“What did you think of Mayor Walker’s speech?”

Jones frowned. “That wasn’t the place for an announcement like that. It ruined the celebration for everyone.”

“Did you ever leave your family?”

“Once. About half way through the fireworks display I got hungry and went for a hot dog.”

Joan Beevil was the last person questioned. She kept scratching her right arm, which was in a cast and a sling.

“Yes,” she said, “I realize that I’ll be acting mayor now, so it will be up to me to find out who Jasmine said was embezzling.”

“Were you alone at the celebration?” Ransom asked.

“No. With this broken arm I need a little help. My husband, son and daughter-in-law were with me.”

“All night?”

“Yes. Except for when I went for an ice cream cone during the fireworks display.”

When Ransom and Dickens were alone, they went over the suspects’ stories.

“There’s only one of them who may have done this,” Ransom said. “Let’s get all their fingerprints to compare to the ones on the knife to be sure.”



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Copyright 2020 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!

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