Can you solve this mini-mystery?



By Richard Ciciarelli




“Old lady’s name is Emmaline Crowe,” Sgt. Sam Barker said. “Ninety-something years old. Widow of Jacob Crowe, the Texas oil man. Worth millions.”

“How did she die?” Detective Tricia Warren asked.

“Strangled with a family heirloom choker. We think her killer was pretending to put it on her; then…”

“Any suspects?”

“The victim’s three relatives. Seems like they’d all been sponging off her for years. She finally had enough and called a lawyer to change her will.”

“Let me guess,” Warren said. “She cut them all out?”

Barker nodded. “Every last cent was supposed to go to an animal rights organization, but Mrs. Crowe died before she got around to signing the new will.”

“How convenient. “I’m going to want to talk to those relatives as soon as possible.”

“A murder of crows.”


“That’s what a group of crows is called:  a murder.”

“How appropriate for this case.”

Later that day Jeffery Crowe sat across a desk from Detective Warren.

“I understand you relied on your aunt for financial support.”

“Yes,” Jeffery admitted. “Aunty Em gave me a generous allowance. I have no skills and just a high school education, so I’m not suited for many jobs that pay a decent wage.”

“You’re a good sized person,” Warren said. “Do you know how your aunt died?”

“The person who called said she’d been strangled with a piece of jewelry. I guess you think I’m strong enough to do that.”

“It had crossed my mind. Where were you around eight Thursday evening?”

Jeffery thought a moment. “Probably at O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub spending a good chunk of my allowance.”

Jeffery was dismissed and an hour later Anne Crowe sat across from Warren.

“Poor Aunty Em,” Anne said, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. “She was a strict taskmistress, but she didn’t deserve to die. And I was told she was strangled with her own jewelry. How awful.”

“I understand she provided you with money.”

“Yes. I’m afraid I’m that cliché:  the starving artist. None of my paintings ever sell and I can’t get a showing of my work anywhere, so Aunty Em was nice enough to keep me in food and shelter.”

“Where were you at eight Thursday evening?”

“Let me see…I think I was at a cocktail party in honor of another artist. It’s embarrassing how everyone is known to the art world except me.”

Anne left Warren’s office and was replaced an hour later by Chuck Crowe.

“I hope you can make this quick,” he said. “I deliver newspapers and I have to finish my route by six.”

“Not a very lucrative job for a man your age,” Warren said.

“No, but Aunt Emmaline covered most of my expenses with a good-sized allowance.”

“And now she’s dead. Strangled by a piece of jewelry.”

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Chuck said. “I guess that’s why they call it a choker.”

“Where were you at eight Thursday evening?”

“Eight? Probably at the local Off Track Betting parlor. I seem to be feeding a lot of ponies lately. Or, I should say Aunt Emmaline was.”

That night Detective Warren sat in her apartment going over her notes on the case.

“All three of Emmaline’s relatives seem to have alibis,” she mumbled to herself, “but no one remembers seeing Jeffery at that pub; and while Anne was seen at the cocktail party, no one remembers when she left. As for Chuck, everyone at the OTB parlor was more interested in the races being televised than they were to who else was there.

“One of those three must have killed Emmaline. No one else had a motive. Wait a minute! What’s this? Yes, this could be what I’m looking for. This is the relative I need to investigate further.”




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