Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Richard Ciciarelli

Detective Marsha Bemis maneuvered her car slowly down the narrow, winding road that twisted its way through shrubs and weeds to the house that sat facing the beach.

She parked behind the house, exited the car, and joined a group of policemen who were gathered around a body that lay near the water.

“What have we got here?” Bemis asked one of the men.

“A neighbor spotted the body and called us,” he said. “It looks like the guy was killed somewhere else and his body dumped here. We found tire tracks nearby and took casts of them.”

“Where’s the neighbor?”

The policeman pointed to a woman who stood watching. Bemis approached her and introduced herself.

“I’m Mimi Murray,” the neighbor said. “My place is right next door.”

“How did you happen to find the body?”

“I looked out my window and saw a huge group of terns gathered in one spot.”


“Yes. Little shore birds. They live and forage on the shore. It’s unusual to see so many in one spot. They’re usually busy running around looking for tiny fish or insects, so when I saw so many, I had to see what they were up to.”

“And you found…?” Bemis said.

“Mr. Catwallader. He owns that house. I could see right away he was dead, so I called the police.”

“Did you see anyone else?”

“No, but I did hear a car drive up and then drive away again late last night. It’s easy to hear sounds at night here because it’s so quiet.”

“Detective,” one of the policemen called, “we found something in the house. You should see it.”

Bemis excused herself and joined the policeman.

“We found this list,” he said. “Three names with amounts of money after each name.”

“Could be our motive,” Bemis said. “Give me the list. I’ll contact these people.”

Later that day three men sat in Detective Bemis’ office.

“Gentlemen,” she said, “my people have discovered that Peter Catwallader was a loan shark. It appears each of you owed him a good deal of money. He’s dead and you each have a motive for killing him.”

“Look,” John Petrowski said, “I admit I borrowed ten grand from the guy to cover some gambling debts, but I was going to pay him back. I didn’t kill him.”

“We know you borrowed fifteen thousand, Mr. Ries,” Bemis said. “May I ask why?”

Glen Ries flushed. “My son has a trust fund that I’m in charge of. I borrowed from it to invest in the stock market. I was going to put the money back from my profits, but…” He stopped.

“And you, Mr. Sayors?”

Mel Sayors cleared his throat. “I’m planning to buy into a fast food franchise. I needed ten thousand right away and didn’t have that much in my savings account. Once the business was up and running I was going to repay the guy.”

“Mr. Catwallader’s body was found on the beach near his house. We think it was put there by his killer. Have any of you been there?”

All three men shook their heads.

“I don’t even like beaches,” Petrowski said. “They’re too dirty. People just throw their trash anywhere and leave cans and bottles littering up the place.”

“This is not a public beach,” Bemis said. “It’s really difficult to get to. It has a private access road that’s very narrow and has a lot of turns.”

“Well,” Glen Ries said, “they’re not as bad as gulls. I once had a sea gull snatch food right out of my hand.”

“I’m not a swimmer,” Mel Sayors said. “And I don’t like just lying on the sand. Too much sun isn’t good for you.”

A knock on the door distracted Bemis.

“You remember those tire tracks we found?” a policeman asked. “We matched them to someone’s tires. Care to guess whose?”

“I think I know whose,” Bemis said.


Please click here to reveal the answer.

Copyright 2016 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 Solve-it-Yourself Mystery List.
Return to Over My Dead Body! Online.