Can you solve this mini-mystery?


THE PHONY REPORTER


By Richard Ciciarelli



Lieutenant Amy Case marched into the huge auditorium, two paces ahead of her partner, Sergeant Jack Barnes.

Both officers flashed their badges to a number of guards and stepped onto a stage where a woman in a gray suit was giving orders to several workers.

"Are you Martha Todd?" Case asked.

"Yes. You must be the local police. Thank you for coming so soon."

"What's the problem?"

"Tonight my community group is sponsoring a debate between the two candidates for state senate," Todd explained. "One is our current senator who, as I'm sure you know, is not very popular."

"So? What are we supposed to do?"

"This morning my office got an anonymous phone call saying someone would be here tonight pretending to be a reporter, but this person is really going to attack the senator somehow."

"Somehow?"

"Yes. The caller wasn't specific. We don't know if it will be something as deadly as shooting at him or just embarrassing like throwing eggs at him."

"How many reporters will be here?"

"Forty or more."

"And you want us to check all of them?" Sgt. Barnes asked. "That will be quite a job."

"No. Most of the reporters are well known to us. They're from major newspapers or television stations. There are only three on the list we don't know. I have their names here." Todd reached into a manila folder and pulled out a sheet of paper.

"This place is full of security people," Case said. "Why not have them check on these three?"

"We'd prefer the local authorities do that," Todd explained. "That's why I sent for you."

Lt. Case checked the list she had been given.

"Lois Reamer, Hank Marple, Ted Wanes. Are these people available to be questioned?"

Todd pointed to the back of the auditorium. "That's them in the last row."

Case thanked Ms Todd, and she and Sgt. Barnes walked to the back of the auditorium.

"I'm Lt. Case. This is Sgt. Barnes," Amy said to the trio. "I'd like to ask you a few questions, please."

The three people looked at one another in confusion.

"Let's start with you, ma'am. You must be Lois Reamer. Could you tell me what newspaper you represent?"

"Certainly. I do feature work for The Hinsdale Weekly. It's a local paper. I've been covering human interest stories for the past ten years or so."

"And you, sir?"

"I'm Hank Marple. I'm not from around here. I cover politics for The Mansfield Gazette. That's a newspaper that's published in a small city a couple of hours' drive from here."

Case looked at the second man.

"My name is Ted Wanes. I write for The Connelsville Chronicle. Been doing that for almost a quarter of a century."

"I suppose you all have ID."

All three flashed nametags with their photos on them.

Any of them could be fake, Amy thought. Aloud she said, "Now Sgt Barnes would like to examine your camera bags, please."

"Why" Hank Marple asked.

"To be honest, we think one of you may be planning to attack Senator James. Our job is to prevent that."

"What?" Ted Wanes yelped. "You realize that accusation could be construed as libel. I could sue you."

"I take exception to your implications, too," Lois Reamer said. "I'm afraid you'll need a search warrant to examine my bag."

"Mine, too," Hank Marple said.

"You realize this makes you all look very suspicious," Case said.

"This is still America," Hank Marple snapped. "You can't just search us on a suspicion."

"Just wait till my editor hears about this," Ted Wanes added.

"Now what do we do?" Sgt. Barnes asked.

"We arrest that one," Case said, pointing to one of the suspects.


WHO DOES LT. CASE SUSPECT IS THE PHONY?

Please click here to reveal the answer.


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