Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Richard Ciciarelli

Detective Julie Cromwell picked a lamp off the floor of the disarranged apartment, flicked its switch, surprised to see the bulb light up, and placed it on a table.

"You live down stairs?" she asked Sam Mitchell. "Did you hear the fight that took place here?"

"I always heard yelling from up here whenever Jake's relatives visited. This week his two nephews and one niece came over and got into shouting matches with him."

"Who was the last to visit him?"

"Jake's nephew Lyle left a little after five today, slamming the door and stomping down the stairs."

"Hmmm. When Mr. Bailey's physical therapist came this morning, she found the door open. These doors lock automatically, don't they?"

Mitchell nodded. "To get in you need a key."

"Did any of Mr. Bailey's relatives have a key?"

"Nope. Jake didn't give keys to anyone."

* * *

"Then someone came back later. Mr. Bailey let that person in, they fought, and that person strangled him. Did you hear anyone come here after Lyle Bailey left?"

"Not up to eight thirty. That's when my wife and I went to a movie. We got home around midnight."

"Then the killer came during the time you were gone. Hmmm, there's no television set here. Didn't Mr. Bailey watch TV?"

"Nope. He would read till all hours of the night, though."

Cromwell looked at a book that lay open on an end table.

"A book on investing. Must be he was reading this when the killer visited."

Mitchell nodded. "Jake made big money in the market. That's what he fought about with his relatives."

Later that cold November day Cromwell met with Bailey's relatives at police headquarters.

"I'd like to know why you each visited with your uncle," she said. "Let's start with you." She pointed to the youngest man.

"I'm Eric. I visited Uncle Jake at noon on Monday. I'm in a dead-end job and want to go to college to get a better one. I begged Uncle Jake for tuition money, but he turned me down."

"So you got into a shouting match with him?"

"That's how all my visits went."

Cromwell turned to the woman in the group. "What about you?"

"I'm Marie. I visited Uncle Jake at two on Tuesday. I took time off from my job at the gym. I asked Uncle Jake to finance a project of mine — a gym catering to women. I could make a fortune and repay him within a year, but he said it was all nonsense."

"And you?" Cromwell spoke to the remaining nephew.

"I'm Lyle. I work for a computer company. I have a chance to get a manager's job, but I need a decent car for travel. I asked Uncle Jake for a loan yesterday, but he just said, 'Demand your company give you one.' Then we got into a big blow-up."

"So you stomped out and slammed the door?"


"Did any of you return to your uncle's apartment after eight thirty yesterday?"

All three shook their heads.

Later Cromwell spoke to her partner.

"The relatives' stories match what Sam Mitchell told us."

"Do you think one of them lied about coming back later?"

Cromwell smiled. "It may not make a difference."


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