Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Richard Ciciarelli

Police Sergeant Anne Fielding held the .45 automatic by its barrel and examined its bloody butt.

"That's the murder weapon," her assistant said, pointing out the obvious. "It belonged to the victim. He kept it in his desk."

Fielding placed the gun in an evidence bag.

"Any fingerprints on it?"

"Nope. There's a bloody handkerchief on the floor. Looks like the killer held the gun with that when he bludgeoned Mr. Jacobs with it."

"Probably didn't want to shoot him. Too much noise." Fielding scanned the murdered man's desk. "Any suspects?"

"Three. Jacobs was president of this company. A while back he promised to promote one of his assistant managers to run the firm. Then last week he surprised everyone by hiring someone from outside for the job."

"Fielding nodded. "I can see where that might get someone angry enough to strike out."

"Not only that," the assistant said, "but they're the only ones outside of Jacobs himself who had keys to the office, and according to his secretary, Jacobs always kept the door locked when he worked late and would never let anyone in."

"Where are these three people?"

"Next door in the office lunchroom."

Fielding walked through a doorway into a room with a table, several chairs, a refrigerator, a sink and a microwave. Three men sat at the table, glancing nervously at one another. They looked up as Fielding entered.

"You all know why you're here," she said. "Mr. Jacobs was murdered in his office some time last night with his own gun."

"I told him it was a mistake to keep that thing in his desk," a blond man said. "There was no need for it to be here."

"What's your name?" Fielding asked.

"John Quattro. I'm assistant manager in charge of acquisitions."

"Could you tell me where you were last evening after you left work?"

"Sure. It was Wednesday. Every Wednesday I meet some friends for poker. We take turns hosting the game. Last night we were at Bill Conroy's place. I left at about one a.m. — I went straight home from there."

"Fielding turned to a balding man. "Who are you and where were you last night?"

"I'm Sam Larrot. I'm assistant manager in charge of contracts. After work I went home. My wife and I are in the process of separating, so I was alone all night. Were there any fingerprints on Tom's gun?"

"No. The killer apparently held it with a handkerchief."

"Hmmph," the third man snorted. "With all the police shows on television, everybody knows enough not to leave fingerprints. Must make your job tough."

"It does," Fielding said. "And you are...?"

"I'm Pete Orange. I'm assistant manager in charge of publicity. After work last night I stopped off at a sports bar for a few drinks. I stayed to watch a ball game on the big screen TV. I got home at about eleven and went straight to bed."

"Was Tom badly disfigured by the beating?" Sam Larrot asked. "His wife will have to know if his coffin should be open or closed at the funeral home."

"Our people will tell her everything she needs to know. You don't have to worry about that."

"Do you have any clues to help you find Tom's killer?" John Quattro asked.

Fielding smiled. "One. And it points to one of you."


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