Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Richard Ciciarelli

"The call came in to headquarters at about 9:10 this evening," Sergeant Harry Downy told Detective Mona Walker. "A lady said she heard shots and saw a body lying in the street. We got here and found this."

Downy pointed to the body of a middle aged man lying face down at the end of a dead end street.

"Do we know who he is?" Walker asked.

Downy nodded. "Carl Crawford. Did time for blackmail a few years back. We think he was up to his old tricks."

"And rather than pay," Walker concluded, "his blackmail victim shot him. Who called us?"

Downy pointed to a house nearby. "Lady who lives there, Marilyn Coombs."

Walker approached the Coombs house, rang the bell, and when Ms Coombs answered, introduced herself.

"I understand you phoned in the shooting?"

"Yes," Coombs said. "I was in my sewing room working on a dress for a friend's wedding. I do sewing part time for extra money.

"Anyhow, I was doing some delicate hand work on lace trim when I heard what sounded like shots. I looked out the window and saw someone lying in the street and another person running into the woods at the end of the street."

"Was it a man or a woman?"

"I couldn't tell. The streetlight has been broken for a week or so. It's hard to see anything clearly."

Walker thanked Ms Coombs and went across the street to a ranch house that was the last home on that side of the street.

"Yes, I heard the shots," Jason Reigns said in answer to Walker's question. "I was watching my favorite TV show and it had just come on, so it was a little after nine. I thought it was just a hunter."

"Hunting in the dark?"

"They use a flashlight to lure the deer out to where they can get a shot at them," Reigns explained.

"That's illegal."

"You know that, and I know that, and they know that. But do you think that stops them?"

"But you didn't see anything?"

"Nope. Didn't even bother to look."

Walker shook her head, thanked Reigns, and went to the house next door to his. An elderly woman answered the door.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Walker yelled over the sound of a blaring television set, "but did you hear gunshots this evening?"

Hilda Baffles shook her head.

"I'm afraid I'm a bit hard of hearing," she explained. "I didn't even know anything was wrong until I noticed the flashing lights on your police cars out in the street."

"You didn't see or hear anything at about nine o'clock?"

"I'm afraid not. I was in my kitchen making popcorn. My kitchen is in the back of the house, away from the street. I can't even see the street from there."

"How about your husband?"

The woman smiled. "I'm afraid he hasn't seen anything in a long time. He passed away several years ago."

Walker thanked Mrs. Baffles and began walking back to where Sgt. Downy stood.

"Any help?" Downy asked.

"Actually, yes. I'd like to question one of these neighbors more carefully."


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