Can you solve this mini-mystery?


THIEF IN THE NIGHT

By BJ Bourg



“I work the night shift,” Patty Cole said. “When I got home this morning I found my back door open and my jewelry box gone.”

Detective Grace Winston surveyed the damage. The back door had been kicked open and the house rummaged through. “Have you had problems with anyone lately?”

Patty shook her head. “I’m a traveling nurse. I’ve only been in town a couple of months, so I don’t really know anyone.”

Grace handed Patty a notebook and pen. “Can you make a list of your missing jewelry while I process the scene?”

“Sure.”

As Patty began jotting down her stolen property, Grace went to her car and retrieved her crime scene kit. She pulled out her camera and took a few dozen pictures before dusting the house for fingerprints. She whistled when she discovered a perfect handprint on the dresser where the jewelry box had been. She whistled again when she compared it to Patty’s hand and it didn’t match. “This’ll be our thief’s print. I’ll run it through the fingerprint database and see if there’s a match to –”

“No need,” Detective Brandon Sharper announced as he walked into the house. “I already know who did this.”

Grace looked up at her partner. “Really? Who?”

“Jude Douglas. Lives two streets over. He’s been arrested twice for burglarizing houses in this neighborhood. He’s out on bond.”

“We’ll still need to run the print through the database to confirm it’s him. If you’re right, then it should be an early day for us.” Grace turned to walk away. “I’ll get right on it.”

“Well, it won’t be that easy.”

Grace stopped. “Why won’t it?”

“See, he’s a juvenile and we don’t have his prints on file.”

 Grace pursed her lips. Finally, she said, “Okay, let’s talk to the neighbors and see if anyone’s seen your Mr. Douglas around here.”

They walked to the house adjacent to Patty’s and knocked on the door. An elderly lady answered, looking puzzled. “What can I do for y’all?”

“We’re investigating a burglary,” Grace said. “We were wondering if you noticed anything suspicious last night.”

“Oh my, a burglary?”

Grace nodded.

“No, I didn’t see anything, but I haven’t been out much since I had my stroke. Now, my nephew’s in from offshore and he was outside until late last night. His name’s Tristan. He might’ve seen something.”

Brandon pointed to a stack of beer bottles strewn about the front yard. “He left that mess?”

“Oh, dear, he never picks up after himself. I’ll have to get him to clean those up.”

“Where is he?” Grace asked.

“He’s sleeping on the sofa in the living room.”

 “Can we wake him?” Brandon asked.

“Yes sir.” The lady led them to the living room, where Tristan was balled up on the sofa. His mouth was open and he was snoring.

With the tip of his boot, Brandon tapped on the leg of the sofa. Tristan stirred, turned over and jerked awake when he saw the badge and gun on Brandon’s belt.

“What’s going on?” Tristan asked, rubbing his eyes.

Brandon squatted in front of the sofa. “Did you see anything suspicious last night?”

Tristan shook his head. “No sir, I didn’t see anything. I was sitting in the front yard.”

“Did you hear anything out of the ordinary?”

“No sir.”

Grace stepped forward. “What time did you go outside?”

Tristan scratched his head. “About eight o’clock.”

“And what time did you come in?”

“It was about three this morning.”

Grace smiled. “Thank you for your time.”

When they were outside again, Brandon asked, “Ready to pick up Jude Douglas?”

“That’s not necessary. We’re going to collect those beer bottles, dust them for Tristan’s prints, and then arrest him when they match the print I recovered from the dresser.”

 

* * *

 

An hour later, Brandon found Grace in her office and handed her a lab report. “They matched Tristan, just like you said.”

Grace jumped to her feet. “Let’s go get him.”

“Not so fast.” Brandon crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You never told me how you knew it was Tristan.”

“And I won’t tell you.” Grace smiled coyly. “Job security.”



Why did Detective Winston suspect Tristan?

Please click here to reveal the answer.


Copyright 2016 BJ Bourg. 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.