Can you solve this mini-mystery?




TWENTY-TWO


By BJ Bourg




Detectives Grace Winston and Brandon Sharper arrived at the scene, met with a patrol officer in the front yard of the country home.

“What’s going on?” Grace asked.

“Bethany Willis called 911 and reported that the neighbor’s son accidentally shot and killed her husband.”

“What’s the husband’s name?” Grace asked.

“Nick Willis.”

“Did anyone talk to the boy yet?”

“No. We took him and his mom to the station. We were waiting for y’all.”

Grace looked at Brandon. “Want to start with the Mrs. Willis?”

“Sure thing.”

Grace and Brandon entered the house, where Bethany Willis was sitting on the sofa weeping softly.

“Ma’am, I know this is difficult,” Grace began, “but we need to ask you a few questions.”

Bethany nodded, wiped her eyes with a towel.

“Can you tell us what happened?”

“Nick went out to feed the horses like he always does. When he didn’t come in for supper I decided to go look for him. That’s when I found him dead, shot in the head!” Bethany began crying uncontrollably.

Grace put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Did you touch him, try to revive him?”

“No, I was scared. As soon as I saw him I ran to the house and called 911.”

“You told the 911 operator that your neighbor’s son shot Nick. What makes you think that?”

“That boy’s always shooting his gun around here. Nick told him to stop a bunch of times, because we were worried about him shooting our horses. He never listened.”

“What kind of gun does he have?” Brandon asked.

“A twenty-two rifle.”

After interviewing Bethany, Grace and Brandon walked into the field to examine Nick Willis’ body. He was lying on his back with his eyes closed.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was sleeping,” Brandon said. He took some pictures and then Grace helped him turn the body over. There was a tiny hole in the back of Nick’s head. “Definitely a small caliber bullet.”

“Tiny entry wound, no exit,” Grace mused aloud. “This is consistent with a twenty-two rifle.”

“Let’s go talk to the kid.”

As they were walking to their car, Grace suddenly stopped and grabbed Brandon’s arm. “Wait a minute! The kid didn’t do this!”

“He didn’t?”

“No, Bethany Willis did. Follow me.”

Brandon followed Grace into Bethany Willis’ house and Grace walked directly up to the grieving woman. “Mrs. Willis, did you fire a gun today?”

Bethany’s face turned a shade whiter. “Excuse me?”

“Did you fire a gun today?” Grace repeated.

“Are you accusing me of shooting my husband?”

“Definitely not. I just have to ask. You know, routine questioning.”

Bethany shook her head. “No, I didn’t shoot a gun today.”

“Do you mind if I swab your hands for gunshot residue?”

“Do what?”

Brandon stepped forward. “It’s just routine stuff, ma’am. We’ll rub a cotton swab over your hand and stick it in a tube of chemicals. If you fired a gun today it’ll react with the chemicals and change colors. Of course, since you didn’t fire a gun, it won’t change colors.”

Bethany hesitated, nodded slowly.

After retrieving a gunshot residue kit from her car, Grace swabbed Bethany’s hands and processed the swabs. Brandon watched over her shoulder and gasped when the test indicated Bethany Willis had fired a gun.

“It’s over,” Grace said. “Why’d you kill your husband?”

“How dare you accuse me of such a thing! I loved my husband!”

Unimpressed, Grace waved her hand. “Cut the act. We’ve got you dead to rights. We don’t need to know if you did it, we need to know why you did it.”

Bethany was silent for a long moment. Finally, her scowl softened and she hung her head. “He told me he was leaving. He met a woman on the internet. He said he loved her. Do you know how bad that hurts? I just got so mad.”

“Where’s the gun?”

“I hid it under the house. It’s Nick’s rifle.”

After the patrol deputy had cuffed her and she was seated in the back of a squad car, Bethany called Grace over.

“Need something?” Grace asked.

“How on earth did you know?”

Grace smiled. “I get paid to know.”


Why Did Detective Winston Suspect Bethany Willis?

Please click here to reveal the answer.


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