Can you solve this mini-mystery?
By Richard Ciciarelli
“Alma Davis,” Detective Sue Briggs mumbled, “where have I heard that name before?”
“She was involved in that lottery ticket lawsuit,” Sergeant Dan Orwell said. “You remember: Four ladies chipped in and bought a lottery ticket together. When their numbers came in and paid five million dollars, Davis claimed she bought the ticket herself and the money was all hers.”
“Oh, yes,” Briggs remembered, “and the other three sued her.”
“Since the ladies had nothing in writing, it was Davis’ word against the others. Now suddenly she drops dead from insulin poisoning. Coincidence? I think not,” Orwell said.
“And I can think of five million reasons one of them might want her dead,” Briggs said. “Get those three ladies here tomorrow. I want to talk to them.”
The next day three women sat in Briggs’ office.
“So you’re the women who claim Alma Davis cheated you out of your lottery winnings?” Briggs said.
“Claim?” Lana Potter shouted. “She did cheat us.”
“Yes,” Joyce Record agreed. “It was her idea for us all to chip in, and because of that she bought the ticket and held on to it.”
“But we picked the numbers,” Harriet Forbes added. “We decided to go with our birth months and years. Since several of us share the same birth year, we ended up with exactly six numbers. Just right for the lottery.”
“And when those numbers came in…” Briggs began.
“Alma claimed she picked them and paid for the ticket herself,” Harriet Forbes said.
“Didn’t you ladies have any kind of written agreement?”
“No,” Lana Potter said. “We’ve known each other for years. We never thought Alma would be dishonest.”
“But now with her poisoned…” Briggs let the sentence hang.
“Now we really get nothing,” Joyce Record said. “The ticket becomes the property of her husband unless we can prove we all bought it together.”
“Which we can’t.” Lana Potter added.
“Yes,” Harriet Forbes said, “so if you’re looking for someone with a motive to kill Alma, look at him. I wouldn’t doubt if he had a secret girlfriend. Now he can have her and all that money, too.”
“And he’s a diabetic,” Joyce Record said. “He uses one of those needle pen things. So he has access to insulin.”
“Yes,” Lana Potter said. “You should be questioning him, not us.”
“I have an appointment to see him later today,” Briggs said. “But losing five million dollars is just as strong a motive for murder as gaining five million.”
That afternoon Chuck Davis sat in Briggs’ office.
“Mr. Davis, your wife died of insulin poisoning, and I understand you’re a diabetic.”
“Yes. I was diagnosed several years ago. You think I used my insulin to kill my wife?”
“Insulin can be fatal to someone who doesn’t need it,” Briggs said.
“But if I were to poison Alma, would I be so stupid as to use my own insulin?”
“Who else has access to it?”
“Are you kidding? Those women who claim they own part of the lottery ticket have been in my house enough times to know I keep an extra insulin pen in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Any one of them could have gotten insulin from it.”
“But none of them got any money if your wife died.”
“Who says?” Davis asked. “Just because Alma is dead doesn’t mean their lawsuit is ended. It just means Alma isn’t around to tell her side of the story. They could still get their shares if the court sees fit.”
Briggs dismissed Davis and called Sgt. Orwell into her office.
“We have an interesting problem here,” she said. “If Davis killed his wife, by law he won’t be able to gain by her death, so ownership of that lottery ticket will have to be established.”
“And if one of the three ladies who claim part ownership killed her,” Orwell added, “she’d lose out on her share if the courts decided those three deserved a share.”
“I think I know which person killed Mrs. Davis,” Briggs said.
WHO DOES BRIGGS SUSPECT?
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