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September 22, 2014
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A summer mystery - Part 3: The investigation


Detective Brown stood in the dimly lit squad room. It had been three days since he had received the call about the body in the basement of the apartment building and the investigation was now in full swing. Brown or his partner had spoken to literally everyone who was in the building that day. All 32 people.

They had painstakingly searched the Johnson apartment, the stairwell, the basement, and the empty, recently purchased, shared apartment between the Johnsons and their neighbor Tom.

Brown had sent everyone home. Even his partner. He typically liked to work back through his notes and all of the various reports on his own.

He sipped at his ice coffee and started from the top.

They had found very little. In the Johnson apartment, there had been no sign of foul play. But an errant chess piece on the floor in the dining room had caught Brown’s eye. Mrs. Johnson said her husband hadn’t played in months.

“It must have fallen.”

“Yes, certainly,” Brown said.

In the back stairwell, an indentation on the railing had made it seem like something heavy had been paused there for an extended period of time. Maybe a body. It was possibly related, but there was no way to tell how long the indentation had actually been there.

He looked at the photos of the blood on the pipe above where Peter Johnson had been found. Lab reports said that the blood was indeed Mr. Johnson’s, but curiously there were small plastic particles on the pipe. The blood splatter expert was convinced that Mr. Johnson had not actually hit his head on the pipe.

Santiago, the daytime doorman, had seen Mr. Johnson return home around 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Johnson had confirmed he had taken the day off from work and gone to a breakfast meeting.

Mr. Johnson had ridden the elevator up to his apartment alone. Santiago said he might have been upset. No one had seen him, or anyone else, come in or out of the Johnson apartment that day.

Tom, the neighbor, had been home and had not seen Mr. Johnson since the previous week. Though they were long overdue for a chat, he admitted that they hadn’t been on the best of terms for the past few months. Tom had even started to regret agreeing to split the apartment between them. “It’s silly to say that now. But I’m trying to be honest.” he said.

Brown told him he “always appreciated honesty.”

Tom had gone on to say that Mr. Johnson hadn’t been getting along with his wife. They had been arguing a lot over their money situation. Mrs. Johnson loved to shop and, with two kids in college, they had been struggling financially.

The bank statements confirmed what Tom had said. The statements were certainly dreary. So dreary in fact that Brown started to wonder whether Mr. Johnson had actually offed himself.

Mr. Johnson had been found around 11 p.m. that night. Brown grimaced as he looked at the pictures of the body. The head wound was strange. Jagged and unplanned. Johnson had a large life insurance policy with his wife as the sole beneficiary. It was sad that his death actually solved all his problems.

Eddie, the doorman who had found the body, confirmed that he had seen Tom and Mr. Johnson arguing numerous times. He also confirmed that Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had been a little cold with each other. That didn’t necessarily mean anything. All one had to do was look at the previous Mrs. Browns to realize that a man who was obsessed with his work did not do much good for a marriage.

When Brown went to see the couple in 5B, the Boyfriend acted strangely. Brown supposed that he might have just gotten stoned. He was nervous to see a cop at his door. Brown gave him a hard time, but in actuality thought it was funny. The Boyfriend said that he had been home writing the day of the murder. At first he didn’t remember anything but after a little pressing he said that he had heard a strange ticking noise...

It suddenly struck him.

Brown dialed his partner.

“Yeah,” his partner answered.

“Get all of them to Mrs. Johnson’s apartment.”

“Who?” asked his partner.

“Mrs. Johnson, Eddie, Tom and that couple from 5B. I think I figured it out.”

To be continued...