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“It doesn’t look like a robbery,” Officer Johnson said to Captain Hillman. “The safe is still locked and no other valuables seem to be missing, but I’ll confirm that when Mr. Andrews, the victim’s nephew, gets here. His name was on a sheet of paper on the victim’s desk and he was the first call placed. We do not know of any other family members at this time.”
“Officer Johnson, when did you arrive on the scene? As you know, I was at the doctor’s office and my phone was turned off, so I don’t know exactly when the call came through,” said the captain.
“The call came through at exactly 10:00 AM. I glanced at the clock and remember seeing the time as I responded to the call. I was only a few blocks from here.”
“Thank you, Officer. Please get statements from everyone hanging around out here. It’s possible that our killer is in the crowd watching. As we always suspect, the murderer returns to the scene of the crime. Keep an eye out for anyone too interested in helping and run the license plates of all the cars parked on the street. This is going to be a long day. Mr. Floyd was a very prominent attorney in this town, and he convicted many criminals, so our suspect list will be long.”
“Sure, Captain,” replied officer Johnson. “I’ll get a list of all his convictions and put a suspect file together.”
“Thanks, Officer. I’ll meet you back at headquarters after I investigate the crime scene for myself and have had a chance to speak with the victim’s nephew.”
The captain ducked under the bright yellow tape and into the scene of the crime where the lifeless body of Mr. Andrews lay, already outlined in white chalk. Items were knocked off shelves and scattered all over the floor, and blood was splattered on the floor and walls. Lieutenant Williams walked up to the captain with his notepad and pen poised.
“Williams, fill me in,” ordered Captain Hillman, becoming more agitated at this point.
“Well, we don’t know much yet, but the preliminary report shows that the victim was probably killed between 7:30 and 9:30 this morning. As you can see, Mr. Floyd put up some fight. Eventually, he was stabbed in the chest with this letter opener. Forensics should confirm that the stab wound was the cause of his death,” Williams read from his notepad. “The Medical Examiner just left and is waiting for the body to be sent to his lab so he can perform the autopsy.”
“Who’s in charge around here and why can’t I see my uncle?” shouted an angry voice from behind the crime scene tape where two officers held him back.
“It’s all right, Officer. Let him through. He’s the victim’s nephew, Mr. Andrews,” said Captain Hillman. “I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr. Andrews. My name is Captain Hillman. Your uncle was a very good man and he will be missed tremendously.”
“Thank you, Captain, but I demand to know who did this immediately. I am not a patient man and there are funeral arrangements to make and a will to be read,” replied Mr. Andrews.
Captain Hillman thought it was a little odd that Mr. Andrews was already worried about the reading of the will when his uncle’s body was still warm. He asked him, “Mr. Andrews, where were you from about 7:00 – 9:30 this morning?”
“You can’t seriously think I am a suspect in this murder. That is an outrage. My uncle was the nicest man in the world and I loved him dearly. My sister, on the other hand, couldn’t wait for him to kick off so she could get her inheritance.”
“You still haven’t answered my question, Mr. Andrews. Where were you this morning, and what is your sister’s name?”
Just as Captain Hillman was finishing his question, Officer Johnson appeared with a list of suspects from Mr. Floyd’s cases. “I have the file you requested, Captain.”
“One minute, Officer. Mr. Andrews was just about to give me his alibi. Mr. Andrews, please continue.”
“I was at the gym from 6:00 – 8:00. Then I had breakfast with an old friend at the café in the Hyatt hotel downtown. I’ll give you my friend’s name and number. Even though my sister is a bit sinister, there is no way she could have done this. She is skiing in Vail with her boyfriend, Michael Conti.”
“What is your sister’s name, Mr. Andrews?” asked Captain Hillman.
“Her name is Sarah. Sarah Gibbons. She kept her married name even after her divorce.” Captain Hillman noticed Officer Johnson get a little nervous when he heard Mr. Andrews’ sister’s name.
“When is your sister expected to return from Vail, Mr. Andrews?”
“Actually, in a few hours. I’ll have her call you when her flight lands.”
“Thank you, Mr. Andrews. I promise to let you know what I find out about your uncle’s death. Please go with Lieutenant Williams to give him your statement.” Then Captain Hillman turned to officer Johnson. “Do you know Ms. Gibbons, Officer?”
“Uh, no, Captain, I don’t,” replied Officer Johnson.
“Fine. Now let’s review the files you brought me.”
Captain Hillman glanced through the names in the file and recognized the name “Michael Conti” right away. “Officer, go get Mr. Andrews back here immediately!”
“What’s wrong, Captain?” inquired Mr. Andrews.
“How well do you know Michael Conti?”
“Not very well, I’m afraid. They’ve been dating for only a few months now. I met him only once. My sister never mentioned that our uncle convicted him of any crimes.”
“Thank you again, Mr. Andrews. I appreciate all your help.”
“Is there anything I can do, Captain?” asked Officer Johnson.
“As a matter of fact, there is. I want to pull a complete background check for Mr. Conti. I mean everything – all previous addresses, schools, jobs, etc. Don’t leave anything out. I’m getting a suspicious feeling about Ms. Gibbons and Mr. Conti. They both have motive, but not the means if they are actually in Vail. That means they have a third accomplice who is local helping them. I need to find that person, and I need to find him or her now!”
“Yes, I understand, Sir, but I put in for personal time off this afternoon beginning at 1:00 PM and it is now 12:45. May I take my time and give this assignment to another officer?”
“Officer Johnson, this is a very important murder case. Is it absolutely necessary to take this afternoon off?” asked Captain Hillman.
“Well, Captain, I had important plans with a friend for a long time, and it is very difficult for us to meet because of her travel schedule.”
“Very well, Officer. It is your personal time and I shouldn’t expect you to give it up. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Captain. See you tomorrow.”
“Lieutenant Williams, I need to speak with you,” called captain Hillman. “Get in touch with someone in the office and request a complete background on Mr. Michael Conti. Tell that officer to have it ready in one hour when I get back there.”
“Yes, Captain, I’ll call Officer Duke. She is very quick with background information. She’ll have everything you need.”
Captain Hillman went back inside Mr. Floyd’s house to further inspect the crime scene. The murder weapon did not even have fingerprints on it. This was not going to be solved as quickly as he had hoped. “Lieutenant, may I have a word with you? Who was the first officer to respond to the call?”
“That would be Officer Johnson, Captain.”
“Where is his partner?”
“Officer Bronson was reassigned today because another officer was sick and Officer Johnson was working only half a day, Captain.”
“Thanks, Williams. Is Duke working on Conti’s background?”
“Yes, Sir. She will have everything in about 15 minutes,” replied Lieutenant Williams.
“Thanks. I’m heading back to the office now,” said Captain Hillman.
Officer Duke had all the materials prepared for Captain Hillman as promised.
“Thanks, Officer Duke. I’ll be in my office.” Captain Hillman read through Michael Conti’s background. It was not extensive because he lived in town his whole life and went to the local schools. He worked as an accountant and was convicted by Mr. Floyd of stealing money from his employer. He served only fours years of a seven year sentence and was released last March. That was only five months ago, so Mr. Andrews must be right about his sister not dating him for long. Captain Hillman then went through Conti’s 1997 high school yearbook. On the page after the one with Conti’s picture, he noticed the name “Bobby Johnson” under the picture of a thin adolescent. He jumped out of his seat and yelled to Officer Duke to have Lieutenant Williams and backup meet him at the Southwest terminal in the airport.
Captain Hillman told his team to stay right behind him as he approached Officer Johnson. “Officer Robert Johnson, this is Captain Hillman. Put your hands in the air and get down on the ground!”
“What is this, Captain?” demanded Officer Johnson.
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Mr. John Floyd. You have the right to remain silent.” Captain Hillman read him his rights and told Lieutenant Williams to arrest Mr. Conti and Ms. Gibbons as they arrived at the gate.
“What’s going on here?” they all demanded.
“You three had a very clever plan here, but unfortunately one man is dead and you three will be going to jail. I figured everything out when I saw the yearbook from high school. The three of you have been friends for a very long time. I pulled a copy of Mr. Conti’s yearbook as part of a background check. After I noticed a picture of Bobby Johnson, I looked for a picture of Sarah Andrews, and to my surprise, I found one. You had a good plan. You put the suspicion on Michael, who had a perfect alibi and could not be connected to the murder scene. Officer Johnson requested personal time a few weeks ago, so we know it was premeditated. Your brother helped by informing me that you wanted your uncle’s inheritance. But then I discovered that you didn’t need to wait for the reading of the will because your uncle had almost two million dollars in his safe, and the safe was not forced open because you gave Johnson the combination. I’m sure we’ll find the cash in Johnson’s duffle bag. I’m guessing the three of you planned to escape today as soon as your flight landed.”
Captain Hillman was right. Officer Johnson’s duffle bag had all the money from the safe in it. Mr. Andrews arrived at the airport when he heard of his sister’s plan. “I can’t believe you, Sarah. Uncle John was a great man and he loved you so much. He would have given you money now if you had asked. He was always under the impression that you were doing fine on your own. You made him believe that. He left everything to the two of us, but now I am going to contest the will and make sure your half is donated to charity.”
Captain Hillman turned to Officer Johnson and simply asked, “Why?”
“For the money and an early retirement. It’s that simple. A third of two million dollars invested properly would set me up for life.”
“Well, you won’t need that much money where you’re going for life,” said Captain Hillman.