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Mystery in Amery, Wisconsin I & II
It was a late night on May 31, 2011 when Roger and Andrew Smith left their friends’ house and made their way home. Andrew had received his license two weeks before and his parents just bought him a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix. Andrew tried starting his car and noticed the battery was low. “You should charge it tonight before tomorrow,” Roger said. Andrew pulled out of the driveway and drove them Roger and himself home. When they arrived home, Andrew parked his car in the garage and removed the backseat to get to the battery. He noticed something shiny lying next to the battery. Andrew looked closer and saw that it was a key. At first, Andrew thought it was a spare for the car, but noticed it was unlike any key he had seen before. There was the number “24” written on one side and “Bremer Bank” Printed on the other.
After school the next day, Andrew researched the key on the internet. He found that the key was for a safety deposit box in the bank. He also found that the key belonged to Bill Jones, who had been the previous owner of his car. Andrew looked in the phone book for Bill’s number, but couldn’t find it. Andrew decided to go to the bank to see if this key was a real safety deposit box key.
At the bank, Andrew asked the clerk to see if Bill Jones was the owner of this safety deposit box. The clerk verified that Bill was the owner, but also informed that he had died in May of 2005. Andrew speculated that Bill must have bought the car new in early 2005.
The clerk notified Andrew that Bill wasn’t married and had no one to pass down the inheritance. “I guess if you found the key in your car, then you can have whatever is in Mr. Jones’ safety deposit box,” said the clerk. Andrew’s eyes lit up at the thought of the possibility that a bunch of money or some sort of treasure could be in the box. The clerk led Andrew into the safety deposit room. The clerk unlocked the box, took it out, and set it on the table. “What could be in here?” He kept thinking. Andrew opened the box. “No money or nothin’,” Andrew said. There was only an eight and a half by eleven inch sheet of paper. Andrew picked up the paper and realized that there was a “hang-man” puzzle written on it. There were four words to the puzzle. The first word had three letters, the second had two, the third had three, and the last had four. The first word started with an “I”, and last one was already filled out as, “Prix.” Andrew thought about the puzzle and realized something.
“Prix…..my car is a Grand Prix,” he said to himself.
“Could it be talking about my car?” He thought. Andrew remembered that Bill Jones was the previous owner of his car. Andrew went home and studied some of the information he had found about him. Andrew wondered at the fact that Bill bought the car early in 2005, but then died a few months after.
The weekend came and Andrew decided to go back to the bank. He asked another bank clerk when Bill Jones last deposited into his safety deposit box before he died. “He last deposited May 3, 2005,” said the clerk. “That means he must have deposited this puzzle a week before he died,” Andrew thought. He concluded that the last word, “Prix”, had to mean his car.
At home, Andrew continually studied the puzzle until he found the only logical solution. “It’s…….in…….the…….Prix….,” Andrew said to himself softly. He knew that it had to be the answer to the puzzle. “But where and what is Bill trying to tell me to find?” he thought. Andrew looked through his car inside and out, but couldn’t find anything. “There is only one place I haven’t checked yet,” he said. Andrew popped open the trunk and couldn’t believe his eyes: “Another key?!” he exclaimed.
Mystery in Amery, Wisconsin II
Andrew picked up the key and studied it. “This doesn’t look anything like the key I found before,” he said. He brought the key inside and asked his parents to identify it for him.
“It looks like a house key,” Mr. Smith said.
On one side of the key was the number, 934.
“934….isn’t that the house that burned down near Harriman avenue?” Mr. Smith said.
In 2005, a house just off of Harriman Avenue caught on fire and burned down. Andrew was confused. “Why would Bill Jones lead me to a house that has already burnt down?” He pondered.
In the morning the next day, Andrew wanted to go see where the burned down house used to be. There was what looked to be a fairly new house that was built on the property. Andrew inspected the property from his car, but didn’t see anything old. “Maybe Bill left a clue on his gravestone,” Andrew wondered. He decided to go to the graveyard and find Bill’s gravestone. Andrew found it and it read:
“In remembrance of”
Bill R. Jones
“Ask and you will be given,
Seek and you will be rewarded”
After Andrew read Bill’s epitaph, he drove back to his house. On the way, he couldn’t stop thinking about the last line of Bill’s gravestone: “…Seek and you will be rewarded.” He wondered if the last two lines were a verse in the Bible. He returned home and found the verse in John 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” Andrew had written down the words from Bill’s gravestone earlier and took a look at them again. He noticed that the last word in the verse was “find.” Bill must have wanted them to put “rewarded” in the verse instead. Andrew took a look at the key he had seen at ALCO for a padlock.
“This couldn’t be a house key,” he concluded.
After school on Monday, he wanted to drive back to the house and take another look around. When he arrived on Harriman, he made a thorough inspection around the house. Just behind the house, he noticed a shack in the backyard. The shack wasn’t sided the same on the back. The siding that was on one side looked quite a bit older than the house. He looked over at the front door of the shack, and to his surprise, there was a padlock on the door. Andrew’s heart began to race a little as he wondered if the key could open that padlock.
Andrew returned home, ate the Smith’s traditional Monday casserole, and went to bed. He had trouble falling asleep. “I need to get back to that shack somehow,” he kept thinking. He was so restless that he thought there was no way he was going back to sleep. After he stared at the blank ceiling for fifteen minutes, he couldn’t stand it anymore.
Andrew decided to sneak out of the house and go back to that house and see if he could sneak over to the shack. Andrew noticed that the lights were still on in the house. “Who would still have their lights on at three in the morning!” he exclaimed in thought. He waited in his car until they shut off their lights. The lights finally shut off at 4:30 in the morning. By the time they had shut off, Andrew had fallen asleep on his steering wheel.
It was Tuesday morning and Andrew Smith had slept the night in his car on Harriman Street. By the time he woke up, it was already 8:30a.m. Andrew was late for school. He decided to drive home and explain everything to his parents first. On the way, he took a look at his phone and saw that there were eight missed calls.
“I am so busted!” he exclaimed.
When he returned home, he noticed a police car in the driveway.
“Oh no!” he shouted as he drove up to the driveway.
He drove into his spot and quickly walked into the house.
“I’m home!” he declared as he entered.
His parents and the police officer came quickly to the front door.
“Where have you been?!” his mom expressed in a tone that was almost too hard to answer back.
“I can’t tell them that I was spying on that house last night, especially with the police officer here,” he figured.
“I was having trouble falling asleep, so I thought that I would go for a little drive around town; needless to say, I parked on Harriman Avenue and fell asleep,” he responded in the most innocent way possible.
“We almost had the police look for you Andrew,” said Mrs. Smith in a concerned manner.
“Well I’m home now and late for school,” said Andrew.
“I guess a detention for being late should be a part of your punishment; we’ll think of the other part when you get home,” Mr. Smith stated.
In school, Andrew had a million thoughts storming through his head. “If they take my car away, I won’t be able to go back to the shack,” he thought. There were final exams today, and he thought he must have failed all of them because he couldn’t stop worrying. In his last block, a thought came to him that might get him to see that shack again. “If I leave school to go to the shack, I could ask the people who live there if the key was a match to the padlock,” he thought. He had forgotten that he needed to bring Roger home, which quickly eliminated his idea. “I can’t make anyone else suspicious or I will surely not be able to see the shack again,” he thought.
When Andrew and Roger returned home, Andrew refused to answer any of Roger’s questions about where he was last night. Andrew’s second part of his punishment was exactly what he thought it was going to be.
“An entire month without a car!” he couldn’t stop repeating to himself.
“So much for seeing the shack again,” he muttered.
Andrew decided to find out who was living in the house. He looked up who lived in the house on the internet. He found that Robert and Stacy Jones recently moved into the house. After seeing their last name, Andrew thought that it must have been a coincidence that they had the same last name as Bill Jones. “Could they be related to Bill?” he thought. He wanted to go there and find out. Andrew asked his mom if she could drive him into town. Mrs. Smith agreed and drove Andrew into town in the family car.
“While I’m here, I want to pick up a few groceries,” Mrs. Smith said.
“I just wanted to take a walk around to get some fresh air,” Andrew said.
“Okay, then be back at the car in 20 minutes,” Mrs. Smith said.
Andrew started walking towards Harriman Street and noticed a car parked in Jones’ driveway. He became nervous as he approached the front door. He waited a few seconds and knocked three times on the door. The door opened and Mr. Jones stood in the doorway.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“I…..was wondering……if you happen to be related to Bill Jones?” Andrew asked blushing.
“No, but I think I remember hearing about a Bill Jones in this area,” he said.
“Yeah, he died here in early 2005,” Andrew said.
“Oh okay, so is that all you wanted to know?” Mr. Jones asked.
“Actually, I found this key in the trunk of my car and it has your house number on it,” Andrew announced while showing him the key.
“Well this isn’t a key for the front door, that’s for sure. But why would this be in your trunk?” He asked.
“It’s a long story,” Andrew commented.
“I see, it looks to be for a padlock or something,” Mr. Jones speculated.
“Speaking of which, I noticed that there was a padlock on your shack in the back yard,” Andrew said trying not to sound creepy.
Mr. Jones started to wonder about this random kid that showed up at his door.
“You know what, I haven’t ever tried to open that thing ever since we moved in a few weeks ago, probably because there wasn’t a key for it,” he chuckled.
“Why don’t we go back there and check it out,” Mr. Jones said as he led Andrew around the house.
When they arrived at the shack, Mr. Jones let Andrew do the honors of opening the lock. The key was a perfect fit and unlocked the rusty padlock off the door. Mr. Jones opened the squeaky door.
“Oh….my….gosh…...,” Mr. Jones and Andrew said simultaneously.
The shack was filled with ten, twenty, and one hundred dollar bills. Andrew didn’t understand why Bill left what seems to be his life savings in a shack outside. He made a conclusion that Bill must have wanted to make a little fun for someone, because he knew he was going to die. Why did Bill leave his money in a shack? Well that’s just the mystery in Amery, Wisconsin. Andrew thought back to Bill Jones’ epitaph: “…….Seek and you will be rewarded.”