The Fourth Party: Solution
“You’ve finally solved the case?!” exclaimed Simon, “About time!”
“So who is the killer?” asked Benedict, “Who is the bastard who killed my sister?!”
“Have some patience!” hissed Felicity, “Let the detective explain how he figured it out.”
“Thank you Miss Heathfield,” said Adrian. “With everyone’s cooperation tonight, I believe that we will all have a good night’s sleep with the exception of the murderer.”
The detective then cleared his throat before proceeding to explain his deductions.
“The murderer was very intelligent,” began Adrian. “Whoever they are, they wanted to display the victim in the most extravagant manner. Perhaps they wanted to make an example of her. Her brother and nephew called her out for her greed in wealth, while her vice-president claimed that she was someone no one could defy.”
“But how did the murderer set her up above the artificial lake?” asked Felicity. “Wouldn’t they have gotten themselves wet from hoisting the victim?”
“The murderer did not need to get themselves wet,” said Adrian. “They were smart enough to set everything up before operating the machines.”
“So what did they do?” inquired Simon.
“First, they drugged the countess,” explained Adrian. “They deliberately bumped into her so that she would spill her own drink on her clothes.”
“Why would they do something like that?” exclaimed Benedict, “How unsightly!”
“But how kind of you to offer her your own drink…” said the detective. “The one you spiked with the crushed sleeping pills!”
Everyone turned their faces towards Benedict who had tensed up at the detective’s words.
“Detective,” he spluttered. “You must be mistaken! How does that make me the killer? I would never kill my sister for being so stingy with her wealth!”
“Your fingerprints were on the champagne glass which the countess drank out of,” explained Adrian. “It was only your set of fingerprints, since the countess and the waiting staff were all wearing gloves. Right after you took your glass, you must have mixed in the crushed sleeping pills before approaching your sister to deliberately bump into her. It is also not uncommon for siblings to share food and drink between each other. That is why she did not suspect a single thing when she accepted your glass.”
“But I was definitely on the phone with the bank!” protested Benedict, “The waiting staff who informed me of the phone call should be able to vou- No, wait! Ask the receptionist. They should have seen me there!”
“Enough with the excuses!” shouted Adrian, “One of the police officers spoke to the said waiter, and he confessed to acting as witness to your alibi. They also contacted the bank you claimed had phoned you, but neither of them had placed a call to Blackpool Tower.”
“If you’re so confident, then tell me how did I commit the murder?” Benedict then challenged.
“You followed the countess to the powder room once you saw the sleeping pills taking effect,” explained Adrian. “Once she was unconscious, you transported her to the circus ring. You used a dumbbell as the weight by tying the ends of the rope to the handle bars. To add increased leverage to hoist the countess in the air, you looped the rope over the trapeze bars before placing the noose around the countess’ neck. You also knew how to operate the machinery, because you requested a tour of backstage before the guests arrived for the party. The backstage hand who found the countess and the manager will be able to testify. Once everything was set up, you went to the machine room to transform the circus ring into the artificial lake. That was how you were able to hoist the countess’ body over the artificial lake, making it seem like an impossible case to be solved.”
“Fascinating story detective,” Benedict chuckled nervously. “But where’s your proof? I own an automobile business, so naturally I’d be interested in any kind of mechanisms.”
“I started suspecting you when I saw how unsurprised you were after I told you that you would be inheriting your sister’s fortune,” the detective elaborated. “It was as if this was not the first time you had heard it. And the following outburst towards your son; Does that mean we have lost some of that inheritance?! Were you angry at your son for embezzling your sister’s fortune? Or was it because you did not inherit the amount you expected?”
“Some silly outburst isn’t enough to wrangle me detective,” said Benedict. “Wouldn’t concrete evidence be more convincing rather than the mentality of the suspects?”
“Then can you please turn down the collar of your shirt?” requested Adrian.
Even before Benedict could react, a police officer hurried over and unfolded the collar of Benedict’s dress shirt. Adrian smirked in amusement to see Benedict’s eyes widen in shock when he saw the lipstick smudge from the countess painted on his shirt collar.
“Just as I had thought,” said Adrian. “When I was examining the countess’ body, I had notice that some of her lipstick had smudged. It must’ve gotten onto your shirt collar while you were setting her up in the middle of the circus ring. If I have the forensic team examine the contents of the pockets of your clothing, there will be remnants of the crushed sleeping pills.”
“Fine, you got me detective,” sighed Benedict.
“Father!?” exclaimed Simon in shock, “Did you really kill Aunt Ethel?! Did you really know about the inheritance?!”
“That greedy woman would not lend a helping hand to her own brother!” shouted Benedict, “She wanted all her late husband’s fortune to herself. During a visit to my sister’s house, I overheard a conversation between her and our family lawyer discussing the terms and conditions of her will.”
“And you discovered that because your sister had no children with her late husband, you were the sole inheritor to her fortune,” finished Adrian. “This made you so desperate that you decided to speed things up by killing her. In order to save your declining business.”
“And then that good-for-nothing gambling son of mine lost the majority of that fortune!” exclaimed Benedict. “It probably won’t be enough to save my business now.”
“Mr. Benedict Ketterwell,” said a police officer as he approached Benedict. “You are under arrest for the murder of your sister, Countess Ethel Crawley.”
“I guess this means Aunt Ethel’s fortune will be going to me,” huffed Simon in amusement as he watched his father being led away. “Such a shame that old man is very likely going to hang for murdering one of his own.”
“I wouldn’t be too confident younger Ketterwell,” tutted Adrian as he placed his hand on Simon’s shoulders, squeezing it in an iron grip. “You will also be accompanying your father to the police station.”
“Hey!” exclaimed Simon in shock, “You can’t do that! I didn’t kill anyone!”
“You do realise that embezzlement is a crime, am I correct?” said the detective, “And I believe that you’ll be locked away for a long time. Though do not worry, because you could be released if your behaviour is good.”
Another police officer came and escorted Simon Ketterwell out of the building. Adrian then turned to head back into the ballroom. These deaths at Mr. Hurston’s parties so far did not seem to be coincidental anymore. He then recalled the piece of paper he found among the paperwork regarding the parties.
Making an example of those people who have wronged whoever that person was. Could it be? The detective wondered to himself. Could those people be the previous and most recent victims of the murders occurring at the parties? From what he had garnered, it appeared that the murder victims all knew a certain someone whom they have wronged. And that person must be the common link.
“Lady Salome Townsend, Miss Jezebel Doncaster, Mr. Maurice Higham, and the late Countess Ethel Crawley,” he muttered to himself. “Who did they know in common?”