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Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 1

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me


1. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: the body of Peter Peters found by passerby

It was a gray November day -- the first of November, actually. Bernard Philpin, driving south on Route 62 on some errand that we won't go into here, happened to glance at the reservoir, and noticed something that seemed out of place. It looked like Peter Peters, the man who kept a watchful eye on the reservoir, but he was in an unnatural position, lying on the grass next to the reservoir. Philpin felt a sense of dread about this. The unnatural position was bad enough, but Peters' complexion was gray, and he wasn't moving. Philpin was used to seeing people asleep, but this did not seem to be the case here.

He pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, and walked to the guardrail. It sure looked like Peters. Lifelike, but possibly not actually alive.

He noted the location, took out his phone, and called the Crepuscular Meadows police station.

Sergeant Friday Mundy answered the phone in a professional voice -- no growling like in the movies or TV shows. Poor guy was saddled with a name that sounded like a joke -- his parents wanted him to be a detective, apparently, and they got their wish. Philpin hoped they rotted in hell for it, but he never said this aloud. He was supposed to be a charitable man.

He gave the location of the body, reassured the detective that he had not gone beyond the guardrail so as not to disturb the crime scene -- if that's what it was.

Then he continued on his way toward Workchester, where he had a business appointment.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 2

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[For what it's worth, this is the first of thirty chapters, in honor of November journal-writing.]


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 3

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

2. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: the plot thickens.

Sergeant Friday Mundy wasn't having a good day. More like a terrible one. This just made it worse. First, the coffee pot was empty. True, he could send someone to Emma's Cafe for coffee, but everyone was either out on assignment or working a case in the office. Plus, there wasn't much in the petty cash drawer. Actually, there was rarely much there. People just paid for things out of their own pockets.

From the north-facing window, he could see the Park. From the south one, he could see the reservoir dam in the distance. He thought about what Bernard Philpin had just told him on the phone. Poor Peter Peters! He had the personality of a turnip, but the tourists liked him, and people in town were used to dealing with him. His absence would be felt.

And, he had no one he could spare for investigating this case. Three staffers were on vacation, two were on leave (one was on maternity leave, something the department never used to have to worry about).
He pulled up the file of active staffers on his computer, just to be sure he wasn't forgetting anyone. Nope.

That just left him.

Well, he was qualified. He had worked his way up to a Detective First Grade, and stayed there for three years, and now was the department's top detective. Actually, he was the town's only detective, despite his rank. The town had maybe one or two murders a year, and the Sergeant spent most of his time doing routine police work.

But now he had an actual murder to solve. And, this wasn't an anonymous John Doe, but someone known personally by at least half the town's citizens, and many more from outside.

This case wasn't going to make or break his career, but the respect that he now enjoyed might be diminished if he didn't find out who killed Peter Peters.

--------------------------------------------------------


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 4

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[for what it's worth, I have written ten episodes and still don't know who did the murder(s).]


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 5

Pierre de la Mer ~ sometimes slightly worried but never panicking ~

I know smiley - wow

But of course I'll not reveal it! smiley - whistle

smiley - offtopic


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 6

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Not even to me? smiley - huh


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 7

Pierre de la Mer ~ sometimes slightly worried but never panicking ~

Nope

But I'm sure you will work it out in the end smiley - smiley

smiley - pirate


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 8

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

I'm tempted to just finish the story and let people read the appropriate chapters on the appropriate days.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 9

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Murder in Crepuscular Meadows



1. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: the body of Peter Peters found by passerby

It was a gray November day -- the first of November, actually. Bernard Philpin, driving south on Route 62 on some errand that we won't go into here, happened to glance at the reservoir, and noticed something that seemed out of place. It looked like Peter Peters, the man who kept a watchful eye on the reservoir, but he was in an unnatural position, lying on the grass next to the reservoir. Philpin felt a sense of dread about this. The unnatural position was bad enough, but Peters' complexion was gray, and he wasn't moving. Philpin was used to seeing people asleep, but this did not seem to be the case here.

He pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, and walked to the guardrail. It sure looked like Peters. Lifelike, but possibly not actually alive.

He noted the location, took out his phone, and called the Crepuscular Meadows police station.

Sergeant Friday Mundy answered the phone in a professional voice -- no growling like in the movies or TV shows. Poor guy was saddled with a name that sounded like a joke -- his parents wanted him to be a detective, apparently, and they got their wish. Philpin hoped they rotted in hell for it, but he never said this aloud. He was supposed to be a charitable man.

He gave the location of the body, reassured the detective that he had not gone beyond the guardrail so as not to disturb the crime scene -- if that's what it was.

Then he continued on his way toward Workchester, where he had a business appointment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------




--------------------------------------------------

2. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: the plot thickens.

Sergeant Friday Mundy wasn't having a good day. More like a terrible one. This just made it worse. First, the coffee pot was empty. True, he could send someone to Emma's Cafe for coffee, but everyone was either out on assignment or working a case in the office. Plus, there wasn't much in the petty cash drawer. Actually, there was rarely much there. People just paid for things out of their own pockets.

From the north-facing window, he could see the Park. From the south one, he could see the reservoir dam in the distance. He thought about what Bernard Philpin had just told him on the phone. Poor Peter Peters! He had the personality of a turnip, but the tourists liked him, and people in town were used to dealing with him. His absence would be felt.

And, he had no one he could spare for investigating this case. Three staffers were on vacation, two were on leave (one was on maternity leave, something the department never used to have to worry about).
He pulled up the file of active staffers on his computer, just to be sure he wasn't forgetting anyone. Nope.

That just left him.

Well, he was qualified. He had worked his way up to a Detective First Grade, and stayed there for three years, and now was the department's top detective. Actually, he was the town's only detective, despite his rank. The town had maybe one or two murders a year, and the Sergeant spent most of his time doing routine police work.

But now he had an actual murder to solve. And, this wasn't an anonymous John Doe, but someone known personally by at least half the town's citizens, and many more from outside.

This case wasn't going to make or break his career, but the respect that he now enjoyed might be diminished if he didn't find out who killed Peter Peters.

--------------------------------------------------------
3. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: Interviewing the first lead: Peters's daughter.

Sergeant Friday Mundy called the Town Clerk's office to find out where Peters lived (when he was alive), and whether he had relatives who might know about his last activities.

Peters was divorced (his ex-wife now lived in Seattle, and a quick check showed that she hadn't left that city in the last few days). His only child was a daughter, Sophie, who was married to Leonard Berkowitz and mother to two daughters. She and her husband lived in Clanville, near the Crepuscular Meadows town line, and both worked at the Drawbridge Diner.

Sergeant Friday placed a call to the diner, and waited a few minutes for his call to be put through. When Sophie answered, he could hear a lot of noise – even at 10:00 a.m., the breakfast din was overpowering. “I'm Sergeant Friday Mundy of the Crepuscular Meadow Police Department, and I have some bad news for you about your father,” he said somberly.”

“Yeah, he's dead,” Sophie said, sniffling. “Someone from the police department called me an hour ago. They wanted me to come and identify the body, though they were in doubt that it was him. I went to the reservoir, identified him, and then was late for work. I hate this!”

“Is it too soon to ask you to meet with me to find out what, if anything, you know about his last actions?” the Sergeant asked. “Relatives who live nearby can be crucial in establishing the facts, even if they didn't live with the deceased.”

“The diner closes at 2:30. Come here at 2:00, and we can talk over a nice lunch. That is, if you like hash.” Then she hung up.

As it happened, the Sergeant liked hash.
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Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 10

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[before I post chapter 4, I wish to list a link to the entry that hs the fully 30 days, complete with a wrap up of the case:
A88003668

You may, if you are curious, read to the end. smiley - smiley]

Okay, here's chapter 4:

4. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: Murder on the menu

“I haven't eaten here in ages,” Sergeant Friday said, peering at a food-spattered menu (which was, thankfully, plastic, so it could be wiped clean, except it hadn't been).

“The menu hasn't changed in ages either,” Sophie observed. “Except when prices had to go up. And since Covid-19 came along. You'll notice that this table is six feet long, to keep us that far apart.”

“I wondered about that,” Sergeant Friday said. “technically we s
shouldn't even be allowed to eat inside.

“Don't tell the authorities. You'll notice that each table is screened off from the rest of the diner. It's like a booth.”

“What do you recommend from the menu,” Sergeant Friday asked.

“Hash is today's special, but a lot depends on whether you want a second breakfast, or a nice lunch.”

“I've heard good things about the Cuban sandwiches here.” A waitress came to take their orders, then disappeared into the kitchen.

“Aha, so this place is not off your radar, being outside Crepuscular Meadows.”

“Well, Clanville isn't in my jurisdiction, but people at the station talk about this place. And this is just over the line.”

“Not to change the subject, but do the people at the station talk about my father? You know, I'm sad to lose him, especially this way. How was he killed?”

“The medical examiner says preliminary results are that he was strangled. There are bruise marks around his neck.”

“Gack! Not over lunch.”

“Lunch hasn't been served yet.”

“And I won't feel like eating it when it comes.”

“With your father dead, I'm surprised you felt like eating today.”

“I'm helping your investigation. I last talked to my father the night before he died. He planned to go fishing with a couple of friends the next morning.”

“Do you know who these friends were?”

“No, but his next-door neighbor might have seen them come to his door.”

“Who is the neighbor?”

“Geppetto Conti.”


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 11

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

Here's chapter 5


5. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: The neighbor in the cuckoo house

It was time for Sergeant Friday Mundy to visit Peter Peters's neighborhood. Up on a hill overlooking the Hoohaw River after it emerged from the reservoir dam, there was a side street where Peters lived. Next to it was where a man named Geppetto Conti had built a house shaped like a cuckoo clock. A very big cuckoo clock. Not only was the house shaped like a cuckoo clock, but Conti had dozens, perhaps hundreds of actual cuckoo clocks inside.

Sergeant Friday approached the area just as the clock was striking three. Suddenly a cacophony of cuckoo calls rang out up ahead. “Yep, this is the area, all right,” Sergeant Friday muttered. He rounded the crest of the hill and turned onto the street. Officers Phelps and Dodge were just emerging from Peters's house. Friday frowned. Teamwork would dictate that the chief detective be there when the house was searched. But after all, he had just been questioning the daughter of the deceased. The other cops looked sheepish. He filled them in n what he had learned at the diner, and they told him what they had found.

Then the three of them went next door to see if Conti could identify the two men who had called on Peters early this morning. Conti had surveillance cameras so he could be alerted when real cuckoos were nearby. He cheerfully rewound the videos from the cameras, and the four of them watched as two men knocked on Peters's door. The door opened, and Peters came out.

Sergeant Friday wasn't happy with what he saw. One of the men was Orlando Salieri, a man with a long list of priors. Why was Peters associating with such a man? The other man, in his twenties, was a stranger. Neither one was likely to be interested in going fishing, plus this was November. Who went fishing in November? Conti printed out a picture of him so the department could send it out to national services for identification.

“I've never seen either man before,” said Conti. “The younger man bears a family resemblance to Peters. Did he have young nephews or cousins?”

“Sophie might know, but by now she may be tired of dealing with this,” said Sergeant Friday.”

“It's a pity there weren't surveillance cameras next to where his body was found,” Conti offered.

“Well, there was a convenience store on the other side of the street form the murder site. Maybe they would have cameras?” offered Officer Phelps.

Sergeant Friday's eyebrow went up. This was good thinking. Give the man a promotion!


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 12

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[I've written and written this a lot. Later developments require going back to make sure things line up right. I admire the stories in the Holes in History project. My story is a pot boiler. But I hope people can enjoy it. peace]


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 13

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

6. Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular meadows: the convenience store

The cops approached the convenience store, which was called Seven/twenty-four. A young man was tending the counter. No customers were present.

“Hi, what can I do for you?” the young man asked.

“Does your store have surveillance cameras?” Sergeant Friday asked.

“Sure, but they get erased at the end of every week.”

“Would they have enough range to see what was happening on the other side of the street?”

“Possibly, but the resolution would not be as good.”

“A man was found dead next to the reservoir, about twenty feet from the guard rail.”

“The camera would record only what was visible on this side of the guard rail. And I'm sorry to hear that anyone died, especially there.”

“Why 'especially there.'”

“That's known to be a very unlucky place for anyone to be.” the sergeant's eyebrows went up. “What I mean is that bad people sometimes hang out there.”

“Apparently some bad people did hang out there. Have you personally seen some of the bad people?”

“Occasionally.”

Sergeant Friday showed the young man pictures of the two suspects. “Have you seen either of these men? Ever?”

The young man thought a moment. “The younger man came in here one time when I was on duty.”

“Did he buy anything?”

The young man shrugged. “I have no secrets. It happened yesterday afternoon. He wanted cigarettes, some soda pop, and a fishing rod. I figured he planned on fishing.”

Yes, that would be a logical conclusion.

“Did he pay by cash or card?”

“Cash.”

“Too bad. A credit card would have had his name on it.”

“If it was really his,” commented Phelps.

Again, a sharp mind! Sergeant Friday nodded.
-----------------------------------------------------------


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 14

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[Here's #7]


7.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: A thick plot gets thicker

They were back at the station. “Orlando Salieri has not, as far as I can deduce, ever gone fishing,” Sergeant Friday said.

“We have a possible I.D. For the younger man,” said Officer Dodge.

“Really? Who might he be?”

“Arnold Peters. Peter's uncle's grandson.”

“More mystery. He might like fishing, but why involve Salieri?”

“There's an answer. Salieri's his father-in-law.”

“Not a nice family to marry into,” observed Officer Dodge.

“Judging by Orlando Salieri, yes, but his wife was the daughter of a very fine judge,” said Phelps with a shrug of his shoulders. “An aunt was a professor of anthropology at Workchester State College, and had a bit of influence. The apple could just as well have fallen from the right side of the tree.”

“Um, did you know her by any chance?” Friday asked.

“I took a course from her.”

“So, I don't know what to think,” Sergeant Friday said.

“It's possible that neither of the men had anything to do with Peters's death,” said Phelps.

“That's possible.”

“But he's still dead,” said Dodge.”


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 15

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

[and #8]


8.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: The Crime Lab's report

The Crime lab in Narmady produced its preliminary report two days later. Time of death? Probably around 6:00 a.m. On the morning of November 1. This did not seem like a case of being killed while fishing or approaching the reservoir in preparation. True, one could go to the reservoir at 6:00 in July or August, but why so early in November? Why not wait for air temps to warm up into the forties at least?

Also, it appeared that Peters was not killed in the spot where he was found. The lab had various arcane explanations for this deduction, but basically the ground was not disturbed at all, as it would have been had Peters struggled against his murderer.

Also, a very recent cigarette butt was just six feet away, and there was a scuffed path where the body was apparently dragged to the edge of the reservoir from a location next to the guardrail. There were recent faint tire tracks in the breakdown lane next to the rail. Aha! They seemed to have been made by a Jeep.

Not many people had jeeps these days.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 16

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me


9..Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: Gaia, the witness from above.

“Um, I hear that you are looking for information that might lead to the identification of the killers of Peter Peters.” Sergeant Friday looked up from his desk, where half of a tuna fish sandwich still lay untouched. Lunch had had to yield to pressing work. But the young lady who stood in front of his desk might have something to help with that work.

“Gaia Philpin,” Sergeant Friday breathed softly. “The last time you were in here, a wild turkey had wandered into the middle of High Street, and you wanted us to protect it from traffic.”

“Yes, and my mission was successful,” Gaia said proudly. Gaia, the niece of Bernard Philpin, the town's wealthiest and most philanthropic citizen, believed that she could understand what trees were saying. She formed friendships with bats and cuckoos and any number of other creatures. If anyone loved the world's creatures more than she, that person didn't live in Crepuscular Meadows.

“I'd like to file a report on what I saw on the morning of Mr. Peters's death,” Gaia said.

She now had Sergeant Friday's full attention. He grabbed a witness statement form from the corner of his desk, and took a pen in hi s hand. “I'm ready when you are,” he said. “Just tell me what you saw.”

“I was on top of Monument Hill, in the botanic garden, speaking soothing words to the trees that were afraid to dial down their activities for the cold season,” she said. “Some trees are like that.”

Sergeant Friday knew about Gaia's tendency to ramble, so he said, “Please tell us what you witnessed relative to the murder.”

“It was about 6:00 in the morning, and still rather dark, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed a pair of bright headlights down on the road. I turned toward it, and saw a jeep which was pulling over into the breakdown lane. It stopped. Two men got out. They opened the back and picked up a man, and carried him over the guardrail and down the grassy slope toward the edge of the water. They dropped the man on the ground, then came back to the jeep, got in, and left.”

Sergeant Friday whistled. “Can you describe the jeep in any way? Particularly if you noticed its license plates as it was leaving?”

Gaia pulled out a pair of binoculars. “As I said, it was dark, but I squinted my eyes and used these to try and get the license plate number. I got the first three digits: MU5”

Sergeant Friday was getting very excited now. “Very resourceful! There are aren't many jeeps in this area, and having the first half of a license plate number may be the break we need.”


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 17

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me



10.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: What's a jeep from
the other side of the country doing in Crepuscular Meadows?

It took a while to narrow down the possibilities of the license plate number because MU5 did not show up in any statewide register of jeeps. This meant tapping into a national database, which ran slower because of exponentially larger amounts of data to search. After a few hours, the results came back: the jeep was registered to Freesia Cooperman, an unemployed actress who lived in one of the lower-income sections of Los Angeles.

Ms. Cooperman was 27 years old, not unattractive, and unable to find both acting jobs and waitressing jobs, thanks to devastation wrought by Covid-19. It was anybody's guess where she had gotten to since the time of the murder, assuming that she was even aware that her car was being used to transport the victim.

Sergeant Friday placed a call to the Los Angeles Police department, explained the situation, and tried to instill a sense of urgency in the person on the other end of the line.

“They say they lack sufficient manpower to make contacting this person a high-priority task,” Sergeant Friday said wearily. “Does this have to be rocket surgery? You find her number, pick up the phone and call her. If she doesn't answer, get numbers for the neighbors, and keep calling until you reach someone who might have noticed whether she has been around lately. If her jeep is on this side of the country while the owner is in L.A., that's a little weird, but if she says it was stolen, we would have to give her the benefit of the doubt as long as the doubt lasts.”

Officer Phelps asked what Freesia's address was. “Ah, my sister lives just across the street. Maybe she could ask around.”

Sergeant Friday frowned. “That would be meddling in police business, officer.”

“She doesn't need to do police business. She writes news stories on a freelance basis. If she thinks there's a good story in this – and I don't see why there wouldn't be – she can ask the sort of questions that a good reporter would ask.”

“If you can get her on the phone, I could talk to her and steer her away from behavior that would amount to obstruction of justice,” Sergeant Friday said.

“You mean it wouldn't be an interesting story that the lady's jeep has mysteriously gone all the way across the country?” Officer Phelps asked. “She has no known reason to know any of the people involved in our case, but does she have a boy friend who borrowed it for a few weeks to visit his sick grandmother in this area? Sort of like Little Red Riding Hood but without the wolf...”

“That we know of,” said officer Dodge with a wink.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 18

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me


11.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: Skronton Weembly

As it turned out, Freesia Cooperman was sleeping peacefully in her
house when a reluctant L.A.P.D. Officer called her.

“The Jeep?” she said groggily. “You want to know why my jeep is on the East Coast in a place called Crepuscular Meadows? Well, that's where my nephew lives. He needed a car, so I loaned it to him.”

“May we ask the name of your nephew?”

“Yes, you may ask, but why do you care? It's not as if he killed someone, is it?” She gasped. “I bet he's in trouble. I hope it's not murder. Tell me he held up a 7-24 or something like that.”

“A murder has apparently been committed, and your jeep was seen leaving the scene where the body was found.”

“Ouch! I'm in shock!”

“We aren't saying you had anything to do with it, but we'd like to know who your nephew is.”

“Skronton Weembly. He washes dishes at Caledonian Grove Restaurant. It's hard to get around without a car, so I let him borrow it until he saves enough to get a car of his own. “

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

Half an hour later, Sergeant Friday had been apprised of Skronton Weembly's involvement in the case. Twenty minutes after that, a phone call to the restaurant established that Weembly had not been seen for three days.

“We're back to square one,” Sergeant Friday said.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 19

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

12.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: Another murder, need for a crime lab report.

The Medical Examiner seemed to think that Skronton Weembly had been dead about as long as Peter Peters. The jeep was parked in front of his apartment building.

Two more days went by. The usual minor dust-ups and squabbles occurred that a police department concerns itself with. Missing cats. Bag ladies (or men) urinating in Mrs. Worthington's roses. Officer Phelps observed that the salt in urine is not good for roses, but the nitrogen is. A trade-off. No one listened to him.

Then there was a break in the case: a surveillance camera showed
Orlando Salieri with his hands around Weembly's neck. Would this be good enough evidence to hold up in court? The bad news? Time would tell. The big question was how to find Salieri, now that there was evidence of his involvement in at least one murder.

The fates smiled on the police department later that day. Salieri was caught red-handed stealing apples in Nobility, a small town next to Crepuscular Meadows. Officer Dodge wondered
why he would bother to steal them, when they were lying around for the taking in the orchards was anyone's guess.


Murder in Crepuscular Meadows

Post 20

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me


13.Spotlight on murder in Crepuscular Meadows: But Salieri has an alibi

“I admit that I was mad at Weembly, but I did not kill him. I gave up and left him alone. He was still alive then,” Salieri said.

The medical examiner found this plausible. The camera footage was old. Weembly had done a shift of work at the restaurant since the footage was taken.

Could Arnold Peters have been involved? Well, his grandfather said that he had come home by 8:00 on the morning of Peter's murder, and had been accounted for ever since. The police questioned him, but he maintained that he had thought better of fishing so early, so he had gone back home without accompanying the other men.

“Technically, we know that “two men” carried the body to the spot where it was found,” Officer Phelps said. “We don't know who they were. The evidence doesn't place any particular individuals at the scene.”

“Salieri and Arnold Peters might have showed up at Peter's door, but we can't establish what they did after that,” Officer Dodge added.

Sergeant Friday cocked an eyebrow. “We can't question the fish, you know. They're the only ones close enough to the scene to know.”

“Unless they were asleep,” Phelps said. “Trout and bass feed at night, but they would have been winding down by 6:00.”


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