“I’ve got it this time.”
“No, I’m sure you don’t.” Harry said as she looked up from the mound of paperwork she was going through and smiled at Jason as he came through the door with a folder.
“I’m sure I really do and there’s a six hundred-dollar bet going through the office that says you can’t figure this one out using just the case photos.” Jason said.
Harry looked at the folder and considered her options. Pepper’s birthday was coming up and she could really use the extra money.
“What’s the buy in?”
“Twenty. You get the whole pot if you can figure this one out. No one’s taking a cut.”
Harry looked up at Jason. “Stumped the lot of you, did it?”
“Not only did it stump all of us, it stumped the Captain. This is one of his old ones.”
Harry laughed. “You’re on. Gimmie.”
Jason handed the box over to her and stepped back. “I’ll come back in an hour.”
Harry didn’t say anything. She was already heading down to evidence lock up. She needed the large table if she was going to figure this one out.
Stepping in to the room, Harry opened up the folder and spread out the photos inside. They were from an early nineteen eighty’s case.
“No one wears shoulder pads like that anymore.” Harry said aloud as she got out a note pad and a pen and made a note of the approximate date.
Pouring over the photos, Harry smiled to herself. She was humming when the Captain set foot in the room an hour later.
“Hows it coming?” He asked.
“She died from hypothermia after being poisoned, stabbed and hit over the head with the brass falcon.” Harry said and the Captain spit out his coffee.
“How the hell did you manage to figure that out in an hour?” He demanded.
“Not here. Case room. I have to prove it in order to win the bet, right?”
“I’ll pull the squad in. This is going to be good.”
Harry laughed. “They’re going to be so pissed, aren’t they?”
The Captain just laughed as he went to gather the squad. Harry gathered her photos and went to the case room to set up. She just finished taping up the last photo when the squad filed in.
“All right, Harry. Let’s see you prove this one.” Jason said.
“Captain, read me through the case file, only up until the body was discovered by the first on the scene.” Harry said. She sat on the stool in the middle of the room, case board at her back.
“Call came in at six am, January twenty-fifth, nineteen eighty-four.” The Captain began.
Harry smiled. She was right about the time. Getting up, Harry walked over to the board where she had written down her talk points. Picking up a board pen and removing the cap, she checked off the date she had listed.
“Upon arrival, first on the scene reported that the home owner, a Ms Wanda Glass, had been found dead by her neighbor with whom she had coffee every morning. The neighbor, Mrs Eloise Harp, says that she had seen the deceased the night before. They’d met in the hallway as Mrs Harp was coming back from her weekly grocery shopping and Ms. Glass was coming back from what she assumed was a date. She had been crying but did not want to tell her why. They parted in the hallway, where Mrs. Harp went in to her apartment. Mrs. Harp says that she put away the groceries and went to bed.” The Captain huffed at the end of his long speech and looked up at Harry.
Harry walked over to the case boards with the photos. “I’ve taped all the photos to the backside of the glass boards; so I can write on the photos without ruining them.”
“Just get on with it, show off.” Jinks said. Harry flipped him off and the squad laughed.
“Starting with the theory that there was a date that evening, the answer is no. There was no date.” Harry said.
“How do you know?”
“What woman wears her winter boots, thick wool pants and a sweatshirt with padded shoulders on a date? Even in the eighties she’d stick out.” Harry said. She moved to one of the boards. “Look at the windows, there’s frost on them. The furnace was out and she was wearing all that and the coat because of it being out.”
“So?” Jameson said.
“So, why’s she only wearing one glove?” Harry asked and circled the victim’s right hand.
“Someone came to the house?”
“Exactly.” Harry said and she circled a bowl of almonds on the kitchen counter. “Captain, what’d the apartment smell like?”
“Almonds.” The Captain answered after he looked through the file.
“But there was no almond extract, right?”
The ruffling of papers told Harry that he was looking, she never turned away from the board.
“Yes. No almond extract, in anything, in the home.”
“The eighties were the beginning of the extracts craze. There’s a heating plate and almonds, but no extract.” Harry said as she circled the heating plate for extracts. “Why is there no extract? Where is it?”
“Okay, so where?” James asked.
“There isn’t one. It was never there. She was poisoned with cyanide.” Harry said. The squad started shouting.
“There’s no way you could know that from the photos.”
“Sure there is. The almonds give it away.” Harry said.
“Almonds?” The Captain asked.
“She was the one making the cyanide. It can be found in large enough quantities in almonds that are produced outside of the US. In the eighties, she could have gotten the almonds from any number of places shipped to her by ordering over the phone.”
“The Captain says that you said that’s only one thing she died from. What else is there?” Jason said.
“She was also stabbed.” Harry said. She trotted over to the photo of the knife and circled the tip. “See? It’s congealed and sticky when she was stabbed, not fresh. There’s no drips anywhere in any of the photos that I’ve seen.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. How do you know?” Jamson asked.
Harry went over to the photo of the knife wound and pointed at the top. “The knife went in while she was already cold and dead. There’s jagged marks around the opening, like someone had to saw their way in to her in order to stab her.”
“The head wound?” The Captain promoted.
“Right. So she let her killer in, takes off her right glove to shake hands with that person. No business woman is going to shake hands with anyone who’s got bare hands and she still has her gloves on.” Harry said.
“So that’s why she took her glove off.” Jason said.
“Right. It’s also what drove the killer in to a rage.” Harry said.
“How?” Jinks asked.
“She was wearing gloves. The killer dosed her apartment with cyanide to kill her. Make it look like an accidental poisoning from making her own cyanide.” Harry said.
“So because she didn’t die from poisoning, the killer hit her over the head.” Jim, the youngest and newest in the squad, said.
“Bingo. Hit her while she was turning to lead her guest into the living room.” Harry said.
“That still doesn’t explain the hypothermia, which you said she actually died from.” The Captain said.
“Sure it does,” Harry said with a smile. “because she was hit over the head in a house full of items that were dosed with cyanide, she couldn’t turn the kerosene space heater near the open window in the living room.”
Harry walked over to the board and circled the heater and the can of fuel sitting on the other side of the room.
“When the gas ran out in the heater, the victim froze to death.” Harry said with a smile.
“I’ll be damned, she did it.” Jinks said.
“No, you’ll be poorer. Pay up. You own the lady.” Jason said. The Squad laughed and started handing over the cash for the betting pool.
“Okay, so now that we’ve established death. I know you’ve got theory on who killed her, based on the photos.” Jameson said.
“The neighbor.” Harry said as she counted up the cash.
“Damn it. What gave it away?” The Captain asked.
Harry pointed at the scarf laying on the table. It was a pink and light blue. “Mrs. Harp was furious with Ms Glass for sleeping with her husband, so she plotted to kill her.”
“How do you know she slept with the husband?”
Harry stuffed the cash in to her pocket and walked over to the photos of the bedroom and circled the pipe laying on the bedside table.
“Who stabbed her?” James asked.
“The cheating bastard of a husband.” Harry answered.
“Why was she making the cyanide?” Jinks asked
“To kill the wife so she and the husband could run off together.” Harry answered.
“I’ll be damned. It took me six months to close this case.” The Captain said.
Harry laughed and capped her pen. Tossing it to the Captain, she strolled out of the case room.
“Same time next week, Harry?” James called.
“If you’re willing to lose more money, I’m willing to play!” Harry yelled back and the squad laughed.