POLICE INSPECTOR MULDOON and I are old cronies. I was sitting in his office when the report came in that Mr. Thomas had been murdered. Mr. Thomas was a prominent and wealthy citizen.
"I'll look into this thing myself," said Muldoon; "Mr. Thomas was a good friend of mine."
:May I come along?" I asked.
"Sure," said Muldoon.
When we reached the Thomas home, one of the show-places of the city, Muldoon immediately took full charge, placing men at all entrances with orders to permit no one to enter or depart.
As we entered the library, a large room beautifully paneled in walnut, we found six nervous and distraught people awaiting us. Mr. Thomas' body lay on the floor in front of the fireplace, where it had fallen. There was a bullet hole between the eyes.
The daughter of the murdered man was weeping. Her fiance, a guest in the house, was trying to comfort her. I recall that as I first looked at them I was struck by the remarkable similarity of the color of their hair. A man named Perry stood across the room from them watching Miss Terry closely.
MULDOON'S FIRST QUESTIONS elicited the fact that there were no other people in the house and that no one had entered or left it since the murder. An examination of the corpse revealed no clue to the identity of the murderer, unless a strand of hair on the coat might have significance.
At least, it called our attention to the hair of those present; there were two with blond hair, tow with black, and two red-heads.
When the butler was questioned, he said that the other two men were guests and that their names were Mr. Wayne and Mr. Perry.
Muldoon called my attention to the fact that the strand of hair found on Mr. Thomas' coat was the same color as the hair of one of the men, no two of whom had the same color hair; but I reminded him that it was also exactly the same color as that of one of the women.
When Muldoon questioned Miss Mills, she said that she and Miss Terry were visiting Miss Thomas over the week-en, and when he urged her to make a clean breast of it and tell him who the murderer was she just shook her mass of bobbed black hair, and burying her face in her hands, burst into tears.
IT WAS ABOUT THE SAME with the others; no one would name the murderer. One of the girls told Muldoon that she did not know where Miss Thomas was at the time the shot was fired that killed Mr. Thomas.
Muldoon asked one of the male guests, the one with blond hair, how he accounted for the strand of hair on Mr. Thomas' coat.
"I think it has no bearing on the case," the guest replied. "It is not fair to assume that it was a strand of the murderer's hair. As a matter of fact, the murderer has the same color hair as one of the guests who was in another part of the house when Mr. Thomas was shot."
"So you know who the murderer is?" demanded Muldoon, but the man closed up like a clam and would say no more.
Muldoon turned again to Miss Mills and snapped, "Where were you when this man was shot?"
"I was with Miss Thomas."
THE BUTLER WAS STANDING beside Miss Mills; the contrast between the colors of their hair was striking. He fidgeted as Muldoon questioned him.
"Where was Miss Terry at the time of the murder?" the Inspector shot at him.
"She -- she was here -- here, in this room, with Mr. Thomas," stammered the butler.
"Who else was in the room at the time?"
"There were two others, beside Mr. Thomas and Miss Terry."
:Was the color of the murderer's hair the same as that of either of the other two present?"
"No; but the other two had the same color hair."
This was all the information we could gather, yet within ten minutes Muldoon arrested the murderer.
Whom did Muldoon arrest?
Murder at Midnight, Bank Murder, The Terrace Drive Murder (8.10.32), The Gang Murder,
The Lightship Murder (35.10.26), The Dark Lake Murder, Who Murdered Mr. Thomas?,
The Red Necktie (1932), The Dupuyster Case
Rob Wagner's Script Weekly (1932 & 1935)
ERB'S Murder Mystery Puzzles
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