ERB MURDER MYSTERY PUZZLE
WHO MURDERED MR. THOMAS?
By ED BURROUGHS
Mystery Puzzle from Tarzana
You have a right to boast of the high order of intelligence of your readers. Let's see how high it is. The enclosed murder mystery may be solved logically from the clues given in the story. There is no "catch" to it. Ask your readers to time themselves and then tell you how long it took them to reach the correct solution logically. Also ask them not to lie.
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)
Muldoon finds six people in the library:
Her fiancé (a guest)
These two have the same color hair (Wayne)
Mr. Perry (a guest)
Mr. Wayne (a guest) (Miss Thomas' fiancé)
Miss Mills (bobbed black hair)
Miss Terry (in room with two men when Thomas murdered)
Of the six people it has been shown that three were women and the other three men; the three women have been named and the butler stating that "the other two men" were guests.
As Perry stood across the room from Miss Thomas and her fiancé, Wayne must be the other guest and therefore Miss Thomas' fiancé.
As no two of the men had the same color hair, there must have been one blond, one red, and one black; and the same must be true of the women, as there were two of each color hair in the room.
Miss Terry was in room at time of murder; she did not know where Miss Thomas was at that time. As Miss Mills was with Miss Thomas at the time of the murder, neither of them could have been in the room; so neither could have been the murderess. We therefore place an X before their names.
There were three in the room (beside Thomas) when the murder was committed; two of them had the same color hair, so must have been of different sexes; the killer's hair was of a different color. Miss Terry was there; and as both the other women were out of the room, Miss Terry and two men must have been there. Miss Terry and one of the men must have had the same color hair; therefore the third person must have been the murderer, and was a man.
The killer had the same color hair as either Miss Thomas or Miss Mills.
The butler's hair was either red or blond, because it contrasted strikingly with Miss Mills' black hair; and he must have been one of the two men in the room, in order to know definitely who was in t he room at the exact moment of the murder.
The killer did not have the same color hair as either of the other two men, and as he had the same color hair as one of the guests who was absent from the room it must have been the same color as Miss Mills', which was black, as she was the only woman guest absent from the room; therefore the killer had black hair.
The butler could not have been the killer because his hair contrasted strikingly with Miss Mills', and we X him out.
So either Perry or Wayne must be the killer.
As Miss Mills was the only girl with black hair, Wayne's hair could not have been black, as it was the same color as Miss Thomas's, and so we X Wayne out.
Therefore it was Perry whom Muldoon arrested.
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