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Volume 7056

A Short Murder Mystery Puzzle
(Considered too long and involved so left unfinished
Rough notes from ERB's notebook  added)

Part of a series written between 1932 and 1940
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Featuring Police Inspector Muldoon and
his trusted biographer and sidekick, Edgar Rice Burroughs

In most of these mystery puzzles only a single conclusion may be deduced from the clews given. In this one the solution is not a mathematical certainty, as it is based upon circumstantial evidence that points to the guilty party. The question there fore is, which person would a clever criminologist charge with the murder?

"Extra! Extra! All about the great society murder!"

The newspapers were already making capital of the tragedy as Muldoon and I turned into the driveway of the great J. Schuyler Dupuyster house on the evening of September 17, 1932. 

"You'd think these reporters were planted around beforehand in the hope that someone was going to be murdered,: remarked the Inspector. "They know 'all about ' it before the police know there has been a murder."

"Your work ought to be simplified then since they know all about it," I suggested jokingly. 

I shall probably find plenty that they don't know about," he replied; "I usually do."

The Dupuyster grounds are very lovely, and as we drove toward the house the beauty of the scene was enhanced by the soft light of the rising moon upon our right. It did not seem at all like a night for murder. 

A uniformed police officer admitted as to the house, and there were two others in the magnificent reception hail, at the opposite end of which the grand staircase led to the second floor. 

"Where is Captain Burke?" Muldoon asked the first officer.

The man jerked his head toward a closed doorway on the left side of the hall. "He's got the whole bunch in there," he said.

I followed Muldoon through the doorway into an extraordinarily large library. It was so large that it did not appear crowded, notwithstanding the fact that before Muldoon and I had come in there had been fourteen people in the room, including Captain Burke and four of his men, now we were sixteen. Al were standing except one, a fine looking woman, who was seated in a big chair near the centre of the room.

After Burke had greeted us he led Muldoon toward this woman. "Mrs. Dupuyster," he said, "this is Inspector Muldoon."

Mrs. Dupuyster merely inclined her head. She did not smile nor speak nor acknowledge the introduction in any other way. 

"Who are these others, Terry?" inquired Muldoon, glancing about at the glum figures lining the walls before the book shelves. 

They're all servants," replied Burke. "Everyone who was about the place at the time of the murder is here."

Where's the corpse?"

Up in his room where he was killed. I had him left just as I found him -- he hasn't been touched."

"Let's go up and have a look at him," said Muldoon. "And give orders that no one is to leave this room.,"

We ascended the marble stairway to the second floor where Burke led us to a large front room over the library. There was an officer in the hallway before the door to the room and two inside. On the floor, near the centre of  the room, the dead man lay upon his back. He was a distinguished looking man about forty, and all that I had pictured the famous J. Schuyler Dupuyster to be, with his reputation as the best-dressed man in the city. He appeared suave and urbane and his clothing unrumpled even in death. He was wearing a grey business suit; his blue socks and tie matched perfectly. He wore no jewelry except a plain gold band on the third finger of his left hand, evidently a wedding ring. 

There was a pool of blood showing on the rug at the left side of the body underneath the arm. Muldoon stood for a moment examining the body closely; then he bent on one knee beside it and began removing the contents of the pockets and examining them. From the inside right-hand coat pocket he removed a very thin, flat card case; from one waistcoat pocket he took a white gold cigarette light, from the other a thin pocket knife of the same metal. In another pocket was a billfold with several bills of large denominations, and in his trousers were some silver money and a key ring with four keys. From the outside, left-hand upper coat pocket the corner of a handkerchief protruded, and this Muldoon withdrew and spread upon the floor, then, one by one, he picked from the floor the articles that he had removed from the clothing of the dead man and placed them on the handkerchief. 

"Would you mind," he asked, turning to me, "making a note of these articles as i enumerate them?" And as I took out my pencil and notebook he continued, "Card case; cigarette lighter, billfold containing one hundred-dollar bill, three fifties, three twenties, and four tens, key ring with four keys; $185 in silver; all wrapped in green silk handkerchief and turned over to Captain Burke. Here Terry," and he handed the little bundle to his subordinate. 

"And now, Terry," he continued, "how was he killed, and who killed him?"

"You know your own orders, Inspector," replied Burke. "I've made no investigation and allowed none to be made -- we've just waited for you and kept things as we found 'em." 

"But you've got some theory, haven't you?
 insisted Muldoon.

"Well, it's plain that ht wound is in the back of him somewhere; but how it was made of course I don't know. Who made it is different. I don't know, but I got a hunch it was his wife."

"Let's have a book around the room," said Muldoon.

It was a sitting room with two or three easy chairs, a couch, a small desk, several reading lamps and side tables. Muldoon examined everything in the room and then entered a room directly west of it and also fronting the street; this was a bedroom. In the northwest corner of the bedroom were two doors; one led into a dressing room, the other into a bath. These rooms comprised the master's suite. The other half of the front of the second floor contained a similar suite with the location of the rooms just reversed; these belonged to Mrs. Dupuyster and were connected with those of mr. Dupuyster by a doorway between their sitting rooms. From either bedroom one could see, if the doors were all open, across both sitting rooms into the other bedroom, for the doorways were all in line; and the same was true from either dressing room, from the doorway of either an unobstructed view being possible across both bedrooms and both sitting rooms into the other dressing rooms. 

On each sitting room wall beside the doorway leading into the adjoining bedroom was a bank of sixteen annunciator call buttons for summoning servants from different parts of the house. 

Muldoon examined each one of these eight rooms very carefully. He spent some time around a chest of drawers in Dupuyster's bedroom attempting to open them, but he was unable   to do so. No key holes were visible, yet the drawers were securely locked. 

Returning to the body of the murdered man, the Inspector turned it over on its face. The rug beneath the body and the back of the grey coat were saturated with blood. At Muldoon's direction two of the officers removed the upper garments from the body, revealing a clean knife wound beneath the left shoulder blade. 

Then Muldoon returned to the chest of drawers in the bedroom and called Burke's attention to the pull on a small, upper, right hand drawer. He took a white handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the pull; then he showed the handkerchief to Burke and me. There was blood on it. 

Muldoon turned to Burke, "Dupuyster had a valet of course?" he asked

"Yes," replied the captain. "He is downstairs." 

"Send for him."

While we waited, Muldoon occupied his time examining some hunting prints on the wall. Burke and I were looking out of the window toward the street where a morbid crowd had already gathered in front of the house. The remaining policeman was standing by the door talking in low tones to the man stationed in the hallway.

Presently the officer who had been sent for the valet returned wit a neatly dressed man of about thirty. He was very pale, but he appeared quite self-possessed. As he entered the room his eyes immediately sought the corpse, and thereafter they were almost always upon it, as though held by some horrid fascination.

"What is your name?" demanded Muldoon.

"Miller, sir."

"And your occupation?"

"I am -- I was Mr. Dupuyster's valet."

"Come into this room,: directed the Inspector; and when Miller, Burke, and I had followed him into Dupuyster's bedroom, he pointed to the chest of drawers. "Can you open these?" he demanded. 

Miller hesitated before replying. It was an almost inappreciable hesitation, but it was noticeable. Then he said, "Yes, sir, but I am not the only one. The lock is hidden, but there was no particular secret about it. He kept nothing of value in the chest, sir."

"Open this drawer, " ordered Muldoon. He pointed to the drawer to which he had called Burke's attention. ''Miller stepped quickly to the chest, and touched a spring at one side and just below the overhang of the top, then he pulled out the drawer.. "I kept his handkerchiefs in this drawer," he said.

"Who else knew how to open this drawer?" asked Muldoon. 

"Why, Mrs. Dupuyster knew," replied, Miller, "and Hutton." 

"Who's Hutton?

"The butler, sir."

"Why should the butler know how to open this chest of drawers?" demanded Muldoon.

Miller appeared slightly annoyed at Muldoon's ignorance as he replied. "Why, a gentleman's butler always valets for him, if he has no regular valet; and so of course Hutton valeted for the master on my days out, but Mr. Dupuyster didn't like him as a valet."


"He was colour blind."

"Is there anyone else who knows how to open this?"

"I think Ousting must know, sir. Once, last summer it was, sir, when I was taking a bit of a vacation, Hutton was taken sick, and Ousting valeted for the master for a few days."

"Tell me what you know about this murder, Miller," said Muldoon.

"I went to my room about six o'clock this evening, or a minute or so before," commenced the valet.

"Where is your room?"

"It is on the west side of the house, sire, on the third floor, next to the corner room in the rear. Just as I entered my room the annunciator bell rang. I looked at it and saw that the arrow indicated that the cal had come from Mr. Dupuyster's suite."

"Where were you before you came to your room at this time?"

"I was in the room occupied by Nelson and Ousting, next to mine."

"The corner room?" asked Muldoon.

"No, sir, the room south of mine. I had been visiting with Osting for about fifteen minutes. He was putting on his livery at the time. He was talking to me about Irene. The master had been -- er -- ah-- well, Osting thought that there had been something between the master and Irene, and Osting, being in love with Irene, he was somewhat upset, especially after what happened last night."

"What did happen last night?" demanded Muldoon.

"Madame caught the master in Katy's room."

"Who is Katy?"

The parlor maid, sir."

"Go ahead with your story. What did you do after the annunciator bell rang?"

"I washed my hands, sir, and then went down the front stairway to the master's suite. That  must have been four or five minutes after six o'clock. I went into his bedroom first. There are three doors leading from the hall into his suite, just as in the madam's, one into the sitting room, one into the bedroom, and one into the bath.

"I didn't see the master in his bedroom; so I stepped to the door between the bedroom and the sitting room, and then I saw him lying there just like he is now. Just then, madam opened the door that connects their sitting rooms, and screamed."

"What did you do then?"

"I went over to him and saw that he was dead; then I ran downstairs and telephoned the doctor -- their regular family physician."

"Why didn't you use the phone in the room where the body was?"

I was excited and went to the phone in the butler's pantry -- that is the one that we are supposed to use."

"And what did you do with the knife?"

"What knife?"

"The knife with which Mr. Dupuyster was killed!"

"I didn't see any knife," replied Miller defiantly. Then, suddenly his eyes narrowed, and he looked keenly at Muldoon. "Someone's told you about the knife? he demanded.

"I'd like to hear your side of the story," said Muldoon, noncommittally.

"Well, I did borrow a knife from the cook this afternoon, but I took it right to my room and haven't seen it since."

"Suppose we go downstairs now," said the inspector. "Miller, you come with us."

The group in the library looked at us nervously as we entered. They seemed not to have changed their positions since we had left. Mrs. Dupuyster sat staring straight ahead of her, she was the only one who appeared to be uninterested in us. Her perfect poise was unshaken.

Muldoon walked over and stood in front of her. "Mrs. Dupuyster," he asked, "when did you last see your husband alive?"

"About five minutes before six this evening," she replied.

"You ar positive of the time?"

"Yes," she said. "I was in my room when he came home. From a front window I saw Charles, the chauffeur, drive Mr. Dupuyster in from the avenue. The door to the hall was open, and I heard Mr. Dupuyster speaking to Hutton in the lower hall. Then I heard him come upstairs, and caught a glimpse of him as he passed my room to go to his. 

"I then looked at my watch. It was exactly 5:55. We were giving a dinner tonight, and I rang for my maid, as I wished to start dressing. At five minutes past six, my maid not having come, I rang again.

"I was much perturbed mentally over an occurrence of last night, and I then stepped to the door that connects my sitting room with that of Mr. Dupuyster." She stopped. For the first time she seemed on the verge of losing her composure.

"For what purpose did you go to that door?" snapped Muldoon.

"I felt that I had been grievously wronged -- I wanted to have it out with my husband."

"You opened the door?"


"And then what?"

"I saw him lying there -- dead."

"Did you see anything else."

"I saw Miller standing in Mr. Dupuyster's bedroom door, just beyond his -- the -- body."

Muldoon turned and surveyed the other occupants of the room. "Which of you is the cook?" he asked.

"I am," replied a stout, middle aged woman.

"What is your name?"

"Jane Dobbs."

Did you let Miller have a knife this afternoon, Jane?" inquired Muldoon.

"I did, that," she replied with emphasis. "It was just a quarter to five that he went out of the kitchen with the knife that I loaned him, but as God is my witness I didn't know what he was going to do with it."

A young woman cried out hysterically, "She's go it in for him!" she exclaimed. "She's tryin' to frame him."

"Who are you? and what do you mean?" demanded the inspector. 

"I'm Katy, the parlor maid," replied the girl, a trim, good-looking young person in her early twenties. "Dobbs is jealous -- that's all that's the trouble with her. She has a crush on Miller, and she's sore because she couldn't get him away from me. She threatened to "get' him if he threw her over for me."

"Miller," Muldoon turned to the valet, "why did you borrow that knife?"

"I was afraid, and I wanted to keep it in my room. I put it under my pillow, and it's there now."

"Who were you afraid of?"

"Hutton. He was struck on Katy. He said he'd beat me up if I didn't leave her alone."

"Jane, what did this knife look like," asked Muldoon. "Can you describe it?"

"It was an old wooden-handled meat knife," replied the woman. "It had been sharpened so many times the blade was very thin and slender."

Muldoon then sent an officer to Miller's room to fetch the knife, and once again turned his attention to Mrs. Dupuyster. 

"You said that something unpleasant occurred last night," he reminded her, "What was it?"

"I would rather not talk about it," replied the woman coldly.

"I am afraid that you will have to," Muldoon told her. 

"Ask Irene about it -- she knows more than I do," said Mrs. Dupuyster.

Edgar Rice Burroughs left "The Dupuyster Case" unfinished, noting that it was "too long and too complicated. "To read his outline for the remainder of the puzzle, scroll below.



Knew how to open drawer:
1. Miller (valet)
2. Mrs. D
3. Hutton (butler)
4 Ousting (footman)
5. Nelson (footman) out on errand

Osting was in his room. Miller saw him there when he answered call to D's room. Ousting was putting on livery.

6. Charles (chauffeur) in garage.
7. Jane Dobbs (cook) in kitchen at time; as Katy and Nelson enter.
8. Irene (lady's maid) with Nelson downstairs.

Hutton loves Katy.
Katy loves Miller.
Osting loves Irene.
Dup had been intimate with both girls; so Hutton, Osting, and Miller (as well as Mrs. D) might have a motive.

Dupuyster was seen alive between 5:55 and 6 by Irene as she entered Mrs. D's dressing room and closed the door. D winked at her.

Katy and Irene were together in their room when Mrs. D rang; they left the room together; Katy went downstairs and met Nelson as he came in the servant's entrance from an errand for the cook. 

Irene was with Mrs. D until the death was discovered. 

It narrows down to Hutton and Miller.

(Handwritten note on ERB's worksheet - deleted from his typed outline) The bloody knife and a bloody handkerchief are found in laundry in basement in the laundry bin. There is an opening on each floor at rear of house where soiled articles may be dropped.

Dup had on blue socks and tie and a green handkerchief was in his pocket. Miller, a trained valet, would not have selected a green handkerchief to replace the one on which he had wiped the bloody knife. 

Hutton who was colour blind, Might have.

So Muldoon arrested Hutton

ERB'S Murder Mystery Puzzles


Karl Commendador: Art ~ Charles Santino: Script

One of 20 ERB Story Adaptations in
The Edgar Rice Burroughs Comics Strips Project

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