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A summer mystery - Part 3: The investigation

August 18, 2011

Detective Brown stood in the dimly lit squad room. It had been three days since he had received the call about the body in the basement of the apartment building and the investigation was now in full swing. Brown or his partner had spoken to literally everyone who was in the building that day. All 32 people.

They had painstakingly searched the Johnson apartment, the stairwell, the basement, and the empty, recently purchased, shared apartment between the Johnsons and their neighbor Tom.

Brown had sent everyone home. Even his partner. He typically liked to work back through his notes and all of the various reports on his own.

He sipped at his ice coffee and started from the top.

They had found very little. In the Johnson apartment, there had been no sign of foul play. But an errant chess piece on the floor in the dining room had caught Brown’s eye. Mrs. Johnson said her husband hadn’t played in months.

“It must have fallen.”

“Yes, certainly,” Brown said.

In the back stairwell, an indentation on the railing had made it seem like something heavy had been paused there for an extended period of time. Maybe a body. It was possibly related, but there was no way to tell how long the indentation had actually been there.

He looked at the photos of the blood on the pipe above where Peter Johnson had been found. Lab reports said that the blood was indeed Mr. Johnson’s, but curiously there were small plastic particles on the pipe. The blood splatter expert was convinced that Mr. Johnson had not actually hit his head on the pipe.

Santiago, the daytime doorman, had seen Mr. Johnson return home around 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Johnson had confirmed he had taken the day off from work and gone to a breakfast meeting.

Mr. Johnson had ridden the elevator up to his apartment alone. Santiago said he might have been upset. No one had seen him, or anyone else, come in or out of the Johnson apartment that day.

Tom, the neighbor, had been home and had not seen Mr. Johnson since the previous week. Though they were long overdue for a chat, he admitted that they hadn’t been on the best of terms for the past few months. Tom had even started to regret agreeing to split the apartment between them. “It’s silly to say that now. But I’m trying to be honest.” he said.

Brown told him he “always appreciated honesty.”

Tom had gone on to say that Mr. Johnson hadn’t been getting along with his wife. They had been arguing a lot over their money situation. Mrs. Johnson loved to shop and, with two kids in college, they had been struggling financially.