The newspapers dubbed him that, the nutty strangler, although there was nothing funny about him. Five times he'd struck, each time leaving nut shells—piles of nut shells. On the first occasion the body of a businessman was found in an alley. The police barely noticed the walnut shells among the midtown litter.
The second time it was a suburban housewife and peanut shells. On the third strangulation (a secretary and pecans) the homicide squad started looking at photos of the previous cases. That's when they made the connection.
"Maybe he likes nuts," a rookie suggested. "Maybe cracking shells calms this psycho down while he waits for the right victim to come by."
On the sixth murder, the police caught a break. It was late. Four officers were just coming off their shift when they heard a strangled scream. They arrived too late to save the young college student. But one glance at the piles of red pistachio shells told them who they were dealing with. The officers fanned out, detaining the only three men they could find in the surrounding streets.
Hey look! It's time to play a game, from Neatorama and the wonderful What Is It? Blog, back for a limited time. Do you know what the object in this picture is? It doesn't really matter if you do, because we are looking for the funniest guesses. You can win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! But first, read the rules:
Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Two winners who submit funny and/or clever (albeit ultimately wrong) answers will each win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop.
If you guess the correct answer, you'll get a big pat on the back.
Check out more pictures of this thing, and other mystery items, too, at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!
Update: This is a true mystery item, and we still don't know what it is. But that doesn't stop us from giving t-shirts away! One goes to David Gunn, for this strange guess:
This is a second generation mediaeval leg shaving device, known as a Limb-Defluffer Duo created by Benedict Tinklebottom, the Fifth Earl of Giblet. Despite being the improved second generation device, it was found to be completely unusable for its original purpose (unless the user had particularly slender legs, a loving staff of at least 4). However Tinklebottom found fame when the Limb-Defluffer Duo was adopted for use as an “inquisitorial encouragement” device by the Spanish Catholic church, and ultimately learned how effective it was in its revised role when he was Defluffer Duo’ed to death for sins against personal grooming.
And another goes to Lucas Gentry, for a guess that made a little sense (not much):
This is actually the precursor to movable scissors. You place the object that you want to slice into the V's of this tool. The closer you got to the center of the V, the more were cut. It worked fantastically for carrots, cigars, and fingers, but it was terrible at cutting paper.
Thansk to everyone who played along! We'll do it again, as long as we have more mystery items at the What Is It? blog!
The air in Prairie Flats had been calm all morning. But by noon the wind had whipped up out of the east, and just a half-hour later a small, rainless tornado was pummeling the farming community, its funnel leaving behind a path of destruction and at least one fatality.
The body of Allie Brinker was found lying in a ditch. There was a gash in the young woman's forehead and a trickle of blood that had fallen in neat round drops onto the ground. Not far away, a broken, bloodied fence post led the police to an obvious conclusion. The wind had torn up the post and sent it flying into her head.
"I blame myself," Allie's Uncle Nate told the neighbors. "She was at my place, playing with her one-year-old niece. Just as the wind was picking up, Allie decided to run back home across the fields. I told her to stay. The radio was warning of twisters. I should have stopped her."
Our friend Rob of the What Is It? Blog has been traveling, but he's back for a limited time, with more mystery items!
What is this thing in the picture? Your guess can win you a free T-shirt of your choice from the NeatoShop! Here's how to play:
Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, but you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. You have until tomorrow afternoon to enter.
You might know what it is, but if you want to win a t-shirt, you'll have to use your imagination, because we are going to select two winners who give us the funniest incorrect guesses. If you guess right, then good for ya - but you don't win anything, okay? So, it's up to you, creative people: you have twice the chance of winning that T-shirt.
Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize. We highly suggest you take a look at the NeatoShop's new selection of Funny T-shirts and Science T-Shirts.
Update: This item is, indeed, a Morris scissor bench plane, or plow plane. You can see the patent application at the What Is It? blog. Several of you knew that, but as we said, we are giving away T-shirts from the NeatoShop for the funniest answers.
A t-shirt goes to canyourepeatthequestion for this gem:
Although incorrectly displayed laying on its side, it is still easily recognizable as a scissor lift for squirrels performing bird feeder "Maintenance". What appears to be a curved wooden handle is in fact the lateral stabilizer, stylized to resemble a squirrel's tail in the style of famed rodent lift designer Sir UpseeDaisy J Nutter. At auction, I would expect this piece to fetch at least three or four hundred acorns.
and to Berhard for his pun:
It is one of the classic "phrase causes": If you worked with this pane-tool and placed on a chair and you forget about it... and you later sit down on exactly this chair, you instantly become aware that this tool is the reason for the phrase "pane in the ass"...
Thanks to everyone for playing along! We’ll do it again next week, for a limited run as long as Rob has items to identify at the What Is It? blog.
Stan Rogers winced at the flesh wound in his left shoulder, feeling lucky to be alive. "My partner and I were delivering a payroll to the logging camp," he told the officers at his hospital bedside. "It was late at night when the car broke down. I pulled over. Benny got out but I stayed inside. Those are the rules.
"A minute later, a passing motorist stopped to help. Benny and this guy checked the engine, fiddling with the connections. A couple times it almost started. I couldn't see their faces because they were standing right in front and the headlights were slung low. But I saw when the guy pulled the gun from his jacket.
"He shot Benny in the chest, just like that. Benny stumbled off to the side and collapsed. The guy came around to the driver's side. Me, I kept trying to start the engine. He must have known about the payroll 'cause he opened the rear door and grabbed it right off the backseat. He slammed the door and was coming up to me when the engine finally turned over. I slipped it in gear just as he got a shot off." Stan winced again. "Gee, if I hadn't run into you guys I might've fainted or bled to death."
The highway patrol brought in two lone motorists whose cars fit the description Stan had given of the killer's vehicle. Neither suspect had the payroll bag, and the murder weapon was found back at the scene, wiped clean of prints. The only hope for an arrest lay in Stan's memory.
Miranda Rich could hardly wait to move into her new house. In fact, a trio of workmen were still making their final repairs and installations on that April morning when Miranda brought over her expensive entertainment system and stacked it in a corner of the living room.
The next day, Miranda arrived to find the electronic unit gone. The only thing left behind was a strip of black plastic tape the burglar had used to hold open the latch of the rear kitchen door.
"Looks like a crime of opportunity," the officer from the burglary unit told her. 'All three workmen were here and saw the system. All three of them heard you on the telephone, setting up a dinner date for last night. Knowing the house would be empty, one of them simply taped open the latch and came back later."
No fingerprints had been left behind, and the officer didn't hold out much hope. But he interviewed the suspects anyway, hoping two of them would have ironclad alibis.
Morton was a bad influence. So was Archie. And that's probably why they were such good friends. The two playboys had simultaneously squandered their trust funds and now were facing the consequences. "I suppose I'll have to start selling things," Morton said with a shiver. He had just arrived home from a night on the town. "Want to come in for a drink, old man?"
Never one to say no, Archie followed his friend inside. Morton's trusted valet, Gene, was there to pour their drinks and watch as his employer removed his diamond cufflinks and tossed them into an empty vase in the library.
Archie stayed for one drink, complained about his own financial straits, then headed out into the damp night air. Morton exited the house a minute later, taking his German shepherd for a walk that they both felt they could use.
It was only a short while later when a police squad car passed by on a routine patrol and spotted a suspicious-looking character on the terrace.
The lawyer glanced from his client to the three greedy young faces across the room. "You're sure you want to do this?"
"Of course," Derwood Dewdit replied. "I have no children. It's only right that my niece and nephews inherit my estate."
"That won't be for many, many years," Asa Dewdit said. His sister Bebe agreed as did brother Cecil. They watched, fascinated, as Uncle Derwood signed his new will.
Nothing happened until late afternoon. The lawyer was browsing through the books in the third-floor library when he heard Derwood's voice raised in a blood-curdling scream. For a few seconds, he sat in shock. Then he bounded down the stairs.
Mrs. Emery was disappointed. She had assumed that dealers at a gem exposition would know how to dress. But the room was filled with fashion mistakes. Rodney Dipp from Boston had on a polyester shirt; not the good, new kind of polyester, but something left over from the seventies. Julia Kidd from Atlanta wore sneakers and something resembling an upscale jogging suit. Even Klaus Braun from Diisseldorf, usually known for his style, was wearing one brown sock and one blue sock.
"Well, at least I'm maintaining my standards," Mrs. Emery huffed as she laid out her unmounted gems.
The display was not as impressive as it had been in years past. The only great gem she had left for sale was an exquisite emerald. She did her best, nestling the brilliant stone in an arrangement of loose gems—aquamarines, sapphires of poor color, lowly garnets, and a few bloodstones—hoping that the emerald's luster might somehow reflect into the lesser stones.
The theft took place during a diversion. A minor but noisy traffic accident drew the crowd out onto the street. When the insatiably curious Mrs. Emery returned to her display table, she found it all gone—everything from the almost worthless garnets up to the most prized gem at the show, her beloved emerald.
"The thief obviously had an accomplice," the police captain told the robbed gem dealer. "Someone who staged the diversion. Unfortunately, we don't know who that was. But we do have this."
The homicide officers tromped through the morning mud to the main tent of the Big Top Circus. The ringmaster was waiting. He led them around to the rear and pointed to the stacked bags of elephant chow just outside the tent flaps. When the officers peered over the top, they saw Aeriel Cummings lying facedown in the mud.
Aeriel was in her circus costume, loosely covered in a robe. Even from this distance, the officers could see the welts around her neck. The hand marks were clear on her pale skin, the outline of two thumbs pointing down toward her bare shoulders.
"Strangled," the ringmaster explained needlessly. "It poured heavy last night, starting around 2 a.m. This morning I checked for rain damage. That's when I found her. Aeriel is our star acrobat. She does a balancing act with her partner, Rudolph."
Before approaching the body, the officers checked the wet ground and saw prints of the ringmaster's pointy boots all around the body. The only other footprints were a huge set, at least a size 20, just outside the bags of elephant chow. "We'll need to talk to your clowns."
Dahlia shuffled the deck, making the bracelet of coins tinkle on her right wrist. Dealing out the first card, she smiled. "You had good luck," she said, pointing to the Queen of Cups.
Marco patted his leather purse. It looked heavy with coins. "I had a good morning at the fair. No one sells like a Gypsy."
It was a tranquil afternoon as they sat around the embers of a fire in their small encampment. The sound of horse hooves and jangling spurs announced the arrival of Renard. Seconds later, Carmen's earrings, as melodious as wind chimes and almost as large, told them that their fourth friend had also returned.
The tiny Gypsy tribe exchanged tales of their morning escapades. Dahlia had told fortunes at the fair. Carmen had begged on a street corner. Renard had traded horses with local farmers. But the only lucky one was Marco, who had sold copper pots to housewives and made an enviable profit.
Sergeant Vacca had been on the homicide squad for eight years and had never once run into a deathbed clue. Not once had he heard a dying man blurt out the name of his killer or seen him grab at his St. Christopher medal in order to incriminate a suspect named Chris. Even though he was a devout mystery fan, Sergeant Vacca had begun to seriously doubt that such things ever really happened. Until now. His captain was still skeptical. "Who says this is a deathbed clue? Looks like a bunch of gibberish." The gibberish consisted of two words typed on a computer screen.
The police had found Maria Consuela alone in her downtown office cubicle. The attractive legal secretary had stayed late to finish typing up a brief and had been rewarded with a blunt object to the head and ribs. There was no sign of forced entry and little sign of struggle—an indication that she had known her attacker.
A pool of blood trailed away from the cubicle's doorway and ended in Maria's collapsed body, right under the edge of her desk. "It must have taken her last ounce of strength to crawl over here," Sergeant Vacca theorized. "She must have had some reason."
A lot of towns have their neighborhood bullies. But few neighborhood bullies were as hated as Pete Weider of Cozy Heights and, luckily for the crime statistics, even fewer wound up like Peter.
A passing patrol car heard the screams and responded immediately. They found the burly corpse in his own backyard, with multiple stab wounds. There were signs of a struggle, and blood was everywhere around the fenced-in yard. The officers immediately went to question the neighbors and were surprised to discover that not a single one had heard or seen a thing.
"They're lying, of course," the homicide captain said when he heard the news. At least three men on the block had been outside when the murder occurred and the captain insisted on talking to them as soon as possible.
Blake Fromm had just finished painting his porch when the captain approached. A young, genial man, Blake wiped his hands on his nearly spotless jeans before shaking hands. The captain immediately noticed the cassette player on Blake's belt and the earphones draped around his neck. 'I've been outside all morning. The porch ceiling took forever. Pete lives two doors away. I really didn't hear or see anything," he added apologetically.
Nelson Olson had been in his garden, right next door to the victim's yard. "I was in and out of the house. Weeding. Planting bulbs for the fall." There was dirt on his hands and under his nails. "Inside, I had the air conditioner cranked up. It all must have happened when I was indoors. Sorry."
Kenny Kitchner's story was even less plausible. "I was on a ladder, washing my windows," the paunchy, middle-aged man admitted. His T-shirt was still wet. The captain could see that Kenny's yard overlooked the victim's. "I never looked over into Pete Weider's yard, nor did I hear anything. I had other things on my mind."
After two straight days of dark skies, the stationary front moved, bathing the city of Seattle in bright sunshine. The change seemed to put everyone in a good mood. Well, almost everyone. Fifteen minutes after the sun broke through, a gunshot rang out in the offices of Claxton & Brightman, attorneys-at-law. As luck would have it, a trio of security guards just happened to be sitting in the Claxton & Brightman reception area. The guards barreled through an inner door and down the hall. The firm's senior partner, Henry Claxton, lay in a pool of blood in his office, most decidedly dead.
Without exchanging a word, the experienced guards broke up, looking for anyone who might have seen anything. Only three offices were occupied and each occupant had a story.
"I heard Claxton arguing with someone," Annette Goulding told guard number one. "I was reviewing court documents and I tried to mentally block out the sound."
The guard saw the red light blinking on Annette's voice-mail system and asked how long she'd been here in her office. "For nearly an hour," she replied. "When I'm busy I don't answer my phone."
Meanwhile, the second guard was talking to George Brightman, the firm's surviving partner. 'As you can see, Henry's office is way on the other side. I heard nothing until the gunshot. Then I opened my door and looked out into the hall. I heard running footsteps but didn't see anyone." The guard noticed that George's window was open, allowing a warm breeze to play through the blinds.
The third guard was with the firm's youngest lawyer, Ellen Youst. "I've been holed up here for hours, working on a speech I'm delivering tonight." She pointed to her computer, the screen awash in sunlight from the window. Ellen swiveled it so the guard could see. It certainly looked like a boring, lawyerly speech.
Can you sift data from a small clue your opponent let slip? Singapore TV host Kenneth Kong posted a puzzle at Facebook. Apparently, he and his wife have been arguing over it. Now, countless workplaces are losing man-hours while people try to figure it out on their own, or are else trying to explain it to each other. Kong says it’s a Sec 3 question, passed to him by a P5 student. Can someone familiar with the Singapore education system explain what that means?
I don’t think there’s any math involved, technically, but there are numbers, so if you give up and just want to know, the answer is here. The explanation is pretty easy to understand, and it makes me glad I didn’t tackle it. After all this, I doubt Cheryl will be receiving any birthday gifts. -via Uproxx
"Hi, Mom." It was Alice Grunwald's voice. "I guess you're in the shower. I . . . Wait a minute. Someone's at the door. Anyway, I'll see you at six." The answering machine clicked off, then gave the time of the message, 3:32 p.m.
At six, Mrs. Grunwald arrived at her daughter's apartment. She was looking forward to dinner and hearing about Alice's boyfriend troubles. When Alice didn't answer, she used her own key. There was no one at home. Mrs. Grunwald's heart stopped as she saw blood on the entry hall carpet and a note on the table—a ransom note.
Mrs. Grunwald immediately called the police, who discovered a large amount of blood in one of the building's elevators. More was found in the basement, leading them to check behind the boilers. That's where they found Alice's body. She had been stabbed once and died almost instantly. The coroner set the time of death between 3:30 and 4:00, shortly after the unknown visitor had knocked on Alice's door. Fernando, the building's janitor, was interviewed. "No one came down to the basement while I was on duty. I get off at 5:30. That's no secret. There's a big notice in the lobby saying so."
The police soon had a theory: The killer couldn't leave Alice's body in the apartment, not if he wanted ransom money. And he couldn't remove her through the lobby. He had to wait up in her apartment, with the dead body, until Fernando was off duty. Then he went down and hid her in the basement.
The murder should have been discovered at 7 AM. That's when Gil Caster's assistant, Marie, was supposed to arrive at his Austin, Texas, home and start helping him prepare for the biggest night of his career, the Governor's Chili con Carne Ball.
But Marie and Gil had had a fight just the night before and Marie had quit, leaving Gil's estranged wife, a local television reporter, to find the body at 3 p.m. when she and her crew showed up to interview him. Before the police even arrived, a tearful Aretha Caster was live on the air, reporting the death of her own husband: "Just minutes ago, Texas's most famous down-home chef was found in his kitchen, apparently hacked to death with a meat cleaver. In what can only be described as a cruel afterthought, the unknown killer stuffed the murdered man, head first, into his own chili pot."
"Avery Archer was involved in some shady deals," the homicide sergeant said as he gazed down at the body. "Maybe that's why he committed suicide."
It certainly looked like suicide. The businessman in question was slumped back in his office chair, his hands folded peacefully in his lap. The murder weapon, a revolver, had fallen onto the desk, right beside a box of cough drops. The victim had been shot in the back of the mouth at the closest range possible.
"It's near impossible to shoot someone in the throat," the sergeant continued. "Especially when there's absolutely no sign of a struggle."
The man's secretary provided background. "Avery was depressed, partly on account of his lingering cold. Also, a few of his investors were getting suspicious. One even threatened to call the police fraud squad. Avery was working frantically to salvage this one deal. He had a noon appointment today with an investor; I don't know which. When I went to lunch, the investor still hadn't arrived. When I came back, Avery was just like that. Gruesome."
The police checked the contracts and discovered that this particular deal had three investors: Gino Grimaldi, a suspected mob figure; Marie Lackaday, the owner of a chain of gun stores; and Dr. Pete Crocus, a general internist.
Sir Mortimer Gains leaned across and confided a secret. "This is an exclusive, just for the Times. After talking with my new wife and with Alex Toinby, my costar, I have decided to leave the London production of Willy Boy and accept a movie offer in Hollywood. As you know, my bride is American. She's never really gotten used to England."
The reporter was aghast. "But what about your fans here? What about the play? Can it keep running without you?"
Sir Mortimer shrugged. "My producer has agreed to let me out of my contract. Now, if you'll excuse me ..." He motioned toward the dressing room door. "It takes an hour of makeup and preparation before each show." Thrilled to have such a scoop, the reporter rushed out of the King Edward Theatre to file his story.
Sir Mortimer went on that evening to give his usual, brilliant performance. After acknowledging ten curtain calls, he returned to his dressing room. A handwritten note was on his makeup table.
I won't let you take your talents elsewhere. I'd rather see you dead than have you dishonor the British theater. It may take the form of a bomb in your car trunk or poison in your favorite whiskey. But make no mistake; if you go to Hollywood, I will kill you.—A Fan.
The morning Times now had two sensational stories to report: the defection of Sir Mortimer and the threat by a deranged fan.
Inspector Matthews glanced around the kitchen of the weekend cottage. There was cold coffee in the coffeemaker, an ice cube tray half filled with melting cubes, and just a trace of ash in an ashtray. "All right, Mrs. Thurl. Tell me again."
The next-door neighbor looked uncomfortable. "I had just come home. It was about 8 P.M. I heard a car pull into the driveway next door. I mean here, at this house. When I looked out, two people had arrived and were walking toward the kitchen door. I recognized the woman. Myra Lovesy is rather fat—was. The man I couldn't see. They were fighting. The man grabbed Myra by the throat. She collapsed in a heap. Then the man just unlocked the door and walked inside. It took you long enough to get here—fifteen minutes from the time I called."
Clive pulled into his driveway, tired and cranky. When he'd taken this job with Gotham Advertising, he knew he'd be working long and hard, but he never expected to be arriving home at 8:30 A.M. With any luck, he could still get in a few hours' sleep before this afternoon's presentation. Clive climbed the porch. He had just put the key in the lock when he heard a noise behind him.
The police arrived ten minutes later, alerted by neighbors who'd heard a gunshot. They found a young businessman dressed in a torn and bloody suit and with a briefcase on the porch by his side. They also found a key chain suspended from the front-door lock and a bullet hole in the young man's chest.
"Looks like a botched robbery," the rookie officer told his partner. "Poor guy must have put up a struggle." He stooped to pick up a nearly empty wallet. "Clive Custard," he read from the driver's license.
Can you figure out what these equations are trying to say? I must admit there were a couple I couldn’t- not because I couldn’t do the math, but because I was unfamiliar with the saying it translates to. The more modern the saying, the more liable I am to slap my head when the answer is revealed. The answers are at Doghouse Diaries.
Harriet Murmer was scheduled to testify against her ex-husband, a capo in the Domino crime family. The FBI had to keep their witness safe and they chose the Convent of Perpetual Solitude, a walled, all-women enclave in the heart of Manhattan. It was perfect. No self-respecting mobster would dare shoot up a community of nuns.
On the second week of Harriet's stay, the FBI's confidence was shattered—as was their case, as was Harriet's skull—by a shell from a .44 magnum. Just as the sisters were gathering for evening vespers, a gunshot echoed through the convent's stone archways. Sister Margaret Mary announced the news. Her tight, starched collar bobbed up and down as she gulped. "Ms. Murmer is dead."
The FBI found their witness in her room on the third floor. "I don't know how an assassin could have gotten in and out without anyone seeing him." Mother Superior shivered.
"Maybe he didn't get in and out," special agent McCormack replied. "Have any new sisters arrived recently?"
Phil Moretti hated it when tourists got murdered. It reflected badly on New York City, on Kennedy Airport, and especially on him, chief of airport security. Somehow it didn't seem as bad when the victim was local.
In this case it was a businessman on a flight from Chicago. He had barely gotten off the plane. At 3:42 p.m., a passerby found him stabbed to death in the men's room just a few feet from his arrival gate. The body had been robbed. No jewelry. And although the wallet and credit cards had been left behind, there was no cash.
Three suspicious characters had been seen loitering by the gates. Barely 15 minutes passed from the time of the body's discovery before all three were brought in for questioning.
"The car alarm often goes off in hot, humid weather," Elliot Zypher told the inspector from the burglary division. "When it went off last night, I had no idea the car was actually being robbed. This has always been such a safe area."
The detective looked around at the large houses and well-tended lawns and had to agree. "Do you usually leave expensive necklaces out in the car?"
"That was my fault, inspector," answered Elliot's sister, Zelda. "I had just brought the necklace back from the jeweler. We were halfway through dinner when I remembered where it was. Neither Elliot nor I had the energy to go get it. I went right from dinner up to my room. With the windows closed and the air conditioning on, I could barely hear the horn start blaring. I assumed it was the usual false alarm."
It was the day before Valentine's Day and the police in the small college town were unprepared for any crime beyond the amorous escapades of a few undergraduates.
Late that afternoon a patrol car canvassed Oakview, a small off-campus apartment building. The officers found the body of Gilly Tarpin, a homeless drifter. He was a nondescript man of normal build, lying in the shelter of an open garage bay. The officers made an inventory of Gilly's possessions: a wristwatch (looking new, except for a vertical crease on the leather band inside the clasp), a box of chocolates (with half the contents eaten), and a crumpled pre-printed note saying "Be My Valentine."
The authorities assumed it was a natural death, caused by exposure to the February chill. But then the mandatory autopsy came back. There was poison in the homeless man's system. An identical poison was found in the remaining candies.
The police interviewed three Oakview residents, hoping for some clue as to why anyone would poison a homeless drifter.
The Valentine's Day party was a tradition. Each year Henry and Bitsy Vandercleef invited their friends into their Park Avenue home. After a sumptuous dinner, the couples retired to the drawing room. The men drank port, the women drank champagne, and each couple exchanged love tokens.
This year George Epson outdid himself, presenting his wife with a ruby necklace. The women sighed enviously while the men mentally added up the cost and wondered how their wives would react to their own less extravagant gifts.
When Henry's turn came, he told Bitsy to close her eyes and led her over to the windows. When Bitsy opened her eyes, she saw the billboard and gasped. "To Bitsy, the most beautiful woman in my world. Love, Henry."
"You don't know how much trouble it was getting a billboard put up on Park Avenue," Henry said. The women sighed again while the men mentally added and wondered.
George Epson was the first to notice the missing necklace. "Stolen," he gasped, holding up the empty jewel box. "Nobody leave the room."
Everyone assured everyone else that there couldn't possibly be a thief among them. Not them. The necklace must have fallen out or been mislaid.
Vince McCormick was a big, angry slug of a man just a month shy of retirement. On Super Bowl Sunday, his two sons, Vince Junior and Sonny, came over as usual to watch the game.
As kick-off time approached, the boys were in the kitchen, helping their mother prepare the snacks. Junior heated up nachos in the microwave while Sonny poured the bags of potato chips and pretzels into bowls. Marie McCormick was mixing the ice and ginger ale and rye together in tall glasses.
"Make sure mine is strong enough," came her husband's growl from the living room.
Junior saw the bruise on his mother's arm. "Did he do that to you?" he asked. Marie didn't answer.
"What'll you do when he retires and hangs around all day?" Sonny asked. "It'll only get worse."
"No one in our family gets divorced," Marie said firmly.
Colonel Rollo's tour of the provinces was a necessary evil and the military dictator took every precaution to ensure his own safety. There had already been two assassination attempts this year, and he didn't want to try for three.
When the colonel's train pulled into the Gorganzuela station, the town officials were waiting to greet him. But the door to his windowless, bullet-proof carriage remained shut. Nervously, the mayor knocked. He heard some stumbling sounds from inside and finally the train door slid open.
Captain Corkran stumbled out. The dictator's second in command was usually a resplendent sight in his broad hat, bandana, and American cowboy boots. Now he looked weak and silly. 'Assassination," he coughed.
The mayor looked in and saw the lifeless body of Colonel Rollo dressed in his robe and slippers. A purple ring around his lifeless neck testified to murder by strangulation, probably with a long, strong, thin cord.
In the dead of winter, the citizens of Mountebank, Minnesota, grabbed at any excuse for a party, especially when it was hosted by Ama Wheeler, the richest woman in town. As usual, this one was rowdy and crowded and a huge success—until about 12:30 A.M. That's when Ama noticed that her prized Ming vase was missing from the entry-hall table.
When the police arrived, they found all the revelers herded into the living room, with Ama standing guard like an angry sheepdog. The house was searched. Then the house perimeter. Then the guests' cars. No vase.
"You're going to have to take their statements," Ama told the police chief. "I don't suppose it will do much good. At a party like this, people can barely remember their own movements, much less keep track of others'."