Whodunit: The Clumsy Thief

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user ignatius decky)

Charlene Tyner was half-awake when she heard it, coming from downstairs, the sound of spilling coins. She checked the time—2 A.M.—then rolled over and went back to sleep.

In the morning, when Charlene walked into her kitchen, she immediately noticed the theft. The jar in which she kept her collection of silver dollars was completely empty. That's when she recalled the late night sound. And that's when she saw the refrigerator. It was askew, the only thing out of center in the perfectly maintained kitchen.

Charlene knelt down and reached into the narrow space between the refrigerator and the cabinet. "At least they didn't get them all," she thought as she pulled her arm out. Two silver dollars, all that was left of her prized collection. The irate housewife quickly raised the alarm.

Myrna, her sullen daughter, was the first one down. A would-be model, Myrna had already worked in a few fashion shows. Most of her time she spent hanging out with her no-good boyfriend. Her room was at the top of the stairs and she slept with the door open. "Someone walked by in the dark," she volunteered. "I heard the coins spilling, too. I thought it was just an accident."

Forest Tyner emerged from the downstairs bathroom. A gangling, gaunt man, he had never been Charlene's dream husband, but he was a good father. It was only after the wedding that she discovered his habit of spending half his paycheck at the local tavern. "I came in late," he admitted, alcohol still on his breath. "I didn't want to disturb you, so I slept on the couch. I didn't wake up till a few minutes ago."

Jesse, Charlene's son, lumbered down last. Obese and lazy, Jesse's twin passions were food and video games. "I came downstairs for a snack around midnight. I could hear Myrna snoring. Dad wasn't on the couch. I went back to bed and didn't hear anything."

Charlene looked around the kitchen and her heart sank. She had just figured out who had taken her coins.

Whodunit? And how did Charlene know?

Show Answer

The whodunit above was provided by American mystery fiction author Hy Conrad.

In addition to his work in mystery and crime puzzles, Hy was also one of the original writers for the groundbreaking TV series Monk.

Currently, Hy is working on mystery novel series "Abel Adventures" as well as the Monk series of novels, starting with Mr. Monk Helps Himself (published by Penguin, order from Amazon here)

Check out Hy's official website and Facebook page - and stay tuned for more whodunits puzzlers on Neatorama from the master of whodunit mysteries himself!

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I came to the same conclusion for a different reason. Jesse gave his alibi, including, "Dad wasn't on the couch." Why would he say that, instead of assuming Dad was in his own bed? I figured Jesse had been listening to the others, and came in with his story, tailored to cast suspicion onto his dad.
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