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DETECTIVE CARTER and Sergeant Hill were at the police station, discussing the case, when Carter said, “Let’s get Golden in to work on the evidence board. I feel that we have enough stuff to start it at least.” Hill liked using the board. It helped to link the pieces of the evidence to the timelines of the crime. He knew that it would also help to raise his spirits, even though the evidence to date was very scant.
Officer Golden was the one who usually took charge of the board and he already had the markers in his hand. He began with the heading: Perkins’ Ghost.
Hill was surprised when he saw this heading, until he remembered that it was the name of the play. But even at that he sighed heavily when he read what Golden had written. It too reminded him that he had yet to speak with Briggs. “Pierce, would you mind rounding up Christian Briggs? I have a few questions for him.” At Pierce’s nod he turned back to the board. “Okay, Golden, let’s start here: the missing key was found in Juba’s trouser pocket. Mr. Clopper’s jacket was torn. There was blood on Ella’s dress and we have to assume, at present, that it matches the dead man’s. The missing button from Samson’s jacket is still undiscovered.” Golden listed the items very slowly and neatly on the board. “I took a photo of the jacket and the buttons. I’ll get Heidi to print copies of it for the board.”
The board was starting to take shape. It was wise to start as soon as possible for it also built up the morale in the office. It gave them the illusion, at least, that they were making progress. A few staff members occasionally walked past the office window and gave Golden the thumbs up.
“The American soldier’s button that was placed on the chair, in the center of the stage, on the night of the murder, did it offer any fingerprints?” Hill asked.
“No. Clean as a whistle,” Golden said.
Hill picked up the plastic bag with the button in it. “The intriguing part is the period of this button. We’ve been told it’s from the time of the War of 1812. Do you think that it’s possible that there’s a link between the war and the murder?” he asked. The others shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads disbelievingly – how could there possibly be a connection, they all wondered. After a moment he continued, “Leave a wide space on the board for the stuff about the dummy,” and Golden marked off a large area and labeled it as ‘Perkins’ Mannequin’. Hill then outlined its movements from the time that it had been transported from Hollis’ place until the time that it had arrived at the theatre and was placed backstage, next to the corridor.
After all those details were listed on the board, they sat back and analyzed what they had.
Golden asked, “What about the play? Do you think it has any bearing on the case?”
“Good question. Carter and I each have a copy. I’m about to start reading Act III this evening.”
“Could anyone have had access to the theatre on Friday or Saturday, after the dummy was brought in?” Carter asked.
“Paul indicated that the back door of the theatre was shut all day Friday. But Saturday was so blasted hot that they had all the doors opened, trying to get some air through there.”
They sat in silence considering the facts.
Pierce returned to the police station with Briggs in tow and Hill practically flew out of his chair, anxious to question him. Briggs looked like he had not slept in a week.
“This way Christian,” Hill said, leading him into an empty interview room. Carter and Hill sat across from him.
Hill asked, “What were you doing wandering the streets on the night of the murder?”
“Not me. I went straight home.”
“You were seen, wearing your stage costume.”
“I did wear it when I left the theatre. I was too upset to change. But I went straight home.”
“Have you got a witness to support that?”
“Yes my wife, Karyn, was waiting up for me. We each had a shot of whiskey and talked about the murder before we called it a night.”
“And what time was that?”
“I gave my statement at about eleven, so it must have been close to midnight when I turned in.”
“And you didn’t go out again later?”
Hill was certain that he had seen Briggs, but he had to admit to himself that it could have been any one of those look-a-likes in a Simeon Perkins costume. Half the town was dressed up as privateers, colonials or whatever they considered costume for that period. Halloween-like events such as Privateer Days made any investigation harder, and witness accountability was terrible. All of that dressing up business disturbed Hill.
“You didn’t do the graveyard tour? I have it on good account that you were seen lagging behind the tour group.”
“Most certainly not. I’ve guided that tour at least a dozen times myself over the years. It’s a great fundraiser for the theatre but I didn’t have any interest in attending such a thing, given the fact that David had just been murdered.”
Hill was certain that it was Briggs wandering the streets that night and felt frustrated that this investigation suddenly seemed to be going nowhere. He had thought that he had the goods on Briggs, but that had just come to a sudden halt.
Hill motioned for Carter to add any questions of his own. When he had none, Hill said, “I’ll be in touch.”
Christian left the police station.
END OF CHAPTER FOURTEEN
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”