This first mystery was made possible by my friend, Velnar. Velnar is a vampire of great renown in many circles, known specifically for his ability to turn into mist!
Ethan Meyers became one of the wealthiest businessmen in New York by making a few very shrewd investments in technology companies. Happy with his success, he was content to live in his mansion in peace and privacy.
The one problem Ethan had with his house was its enormous size, and the upkeep it required. In addition to the normal size of a mansion, he had many accommodations built into his private quarters: a study, a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room and even a guestroom. He was determined to live his life in comfort. It was also designed to have only one door to the study, and from there you could open a door to any of the other rooms.
He was not a fan of doing maintenance for his house, preferring to spend his time in his private quarters. He had hired several people to do most of the work: a butler, a chef, and a gardener. Along with his son and personal doctor, no one else entered the building on a consistent basis.
The entrance to the study had a lock on it, which made it possible to open using only two keys: Ethan’s personal key and the servants key. The servant’s key was always located in the servant’s quarters when not in use. Despite its name, it was accessible to everyone, not just the servants.
On one day in June, a man with an impressive suit came knocking on Ethan’s door. Guests were rare enough, but in the entire time that the servants had worked here, nobody had shown up unexpected. The visitor, Hemmingway, claimed he was here on urgent business and that he needed to talk to Ethan immediately. Susan, the gardener, told him to wait outside, and then went to talk to Ethan, who had recently returned to his study.
Susan knocked on the door to the study, wanting to let Ethan know of his visitor. When Ethan did not respond, she went down to get the key to open the door. Upon arriving in the servant’s quarters, she saw that the key was missing.
She tried finding the other servants, the doctor, and Ethan’s son, to no avail. Getting desperate due to the urgency of Hemmingway’s request, she decided to knock down the door to the study.
At 3:45, when she entered, she found Ethan’s body lying on the ground, with a bullet wound in his torso.
Hysterical, she ran downstairs and called the police, and when they arrived, they interviewed each suspect.
The one thing that the police didn’t expect to find was the body of Abdul, the butler, crammed inside the closet of the servant’s quarters, with the servant’s key in his pocket.
Susan was interviewed first. “I would never harm Master Meyers. He was very good to me, and hired me when no one else would. The fact that he’s dead… I can’t believe it. I last saw him this morning around 9 a.m.”
“I was in the garden until I heard the knocking of our visitor. Hemmingway, I think was his name. I tried to call someone, but nobody responded. Now I know why Abdul didn’t respond… oh the poor man.”
“I think it had to be Hemmingway. There was no way his arrival was coincidental. I would question him further.”
“Yes, I’m Hemmingway Yates. I am the representative for Xenoze Technologies, one of the companies Mr. Meyers invests in. I was sent to talk to him about a merger that was going to happen, which needed his immediate attention. I live in the area, so when I called Mr. Meyers and he didn’t respond, I decided to make my way to his estate. I never knew his butler.”
“I’m afraid I have no alibi, I was on the way to his estate for the last three hours. Before that, I was at my house.”
“I would look into his son, Seth. They were never on the best of terms, and his son resented him for a while because Mr. Meyers did not trust him enough to loan him investment money. I know this because he was planning on investing with us for a time.”
“You think I killed my dad? You people are crazy, no offence officer. Yeah, we were on bad terms for a while, but we got better after my mom’s death. I matured, and then I joined in on my dad’s business ventures. Last I saw him was around 12 p.m. downstairs.”
“He was a little temperamental sometimes, and after watching his favorite football team lose, he started yelling for everyone to leave the house. That’s one thing everyone learned about my dad. When he was calm, he was a good man, but sometimes he got a little crazy. Anyhow, I left then and just got notified that he had died.”
“It had to be Dr. Smale. My dad paid exorbitant amounts of money to him in exchange for trying to help him with his temper, but it seemed to be going nowhere. Dad was about to fire him and not give him any recommendation letters, something the Doctor knew.”
“I would never harm Mr. Meyers! Yes, he was going to terminate our contract and not give me a recommendation, but I have enough money that I don’t need to work for the rest of my life. One of my few pleasures was talking to Mr. Meyers. We became great friends.”
“I saw him around 10 a.m. for his daily checkup. After, I left to go back home. I received a call later in the day to come and be interviewed by the police.”
“Abdul? What about him? I would never look at him, let alone get close enough to him to put him in a closet. Disgusting boy. I would have told you to interview him. You can never trust what one of them get up to. I’d say look into the cook. She was just as bad as the butler. Prone to violent outbursts, she was. Ethan had taken a dislike to her cooking, kept ordering out for meals. That’s motive, right? I’d say she did it.”
“Yes, I’m Julia, the cook. I can’t believe Master Meyers and Abdul are dead. I knew Abdul pretty well, even before we started working here. Master Meyers hired us both together, great man.”
“No, Master Meyers didn’t dislike my cooking. I was trying out new recipes for Master Meyers, as he said he wanted something new. It was understandable that he was eating out while I was refining my craft.”
“After I heard Master Meyers yelling, I went back to the kitchen to quickly clean everything up. After that was done, I left and went home.”
“I would have suspected Abdul. He was acting pretty shifty for a couple days, but seeing as he’s dead, I guess that doesn’t really work. Maybe the gardener, Susan. She wouldn’t get hired anywhere because of a criminal record. Assault, I think it was. You know what they say, a leopard can’t change its spots.”
Velnar was able to turn himself into mist and breach Ethan’s study, with no one besides Abdul knowing. Regretfully, Velnar has a penchant for using mundane weapons, such as guns to kill people. He had to silence Abdul when he was discovered, and then shot Ethan in his study.
Your task is to prove this was not the work of Velnar. You do not need to discover the ‘why’ for the murder, solely the ‘who’ and ‘how’.