The Perfect Alibi?

Patricia Bradley Mystery Question 15 Comments

Child tasting snow

Last week was an interesting one here in North Mississippi. On Wednesday and Thursday, the temp rose to 70 degrees. And Friday we received a couple of inches of snow that is still hanging around. I’ve always said, if you don’t like the weather around here, give it twenty-four hours and it’ll change. 🙂

Now for last week’s Mystery Question:

The year was 1937 and the body of a young woman was found on a vacant lot in the Jamaica district of South Queens.  Beside the body, a baby girl lay crying, but not harmed. A bloodstained piece of concrete was found some fifty feet away along with an electric iron and a man’s left black shoe. It had a hole in the sole. The medical examiner fixed the time of death at no later than 2:30 a.m. and up to seven hours earlier. A bundle of bloodstained papers tied together with a strip of blue cloth was discovered when the body was moved along with photos of a man.

The papers were linked to Ulysses Palm and when the detectives went to the address on one of the envelopes in the bundle, they discovered the murdered woman, Phennie Perry, had lived in an upstairs apartment with her husband, Arthur. The detectives searched the apartment building and in the owner’s apartment, they found a right shoe that matched the left one at the crime scene along with a blue shirt that had a strip torn off. Both the husband and the apartment owner were taken in for questioning. Which man is guilty? Base your answer, using the clues below.

  1. Palm, the owner, admitted the items found at the crime scene were his, but he insisted that the shoe found was part of a pair he’d given Arthur Perry which Perry denied.
  2. According to Perry, the day before the murder, Palm had tried to break into Phennie’s bedroom, and Perry produced an indecent letter signed by Palm that Phennie had given him. It also included a death threat to her. How much weight would the letter carry? And how would the police determine who wrote it?
  3. According to Perry, he confronted Palm who denied the claim and demanded that Perry bring his wife to make the allegation in person. When Perry couldn’t reach his wife, Palm left at 9:50 p.m. But Palm’s story was his boss had asked him to work until 10:10 that night–the first time ever.
  4. How did a dirty sock belonging to Perry figure in the case?

How would the police use the above clues to arrest the correct person? And who do you think did it and why?

The police had the shoe, a letter supposedly written by the landlord and the husband’s timeline that could be readily checked. First, they had a handwriting expert check out the letter which turned out to be, not in the landlord’s handwriting, but the husband’s. Then they found a pair of socks belonging to the husband and one sock had dirt that matched dirt found at the crime scene as well as a speck of blood. And biggest flaw was when the landlord had to unexpectedly work late, something that was easily verified.

The husband had meticulously planned every detail of his wife’s murder but he was tripped up when the landlord wasn’t where he was supposed to be.

Congrats to everyone who guessed the husband did it. And I don’t know what significance the baby played in the crime.

Now for this week’s Mystery Question: It’s November 1, 1942, and a man walking his dog in Central Park discovers a woman’s body in the tall grass. The fact she had no purse or money suggested it was a mugging gone bad–except the woman still wore a gold necklace. She’d  married a man five months earlier. When he was told of her death, he was unconcerned and glad to be rid of her. He had an airtight alibi–she had met her death while he was at a dance hall where dozens of witnesses could testify to his presence there. And the police couldn’t ignore the alibi. If you were the detective what could the following clues tell you?

  1. The dance hall was only a few hundred yards from the murder scene.
  2. Grass seeds were found under the body and also in the husband’s pockets and cuffs, but he claimed he had not been in Central Park for over two years and the seeds had to have been picked up at Tremont Park in the Bronx.
  3. At one point he changed his story and admitted he’d been in Central Park in September.
  4. The wife lived with her parents after leaving her husband after only a few weeks of marriage because of his womanizing. The parents showed the police threatening letters he’d written to his wife.

Okay, Super Sleuths, if you were the detective, how would you put this crime together? Could you come up with enough evidence to arrest the husband? Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll enter you in a drawing for an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of Justice Betrayed.

It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?

When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four?






Comments 15

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  1. MH

    I’m sure the husband did it. The grass seeds could be good evidence, and he will likely break down and tell the whole story since he already changed the details of what he’d told.

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  2. Edward Arrington

    I would have to take the threatening letters into consideration. His alibi, unless he had witnesses who could vouch for every minute, is weak. I would look for anyone who could verify where she was just prior to her death. Did she live close to Central Park? He could have told the people he was with that he was going to the restroom and gone to murder her instead. I’m not very familiar with different grass seeds but I believe an expert could have matched the ones under her with the ones in his pockets and cuffs. There’s nothing here about how she died so that is another thing to examine. I think he left the gold necklace because he was in a hurry and didn’t think to check for jewelry. That wasn’t his motive.

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  3. Rosalyn

    The grass seeds seem to be very convincing evidence. Unless of course they don’t match. But the husband didn’t really care about what happened to her, so even if he wasn’t the killer, he was dancing only a short distance away which seems a bit too coincidental….and airtight alibis can somehow vanish under pressure. But I wonder what his motive was for killing her, if he didn’t want that expensive necklace back? Maybe he just didn’t like being tied down to one woman, and in the 40s, divorce was not so accepted as it is today. (However– every time I make a guess, I take a stab at the wrong thing! 🙂 )
    I enjoy your mysteries, and find myself eagerly waiting for when you share the solution! 🙂

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  4. Jackie Smith

    I think the grass seeds and the threatening letters are real evidence against him! Can’t wait to read Justice Betrayed….lovely cover!

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      Patricia Bradley

      So glad you’re excited about Justice Betrayed! I am too. It’s my Elvis book…sort of. Right now I’m in the middle of the 4th cold case book. 🙂 We’ll see about your deductions Tuesday!

  5. Jerusha Agen

    I think all that evidence put together provides motive, ability, and the grass seed should be able to be tested to see if it matches the type, age, etc., of the seed under the body (versus from the other park he claims to have been at). That’s my guess. 🙂 Great mystery!

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  6. Caryl Kane

    It would be easy to slip away unnoticed from the dance hall. The seeds and threatening letters are more strikes against him. Hope your weather is better this week. We had a couple of hard freezes over the past few days here in the Houston, TX area.

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