Saturday, January 19, 2013

By Laird Long

Appearing in January 28, 2013 issue.
For sale date: January 17th

Tag Line:  The classic Cadillac convertible had taken its final drive.  Question was: Who’d been behind the wheel?
The Police: Detective Drew Warner, insurance investigator Cliff Ramsey.

The gist:  Bill Johnson’s 1967 Caddy went missing and was found torched, a total loss.  Bill had taken it out for a ride on Monday night and had the top down.  When he returned, he left the top down and parked the car in his locked garage.  Next morning he flew out of town on business, taking a cab to the airport.  When he returned Tuesday night he found a broken latch on the garage and his car missing.  He reported it immediately to the police.
Crime scene:  Behind an abandoned building.  

Clues:  Bill’s bedroom window faces the garage and he claims his window was open all night and he didn’t hear any smashing of locks.   He hadn’t seen anyone suspicious around the neighborhood.  When he left on Tuesday morning he didn’t notice any damage to the garage lock.  It had rained hard all day Tuesday.  The car was found three days later.   The top was down on the convertible.
Suspects:  A  joyrider.  Bill Johnson.

Red herrings:  I didn’t find any in this story.

Solution:  If the car was stolen on Tuesday when it was pouring rain the top wouldn’t have still been down.  Johnson set it ablaze on Monday night then left for his out-of-state trip that would give him an alibi.   If Bill had checked the weather forecast he would have put the top back up before he torched the car.

My two cents:  Well, it doesn’t all add up for me.  The car was found three days later.  If someone had stolen it on Tuesday when Bill was gone and taken it for a joy ride, they could have ridden around for two more days, putting the top back down after Tuesday’s rain.  It’s a convertible.  It’s Florida.  They’re going to want to ride around with the top down.   The fact that it was found with the top down is no surprise.  After a few days of fun, they would realize they have to ditch the car, so they set it on fire to burn away any fingerprint evidence.
 Bill Johnson has a job that takes him out of the state but he doesn’t have air conditioning in his bedroom?  Florida is hot and muggy and he had his window open all night?   I lived in Florida.  That doesn’t happen. That was more of a clue to me than Tuesday’s rain.  The story never said why Bill set his car ablaze.  I assume it was insurance fraud.

On scene Detective Warner asked the insurance investigator: “Why?  And by whom?  And can you tell me when?”  How would the insurance guy know why and by whom?  The only solid dialogue here is “Can you tell me when?”  Also, most cops don’t say whom. 

VOTES:  1 - solved
               2 - Needs help

No comments: