Title: The truth stings
By Author: John M. Floyd
Appearing in issue #24, June 17, 2013
For sale date: June 5, 2013
Tag line: To Angela Potts, it was clear as day who the guilty party was…
Police characters: Sheriff Jones and retired school teacher Angela Potts
The gist: Someone shot Justin through the driver’s side window of his car when he was pulling into his girlfriend’s driveway. His girlfriend, Marge, got cut from the flying glass. She jumped out of the passenger side of the car and took off through the woods, which she knows well. It was pitch black, no moon, but the killer had a flashlight. Marge was trying to hide behind a tree but the killer had the flashlight trained on her and was approaching. She took off her shoe and threw it at a wasp nest she knew was between her and the killer. The wasps came out in a flurry and headed towards the light. The killer took off screaming. Marge told the police that the killer was her ex-husband, and she knew this because she had seen his face as he came towards her in the woods with that flashlight.
Crime scene: Marge’s driveway.
Clues: The wasp nest and the flashlight.
Suspects: Marge’s ex-husband and Alvin Hollis. Who is Alvin Hollis you ask? Someone Ms. Potts remembered had vowed to get revenge on the ex-husband because he testified against him. Ms. Potts happened to know that Alvin was out of prison on parole because her cousin knows Alvin’s wife and the wife said he was out.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: If a flashlight it shining directly at you on an otherwise black night there is no way you can see who’s holding it. Ms. Potts called Alvin’s wife and she confirmed that Alvin was full of wasp stings.
My two cents: Well, it seemed a bit coincidental that there just happened to be a wasp nest by the tree Marge was hiding behind. And what a good arm she has, to be able to throw her shoe and hit the nest in the dark. But as readers we are often asked to suspend disbelief a little bit. My real gripe with this story is two-fold. One is about the way the killer was introduced. The story is 5 columns long but we don’t get to hear about this Alvin character until the 4th column. It’s sort of like reading an entire book only to find out the killer was some character that they introduce in the last chapter. And of course Ms. Potts knew all about him but the sheriff didn’t. My second gripe is about police procedures. The deputy went and arrested her ex-husband and put him in lock-up, yet he didn’t have a mark on him from any wasp stings. Whatever happened to questioning a suspect? Why did Marge wait until the next day to report a murder? (Or maybe the question should be Why is the sheriff waiting till the next day to question her? Police get the skinny right away while it's fresh in the victim's mind. They don't let them sleep on it.) Why did Marge want to frame her husband? She actually told police she saw his face, when she didn’t. I believe that’s obstruction of justice. She’s the one who ought to be in lock-up.