Title: Blind witness
By Author: Adele Polomski
Appearing in issue #35, September 2, 2013
Tag line: Too bad no one had been around to see Annett Jordan take her daily swim …
Police characters: Det. Laura Price
The gist: Annette’s lifeless body was found in the pool by one of her step-sons, Ben. Ben’s clothes were wet as he had jumped in the pool when he saw his step-mom floating face down, but she was already dead. Annette was a good swimmer and swam daily. Det. Price noted bruise marks on the body indicating to her that the victim had been held under until she drowned. The police officer at the scene informed Det. Price that there were four persons waiting to be questioned; one in the cruiser and three waiting out back. The lady in the cruiser was blind and had glasses and a white cane. She was a neighbor of the victim’s. She claimed she was walking by the victim’s house and was nearly run over by someone leaving the house in a hurry. She said she sensed that the driver had stopped to look at her, and then sped off. She returned later when she heard the sirens. The blind lady’s sister, who looked like a younger version of her, arrived at that moment. The three of them walked to the blind lady’s house and out of the heat because it was ‘murderously hot’ outside.
Det. Price then went around back at the victim’s house to talk to the three men, the two step-sons and the victim’s lawyer. Ben, one of the step-sons, told the police that Annette had been expecting them and had wanted to talk to them about something. Ben, who had arrived first and had jumped into the pool, suggested it had been a heart attack. Ben called 911 and then called his brother, who then came to the scene. The brother called the lawyer, who then came to the scene. The four of them went inside the house as one of the men claimed they might ‘die of heatstroke’. During the conversation it was learned that the attorney had been handling the family’s company and the company was losing money due to poor management by Annette and her step-sons. The victim was about to announce to her step-sons today that she was planning to sell the business, a business that they both worked at and enjoyed a healthy salary from. The detective told the three men that she believed Annette had been murdered and that there was a witness. She then led them to the front patio where a woman in dark glasses sat. The attorney shook his head and said, “I’m afraid the testimony of a blind woman won’t hold up in court.” She got up and said, “I’m not blind, I can see perfectly.” The lawyer was arrested for the murder of Annette.
Crime scene: Annette’s home, her pool.
Clues: The witness was blind. The lawyer handled the finances of the company.
Suspects: One of the three men.
Red herrings: Both step-sons didn’t want Annette to sell the business and had talked her out of it before. Both men would lose their easy income.
Solution: The detective had had the blind woman’s sister sit on the front patio and put on her sister’s glasses. When the lawyer commented about a blind woman’s testimony, Det. Price knew he had been the one who had almost hit the blind woman in the driveway before he sped off. The lawyer had been stealing money from the company for years and feared an audit before the sale would reveal his crime.
My two cents: There was no time frame on this story. We don’t know how long Annette had been floating dead in the pool. When I first read it I wondered how the lawyer drowned the woman, sped off, yet was still there when the police arrived, all dry and waiting with the two sons. I guess we have to assume there was time for him to run off to ‘somewhere’ and change his wet clothes, dry himself off, maybe even wipe out his wet car seat, and get back when the step-sons called him. That would work if she was floating dead for hours. It might have been a good detail to know. At the very least it would tie up that loose end in the reader’s mind.
Also I’m not sure why the sister had to play the blind woman on the porch. We don’t need the sister. Why couldn’t the blind woman play the part of the blind woman? And I’m not sure why she had to say she wasn’t really blind. What was the point? If they were trying to gauge his reaction to that revelation, then maybe it would work. But it didn’t seem to have a real part in this story. He gave himself away with his statement.
The blind woman said she could sense the car driver stop and look at her. Maybe blind people can do that. I don’t know, but it seemed hokey.
The silly references to ‘dying from the heat’ were a little distracting but all in all it was a good story.