Who Killed Mr Archer? Part Five: a murder solved, another case closed

by Dr Anthony D. Cliffe

Mr Archer

Part Five – a murder solved, another case closed

“…shall I email or call you Alec?” McBride asked on the phone as Alec drove out of the Bradshaw’s gate.
“Text me if I’m right, I look forward to seeing you and the boys here. Another case solved” he hung up. He always loved this part in any case and he had his assistant to thank for it.

Eleanor had gathered the three suspects into the stateroom as Detective Locke appeared. He clasped his hands as he spoke, his footsteps echoing around the room, each footsteps like the tick of a clock, getting closer to the truth. “We were called to this Estate this morning to solve the death of poor Mr Archer.” He let his words hang in the air before continuing. “At first…like the police it seemed like an accidental death. No signs of trauma, no evidence of foul play. The perfect crime. Of course…if this was a murder all suspects had a perfect alibi.” He rubbed his chin as he turned to them all. “So who did it and how? That’s been the question I’ve been trying to answer. Who? Why? and How?

Of course the three main suspects turned out to be you three, oh and the Bradshaw’s I guess. Clear motive and stood to gain a lot from Mr Archer’s death. At first I thought they were the prime suspects but how would they kill him? That was the killers first mistake, a classic misdirect”

All three looked at each other in disbelief before Sarah spoke “You honestly don’t think any of us killed him do you!?” he raised a smile. “Yes. Yes I do.”

His phone beeped. A text from McBride. He was right.

He pulled up a chair and sat down facing them all, folding his leg over and placing his hands behind his head. He was going to enjoy this. Eleanor’s phone rang and she walked into the corner to take it, it was McBride. Alec spoke with confidence as he worked to explain just who, why and how Mr Archer died.

“You see I have one very useful thing in my detective work and it’s not my intellectual ability. It’s her…” he turned to nod towards Eleanor in the corner “I pick my assistants very well indeed. She like me writes very detailed notes down that tell me a lot about each of you”. He opened the notebook and scanned her notes. Her notes were the final pieces of the puzzle. She had done well.

“So who killed him?” he scanned the room, his eyes resting on the young blonde woman. “Sarah Rosedale”. She took a step back in disbelief “I didn’t kill him!” she pleaded. Detective Locke got up out of his chair and walked up and down the hall, his hands moving as he spoke “You were my initial prime suspect. The outsider. Why would a family member kill him? It had to be you. You had no credible alibi. You were his assistant. Rumour of an affair…what was it? He wouldn’t leave his wife for you?”

“I’d never kill him! I loved him!” her shout plunged the room into silence as Eleanor finished her phone call with McBride, she gave Alec the nod. With a clap of his hands he spoke “Ah-ha! You see the rumours were true. Motive and opportunity and a terrible alibi!”

“I swear I didn’t do it!” she demanded through her newly formed tears. He pointed at the two remaining suspects. “You see…people talk and last night’s fight got out and Eleanor here, well such a gift she has. You let slip how your father used to beat you as a child and how much your mother means to you. I can only imagine your rage when you saw the two of them exiting a bedroom together. Your father cheating on the only thing that means anything to you. Oh how that must have made your blood boil.”

“I didn’t kill him! How could I? This is absurd! I was here, there are witnesses! I was here when he was killed! You’ve proved nothing but my hatred for him!” he defended himself in anger. Alec was enjoying this, suspects could run but the truth always caught up to them in the end.

“Oh Michael. The who? I got that. The why? I think I nailed it. But the how? I’ve spent most of today racking my brains. How did any of you kill him? Perfectly alibi I agree. You were here and his blood levels had very high concentrates of alcohol in them. Even if you were discovered to have killed him, in a court of law evidence still suggests he drank too much and drowned.” Alec smiled as he spoke, reeling them in “except the toxicology report, while high, was not enough to make a man of this size paralytic and guess what? No water in his lungs. He was dead before he went under the water but you knew that already didn’t you?”

“You have no proof and I have witnesses that I was here! She doesn’t have one. She’s the slut who slept with him and killed him when he wouldn’t leave mother for her!” he spat the words out in anger.

“What about you Mrs Archer? Did you kill him?”

“How dare yo-“she went to slap Detective Locke as Eleanor jumped in to grab her arm. “I loved my husband! Like Michael I was here the whole time!”

“Eleanor my dear…I’ll let you take it from here”

Eleanor pushed a strand of red hair behind her ear as she took hold of her notebook back from Alec, this was her time to shine. “Correct. You were here at the time of the murder between 8.30 and 9.30pm. Numerous witnesses put you both here, except Sarah. All the chefs and the cleaners and the groundsman all agree. Cast iron alibi. But Sarah was ‘ill’ in her room with no one to say otherwise. Surely that was her right? She had the opportunity and you didn’t. How can you kill him? You can’t be at two places at once…but you can hide in plain sight. You see and I must commend you” she clapped as she spoke “it’s a very, very ingenious plan and I really do commend you for it”.

“What are you on about?” Catherine Archer commanded.

Eleanor just raised a sly smile and turned towards the giant clock face on the stateroom wall and pointed as Alec took over to explain. “Hidden in plain sight as Eleanor said. She came up with the idea. He was indeed murdered around 9pm but you were here then weren’t you? The staff meeting started at 8.30…but from what clock?

You see it was looking at us in the face in the entire time. None of your work staff are allowed watches or mobile phones on duty and everything in this house runs off that clock. Not so hard to adjust it by half an hour. Multiple witness put you here at the time of death because you altered the clock. What an excellent idea. Perfect!” Alec was impressed. It was an ingenious tactic and if it wasn’t for Eleanor he may never have figured it out. Time went so quickly. That’s what Maxwell had said to her, she had a theory and she was right.

“Even if we did kill that bastard, how? It’s her. We have proof we were here, she doesn’t!” Mrs Catherine Archer had now changed her tune. Eleanor spoke this time “It was a very clever plan…let me take you back to last night…”

“That son will be the death of me I tell you!” he pushed his chair back as he stood up “I don’t know where we went wrong Catherine. I’ll be in the study there are few admin things to sort out for tomorrow.”

“Good idea darling. I’ll do the staff meeting, you go and relax.” they shared an embrace before departing. Mr Archer walked up to his study and sat down, slumped in his chair. He watched as he poured a glass of Whiskey before knocking it back down the hatch, the feel of the burn complimenting his anger towards his son. He tried to push the feelings to one side, tomorrow was a big day, an important one. The Bradshaw’s were on side, Jim had even agreed to give a speech about supporting the windfarm and Mr Archer had prepared a speech about giving back to the community. He reread his speech and licked the ten envelopes that had prizes in that were to be given out tomorrow. In his alcohol infused state he noticed the strange smell and taste of the envelopes but his brain couldn’t process it, those alarm bells to stop buried deep behind a haze of whiskey.

“You see” Eleanor spoke bringing their mind back from yesterday as she recalled what had happened “that was the first part of your plan. You needed him compliant or at least unconscious for your second part of the plan to work didn’t you?”

Alec interjected “you see Eleanor has a keen eye for detail and spotted this under his desk” he held up the lone smelling pure white petal. He held it close to each one of them to see, “Why would a petal be there? There are no flowers inside the house so how did it get there? What is it?” he paused to look at their reactions before continuing “luckily I was in the right place at the right time when Eleanor sent me a picture. I showed the picture to Mrs Bradshaw and you see Mrs Bradshaw, as you well know Catherine, cultivates a lot of flowers. One particular one she’s fond of is a pretty white flower called the Valerian. Of course you knew that.  The Bradshaw’s told me how two days ago you came around as a ‘peace offering’ asking about flower arrangements for the opening of the estate. You knew she had Valerian there so you used the opportunity behind her back to cut one from the greenhouse.”

“Valerian? I have no idea what you mean?” she protested.

“The flower Valerian Mrs Archer is used to sedate people, sure the smell of the flower can make people feel sleepy, a more potent camomile for example. However when the pollen and elements of the stem are ingested can introduce a deep state of sedation. You placed the pollen on the envelopes. Within minutes he was dizzy, dazed and confused and already slipping into his final sleep.”

“You have proved nothing here Detective!” Michael tried to defend “even if that was true, he went asleep. A flower isn’t a murder weapon!” he laughed deeply. The killer thought they were home and dry.

“Well as good as Eleanor is and she is good she took a picture of the flower and sent it to me. Except, she still has a little way to go…here let me show you the picture”. Alec zoomed in on the picture of the petal “Do you see it yet?” In the far distance there was a grey pixel, almost looked like a spec of dirt but Alec had saw that shape before, the grey almost Mexican hat style plastic cover. When Sarah had left him to take her insulin this morning he watched as she pulled the cap of her needle off before injecting herself. The cap of an insulin needle was bedded deep into the carpet. The murder weapon.

“See! I told you Sarah had killed him!” Michael shouted in her face, a brief smile crossing his lips after he finished.

“Wrong” Eleanor smiled.

“You see nice work trying to frame Miss Rosedale here for your crime. You almost and I mean almost had us believing it was her. She had motive, while Mr Archer enjoyed fooling around with her he would never leave his childhood sweetheart for her. Too much bad reputation if an affair got out. She had the murder weapon. One to two vials of insulin injected into a healthy person is enough to kill them, overload their pancreas as they slip into a coma and organs fail. Peaceful. Perfect weapon too. The insulin levels are broken down by the body and never show up in a toxicology. If you inject it in the tongue then no puncture marks would show up on the skin.  So it had to be her right? The perfect crime. Well no.

You see your perfect plan nearly came off if it wasn’t for Sarah’s lie. She didn’t go to her room last night because she felt ill. She didn’t go off to see Mr Archer. Instead she was over at the Bradshaw’s finalising a deal that Mr Archer had struck with them about the windfarm, you didn’t know about that deal did you? She didn’t do it. But you both did. You changed the clocks to cover your backs and make her look like she had done it, when she said she was ill I bet you couldn’t believe your luck! Your plan coming together so well.

You started the argument that night Michael because you knew it would make him drink more, further aiding your plan of drunk man falls asleep in the bath and dies. You injected him and you and your mother placed him in the bath and set the scene. At first you were content with murdering your cheating husband and you Michael, a father who never approved and used to beat you but no. You got greedy. You tried to frame Sarah. That’s why you were so adamant Mrs Archer that he was murdered. You believed your plan to be watertight. He’s dead and she’s going to jail for a murder she didn’t commit. Two bird’s one stone. A perfect plan and very nearly executed. I must say. This was a close one for us. You very nearly got away with it.” Alec sat back in his chair and high fived Eleanor. Case solved.

Both Michael and Catherine Archer clapped their hands “Bravo famous Detective Locke and his doting underling. So we did kill him, that bastard and bitch deserved it! But last time I checked you’re not a police officer just a Private Investigator. You can’t arrest us!” her smile was as wide as the corridor above their heads.

“Correct sadly…” Alec replied, lowering his eyes to the floor.

“…But I can.” Detective McBride appeared in the doorway flanked by two police officers. “I have the whole thing on tape and I have your confessions. Mrs Catherine Archer and Mr Michael Archer I am arresting you for the murder of Mr Archer.”

The two police men handcuffed the pair and read them their rights. Now the case was solved but not before the final blow that Alec had been waiting for. He stopped the pair just before they were placed into the two police cars as the staff watched on in disbelief.

Alec smiled as he spoke “you know the funny thing about all of this? I asked Eleanor to check up on his will, turns out on the event of his death he left everything to her” he looked over in the direction of a tearful Sarah. “You got your wish Michael. He left you nothing. The person you killed and the woman you both tried to frame now has all his money and this entire estate”. Mrs Archer burst into tears while Michael fought against the handcuffs as the police officer pushed him into the back of the car. “Enjoy prison!” Eleanor added as the door was shut and the police cars sped off into the distance leaving nothing but dust.

“Well, well, well Alec. I am glad I called you in on this” McBride and Locke held a firm handshake as he patted him on the back, “Just like the good old days Dan!” he chuckled. “Let me buy you that drink and bring your assistant along too!”

He watched as McBride got into his black BMW to go back to the station to fill in the paperwork before coming back to have that overdue pint. Eleanor joined Alec at his side, “better than a one year old party?” he asked with a warm smile.

“Ha-Yes…but only just” nudging him with her arm.

Alec turned to her, “you did a great job today Eleanor. I really mean that.”

She blushed slightly “stop it. I still missed the insulin pen!”

“You’ll get there. I missed the clock so call it even! Seriously though, I don’t know what your plans are post PhD…Dr Edgecroft do I really have to call you that?” he scrunched up his face.

“It has a ring to it” she chirped.

He continued to speak, a warmth in his voice like the sun that had just appeared behind the overcast sky “I’d really like you to stay. Not just as my assistant though…but as a partner in the business. You’re too valuable to lose Eleanor. Locke and Edgecroft Investigations Services, LEIS for short?”

She bit the inside of her lip and pondered it for a moment “hmmm I’m not sure. My mum keeps telling me I should focus on the PhD and find a new job”.

Alec looked down trying to hide his disappointment “I understand.”

“But at 28 who listens to their mum anyway right? Of course I’ll stay but on one condition”

“Name it!”

“Ironic you should say that…I think Edgecroft and Locke sounds better” she grinned as he put an arm around her. “Oh is that how it is, is it?” he laughed. “We’ll see Detective Edgecroft…we’ll see.”

“To the next case then!”

“To the next case indeed!”

They both pulled out their notebooks and wrote…

Another case closed