The Missing Link
“This is a first,” Wilson said with a bemused smile. “A guy with a bathroom in his office.”
“This new office came with Mr. Seaver’s recent promotion,” explained Lisa, the dead man’s secretary. She was young and tall and solidly built, in a modest skirt and blouse. “The workmen just finished putting in the bathroom over the weekend.”
It was Monday morning. Sherman and the sergeant were on the eighteenth floor of the Krall Building, in the private bathroom of the private office of Archie Seaver, newly appointed president of Krall Electronics. Seaver, a tall, thin man, lay on the floor, strangled from behind, presumably with the necktie lying beside him. He was dressed for work, although his suit jacket was hung on a hook and his white shirt was unbuttoned and untucked.
“Why would a man who just arrived at work have his shirt half off?” Sherman muttered to himself.
“What are you looking for?” asked Wilson.
Sherman was bent over, inspecting the floor. “The other cufflink.” It was only then that Wilson noticed it. The deceased was wearing one gold cufflink, while the other cuff spilled open over his other hand.
“There it is.” Wilson donned a pair of plastic gloves, then tried to reach behind the toilet where the cufflink was tightly lodged. There was no way he could reach it.
“Forensics will find a way to get it,” he said with a shrug, then turned to Lisa. “You discovered the body, Miss?”
Lisa nodded. “Mr. Seaver was always the first one in, usually around 7:30. I got in at 8:15. I put on a pot of coffee and then came straight here. I screamed and the others came running.”
It seemed that two other Krall employees had been on the eighteenth floor at the time. Lisa escorted Sergeant Wilson and Holmes to their offices.
Brian McKay, a large, jovial man, was the company’s executive vice president. “I got in at eight,” he told the investigators. “My office is on the other side. I was just catching up on my E-mail when I heard Lisa screaming.”
“Were you a candidate for Seaver’s job?” Wilson asked darkly.
McKay just laughed. “You don’t have to go that far to find a motive. Archie Seaver was an abusive opportunist. Lots of people probably wanted to strangle him.”
Ed Washington, the third suspect, was short and slight, but seemed to have a more violent nature than the others. “I got here a minute before Brian,” he said with begrudging civility. “I popped my head in Archie’s door and we chatted about some new deadlines. Then I went around to my office and closed the door. I didn’t hear a thing until Lisa called out.”
Sherman couldn’t help noticing that both Washington and McKay were in their shirtsleeves, tie-less and with their collars unbuttoned.
Sergeant Wilson finished his last interview, and then turned to find Sherman gone. He found his friend kneeling in Seaver’s brand-new bathroom, buttoning the top button of the victim’s shirt. “A loose fit,” he murmured.
“What are you doing?” bellowed Wilson.
“Solving the case,” Sherman said as he got to his feet and brushed off his knees.
WHO KILLED ARCHIE SEAVER?
WHAT CLUE GAVE THE KILLER AWAY?
Wilson was still angry. “You know better than to touch the victim at a crime scene.”
“I know,” Sherman said by way of apology. “But I had to make sure that the collar didn’t fit.”
Wilson looked confused. “You knew it would be too big?”
“I suspected the victim wasn’t wearing his own shirt, yes. That’s the easiest way of explaining why it was unbuttoned and untucked.”
Wilson paused and thought, but it still didn’t make sense. “Perhaps you should explain a bit more.”
Sherman beamed. “Elementary, my dear friend. Let’s say I’m the killer. I sneak up behind my victim in his bathroom and strangle him with a tie. My tie or his tie, we don’t really know.”
“Forget about the ties.” growled Wilson.
“During the act of murder, one of my cufflinks gets loose and falls behind the toilet where I can’t retrieve it. So what do I do?”
Wilson thought some more. “Maybe you change cufflinks with the victim, so the police think it’s the victim’s cufflink behind the toilet.”
“And if the victim isn’t wearing a shirt that accommodates cufflinks?”
“Then maybe you change shirts with the victim.” “Exactly. That explains why the shirt is unbuttoned and untucked. And it explains why the collar is too loose.
Remember our large friend, Brian McKay? Check the shirt he’s wearing, I believe you’ll find that his collar is too tight.”