Who Killed Santa Claus?

It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble’s Department Store came to work.  When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child’s worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus.  He was found in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of a .44 revolver.

Santa’s off-duty name was Rudolph Pringle.  “That’s Rudolph’s own revolver,” the store manager informed the police.  “He started carrying it after a six-year-old pulled a knife on him last week.”

“Do you know anyone who would want to see Rudolph dead,” asked the detective in charge.  “Beside the six-year-old?”

The manager cleared his throat.  “Santa’s been having a lot of fights with his elves.  I know three elves who’d threatened to kill him.”

The detective had the revolver bagged.  Then he placed it on the center of the interview table, right where the suspects would be forced to look at it.

“Rudolph Pringle has been murdered,” he informed each elf and observed their reaction to the news.  “What do you know about it?”

Joe Winters shivered and couldn’t stop staring at the gun.  “I know nothing.  Some of the guys had trouble with Rudolph.  But he was always nice to me.  I left the store at nine p.m., right when it closed.  I was too tired to change, so I wore my costume home.  No one said a word on the subway.”

“Rudolph was a pig,” snarled Sam Petrie, the second elf.  “If he pushed me too far, I wouldn’t smash his head in.  I’d sue for harassment.  What’s the use of a dead Santa when a live one can be made to pay?”

Robert Goldstein was the smallest elf.  On hearing the news, he burst into tears.  “Last week, Rudolph started a fight.  He said I was too slow bringing in the kids.  He slapped me on the head and called me all sorts of names.  But I didn’t kill him.”

The detective called in a sergeant.  “Well, we have our killer,” he said with a sly grin.  “All I had to do was use a little psychology.”

So… who killed Santa Claus?

Sam Patrie.

By leaving the revolver on the table, the detective made the unspoken implication that Rudolph had been shot.  And yet in Sam’s statement, he mentioned the fact that Rudolph had been bludgeoned.  The only way Sam could have known that was if he had done it himself.

After work on Christmas Eve, Sam stayed behind to turn in his costume and pick up his paycheck.  He and Rudolph got into one last fight.  Santa threatened his elf and pulled his gun.  In a fit of rage, Sam tore the gun from Pringle’s hand and bashed him over the head.