- CHAPTER 1
I have a great fondness for murder mysteries, be it books, tv shows or classic movies. So I thought I would give it a whirl. I came up with an idea for a story about murder, a murder mystery, but written as an online blog. This story is based on fictitious characters.
I began by jotting down some ideas, character outlines. Posting stories online one day. Well, within a month I started to get what I call a “fan club.” People interested in the story. “What’s next?” they’d ask.
Unfortunately, the blog turned into a real living nightmare. It seems after I began posting there were more than a few coincidences of people suddenly disappearing! It seems, at least to me, that there was a real life killer following my every word. Each scenario was playing out. Ok, here’s how it all began…
Jillian worked at a local supermarket. She wasn’t very intelligent, probably autistic, a low IQ, but high functioning. She had very odd behavior. Obsessive compulsive I suspect. Always the butt of other’s jokes. Always getting picked on, harassed. You get the jist of it. She had a small circle of friends who were much like her. Other’s? Not so much. Those were more acquaintances and co-workers. The ones who’d say they were her friend, bum money off of her but never return the favor, nor the money. Well,some of these co-workers were downright mean to Jillian. Poking her, tripping her, name calling. Jillian did not deserve the abuse but at times she would bring it on herself.
There was an instance when another employee in the store had been very cruel to her. They had “accidentally” tripped her as she walked by while at work. The next work day as she was making her way down a narrow aisle with her cart she caught this man’s eye and waved a fist at him. “I’ll get you for that, you son of a bitch!” As soon as she turned her back, WHAM!
An orange nailed her right in the back of the head sending her flying into the shelves, then to the floor. What a mess. Some people started to laugh as she picked herself up. “That’s what stupid people get for opening their mouths.” She said nothing and maneuvered down the aisle to go clean the bathrooms.
That evening she left work thru the front door. It was cold out, a little rainy. Her walk home was about a mile. As she opened her umbrella and held onto her bag of groceries she began to cross the large vast parking lot. Jillian’s route was always the same, part of her routine. Across the parking lot to the main street, take a left at the stop lights and go straight. There was a short cut behind a local pizza place that people would take but not well lit. It would save her at least ten minutes and she wanted to get home, out of the cold.
It was now 9:25pm, she makes her way across the parking lot, stops before the pizza place. “What the hell,” she thinks to herself and continues down the alley. There are a few cars in the front parking lot, people coming in and out. Behind the building where the alley leads is a dumpster. It is very dark. She stops when she hears a couple of male voices coming near. She tries to hide behind the dumpster, cowering until the voices are no longer heard. The voices get louder and come nearer.
“You owe me. Pay up!” “Go to hell!” A scuffle breaks out. She hears pushing and shoving, they knock each other into the dumpster. Jillian gasps as they come close. “Hey, who are you? What did you see?”
Jillian never made it home that night. Her body was found in that dumpster the next day. One officer at the crime scene looks around, picks up her red umbrella, still opened. They do not find her bag.
“No Id. No pocketbook. Who is she?” It is early morning. The manager of the pizza shop had found the body when he went to the dumpster. He opened it because of the smell. The smell of death can knock you off your feet.
“I came out here to make sure my staff closed the dumpster. They forgot to lock it. Sometimes we get wild animals in here, but I have never smelled anything like this. Oh my God. Who is she?”
“That’s what we’d like to know.” said the detective.
The local tv news began their breaking news broadcast that morning with this…
“A body was found in a dumpster in Newburyport behind a pizza shop early this morning by the restaurant manager. The deceased was a female adult. The cause of death they are assuming was strangulation, according to the coroner. They are ruling this death a homicide. Anyone with information should contact the local police.”
Jillian did not report to work that morning. The store manager had his assistant call her home. No answer, just the voice mail. The news was on the tv in his office. When he heard the details of the victim found he began to get anxious.
“Patrick, did Jillian ever come in today?” he spoke into his office phone to the service desk.
“No, Steve. I called her home and there was no answer. I left a message for her to call me back. She never called.”
“I’m calling the cops. Don’t say anything to anyone. We need to keep everyone calm.”
With his hands shaking, the store manager dialed 911.
“Hello, 911? Yes. This is an emergency. Please connect me with the Newburyport Police. Hello. Yes. My name is Steven Smith. I am the general manger of MB’s supermarket in Newburyport. I think the body that was found may be one of our employees. Can you send someone here? Thank you, goodbye.”
Within minutes a police detective showed up at the store.
“We are here to see Mr. Smith, ” the detective showed his badge to the clerk at the service desk.
“Just a minute, please.” “Mr. Smith, the police are here.” “Send them up.” “Go up those stairs and to the right. I’ll buzz you in.”
A knock at the door. “Please come in,” said Smith.
“Mr. Smith, I am detective Hudson, this if Ltn Nash. We are investigating the recent homicide over at the pizza restaurant located directly across the parking lot. You recently called 911?”
“Yes, gentlemen. Please sit down. We have an older woman named Jillian Mudd who works here. She didn’t show up for her shift this morning. My assistant, Patrick James, called her home phone. There was no answer.”
“I see,” said Hudson. He took out a photo from his jacket and placed it on the desk in front of Smith. “Have you seen this woman?”
Smith gasped. “Oh my God. Yes, I think this is Jillian. Oh my God. Who would do this to her?”
Hudson sat up. “Mr. Smith, when is the last time she was seen at work? Did she work here last night?”
“Let me check the work schedule for the week.” He pulls up a file on his laptop computer on his desk. “Yes, she was here all day yesterday and stayed until closing. She left at 9:00pm.”
“Was there anything strange that happened yesterday? ”
“Well, I check the security tapes daily. There was an incident yesterday on the sales floor with Jillian and another employee. When this was brought to my attention I had planned to speak to both of them this morning.”
He turned on the tv monitor of the security camera from the previous day.
“At about 4 o’clock two of our employees got into something. It seems words were said, pushing, shoving. Jillian fell into the shelves and to the floor. No one reported this to me until a cashier asked if Jillian was alright this morning. I inquired what she meant and she told me that she heard Jillian and Robert got into a little scuffle yesterday. And that Jillian was afraid to say anything to anyone.”
“It looks like assault to me,” said Nash.
“We’ll need to speak to this Robert person. Is he in? Can you call him to the office right now?”
“He is not in until 10am. He comes in early though. Let me see if I can find him.”
Smith looks at the current security monitor when he spots Robert entering thru the front door. It is 9:45am. He is headed toward the employee break room. He picks up the phone and buzzes the service desk.
“Patrick, can you stop Robert and ask him to come up to my office immediately? Thank you.”
Detective Hudson, Ltn. Nash and Smith all watch the monitor as they see Patrick come out from behind the service desk, stop Robert and point for him to go upstairs to the office. Robert looks around and nods his head as he makes his way toward the stairs. When he gets to the office door he knocks.
“Come in.” He enters. “Hello, Robert. Come in and sit down, ” says Smith.
“Robert, this is Detective Hudson and Ltn Nash from the Police Department. They want to ask you about what happened with you and Jillian last night.”
“What? Nothing. She shook her fist at me. And then all of a sudden she tripped and fell into the shelves.”
Hudson interrupts, “Look Robert, we have a security tape. We know that’s not all that happened. Do you have anything else you want to tell us?”
They rewound the tape and showed him.
“Ok. ok. She said she was gonna get me for tripping her the other day. So we had words and I nailed her with an orange. I am sorry I should not have lost my temper, ya know? But she just can’t keep her mouth shut. She bugs me.”
“Robert, did you know that is considered assault? Even tripping someone, causing bodily harm is assault. What you did was wrong. Where were you last night, at around 9:30?”
“I left work and started walking home, across the parking lot. Why?”
“A woman fitting Jillian’s description was found dead this morning. Since you had an incident with her we are questioning you.”
“Oh my God! You don’t think I had anything to do with this, do ya?” He said.
“Robert,” Hudson stopped him as he stood up. “I think you’d better come with us for further questioning.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“Not yet, we just want to talk to you down at the police station, that’s all. Mr. Smith, we’re going to need to speak with all of your employees, especially anyone who was working last night. Anyone who may be a witness. Please make sure you call me back and we will set up something today.”
“Yes, of course. We will make telephone calls right now.”
Robert, Hudson and Nash make their way out of the office, down the stairs and into the nearest police car.
As soon as they sit Robert down in one of their interrogation rooms, he becomes very agitated.
“Robert, what did you do after you left the store last night?”
“I left to go home, like I always do. 9 o’clock.”
“Did anyone see you leave? Did you go with anyone?”
“I don’t know. A bunch of us left at the same time. hey, am I under arrest?Am I in trouble?”
“No, not yet. We just want to know where you were, that’s all. You didn’t have a good relationship with Jillian, did you? You hated her didn’t you? A helpless elderly mentally challenged woman. Dead. Because she couldn’t defend herself.”
“No, no. You got it all wrong. I was only joking with her, see? She got me angry. I was having a bad day and she just made me snap.”
“Yeah? Well she won’t bother you anymore, will she?”
They grilled Robert for several hours. Other officers and detectives set up interview stations at the MB store and at the Pizza shop. Police officers were also canvassing all the local stores in the area for witnesses.
This was a crime they needed to solve. There hadn’t been any murders in this little town for years. Why now? And why Jillian Mudd? There was a drug problem, and thefts in the area. Could that have been related?
The next day Detective Hudson began by interviewing staff at MB’s supermarket.
The service desk clerk Marilyn was the first.
“Please tell me in detail where you were on the night in question,” said Hudson.
“I worked on that Monday evening. I last saw Jillian at around 9pm. She seemed a little frazzled, in a hurry to go home, I guess. It was closing time. We were all in a hurry to get out of there.”
“I knew Jillian. Sometimes I would give her a ride home from work. She was odd. She didn’t have many friends, ya know? I felt kinda sorry for her. I was working the day she got into a fight with Robert. She did not like him at all. She told me what had happened. We had our dinner break in the employees room. Last week Robert tripped her during work and she nearly fell. She got mad and swore at him. She told me she was gonna get even with him some day. She told me he was always picking on her, Either calling her names, poking her, sticking his foot out while she walked by. Stuff like that. The other night she had her cart and was on the way to clean the bathrooms like she always does. We all hear a crash near the produce aisle and a few minutes later here comes Jillian rubbing her head and going towards the bathrooms. As she walked by my register she said, “That stupid Robert. That son of a bitch! He hit me in the head and knocked me down.” I asked her why she didn’t report him and she told me that she was afraid. She didn’t want to get fired and that she was afraid of him. He never hit her before. Just poking and name calling. I wish I had helped her. I wish I had said something to somebody. I wish I had stayed that night, I left at 8 o’clock. I could have brought her home, and then she’d still be alive.” She began to sob.
Produce clerk, Stan.
“I was working the shift that night. Yeah, I heard Jillian and Robert get into it. She yelled something at him and when I turned my head I saw him grab and orange and hit her in the back of the head. She fell into the shelves hard. I came over to help but she managed to pick herself up and went on her way. I stopped Robert and asked him why he did that to her. He called her a retard, said she deserved it. Nobody deserves that. Robert came up close to me and said so only I could here him that I had better keep my mouth shut if I knew what was good for me. I never said anything. I cleaned up the mess and went back to work. Nobody asked me anything about what happened until now. I am sorry, I should have said something right away. Poor Jillian.”
Patrick, service desk manager & the assistant to the store manager.
“I was working the evening shift the night Jillian was last seen.I had heard there was a commotion somewhere near the produce department. It was a busy evening. There were several customers at the registers so my focus was, at the time, to help with the check out. I noticed Jillian headed towards the bathrooms. She cleans them several times a day. Her face was red and she was muttering something to herself. I was able to speak to her briefly. I said, “Everything ok, Jillian?” She replied, “Yeah. Ok, alright.” And she went on her way. She clocked out at 8:30 pm that night and bought a few groceries before she left the store at 9. I said goodbye to her as she left. I never saw her again.”
“Did you see anyone else leave from your staff when she left the building?” said Hudson.
“Robert left at about quarter past nine. Others tricked out between 9 and 9:30.”
Pizza restaurant interviews:
Nash interview the manager.
“Tell me everything that happened on the evening of the event.”
General manager, Jake Nelson:
“I was told by one of my assistant managers that closed that night that there was a pretty heated argument between these two guys. He went over to their table and told them to take it outside. That was around 9:30 or later. During the week we close at ten. The trash doesn’t go out at night, not until the morning. Company policy to not go out after dark. For safety of our staff. But they have to make sure that the dumpster is closed and latched shut. I check it when I come in every morning, or whatever manager is on they are to check it. We’ve had problems with animals getting in there so we keep it closed. I came in early the next morning. I went to the dumpster and noticed it was open and what a smell. I never smelled anything like that before. I saw an open umbrella on the ground. I got closer, looked in and saw this woman covered in garbage. I immediately called the cops on my cell.”
Assistant manager Derek Braun:
“Yes, I was the manager on duty that evening. Two customers. Two men. never saw them before. One guy was tall, a white guy with brown hair, maybe over 200 pounds, 250? and the other guy was a little shorter. A white guy, dark short hair and he had a red baseball cap on. They both had dark clothes. They were getting loud in the dining room. People were looking at them. So, I walk over and tell them they gotta take it outside, they’re disturbing the other guests. So they got up and left. It all happened before we closed that night. Do you think they had something to do with the death of that woman? We were so busy near the end of the night. We just wanted to get people out and clean up fast. I didn’t think to check the dumpster. I asked if anyone had seen or heard anything that night and no one said they had. I left by 11:30 pm. John and Amy were the last two staff to leave with me. We all exited together and I locked the door. It is very dark behind the building where we keep the dumpster. The lights are burned out and we do not have security cameras, unfortunately. Maybe the business next door has one.”
That week interviews were conducted at both businesses. It seems one possible suspect was “Robert” who obviously held some sort of a grudge against the victim, Jillian Mudd.
The management at the restaurant were negligent for not providing adequate lighting outdoors for the safety of their patrons and their employees. Had there in fact been sufficient lighting perhaps someone would have witnessed the crime. Well, perhaps someone did.
Hudson and Nash meet with the local district attorney on how to proceed in solving this crime. So far the evidence gathered showed that Robert an employee with a grudge left after the victim had exited the store. He definitely had committed an assault that day and is being held at the local jail pending further questioning and investigation. Two patrons at the pizza restaurant got into some sort of an argument witnessed by other patrons and staff. They left the building after approximately 9:30pm. There are no security cameras at the pizza shop, however, interviews had been conducted at other businesses adjacent to this building. A fast food business located 50 feet from their fence does have security cameras. After viewing footage of activity between 9:00pm and 11:00pm it was determined that there was no unusual activity recorded as it would relate to this crime.
A gas station further down the street also has security cameras. Nothing evident was found on their footage.
“Hudson, I want you to re-interview the general manager at that pizza restaurant. See if there were any credit card slips to identify the 2 perps who got into the argument,” said DA Reed.
“Yes, sir.” replied Hudson. “There has been some drug activity reported in that area over the last several months. I am thinking maybe this Mudd character saw something and lost her life because of it. We never found an ID on the body. The manager where she worked said she had done shopping before she left the store so she would have been carrying a bag or something. We found an umbrella with her finger prints on it.”
“Right. let’s further interview this Robert guy. Has he been arrested for the assault yet?”
“No sir. We are holding him for further questioning.”
“Ok, let’s arrest him for the assault. After he gets processed we interview him further. This guy followed Mudd across that parking lot. He either did something or saw something.”