Bodies don’t get up and walk away. Especially one the size of Al Jones. Nor could they be dragged, especially not dragged out of the room past me, and there was no other easy way to take a body the size of Al out of the building but go past me.
Or so I thought.
I needed to revisit the scene of the crime. I also needed to recover the weapon, if it was still there. I had a nagging thought that Angela may have beaten me to it, having reasonably assumed from our conversation that the weapon was still somewhere in the basement.
Corinne was right, I was not a very good liar when it came to Angela. I had also allowed myself to become beguiled by her, so much for the private investigator’s motto of keeping an open mind to all possibilities.
I didn’t believe Al had a twin. I think he may have had someone who looked like him, used him as a red herring, and was running an agenda that targeted everyone connected with Outtel.
Perhaps he hadn’t liked the idea of the company going legitimate and was being squeezed out. Being the muscle, he’d hardly benefit if no strong-arm tactics were needed anymore.
Perhaps it was a simple case of thieves fall out, Joe was cheating him, and Al killed him. IT made sense given the facts I had to hand in the case.
Then, of course, Angela had once again muddied the waters with the revelation that Joseph Jones had something to do with the murder of Cathy Jones, and if I understood the subtext, that Joseph had not only sexually assaulted her, but killed her to silence her.
This, of course, had nothing to do with my original case, Al’s wife, Jennifer, hiring me to see if her husband was having an affair with Miriam.
The fact I was not the first PI to investigate made me consider what had happened to the others? Had he simply bought them off? Nothing I saw told me he was having an affair with Miriam, but clearly, she had some sort of arrangement with him. Given there was allegedly a matter of embezzlement hanging over the company, was she with AL’s help systematically stealing money from the company.
By all accounts it was quite a lot.
That was a more plausible explanation for their relationship and Jennifer was not so worried her husband was cheating on her, as it was that he planned to dump her and leave her penniless. It might have been easier to investigate if I had all of the facts, rather than just her version of them.
But, just what was Jennifer Jones involvement in all of this? What, if anything, did she stand to gain from Al’s death, if, in fact, he was dead? She didn’t strike me as the type of person who would kill anyone, but what did I know of who could or could not kill? Besides, didn’t women prefer to use poison, rather than a gun to kill their spouse?
And Joe’s allegation about Al and Edwina? She was incapable of hiding the involuntary distaste she had for Al, and I doubt she would touch him with a ten-foot barge pole let alone anything else. That was just Joe misdirecting my investigation away from him.
And if I was honest, if Al was still alive, I didn’t think he killed Joe. He might hate him, but I didn’t think Al would want to go back to prison. But I did think someone at Outtel did kill Joe, but I was not sure what the reason was. Not yet. The most likely reason was that he’d found out what Al and Miriam were up to, and Miriam killed him. She certainly looked like a murderer to me.
My phone rang.
I looked at the screen.
I answered with, “Yes?”
“Miriam Walters is dead. It looks like a suicide, but I susp0ect once we get the coroner’s report it won’t be. That’s all of the top staff of Outtel dead. And if I follow the money, it firmly places the blame on the two wives, Jennifer and Edwina.”
“And if I told you I think Al is still alive?”
“Can you prove it, because that would answer quite a few questions I have.”
“I believe Angela can. Last time I saw her she was trying very hard to sell me a story that was losing credibility by the minute. She knows a lot more than she’s been saying. Have your forensic accountants gone over the Outtel books yet?”
“There’s a few million missing somewhere, and the cover-up was very professional. A real accountant might miss it if he wasn’t looking for it.”
He went on to add that he forensic accountants had finished their preliminary investigation into Outtel’s financial affairs and according to them the company should have flat-lined by now. Over ten million dollars had disappeared over a three year period, a fact that might not have immediately become evident had Joseph not been murdered.
An investigation into Miriam Walters found that she was really Alice Benson, an ex-felon who spent ten years in jail for embezzlement at a previous financial institution where she got away with five million dollars, none of which had been recovered. Maybe, Sykes said, she was the only beneficiary, but in this case, like her last, the money had disappeared.
But, Sykes had not found a previous connection between Al and Miriam, so perhaps she hadn’t been hired for her embezzling skills on their behalf. The fact she was dead suggested otherwise, no one who just got away with ten million would contemplate committing suicide, except from an overdose of the good life.
“So,” he concluded, “Do you think the real reason Jennifer hired you was to find out what Miriam and Al were up to, and it was not necessarily sex in a seedy hotel.”
Interesting choice of words, I thought. But it looked to me like Sykes had been thinking the same as I had been.
“Then if Al is alive, he’s making his final move and leaving no witnesses. That, I suspect might include Angela. I think I should pay her a visit, and if I get anything out of her I’ll give you a call. In the meantime, I think you should put out a wanted poster on Al.”
“Among other things. I’ve now got three possible murders and a fugitive. And I think it’s time I revisited the merry widows. On paper, they don’t stand to inherit much from the company, but I’m willing to bet the boys managed to squirrel away a lot of undeclared wealth, and that would certainly be a good motive for murder. Call me as soon as you can.”
The call fortuitously ended at the same time another was coming in. Felicity.
“She’s on the train, and no one was following her.”
“Thanks. I owe you.”
“I heard there was another body connected to the Outtel Jones case. Some woman by the name of Miriam something or other.”
“Sykes just told me. We think Al is still alive and cleaning up before he leaves with a large chunk of embezzled funds.”
“And not with Miriam. Nothing going on there then?”
“Apparently, though Sykes said that wasn’t her real name, and she had been jailed for another embezzlement at a former company she worked at. That was probably why AL was interested in her.”
“Money not sex this time. I’d like to see Jennifer Jones face when you tell her.”
“That’s Sykes department. I promised not to interfere with police business. I just have one more task to complete for this case, and then you can tell me all about your adventure. My treat.”
“With top shelf champagne.”
After the call ended, a message came through from Corinne, confirming Felicity’s report. She was on the train, reluctantly, and would await my call when it was safe for her to return. But there was a short addition to the text. Our father had not come home last night, not that it was concerning, but when mother had called the office, they said he had told them he was going away for a few days.
He’d never done that before, not without telling us.
I hoped this had nothing to do with our little discussion about his involvement with Outtel, or the matter regarding the empty block at the docks.