Silver & Seaweed: 3. Cliff Manor Clues

The group took a taxi to the Cliff’s seaside manor while Jonquil laid out her plan. She was certainly sure that the culprit would be revealed at the manor in only a matter of minutes. David could only purse his lips, if only every case was this easy, if this case was this easy. Something just wasn’t right. David did trust Jonquil’s judgment since she had lived in Cape Coley all her life and would practically know everybody, but his instinct was telling him that something just wasn’t right. When they arrived, they found that not only was the sheriff there with Mrs. Cliff, but so were Mrs. Cliff’s sister and a couple of the neighbors. Prominent among them was a Miss Dorothy Miller. David only noticed her because of the daggers Jonquil seemed to be shooting at her. Was she Jonquil’s main suspect? And why? She seemed to be on good terms with the Cliffs. Mrs. Cliff was in fact sitting between her sister Sarah Landon and Dorothy Miller as she sobbed. David’s eyes went back to Jonquil, and quickly realized that Jonquil included both Mrs. Cliff and Sarah in her glare. So, she had actually narrowed it down to the three women who were apparently closest to George Cliff, one of whom the car was actually linked to. But David went with his gut instinct on this, and decided that Mrs. Cliff didn’t do. She would normally have been the prime suspect, thanks to the tire tracks they found, she was, but David could see real sorrow in her eyes. A pair of eyes that, when they fell on him, seemed to beg him to bring her husband’s murderer to light and justice, for that was all he could do at this point.

The sheriff ushered them into the master bedroom, his face showed he was clearly panicking. “I hate to have to rush you guys, but we need an arrest by tonight, along with some sufficient evidence.”

“Like a confession?” asked Harris.

“That would be the best, but, just in case, some fingerprints we may have overlooked in Mrs. Cliff’s car, anything like that, just so I don’t have to separate Mrs. Cliff from her children.”

David let out a breath, “That is a very tall order, Sheriff.”

“I know, I know, but, we’ve got the media coming out, several of George’s family members will be here tonight, along with fans and co-workers, well, the guy was admired by many people, and they’re going to want answers the minute they get here.”

“No, you’re just afraid they’re going to take justice into their own hands and practically lynch poor Molly,” retorted Jonquil.

Richards winced, “That too, especially since we all seem to be in agreement that she didn’t do it.” David glanced at Jonquil, well, all but one. To his surprise, Jonquil nodded.

“She definitely didn’t do it Sheriff, she loved him with all of her heart, and he could have adored the ground she walked on. They were perfectly happy and were more than just husband and wife; they were the best of friends. And now . . .” Jonquil paused as tears threatened to stream down her face. “Now, only her children will be able to console her, for that’s really all she has left of him besides his pictures.” David felt Trin’s hand pressing into his own, and gritted his teeth with determination.

“Right, well, sheriff, we’re going to need to see Mrs. Cliff’s car and the approximate location that Mr. Cliff was last seen before he disappeared.”

“You don’t have to go far for either, the car is in the garage, and George disappeared from his house. Molly said he had gone to get a few things from the store that evening and she heard the car returning and the front door opening, but didn’t see him after that. Hence why she called us immediately, he was literally walking in the door when he disappeared.” Harris opened and closed his mouth in shock, like a fish waiting to be baited.

David merely gritted his teeth harder, “Alright then, it looks like we’ve got ourselves a long afternoon ahead of us. And we are going to need the house cleared.”

Richards nodded, “I can handle that. We need to get statements from everybody, just in case somebody noticed something and didn’t realize it.”

David nodded, “Good idea. And while you get everyone over to the station, we’ll search the master bedroom. Mr. Cliff may have left us a clue or even the murderer if they had to get Mrs. Cliff’s keys.”

“Good idea. I might be able to get you two hours, tops. After that, we’re going to have to comb through everything we’ve got.”

“Right,” the group nodded as the sheriff quickly descended the stairs. They could hear the murmur of voices and doors as everyone left the house. David watched the proceedings from the window, doing his best to keep out of sight.

“What are you looking for?” asked Trin.

“Mrs. Cliff keeps her keys in the outside pocket of her purse, making it quite easy for anyone to snatch them and return them without her realizing it.”

“And only an avid eavesdropper or someone close to her would know that,” pointed out Jonquil.

David nodded, “She turned to keep others from seeing where she put them.”

“So that narrows it down to her sister, Sarah Landon, right?” mused Harris.

David glanced at Jonquil, “So why Dorothy Miller?”

Jonquil sighed, “She’s one of George’s biggest fans, and was the most upset when she heard about him marrying Molly and moving out here.”

“But would she actually resort to murder after all these years?”

“Unless it was an accidental overdose, she doesn’t seem like the type to know much about medicine,” pointed out Calvin.

“Hmm . . .”

“David?”

“My gut’s telling me we’re missing something, and it’s something that we should have noticed. I don’t know, maybe we’ll find out more when we really start searching the house. Let’s go.” The group split up and began to search the house thoroughly. But David almost couldn’t focus, something, at the back of his mind, was begging him to notice. Something did start to take shape, something he had seen in the living room while everyone was there. But, what was it? He went straight to the living room and tried to imagine the whole scene. What had been so small that no one else noticed, but had left a huge imprint on his mind? A sharp cry from the women brought all three men to the back yard. There, in the back corner, opened a gaping hole that was split by the fence separating the Cliffs manor from Dorothy Miller’s house. David blanched, but quickly climbed down. He turned on his flashlight, and gasped.

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