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Old 09-26-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Question The Killer's Prints

"Maybe this is my lucky day," the Las Vegas detective said as he gazed down at the strangled corpse. "It certainly wasn't hers." Even from this distance, he could see the welts around the victim's neck. She was lying face down, but the hand marks were clear on her pale skin, the outline of two thumbs pointing down toward her bare shoulders. The unlucky corpse, still in her bright circus outfit, was hidden behind a dumpster, right by the stage entrance to the Big Top Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

The detective's luck had been in the form of rain. A rare storm had hit Southern Nevada just the night before, capturing a set of muddy footprints not far from the corpse. They were suspiciously similar to those left by the pointy boots of Howsie Kye, the midget ringmaster and producer.

"It poured heavy last night," Howsie testified. "Starting around two a.m. This morning I came early, to check for leaks. That's when I found the body." Howsie's show, Vegas Variety, was a popular attraction, a permanent circus playing in a tent-shaped theater behind the casino. "We're like a family," he moaned. "Frieda Cummings was our star acrobat. A beautiful, fun-loving woman. Why would anyone kill her?"

Before approaching the body, the officer checked the wet ground again and saw another set of footprints, size 20, at least. "Was Frieda friendly with any of your clowns?"

It didn't take long to track the prints to Smiley Cummings, the head clown and Frieda's sour, dry-eyed husband. "I kept telling her. 'You play with men the way you do and you're asking for trouble.' I guess someone finally took her flirting seriously."

"Was your wife having an affair?" the detective asked bluntly.

Smiley laughed. "Frieda wasn't interested in sex. She only wanted to be wanted. You don't know how many frustrated men learned that the hard way."

Frieda's acrobat partner confirmed her "fun-loving" reputation. "As far as I know, it was all just flirting," Rudolph said kindly. "Frieda was with me last night after the show. We were in the main tent, practicing a new trick. We finished up around one a.m. Then I guess she went home. She and Smiley live just a short walk from here."

But Smiley said she never arrived. "When she didn't come home, I went looking. I walked back in the rain and knocked on the stage door. I must have come within a few feet of her body -- if she was even dead by then."

The detective returned to the stage door, studying the corpse and the two sets of footprints. "It seems pretty clear who did it."


Howsie Kye
Smiley Cummings
Not Sure

EDIT: You may have noticed this thread was closed as soon as it was created. That was not intended to limit your input or enjoyment in any way. On the contrary, your participation is most welcome. The action was taken to prevent eager Peeps from going into some search engine, finding the answer, and posting it, as happened on several occasions in the past. (Of course I harvest a lot of this material from other sources. You didnít think I create it all myself, did you? Iím good, but Iím not that good!) Regrettably, that also means that folks who legitimately work out their own answers, and would like to post them, donít get to display their prowess, but Iím afraid that canít be helped. Iíll open the thread in a couple of days, when Peeps have had an opportunity to try their hand at a solution, and you can post away then. The official answer will come a bit after that. I appreciate your patience and understanding, and hope you enjoy the exercise.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting "Holy Shit...what a ride!!"
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Old 09-30-2010   #2 (permalink)
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There you go. Available for your input.
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Old 10-01-2010   #3 (permalink)
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The only scenario I came up with was Rudolph.The upside down hand prints would suggest a (accidental?) choke hold in a trapeze transfer and he could have dumped the body before the rains came at two which would explain the absence of his prints.Doesn't seem real solid but nothing else clicked so far.
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Old 10-03-2010   #4 (permalink)
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The Official Answer

The footprints aren't a vital clue. If Frieda had been killed before the rain started at two a.m., anyone could have done it and not left prints. The significant prints are fingerprints, the ones on the victim's throat.

The officer noted that the handprints around her neck were backwards and upside down. The killer had strangled Frieda from above her head, as she was facing away. This is a nearly impossible position -- unless you happen to be an acrobat. Rudolph, a jealous, unsuccessful suitor, had grabbed her around the throat just as they were practicing a new balancing trick for their act.
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