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Armchair Detective: Case 2

Are you ready to test your Forensic IQ again?

Calling all armchair detectives. Your second case, The Dead Agent, is now available.

Draw your armchairs around and take a gander at this one. Log your thoughts in the comments below:

Dead Agent

  1. Jay Hartman says:

    There’s a lot of timing we need to know here. What time did the mailwoman discover the body and when did she actually call 911? At what time did the cameras pick up the white truck circling the area? Are there multiple angles to tell if it was simply a white truck…or a red, white and blue mail truck? Most mail trucks look white from most angles if you don’t catch the stripes. Where was the wife at 11am? Can the wife confirm he went to the office with the wallet, or was it simply forgotten at home? Execution style hits typically only take one or two shots to get the job done, so having multiple casings and live ammo on the floor smacks of an amateur with a bad case of nerves.

    1. Nupur Tustin says:

      Yes, the mailwoman discovered the body on her rounds and called 911. This was sometime during the day. Yes, the truck was definitely white. It was a Ford Focus. The wallet wasn’t at home. It should’ve been on the victim. He always kept it on him, in his pocket. But his pockets were empty.

      1. Nupur says:

        Yes, the live rounds would suggest either an amateur shooter or a bad gun.

  2. Susan says:

    Killing this man execution style was intended to do more than just make sure he was dead. The murderer didn’t need multiple cartridges to kill his victim. This was not a crime of passion or random killing. Those types of murders are not usually done execution style. It’s more likely this method of murder was used to make a statement and serve as a warning for other people. Why were live rounds left with the spent cartridges? Was that a part of the warning?
    The man ran a cash business – a highly unusual way to run an insurance company. Was he running a shady business and connected with unsavory characters? His financial dealings should be examined closely, including looking at possible extortion or blackmail.
    Did the victim normally have a place for the cash he received from his clients – such as a safe, or cashbox, etc. or did he keep all the cash in his wallet? Were there signs that the murderer searched the office looking for cash, since this was a cash business? While it’s possible the victim’s wallet was taken for the cash inside, were there other items in the wallet that would have been important to the murderer?
    The white truck should be identified and the driver questioned. What kind of truck was it – a delivery truck, a pickup truck, or something else? Were there empty parking spaces around the building? If so, that would eliminate the truck circling to find a place to park.
    Was anyone else working in the building that morning? Did anyone else hear the shots or see anyone enter the office? Was there more than one entrance/exit to the building? Did the woman who heard the “pops” know the insurance agent?
    Was he happily married? Where was his wife that morning? What was her response when she heard about the shooting? Was his wife involved in his insurance business in any capacity?
    Was the mail woman making her usual rounds when she discovered the body, or was she making a special delivery to the office? What was in the mail that day?
    Was there anything unusual on the victim’s desk or in his pockets? What was he working on when the murderer entered the office? Were there any appointments scheduled for that day?

  3. Nupur says:

    Very good questions, Susan! Yes, the mailwoman was on her rounds when she discovered the dead body. It was the wife who suggested that police check to see whether the victim’s wallet was in his pocket. He tended to carry large amounts of cash with him.

  4. Susan says:

    Hmmm. Interesting that the police hadn’t already checked the pockets. Was there anything else on the body, in the pockets, or on the floor?

    Looking at the cartridges and the live ammo, what kind of weapon was used? Was this a weapon that was easy for anyone to obtain, or was it a specialty weapon?

    Who besides the wife would have known that he carried large sums of money in his wallet?

    Since this was an execution style shooting, how was the man restrained when shot? Was he tied up or shackled? If so, what was used to tie him up? Did that offer any clues to the identity of the murderer?

    1. Nupur Tustin says:

      Execution style would refer to the fact that the killer had the victim kneel on the ground before him and shot him in the back of the head. The victim was shot twice. The first shot went in through the neck, and the second was in through the face.

  5. Susan says:

    Also, did the victim have a history of gambling?

    1. Nupur Tustin says:

      No, history of gambling, but the police did find gay porn on his computer.

  6. KatherineM says:

    At first glance, this killing has the characteristics of a gang/mafia-style execution. Was the victim associated with organized crime? (A cash-only insurance business does suggest this.)

    Was the victim a known or suspected drug dealer? Could the insurance business have been a way to launder drug money?

    If nothing but the wallet was stolen, and other valuables were present in the office, was there something in the wallet, other than money, that the killer wanted or needed? If this was indeed a gang-type execution, then stealing the wallet may have been opportunistic, even though the killing was planned.

    Was the murder weapon found at the scene?

    Did the victim own/carry a gun? If so, was it a) still in the victim’s possession, b) the murder weapon, or c) not the weapon, but missing?

    Did the spent and unused cartridges match those used to kill the victim? Did they belong to the victim?

    How many shots were actually used to kill the victim?

    Was there any evidence, such as bloodstains, that others had been shot in addition to the victim?

    1. Nupur Tustin says:

      The victim didn’t own or carry a gun. The live rounds and spent cartridges most likely belonged to the killer. Two shots were used to kill the victim. The killer may have attempted to open the cash drawer, but it was locked and had something wrong with it, so was difficult to open in any case.

  7. Susan says:

    More questions: Where was the cash drawer kept? Was it readily visible or would someone have had to search for it?
    Had his wife recently purchased a gun? Did she have an alibi for the time of the murder? If she was the murderer and was not used to using a gun, that may account for the live ammo on the office floor. In addition, she would have known that he carried a wallet with large amounts of cash. It would have been easy for her to take the wallet and then cover her tracks by asking if the police had found it.

  8. Nupur says:

    Excellent questions! The wife hadn’t bought a gun, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have hired someone to kill her husband.

    The police did discover that the victim had been having an affair with another man. The lover, when interviewed, said the victim had recently decided to call off their affair because the wife had found out about the affair. But she didn’t mention to the police that she either knew or suspected her husband was cheating on her.

    Was she ashamed? Or was the omission a sign of guilt?

    1. Susan says:

      A murder by the lover scorned? Perhaps, but I think the wife had the stronger motive. The victim had betrayed her in the most embarrassing way, and “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”!

  9. KatherineM says:

    Did the lover have a wife or another lover?

    Was the wife having an affair?

    Was the wife from a mob family?

    Did any of the wife’s relatives have a history of violence?

  10. KatherineM says:

    Oh – and how had the wife found out about her husband’s affair?

    Had the victim given his wife a venereal disease?

  11. Nupur says:

    We don’t know that the wife knew of her husband’s affair. She never mentioned it to the police. It was the victim’s male lover who claimed that she knew.

    Was the wife lying? Did she really not know? We have to weigh against another statement she made to the police–namely, that her husband had a very small life insurance policy.

    Yet police found that the husband actually had three separate life insurance policies, all with hefty payouts. All named the wife as the beneficiary.

    There was no criminal background in the wife’s history or her family. There was no evidence that she was cheating on her husband and police were able to verify her whereabouts at the time of the victim’s death.

  12. KatherineM says:

    What did the lover say about how he learned that the wife knew of the affair?

    I see three possible motives (so far) for the killing.

    1. A revenge killing contracted for by the wife or one of her relatives. We would need to know more about the wife’s contacts and her relatives’ alibis (if any) for the killing. Do any of them own a white Ford Focus?

    2. A revenge killing by the lover or his wife or other lover (if any). Again, does he own a white Ford Focus?

    3. A killing related to the operation of the cash-only insurance business. What kinds of people tend to buy cash-only insurance? What kinds of insurance were being offered? Had any of his customers recently expressed dissatisfaction with a policy or payout? Do any of them own a white Ford Focus?

    I’ve ruled out killing in the course of a robbery, despite the missing wallet, because that doesn’t explain the execution-type killing.

    Also, thanks for a great puzzle!

  13. Nupur says:

    Great questions! We definitely need to figure out whom the Ford Focus belongs to and see if its driver is a potential suspect or can be ruled out. Looking at the wife’s contacts is also important. But we also can’t rule out the victim’s clients.

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