[Here’s the entire series in case you missed previous chapters]
There was silence as each of them absorbed the implications of what had just been said against the known backdrop of the case. The murder took place in a closed facility with tight security which tended to rule out a wandering homicidal maniac. There were no signs of a struggle or even of an argument which would have been heard by others. The victim was doped, most likely administered by a doctored Sherry prepared from the Sherry tray that had gone missing. But even a dopey victim would have resisted a total stranger coming at him with a knife, face on, so it was likely that the murderer was known to the victim.
Just as their minds drifted through the possible suspects, all but one of whom had by now been ruled out, at least tentatively, they got to the crux of their problem. What possible motive could the potential murderer have had for first pressuring Cummins to violate company policy, HRM professional practices and the law and then murdering him, either to cover up the matter or in an urgent response to Cummins’ losing his nerve or being overcome with guilt?
This is where the police machinery has enormous advantages. With a single, likely suspect in their sights, they could dig into his finances, domestic arrangements, prior work history, affiliations and associations, social exhaust and phone records, comings and goings, Great Software’s financial stability and prospects. The police could dig into everything about Mr. Wrigley until they either proved him free of any motive or found the motive that explained what they think may have happened.
Since warrants would be needed to do the kind of deep background Fritz had in mind, he proposed to get such warrants on all three of them — Wrigley, Patel, Kahneifmeyer — plus a couple of other hiring managers so that Mr. Wrigley wouldn’t appear to be their primary suspect. He also decided to put a 24 hour, very discrete watch on Mr. Wrigley, just in case. After explaining these next steps to Zelda and Ms. Patel, and asking for their patience and continued discretion, they left the tea shop, agreeing to meet back there as soon as DCI Fritz had more to report.
And that didn’t take long. The first solid clue came when they learned that Mr. Wrigley, who had a private income in addition to his very considerable compensation from Great Software, was a major, albeit discrete via his private income, donor to a number of nationalist groups, one of which was pretty racist, at least in its Web site and social exhaust. Next they learned that Mr. Wrigley had had a short-lived first marriage to a woman who was a leader in the LGBTQ community, a marriage whose divorce documents revealed that Wrigley had become violent when his wife presented him with her decision to leave him for another woman.
But the piece de resistance was the discovery that Mr. Wrigley had political aspirations and had begun testing the waters to become an MP on a platform of closing Britain’s borders to only the most highly vetted and economically desirable immigrants, deporting non-British EU citizens in conjunction with the most rapid possible implementation of Brexit, reducing taxes on the job and wealth creators, emphasizing “made/grown/raised/performed in Great Britain” not only in all government contracting but also via a program of tariffs on imported goods and services, providing more support for wives and mothers to focus on home and hearth rather than working outside the home, and ensuring that native Brits felt comfortable in their ancestral homeland.
All of this might have given Wrigley a philosophical as well as a political motive for wanting to limit employment at Great Software to those who passed his “nationalist” as well as gender tests, but they might never know whether Cummins was an enthusiastic, merely willing, or coerced co-conspirator. Furthermore, if the whole matter came to light without proving that Wrigley was in fact the murderer, then Wrigley’s credentials among his target constituency would skyrocket.
And there was more. The knife used in the murder had no fingerprints except Cummins’, and was known to have been bought by Cummins many years previously. The office cleaner could attest that it was usually sitting on his desk where it appeared to have been used as a letter opener. The Sherry service was found in a storage closet not far from Cummins’ office with only his fingerprints on it, but there was some evidence of glove prints overlaying Cummins’ fingerprints on the smooth glass sherry decanter. Cummins, who was single and never married was found to have had quite a colorful private life among the demi-monde, particularly the homosexual demi-monde. This made him a VERY unlikely employment discrimination co-conspirator, but perhaps this is where Wrigley found the leverage point to coerce Cummins?
Stay Tuned For The Finale
(Cross-posted @ In Full Bloom)