[Here’s the entire series in case you missed previous chapters]
And there it was! DCI Fritz saw the way forward. Without forensic evidence to prove him the murderer or even an eyewitness who could place Wrigley at the murder scene at the right time, Fritz had no real basis for charging Wrigley. But what he did have, perhaps, was a way to flush the truth out of Wrigley. So he called Mr. Wrigley’s PA and requested a meeting for early the next morning, before the busy day would begin, and he was pleased that she could work him into Mr. Wrigley’s schedule.
We’ll never know exactly what transpired in that meeting between DCI Fritz and Mr. Wrigley. The police report laid out all the inquiries and their results, the autopsy and toxicology reports, the deep background checking that had occurred and those findings. It also laid out the analytical path by which DCI Fritz, with due credit given to Ms. Kahneifmeyer and Ms. Patel, had determined that Mr. Cummins had no apparent motive for imposing a documented by him set of discriminatory hiring practices, going way outside not only professional practice and the company’s written policy but also the laws covering such matters. Au contraire, the nature of his personal life might have suggested that, if anything, he would be an advocate for non-discrimination in HRM policies and practices. Given no motive for such behavior by Cummins, the report went on to discuss the possibility of coercion and, if that were the case, of who might be positioned to exercise not only a coercive power over Mr. Cummins but also to benefit from the implementation of discriminatory hiring practices as long as they didn’t lead to him or her.
It was at this point in the report that the disturbing background details about Mr. Wrigley were presented along with the possible implications of that background. With regard to the discriminatory hiring practices, there was potential benefit to Mr. Wrigley as long as he didn’t get caught directly. With regard to the murder of Mr. Cummins, it was suggested that the impetus for it was either a refusal of Mr. Cummins to continue implementing rampant discrimination or a sense that Mr. Cummins might “spill the beans.” Whatever raised the alarm for Mr. Wrigley, the report suggested that the meeting requested by Ms. Kahneifmeyer to discuss why a candidate she thought well qualified was being treated so shabbily has put the wind up Cummins, which he in turn communicated to Wrigley.
The report that described the meeting between DCI Fritz and Mr. Wrigley, a short meeting whose outcome could not have been predicted. Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Wrigley told his PA to cancel the rest of that day’s meetings as he had some personal matters requiring his immediate attention. And that was the last that anyone at the office saw of Mr. Wrigley. When he did show up at the office the next day and wasn’t responding to IMs, emails or his cell phone, his PA called DCI Fritz in something of a panic. Police were sent to Wrigley’s home where they found him in his study, slumped over his desk, and cold as stone. The suicide note said only that he regretted having been a supporter of and donor to the “nationalist” movement, behaviors which could well be a detriment to Great Software if he didn’t take clear and complete responsibilities for his actions. He wrote that he’d been very depressed for some time about this matter. The investigation that followed found nothing to contradict a finding of death by his own hand when the balance of his mind was disturbed.
The report closed with the evidence (and lack thereof) to support the proposition that Mr. Wrigley had indeed killed Mr. Cummins, but the evidence here was very inconclusive. Mr. Wrigley had means (access to the Sherry and letter opener knife during a routine visit to Mr. Cummins not too long before Zelda had arrived) and opportunity (access to the electronic calendaring system and the super credentials to set up a confidential appointment at a time when no one else was scheduled on either side and without anyone but him able to pull up that appointment. But unless it could be proven that Mr. Wrigley’s “nationalist” sympathies had led him to pressure Mr. Cummins into the discriminatory hiring behavior, there was no motive for him to kill Mr. Cummins. So, with Mr. Wrigley dead, and no other obvious suspects, the investigation into Mr. Cummins’ death concluded with murder by person or persons unknown.
And there it sat until, as he had promised, DCI Fritz invited Ms. Patel and Ms. Kahneifmeyer to meet for lunch a few months later at the same tea room. By then, things at the office had gotten back to whatever passes for normal. A new recruiter had picked up Mr. Cummins’ workload and was using the highly automated ATS quite happily and effectively. Ms. Patel was guiding the executive search to replace Mr. Wrigley, and some good candidates were emerging. And Ms. Kahneifmeyer’s stealth project was showing real progress now that she had hired a chief architect.
When they had their lunches in front of them, Zelda spoke first. She simply had to know what DCI Fritz had said to Wrigley in their brief meeting, and Ms. Patel seconded the motion. DCI Fritz really did want to share his story with these two discrete women who had helped so much with the case, but he knew that he had to be cautious. “Imagine what would lead a man like Wrigley to take his own life? Certainly not a sudden turnabout on long held nationalist, gender equity, or even racist views. Imagine what would cause a man like Cummins to cast aside all of his principles when it came to non-discriminatory hiring practices, let alone illegal ones? But what if Cummins were gay? What if Wrigley knew? And what if it were suggested to Mr. Wrigley by one of the investigators — or even by his own lawyer — that they were lovers and that was the leverage for the conspiracy?”
And, as both women realized at the same moment how Mr. Wrigley’s suicide had been instigated, they agreed without words never to speak of this again.
(Cross-posted @ In Full Bloom)