The heavy rain drops landed resonantly on the front window of my vehicle before slowly sliding down its smooth glass.
It was a grey and chilly afternoon as I drove silently down the empty and rural country road. Both sides of the highway were covered in trees and fields save for a few houses scattered about.
In some ways, I was thankful for the silence. It gave me time to think--to mentally prepare myself for the confrontation. In other ways, the stillness was driving me mad with anticipation, feelings of uncertainty and anxiety filling my mind.
I knew what I had been getting into when I had first decided to join the police force. The position would have no doubt brought its share of challenges and stress into my life. In the beginning, every day seemed to be a never-ending nightmare, but I thought that maybe over time I would familiarise myself with the overpowering emotions. However, even after almost five years, these un-comforting feelings never even began to fade or subside in the slightest.
I looked down at my hands gripping the steering wheel with such force that my knuckles were turning white. With a deep breath, I loosened my hold and decided, in my head, to go over all of the information relevant to the case.
It was only about a week ago when the station had received an unsuspected call from a certain Miss Natasha Turner. The teenager, a normally charming and high-spirited young lady, seemed to be quite distressed based upon her shaky tone accompanied with the occasional sob.
It took quite a bit of patience before we could fully understand the matter upsetting the girl, but she was eventually able to explain that she had just found her father, Mr. Andrew Turner, dead in their back garden.
After travelling to the large mansion and investigating the scene of the crime, murder quickly became a strong suspicion after a seven-inch blade was found lodged in the man’s back.
The inspector decided to put me in charge of this case although all the evidence was already pointing towards one very obvious and evident suspect--Mr. Ronald Jenson.
Ronald Jenson was one of Turner’s biggest rivals, each man being the owner of one of the two main and competing oil companies of the area.
The suspicions surrounding Mr. Jenson’s involvement in the apparent murder only seemed to grow after Natasha confirmed that the two men had met up the very day of the unfortunate event to discuss certain undisclosed business matters.
According to Miss Turner’s testimony, it all happened as follows:
‘At ten o’clock, the morning of Saturday, September the fifteenth, Mr. Jenson arrived at the mansion carrying an unusually large, brown briefcase (she made note of this specific detail since he had handed the bag to her at the door before retrieving it later on). Both men, Turner and Jenson, began their meeting at the dining room table, each sipping on a cup of tea accompanied by a platter of biscuits. Natasha also noted that both gentlemen seemed to be in unusually high spirits at the time, discussing personal affairs such as family matters.
By eleven o’clock, Turner and Jenson had wrapped up their conversation, deciding to take a stroll in the large back garden and talk about more business-related topics. This is when Mr. Jenson retrieved his briefcase from the spot on the bench in the entrance where Miss Turner had previously placed it upon his arrival.
Natasha did not see nor hear of either man from then until about two o’clock in the afternoon when she began to grow concerned, for her father had another engagement in only twenty minutes' time. That’s when the teenager discovered her father’s stiff and lifeless body behind a bunch of bushes near the back of the property. Jenson was nowhere to be seen.
At that point, Miss Turner rushed back to the house in order to contact the police station.’
The fact that the murder weapon was covered in Jenson’s finger prints and that marks from his boots polluted all surrounding area of the corpse’s location did not help his case.
Let us not also forget the testimony of young Maurice Plant, an intelligent and trustworthy lad who claimed to have heard a most fierce and vivid argument between the two business-men at about one o’clock that very afternoon.
Jenson was arrested at once, seeming unsurprised at the accusations but continuing to plead innocent against all charges. In his defence, Jenson only seemed to repeat a few words of denial: ‘I did not kill nor harm Andrew Turner. I understand that certain circumstances may lead you to believe otherwise, but you must take my word.’
He had just been released a few days ago on bail and had since stayed locked up in his small and comfortable home just outside of town.
It wasn’t long, however, before word travelled rapidly among people and reached every person within proximity. Headlines such as ‘Wealthy Oil Company Owner Murders his Biggest Rival’ tainted local newspapers and rumours began to spread like wildfire.
After conducting a few more interviews, it became apparent that Mr. Jenson and Mr. Turner had much to be quarrelling over. One of them would have been obliged to shut down or sell their company because of recent changes in laws concerning the oil industry. Rumour had it that Turner was in a better financial position, ready to take over his rival’s business. And so, Jenson’s motive for murder soon became apparent.
The accusations were now backed with witnesses, evidence, a murder weapon and a concrete motive, all pointing towards the very obvious suspect, Mr. Ronald Jenson.
This seemed enough to convince the entire town, for people soon turned bitter towards the man, speaking ill of him whenever the topic came up. Rumours regarding the business-owner's wife leaving him also surged up in the ongoing traffic of information circulating among gossipers.
I knew that all the evidence pointed towards Mr. Jenson. In fact, it was all laid out so perfectly that it was almost impossible to doubt his involvement regarding the incident. I, however, remained skeptical on the matter, my mind not being so easily persuaded. Everything just seemed too obvious. Too perfectly set up.
I slowed my vehicle as I neared the house, pulling into the short, gravel drive-way. The engine of my car ceased to growl before I opened the door and stepped out, taking a deep breath of cool air. I then walked up to the front door of the building, knocking gently a few times and waiting patiently. There was no answer so I tried again, my taps resonating a bit louder this time. After a third try, I called out loudly ‘Mr. Jenson! This is the police! Please come open the door, I have simply come to talk!’
No response disturbed the stillness of the surrounding area, so I tried the door, stepping into the compact entrance of the home after having found the latch unlocked.
A sudden, bitter and unfortunately familiar scent hit my nose as soon as I entered, driving me to search earnestly for the man, calling for him as I walked around.
To my dismay, my senses had not failed me and upon entering the overly-decorated living room of the house, I found the business-man's cold and stiff body sprawled out across the floor. I rushed to his side, aware that it was too late, but found a few documents on the carpet beside him. I picked them up, scanning through each page to see if they might be of any importance. When I reached the last page, I examined the neat paragraphs of text before reaching the bottom of the sheet which read:
‘I, Andrew Turner, agree to sell my company ‘Woodland Oil Co.’ to Ronald P. Jenson on the condition that he makes monthly payments pertaining to 15% of the business’ earnings.
Signed on Saturday, September 15th at 1:30 p.m.
Witnessed by Gilles Leblanc, lawyer.’
And just like that, all matter concerning motive, evidence and witnesses was significantly perturbed. I sat back against the rugged couch, closing my eyes as I began to piece together clues as to figure out what really happened to Mr. Andrew Turner that unfortunate Saturday afternoon.