The Mystery Of The Locked Room
It was a bright sunny morning as usual. People began their everyday busy lives with the paper man and the milkman delivering their respective things on the doorsteps. Mr. Jack Turner was woken up by the sound of his doorbell ringing. He looked up at the clock. It was still half past 6. Blissfully, he woke up scratching his back, came to the door and picked up his morning paper and milk. He then went to his bathroom, finished his morning ablutions and came with a cup of coffee, two half fried omelets and some toast to his study table. He began reading his newspaper taking sips of his favorite coffee admiring his, not-so-great, culinary skills.
An article suddenly caught his eye. A suicide at a place he usually passed by! He used to admire the house’s decorations while passing by to get to his favorite grocery store. Apparently the man of that house was found hanging from the fan the previous night. The beautiful sound of classical music which he used to hear while passing by that house still resonated in his ear. Suddenly his deep thoughts were interrupted by a phone call. He picked up his phone and the voice at the other end said “Jack, did you see the newspaper today? “ . He soon recognized the other voice as his best friend Mr. Brian Chester.
Jack answered “Yeah, I saw it. Is it about the murder?” .
“Yes. Can you come down. I am waiting at the basement. I need your help on this one.” Brian replied.
Jack and Brian were friends from their college days and knew each other very well. They both went to college together, played together and sometimes even slept in the same place if their parents were out. They both had only one aim – to become a great detective who will be world famous! And they became detectives as well! Mr. Jack was with the Arson and Kidnappings department and Mr. Brian was with the Homicide department. Mr. Jack quickly finished his breakfast, locked his door and rushed down the stairs to meet his dear friend. Mr. Jack wondered what this could be all about. Brian was really good at these cases and had solved many of them. He wondered why he would ask for Jack’s help so suddenly. They both greeted each other with a hug and a handshake and left for Mr. Brian’s office. “So, Brian, what is the case about? You never come to me for help unless it is something beyond your reach!” exclaimed Jack.
“Hmmm… well you must have read the report. But, we refused journalists to comment on the nature of his death.” Brian said.
“And why is that?”
”The man was , of course ,killed by strangulation but, what bugs me is the way in which his room was left!”
“Really ? What’s so special about this one?” asked Jack as he picked up a cigar from Brian’s desk, gently taking a stroll around his office.
“Tell me, when a person commits a suicide, what is the first thing that he takes care of?”
“Well, first of all, he keeps his letter of reason at a place where people can see, then locks the doors and windows and kills himself.”
“That is the place where I am not comfortable. You see, he was the sole person living in that place with his maid visiting thrice a day – morning at about 8 AM, afternoon at about 12 PM and evening about 8 PM to cook his meals. So, if he had to commit suicide, he should make sure she doesn’t stop him, right?”
“Now, if you were a very disciplined person and the only person with the original key with no one else having access to the key, would you keep the key in a safe place or just toss it over the desk before committing suicide?”
“I don’t know. Will depend on my mood. I will probably keep it in my drawer properly if I had time or I might just throw it over!”
“The thing is, all other items were neatly arranged including the chair he used to sit on. He also had his suicide letter typed on the screen of his computer neatly!”
“Yes, he did all his correspondence on the computer and very little on paper. But, the key to the door was the only thing that was not properly put in its place. Oh! And btw, there were paper pieces strewn near the table till the window. We picked up all of them and found them to be cut from drawings and sketches he used to draw in his free time. Seems he was upset over something .”
“Hmmm…what did the letter on the screen say?”
“It said –
I worked so hard that I almost gave up my life for this just to be rejected by the supervisory team! What is the use of making so many drawings and sketches now that my work won’t even be displayed at the international festival? I gave up my job, my family, my everything for this! How am I going to repay my funders now? How am I going to face my fans? I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone anymore. Hence I decided to kill myself. This is my sole decision and no one is to be held responsible for my death.
“Hmm…So, he was preparing himself for the International Arts festival to be held next month. He felt frustrated and tore apart the drawings himself and committed suicide.”
“Well, that is the conclusion we came to, since there is no other way! What bothers me is the way the key was thrown over, just across the table! It is as if, he had thrown it after standing on the chair!”
“I see….When did this take place exactly?”
“Well, according to the doctor’s report and the Rigor Mortis, it happened between 7 & 8 pm”
“Who found the body and in what state?”
“Well, the maid was the first person to find about the murder. She came in about 8 pm yesterday night to check on the old man. That is when she found him locked in his room without any key to go inside. The master had the only key to that room”
“She then phoned the police, who then broke the door apart and they concluded that the key was thrown over the table about a feet away! The worst thing is the room was locked on all sides except the window which was above 10 feet from the floor where no human can possibly reach. “
“What do you mean no one can reach? Almost any person can reach that height using a chair of about 4-5 feet !” retorted Jack.
“You see, that is the point! There are no chairs of that height in that room!!! The old man always used to sit on only one chair about 2-3 feet tall. All other chairs in the house were of the same height as that. So, even if the culprit used 2-3 chairs to get over the window, how would he remove those chairs after climbing?”
“Hmmm….. that is odd. And you say there is no other way out other than the main door?”
“So, it is a Closed Room Murder, according to you, then? “ saying which, Jack stubbed the cigar into the ash tray as he began to take interest in this story.
“Well, I am not sure if it’s a murder or a suicide! The higher-ups are convinced that it is a suicide. That is why I wanted to ask your opinion first… “