When Detective Sal Driver entered the front door of the large and luxurious lakeside house the first thing he saw was his partner, Doug Hanson, in the entrance hall studying his notes. “So, what happened here?”, he blurted, relieved to be inside from the freezing cold.
“The owner of the house, Frank Hester, seems to have been killed during a burglary,” Detective Hanson replied. “According to his wife, the two of them woke up at around one a.m. because of noises coming from the living room below. Mr. Hester went alone to check, and when Mrs. Hester heard shouting and scuffling sounds, she called 911. She says she stayed in the bedroom the whole time, and only came down when the police knocked on the door. When the dead body was discovered in the living room Mrs. Hester became hysterical and retreated back to her bedroom.”
When they entered the opulent living room, Sal was hoping to find it well heated, but he was greatly disappointed. It was so cold he could see his own breath.
“The intruder broke the glass in that door,” Doug said, pointing at an open door that lead from the living room to a deck outside. “There is a set of footprints in the snow – clearly those of a man – in both directions between the door and the pier at the lake. Mrs. Hester said she heard a motorboat speeding away, so this is how we think the intruder arrived and left.”
“I see,” Sal Driver muttered as he slowly walked over to the coroner who was crouching over the pajama-clad body lying next to a turned-over table.
The coroner looked up at Sal with a solemn expression that Sal often thought he probably had been born with. “Hit on the side of the head with a blunt instrument. The time of death was around one a.m.”
“If you’d like to speak with Mrs. Hester…” Detective Hanson gestured towards the ceiling.
Even with her face buried in a towel, Sal could tell that the grieving widow sitting on the side of the bed was quite a number of decades younger than her deceased husband.
“I heard Frank yell and then there was a really loud noise,” she sobbed through the towel. “I thought the burglar was going to come for me too, so I hid in a closet. But he didn’t. I guess he panicked after he had killed Frank.” She let out a loud cry. “I hope you will catch him, but I know it won’t bring my Frankie back.”
“Mrs. Hester,” Sal said calmly, “do you know who will inherit your husband’s money?”
The young widow hesitated for a few seconds. “He didn’t have any children, that’s all I know.”
Sal Driver turned to his partner. “I want this house immediately searched for a pair of men’s shoes that are still wet from the snow - the ones Mrs. Hester used to make those footprints with.”