It is May 29, 2014. An early morning in Chicago, the sun just rising up and shining through the buildings, casting a golden light across the city. Houses and apartment complexes line the streets, along with small yards and tall trees. There is no liveliness in the city yet, except at the Chicago Police Department. A phone rings, beeping constantly, until Joan, an intern, picks it up. "Chicago Police Department, what is the emergency?" she asked. The voice on the end of the line was nervous, shouted and yelling things quickly. After hearing a few sentences, Joan became more concerned. "Ma'am, what do mean, a...a body hung to from a fan? You're going to have to explain what you mean...Ma'am, please, stay calm! What? Ma'am? Hello?" Joan hung up the phone. She sent two police cars to check out the crime scene immediately.
Chief of the Chicago police department, Wesley Grover, drove a police car down to 221 East Walnut Street. Wesley ran his hand through his sleek, long hair. He is an older man, with his hair turning grey from stress of being on the force. He took another sip of his coffee, still attempting to wake up. Wesley didn't like murder cases in the morning, they always seem to make him feel sick. He shook away the bad memories as he listened to the conversation of the other passengers in his car. In the back of his car, sat two 12 years olds, Josh and Taylor. Josh, an outgoing, enthusiastic boy, who likes to wrestle with his friends or watch TV. His scruffy, brown hair matched his brown eyes, that blinked and looked around the car excitedly. His t-shirt was red with blue stripes, and wore jeans with black sneakers. He was deep in a conversation with Taylor, his sister sitting next to him. Taylor is very intelligent, and thinks about her actions before she does them, unlike her brother Josh. She is quiet and likes to read about crime. Her hair is a light sandy blonde that goes just past her shoulders. She was wearing a light pink fuzzy sweater, with a white skirt and brown boots. She was very focused on what she was saying to Josh.
"The victim could've just killed herself. She might not even be a murder victim at all. I mean, hanging yourself is one way to do it." Taylor remarked.
"No! If the victim just killed herself, we wouldn't be coming to investigate!" Said Josh in an agitated voice.
"Would both of you be quiet! We haven't even seen the what happened yet! Let's just get to the scene, in silence, and see what's really going on." Wesley said firmly.
The car finally rolled to a stop at 221 East Walnut Street. Josh looked out the window, immediately noticing how nice and expensive the apartment building seemed to be. Right as Josh began to fantasize living in such a beautiful place, Wesley broke his trance by slamming the car door. Wesley then led the kids into the elegant building, where they road the elevator up to the 5th floor. As Wesley spoke to a fellow policeman about what was believed to have happened, Josh and Taylor entered the crime scene. However, this was no ordinary crime scene. As they entered, they both first noticed the massive marble archway that lead from door to the living room, which was filled with embellished furniture and lavish rugs. After taking in the amazingly decorated apartment, including top of the line paintings and tapestries, did they notice the pale, hanging body dangling from the ceiling fan.
"Wow. She should get a tan." Josh remarked, noticing the cold, pale face of the victim. Taylor kicked him in leg.
"Stop being so disrespectful, Josh! Anyway, Wesley, who this is? Do we know the time of death or cause of death?" Taylor asked.
"Our victim is 45 year old Inna Annushka, daughter of the Russian millionaire Vladimir Annushka. It appears that her 45th birthday was yesterday, and that she was very wealthy." Wesley.
"Interesting. Anything else?" Taylor asked.
"We also know she was killed between 11:30 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. Obviously, she was hung. Specialists think that the rope is standard quality, but they need to look at it up close for more details." Wesley replied.
"Do we have any witness? Or at least neighbors who saw anything?" Josh asked, staring at the hanging body.
"As a matter of fact, actually, we have the woman who called 911 in the room right over there ready for questioning. Her name is Samantha Rodriguez, the victims neighbor." Wesley said, stroking his chin in thought, as he realized this case was going to be very difficult.
Josh and Taylor walked into the small room across the hall, were there was the sound of crying on the other side of the door. Taylor slowly opened the door, walking in carefully. Sitting in a small chair was Samantha Rodriguez. Her black hair was in loose curls, and she wore smudged eye makeup that appeared to have been from the night before. She had a small, tan face, with deep brown eyes.
"Hello! I'm Taylor, and this is my brother, Josh."
Taylor said kindly. She knew that behavior was key in questioning people, and how fragile someone who has lost a loved one or friend can be. Samantha rubbed her teary eyes and breathed in deeply.
She said sadly. There was the dullness in her voice, an invisible weight of pain and sorrow dragging down her every thought.
"Ma'am, are you alright?" Josh asked, giving a concerned look to Taylor.
"Yes, I'm fine, thank you. I've just had a very... rough day and night." Samantha told them.
"I'm sure you have some questions. I'm ready to answer them now." Samantha said with courage. She sat up straight and gave her attention to Josh.
"Alright, so, how do you know Inna? Also, where were you last night? Did you see her before she was killed?" Josh asked her. His voice was firm but friendly.
"Inna and I are neighbors, and great friends. She was very wealthy, and we always went to the craziest places together." Samantha paused, smiling, remembering the good times she had with Inna, then continued, "I was with her last night, at her birthday party, actually." She said.
"Birthday party? Where was that?" Taylor asked. "Wesley didn't mention a birthday party."
"Inna kept it quiet, but at the same time very fun...just like her." Samantha said, having another flashback.
"What do you mean, 'just like her?' How is someone, or a party, quiet and fun?" Josh asked, very confused.
"Last night Inna, her brother, Marshal, and her other friend, Vlad, and I went to a small dance club in the west part of town. It was a small, plain club, but Inna ordered us all crazy drinks! We all went wild! By the time the club was closed, Vlad passed out and went to the hospital! He's fine now, but Inna and I drove back here."
As Samantha said this, Taylor was carefully thinking about everything she said.
"So, correct me if I'm wrong, besides you and Inna, the only other person who exited the club was her brother, Marshal. Do you know were he went after the party?" Taylor asked, curiously wondering if Marshal was part of this crime.
"Marshal left earlier than Inna and I. He said she head was hurting, and he might have even vomited." Samantha said, moving her hair out of her face.
"Did Inna have anything special, or interesting, or something that might make the target of murder?" Josh inquired.
"Not really, I know she's wealthy but...Wait! I know! The reason we went out to that club last night was to celebrate not only Inna's birthday but to celebrate the $20,000,000 she got from her parents!" Samantha told them, proud of herself for remembering that.
"That is a ton of money! Taylor, someone would defiantly murder for that!" Said Josh.
"Well, chances are they did. Now, Samantha, you said that at about 12:15 am, you checked on Inna in her apartment and she was dead. Is that correct?"
" Yes indeed. The apartment door was already unlocked. Now, I have to get to work soon. Is there anything else you want me to tell you?" Samantha said, looking at her watch.
"No, but thank you so much. You've been very helpful to this investigation, and I promise we will do all we can to find Inna's killer." Taylor strongly said.
The three of them walked out the room. Samantha exited the building and went on with her day. Wesley approached the kids.
"Any important information?" He asked Taylor.
"Yes. First of all, last night, Inna was out clubbing, but not only to celebrate her birthday, but to celebrate the $20,000,000 she received from her parents."
"That's a lot of money. Does she have any siblings who might know who killed her?" Wesley said.
"Yes, and he is her younger brother Marshal. Samantha said that he went home from the club early because he was already way too drunk."
Josh told Wesley as Taylor was taking to a policeman. She told the officer to call in Marshal Annushka.
"Alright guys, Marshal is on his way here, ready to be questioned."
Taylor said, excited to see what would happen next.
After about 30 minutes of chatting to each other about the case, Marshal arrived. He wore an old, worn looking shirt and a pair of jeans. His hair was combed back, but looked greasy and dirty. Josh motioned towards Inna's fancy apartment, and then to Marshal.
"That dirty guy is Inna's brother? I thought he would be a millionaire also!" He said, very confused and slightly disappointed. Josh was hoping that Marshal maybe had a cool car that he could look at after the case.
"Hello. The name is Marshal, but you know that. It's very heartbreaking and sad, what happened to Inna. Please, I am helping plan her funeral, and cannot take too long." Marshal said solemnly, with a good amount of Russian in his voice. The kids and Wesley led Marshal into the questioning room. After they all took their seats, Taylor started to ask him some questions.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you celebrated your sisters party last night but left early because you were too drunk. I want to know where you went."
"Correct, although, I wasn't super drunk, my head was just hurting. I went to the Chess-Place Gas Station and filled up my car tank. After I felt better I went home."
He replied. There was laziness in his voice, almost as if he couldn't care less, very different than Samantha.
"Did Inna have any enemies? I know she was wealthy, was anyone jealous of her?"
" Well, Inna's friend Vlad wasn't as rich as she was, maybe he did it."
Marshal replied, yawning and stretching. As he was speaking, he picked at his fingernails and leaned back in his chair.
"Now, if we are done here, I have got to go to get some cigarettes soon. I lost my old pack from yesterday." Marshal tiredly said.
"Wait just one moment, dude! We can keep you as long as we need!"
Josh sneered back to him, with a very bad attitude. He was very annoyed that Marshal was being so lazy about this questioning session. Marshal glared at Josh.
"Both of you, be quiet! Mr. Annushka, you have been very helpful. Thank you for your time, and you may go to, well, go to get cigarettes."
Wesley said calmly. Although, even Wesley was frustrated with the Marshal's feelings towards going to get cigarettes over helping them find his sister's killer.
"Thank you, officer."
Marshal simply said, but still giving the an angry eye at Josh. Josh stuck his tongue out at Marshal when Wesley wasn't looking, but even Taylor didn't kick him this time. On the way out, Marshal's big construction boots made big thuds on the floor.
After Marshal left, the three of them looked at each other. They didn't know what to do with this case, or who to go to next.
"What do we do now?" Asked Josh.
"Well, as much as I'd didn't appreciate the attitude of Marshal, he did mention that Vlad didn't have as much money as Inna. Is it worth bringing him in?" Wesley remarked, rubbing his hands over his face.
"Defiantly! We need to bring in everyone we can if we are going to solve this!" Taylor said, as she sent a message to a policeman to bring in Vlad.
"Alright. I'm game for another interview. Hopefully, this Vlad guy will be nicer than Marshal." Josh said.
Suddenly, Angie Baker, the woman who worked at the morgue, rushed up to the group. Out of breath, she said,
"Inna, the victim, was...huff...Let me catch my breath." She said, wheezing.
"Alright, so, Inna wasn't hung." Angie said, looking at the three of them.
"Wait, what do you mean? I saw the hanging body with my own eyes!" Josh said back to her, very confused and a little annoyed.
"Yes, Angie, please tell us how exactly the victim wasn't hanging." Wesley said, wondering what Angie was talking about.
Angie straightened herself up, and pulled out a file with several large photos in it. As she dug through it, she said,
" I don't mean Inna wasn't hanging. I mean that hanging didn't kill her."
With that said, Angie pulled out a photo and showed it to Taylor, Wesley, and Josh. The photo was of a pale, dead neck, with small red marks all over it.
"Those red marks...they look like they're from someone's hands." Taylor said, concentrating on the photo.
"Do we know if there finger prints are there?" Wesley said.
"Nope. The killer used gloves. I couldn't trace a thing for finger prints." Angie remarked, taking back the photo and placing it back in the file.
"Well, that's helpful!" Josh yelled sarcastically.
"Actually, could you get me microscope images if those prints, Angie? If it's not too hard." Asked Taylor.
"Sure, I'll be back in a few!" Angie said as she hurried off to the morgue.
"Um...Excuse me sir, but, um, Vlad Koonsick has arrived for questioning." Said Joel, a timid new rookie on the force. This was his first crime, and specking to a seasoned veteran like Wesley was clearly unnerving for him.
"Yes, Joel. Thank you. Please tell him we are ready to see him." Wesley replied.
"No problem sir. I'll bring him in immediately." Replied Joel as he hurried away.
Soon, Vlad Koonsnick walked into the room. Vlad was very tall, wearing a suit with black and grey striped pants. He also had a red tie on. He had a long, pointy nose and a buzz cut. Taylor though that he seemed very intimidating and could pull off a murder easily. Josh noticed his mud caked shoes.
"Hello. It is unfortunate what happened to Inna. She was good friend." He stated, with an incredibly thick Russian accent.
"She was always nice. Never seemed unhappy." He said again, his poor grammar confirming that English was his second language.
"Hello, Mr. Koonsnick. I'm very sorry for your loss of Inna. Now, where were you last night?" Wesley said.
"Thank you. Nice to see people still polite these days." Vlad said.
"Excuse me?" Wesley said, "you still have to answer the question."
"I was at hospital all night." Vlad said.
"It's such shame to know Inna's dead. That night at club was fun...but I left early. Too much drinks, you know. Hehe!" He added.
"Mr. Koonsnick, please stop trying to change the subject! If you care about finding Inna's killer, please just answer these questions!" Josh, slightly agitated, said.
"So, you're saying you were gone all night, and you were at the hospital." Wesley said.
"That's correct. All night. Out like candle with no flame." He said.
"No! He's lying!" Shouted Taylor, who actually left the room minutes before to check hospital records.
"He left the hospital, in a dizzy, drunk state, at 11:27 p.m!" Taylor said.
"That's right around the time of Inna's death!" Remarked Josh.
"No! No! You have all wrong. That's, uh, not me!" Vlad nervously said. He was clearly concerned and nervous.
"Hospital security footage confirms it was you, along with witnesses!" Taylor almost yelled. The adrenaline of figuring out a case is always very exciting for her.
"Well done Taylor." Said Wesley, who was impressed by her quick thinking skills.
"It wasn't me! I didn't kill Inna!" Shouted Vlad.
"Sir! Calm down!" Wesley shouted also.
As Wesley and Vlad shouted at each other, Josh pulled out his phone. He quickly opened up a GPS app.
"Taylor!" He quickly whispered.
"What was the hospital Vlad was at?"
"Just tell me you idiot!"
"Hey! Ug! It's the St. Agatha Hospital. Why?"
Josh typed directions into his phone, asking to get to St. Agatha's Hospital from 221 East Walnut street.
"Oh my gosh!" Josh shouted, causing Vlad and Wesley to stop arguing.
"The hospital you stayed at, and left later that night, is 5 minutes away from here!" Josh said.
"That's exactly enough time to get over here and murder Inna! You're the killer!" Taylor said.
"No I'm not! You got to believe me now! Look at crime scene, nothing will prove me to be killer!" Vlad said, with a nervous and angry tone in his voice.
The four of them rushed out to the scene. The body was moved to the morgue much earlier, but everything was still in place. Suddenly, Josh found a little spot on the carpet with a piece of what looks like brown clay. He picked it up and tossed it to Taylor. After she looked at it, she said,
"It's a dried piece of mud." She said.
She looked, confusedly, at Josh, then at Wesley.
"Taylor! How don't you see it! Look at the ground!" Josh said, pointing at the ground, where there were small mud footprints.
"Look! There's more mud! They look like footprints!" Taylor said. Taylor laid down at the floor, looking at the mud prints.
"They're a size nine, dressy shoes. The prints soles are the only thing that made a mark, so the shoes were probably made of..."
Taylor stopped, and she just stared at Vlad's shoes. They were covered in mud, and were made of,
"leather. Oh my gosh! Wesley! It was Vlad! It was you! Wesley arrest him!" Taylor said. Later that day Vlad was planned to be put on trial for the murder of Inna Annushka.
The next day, Josh, Wesley, and Taylor were at the crime scene. Josh was bouncing a ping pong ball in the air and tossing it to himself in boredom. Taylor checked her phone silently. Wesley read the newspaper, drinking coffee. Josh broke the silence.
"Look, guys, I know I was the one that noticed the whole mud thing and the GPS thing, but after thinking about it, this just doesn't seem right." He said.
"Josh, what on earth do you mean? Of course this was right." Taylor assured him.
"But Taylor, think here! If Vlad was as drunk as the hospital records say, how could he have restrained Inna, tied a firm rope knot around her neck, and hang her perfectly to the fan? And we haven't even figured out Vlad's motive yet!"
"Josh, you're just thinking crazy now! The mud and everything adds up perfectly. I don't want you to keep talking such nonsense like that!"
Just then, Angie walked in, with a portable microscope and a Petri dish, along with some pictures.
"Hello Taylor. Here is the close up photos of the finger prints, along with a sample of skin off the body of the victim where the she was strangled. In a simpler term, the actual finger mark on the actual skin." Angie said.
"Oh. Well, we caught the killer, but I still could take a look. Thanks!" Taylor replied.
Angie exited, and then the silence in the room resumed. This time, Taylor broke the silence.
"Benzene?" She shouted, very surprised.
"Who?" Josh said, puzzled.
"Benzene! The chemical! Oh, this is interesting!" Taylor said again.
"Taylor, please explain to us why you are so excited." Wesley told her.
"Well, it's just cool! I'm putting all of the pieces together to see the big picture!" Taylor said, with an enthusiast smile on her face. She was staring deeper into the microscope.
"Well. Tell us what it is then." Wesley said.
"Well, on the finger prints, I found the chemical C6H6, or in other terms, benzene." Taylor said, still looking at the pictures and microscope.
"Where's it found?" Josh asked.
"I'm glad you asked. It's found in a number of places, actually. It's found in rubber, gasoline, cigarettes, and more. I really...don't know how this helps, though. Got any ideas?" Taylor replied.
"I, honestly, have no idea." Josh said.
"Well, it's been a long day. You kids should both get some rest." Wesley said, stretching.
"Oh come on! I just started to figure out something!" Taylor whined.
"Nope. You're both getting a good nights sleep tonight. If you really are onto something, you can figure it out tomorrow." Wesley said again, very tiredly.
"Fine." She said, unhappily submitting to the thought of sleep.
Moonlight shown through the window of Taylor and Josh's room. Casting a pale light onto Taylor's top bunk. Taylor's mind was buzzing, like an entire hive of wasps. She was going over every word of every interview, and over benzene and just about everything about the case. Josh was also thinking, but he was succumbing into sleep.
"Josh? Are you awake?" Taylor whispered, looking over the edge of their bunk bed.
"Whaaa...? Yea, I'm...awake..." Said a very tired Josh.
While Josh was letting his sleepy eyes gently close and blur out, Taylor's eyes were darting around the room in thought.
"What do you think if this?" She said, her voice fully awake.
"I think...aaaammhhhmm..." Josh took a massive yawn, "that Marshal was...ooffaa...Marshal was weird...mmhh..." Josh attempted to say. He kept not only yawning, but also making other odd noises as well as he spoke. He was in an epic and intense battle with sleep.
"Marshal...come on Taylor, think...Marshal...Marshal...oh my gosh...MARSHAL!" Taylor screamed.
Very started by Taylor's scream, Josh jolted up and banged his head on the bed.
"God Taylor! What is your problem!!!??" Now Josh, who was very awake, was yelling, too.
"MARHAL HAD THE BENZENE ON HIS FINGERS! HE FILLED UP HIS CAR WITH GASOLINE!" She screamed.
"TAYLOR! Your right! I was right! I knew there was something weird about Marshal!" Josh exclaimed.
Taylor and Josh both smiled as they hopped out of bed. Josh turned on the lights, and his laptop.
With a smirk, he said,
"Let's do some research on our friend Marshal." Josh said.
As Josh typed in Marshal's name, Taylor started to scribble down on a notepad.
"So, during Marshals interview, he said he filled up his gas tank and ran out of cigarettes. Josh, could you get a copy of all the items he entered the building with?" Taylor asked.
"What do you mean?" Josh replied confusedly.
"Every time someone is interviewed for the police, they get a pat down first, and all of the stuff they had on them is recorded, then uploaded onto the police departments browser online. It's just for records, but this could help. Can you check?" She asked excitedly, almost out of breath for talking so long and so fast.
"Alright! Ha, bingo!"
"Already something? It's been, like, five minutes!"
Taylor said, rushing over to the laptop screen.
"Look! That liar! He had a pack of cigarettes on him!"
"Wow! We gotta call Wesley!"
"Taylor, I hate to burst our bubble, but it's 1:30 am! We just have wait until morning! We might as well just go back to bed." Josh said.
"Finnnnnne." Said Taylor.
The two went back to bed. Josh dived into his covers and fell into blissful sleep, as did Taylor.
The next morning, Taylor quickly threw on some jeans and sweatshirt, and Josh put on a jacket with some shorts. They were rushing to get ready to go to the crime scene. They could hardly wait until they told Wesley the true story.
Once at the crime scene, they explained it all to Wesley. Wesley alerted every policeman in Chicago to find Marshal.
"You two kids are incredible for figuring it out!" Angie said as she fawned over them.
"It's really nothing." Josh said, flipping his hair out of his face.
"Do we know his motive yet?" Angie asked.
"Nope. Although I'll guarantee once we cat Marshal we'll find out what really happened!"
"Bad news. There was a sighting of him." Wesley said.
"What? That's great news!" Josh said back.
"Well, he was trying to cross the border of Illinois. He escaped to Indiana. I have the Indiana Police force looking for him, but he sure does know how to disappear." Wesley said, disheartened.
"Well that's just great!" Shouted Josh, super annoyed and angry.
After waiting around, Taylor rushed in the room, smiling.
"We got him!" She said.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Bring this sucker in!" Said Josh.
Marshal Annushka sat handcuffed to a chair. His hair was even more oily looking, and he was wearing a black hoodie along with dirty grey sweatpants. He confessed everything. He did murder Inna, and he did it so he would inherit the $20 million. He faked becoming drunk in the club, but instead of going home, he staked out in Inna's apartment until she got back. He attacked her from behind with his hands and strangled her. Before he came to her apartment, he filled up his gas tank, along with filling up the air in his tires. He got both gasoline and rubber on his hands, which, as Taylor stated earlier, both things contained benzene. He also did smoke a cigarette before he murdered her. Marshal Annushka was arrested and put in jail for the murder of Inna Annushka.
"Well done kids. I'm very impressed!" Said Wesley.
"Thanks!" Said Josh.
"This was one of the more crazy and interesting cases we've solved!"
Said Taylor, glancing at Josh.
"Well, see you kids again soon!" Said Wesley.
"Yup!" Both Josh and Taylor said.