Solve-It-Yourself Mystery: Caught in the cross-fire
From Woman’s World Magazine by John Floyd
Sheriff Jones and Angela Potts discovered that someone at the Qwik Stop was trying to pull a fast one..
Unscheduled layover”, Sheriff Jones announced. “The driver needs doughnuts.” Angela Potts sighed from the passenger seat. “Like you need more doughnuts.” He steered his cruiser into Joe Benson’s Qwik Stop. “When your car’s broken and you’re bumming a ride home, Ms. Pots, you don’t make the rules.” The sheriff climbed out and headed for the store. Grumbling, Angela followed. The building glowed in the setting sun, and she could hear ducks quacking in the creek behind it. Then they stopped in their tracks.
Two men lay dead by the gas pumps. Each held a gun. Standing beside them was a wide-eyed young man in muddy shoes. The sheriff drew his gun. “What happened here?” “They just shot each other,” the man blurted. “I was just gonna call 911!” Sheriff Jones studied the bodies. One was Big Joe Benson, the owner. The other was a small guy, middle-aged. “Who are you?” the sheriff asked. “You know these people?” “No. My name’s Pete Crawford, and I just got here. I walked – my Jeep’s parked over the hill, on the shoulder of the interstate.” He pointed in the direction of the highway.
The sheriff glanced around. There were only three cars parked in the Qwik Stop lot: Benson’s, the sherfiff’s and an unfamiliar SUV that must belong to the second gunshot victim. The sheriff noted its Louisiana plates: Everyone knew Benson had gambling debts in New Orleans. He patted Crawford down – the man was unarmed – while Angela got out her cellphone to report the shooting. Then, she turned to Crawford. You say you walked here?”
Yes, ma’am. I ran out of gas on the interstate,” he said. “I’m on my way to Atlanta from Texas Tech, and was gonna get off here to fill up, but I missed the exit ramp – the sun was in my eyes. Then I spotted the sign above the trees,” he pointed to the tall Exxon sign outside, “just as my Jeep died.” Angelea nodded, then she pulled the sheriff aside and whispered, “What would you do if you had a gun and you saw a sheriff’s cruiser coming? And there’s no place to hide.” “A gun?” the sheriff asked. “You’d get rid of it, right?” And how’d you do that? Sheriff Jones stared at her. “I don’t know.” You’d throw it in that creek out back. See his muddy shoes?” “He might’ve gotten muddy waking here from the interstate, Ms. Potts.”
That’s high ground and dry. I don’t think he walked here.” The sheriff frowned. “You think he came here with the dead guy? In the SUV?” “Would you have come alone, to settle a debt with a guy the size of Big Joe Benson?”
Angela’s phone buzzed. She turned away and took the call. Moments later she walked over to Crawford. “That was Deputy Fred Prewitt. He was on his way here, so I asked him to check on your abandoned Jeep. Can you guess what he found?” Crawford’s shoulders slumped. “He said there’s no car parked beside the interstate, Mr. Crawford.” Suddenly the young man dashed for the door and ran straight into a surprised Deputy Prewitt, who grabbed him and held on. Struggling, Crawford wailed, “Benson refused to pay us. We warned him.” Within seconds he was handcuffed and led away. “How’d you know he was involved? The sheriff asked. “Because he lied.” “Wait. If Prewitt’s here – who just phoned you?” “The repair shop. My car’s ready.” “So you were bluffing?” “Why not? She said. “He was bluffing us.
WHICH OF CRAWFORD’S LIES FIRST MADE ANGELA SUSPICIOUS?
If he was traveling east (Texas to Georgia) the late afternoon sun couldn’t have been in his eyes and made him miss the ramp.