Solving my murder mystery – part one

In the update, I hinted that the first step was to resolve the guests and plus-ones. In this post, I am going to walk you through some of the clues and try to figure out who the guests and plus-ones were.

This is the grid that I suggested you might want to use to track clues. I made it in a spreadsheet. I will post screenshots of my spreadsheet as we go through the clues to make deductions, inductions, and educated guesses. We will try to work around the terrible job that your officers have done getting information to you. By the end, we will have a working theory for the pairings of the guests.

We are going to focus on filling out the first box.

As per the introduction post, we know that the following people were there:  Albert Smythe, Wesley Harper, Jason Samuels, Amara Samuels, Owen Johnson, Rohan Wooster, Sue Smith, John Greene, Bret Jones, Jack Dent, Daniel Jenkins (obviously), and Evelyn McMillan. We know that John Greene came alone and was a victim. We can exclude John Greene and Daniel Jenkins as he was the host and the other victim.

That gives us 5 pairs of people which we can later seek to match up with five cars, five feuds, and five gifts. A safe early assumption would be to pair Jason Samuels and Amara Samuels. Anyone who wants to make a fuss about this assumption would have to wait for a much later clue that confirms it. I’ll place Jason as the driver because who drove and who did not shouldn’t make any difference.

The first clue gives us quite a bit more to work with. Jack, the BMW, and some carnations all go together. That means we can list Jack as a driver and pair him with the BMW. Additionally, with a little real-world knowledge, we can see that carnations are cheap flowers. Thus, we can tentatively place the gift of cheap flowers with Jack and the BMW while eliminating such pairings from the Samuels couple.

If you are feeling especially inductive, you might pencil Jack in for the debt inductive, you might pencil Jack in for the debt feud. After all, he gave a cheap gift and has a battered old car. That’s far from hard evidence so I’m going to leave that one unmarked for now.

Our knowledge grid may look something like this now:

As the murder method was poison, we should prioritise the givers of the wine and the port. For now, we can remove Jack from our prime suspects list.

The next clue gives us a lot to work with. We get Wesley Harper as a driver and Rohan Wooster as his plus-one. We also learn that Wesley was involved in a feud about gossiping.

This removes Rohan from being Jack’s guest and Jack is decoupled from the gossip feud. Our connection graph now might look something like this:

We only have two more drivers to identify.

Albert Smythe, Wesley Harper, Jason Samuels, Amara Samuels, Owen Johnson, Rohan Wooster, Sue Smith, John Greene, Bret Jones, Jack Dent, Daniel Jenkins, and Evelyn McMillan.

We can also deduce a few negatives from this data.

Clues three and four do not help us pair drivers and guests. We will come back to them later.

Our earlier intuition about Jack is supported by clue five where we learn that Jack, Albert, and Jason all had financial connections to the victim.

Clue six gives us a lot more to build on.

Evelyn claimed that she did not know who Sue Smith was but that Smith probably came with Jack or Owen.

This gives us one more driver and a guest. It also decouples Evelyn from both of them as she did not remember exactly who they travelled with.

Clue seven puts Evelyn in the love triangle feud. Once we have her in the guest and plus-one square we can add that to our knowledge graph.

Clue eight is not a direct help yet. Knowing the port was fake may be useful once we know who gave the gifts. Doubly so as clue nine implies that the poison was ingested. Clue ten pretty much nails that one down. This clue confirms what we already know.

The clue from IT is mostly plot.

This clue is not of use to us yet. This clue confirms that a feud was the motive.

This clue decouples Jones from the Tesla.

We then learn that Rohan Wooster and Jack Dent had a famous falling out and the two no longer speak to each other. If Rohan came as a plus-one, he was clearly not Jack’s plus-one. We already worked that out.

This clue confirms our assumption to put the couple with the same last name together. We can strongly pencil them in for the betrayal feud.

Our knowledge graph plus strong hunches now looks like this:

This clue would allow us to inductively associate Sue with a gift and then with a driver.

Meanwhile, this clue confirms our hunch about Jack, connecting him to the debt feud. This clue confirms it.

This clue tells us stuff we already know but adds that Jack does not even own his car.

Finally, we learn something new. “The Bentley is registered to Mr Smithe. No relevant evidence was found in the car.” However, we soon realise that our officers can’t spell. We will have to make an assumption that Mr Smithe is actually Mr Smythe.

That assumption allows us to fill out the rest of the names like this:

We can now go back over our clues and gather more information from them. For example, we learned that Evelyn did not travel with Jack or Owen which places her with Albert Smythe by process of elimination.

This clue hides a whole range of questions. “Bret Jones denies any feud between the victims and Mr Johnson.” This gives us a connection between Jones and Johnson and casts doubt on Jones’s claim as we have five guests and five feuds. An earlier clue said, “Bret Jones has priors for attempting to bribe a police officer. You would like to interview him but none of the officers thought to take contact information.”

Whatever else is going on we can pencil Jones in as the plus one for Johnson. This finishes our grid (with some tentative guesses). It is here that we recall the clue that said Sue worked in a supermarket. Somewhere that often sells carnations and other cheap flowers. You could be forgiven for concluding that our educated guesses are correct.

While we may need to remain open to correction, we now have a fairly decent foundation upon which to pair gifts, cars, and feuds. You don’t even need them all. We only need to learn who gave the wine and the port and then we will have our prime suspects.

At the end of this walk-through, we have a reasonable picture of who the guests and their plus-ones were. We can now make some logical deductions and fill out more of the knowledge graph. Then we need only go back through the clues and start to work out who our prime suspects are.

Did you conclude the same pairings? Have you found any flaws with the conclusions that might break open your case? Do you already have a prime suspect?

I will post another update soonish where we will try to work out who drove each of the cars. This will allow us to test our assumptions and suspicions.


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