Nutshell Studies #4: Parsonage

R ead the witness statements below, then scroll over the image to see the evidence.

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Date: Friday, August 23, 1946

Deceased: Dorothy Dennison, a high school student

Witness: Mrs. James Dennison, mother

“On Monday, about eleven o'clock, Dorothy walked downtown to buy some hamburg steak for dinner. She didn't have much money in her purse. When she didn't to return in time for dinner, I called my neighbor, who said she'd seen her walking toward the market, but hadn't seen her since. I also called the market and the proprietor said he had sold Dorothy a pound of hamburg some time before noon, but didn't notice which way she turned when she left. By late afternoon, I was really alarmed and called the police.”

Witness: Lt. Peale, police officer

“On Monday afternoon, at 5:25 p.m., I took the telephone call from Mrs. Dennison at Police Headquarters, and at once took charge of the matter personally. The customary inquiries began and by Wednesday, a systematic search of all closed or unoccupied buildings in the vicinity was undertaken. It was not until Friday, August 23, at 4:15 p.m. that me and Officer Patrick Sullivan entered the Parsonage and found her.”

Additional Information: The temperature during the week ranged between eighty six and ninety two degrees with high humidity.

A text description of this Nutshell is available.

1. The Chairs & Lamp
The furniture is covered. Where is the rector and who else has keys? Is there blood on the piano or the stool? It's possible she was attacked from behind while she sat and played the piano.

2. The Body
She is not lying in a natural position. Due to heat and humidity, the amount of decomposition will help determine time of death. The bite marks on her body should be photographed and impressions taken.

3. The Hammer
Does the hammer have human remains on it? Is there a toolbox nearby? This will help narrow down whether it was grabbed for convenience or was brought to the scene. Which is the murder weapon, the hammer or the knife?

4. The Purse & Package
Both are neatly placed on the chair, as if she were not in a hurry to set them down. The condition of the hamburger should corroborate the timeline of the witness statements.

5. The Mail
The presence of mail further proves that nobody was currently in residence. Who should be picking it up? When was the last delivery?