He lost control. Only for a moment. But it was long enough. The damage was done. He stood looking at the paper weight in his hand. Then to her. Laying on the floor. While his momentary loss of control was not intended, or good. His mind quickly took over. Thinking; This is his house. His prints would be everywhere . He looked at his watch. 3:15. He had to move fast. He smeared the prints on the paper weight, making it impossible to get clear prints from it. Heading to the back door. He broke the glass from the outside. Also smearing any prints on the door and frame.
3:20. Time to get out of there, and establish a solid story of where he was. Out the little used side door not worrying about prints. He headed to the garage. There, he got into his car, went out the back driveway.
3:30 Arriving at the restaurant to meet friends for an early supper. Entering and making sure he found his friends. They sat and talked for about ten minutes. Coffee was served, food ordered.
“You know Roberta was supposed to meet us here at 3:30. You know she is never late for anything, I’m getting worried, I’ll call her.”
With that he reached for his cell phone. First he tried the house number. He let it ring until the answering machine kicked in. “Roberta, I’m up at Ceaser’s with Becky and Jim, we’re ordering now. Let me know where you are. Bye Hon.” He hung up. A few minutes he made a point of trying her cell phone, Not getting an answer he left another message..
When 4;00 rolled around he tried her cell phone again. Not getting an answer he left another message. This time they were all worried. Becky suggested they call the police . He reluctantly agreed as being a half hour or more late for anything was out of character for her,
So he called the police and reported her as missing. They said they’d send a car out to his place to make sure nothing was wrong at the house, He said he’d meet them there.
5:00 He arrived at his house. There were half a dozen police cars parked all over the street. Along with a ambulance. He got out and ran to the house panicked ” What was wrong? Why all the police cars, and ambulance? “
Enter Lt. Columbo
Lt Columbo sat watching for a few minutes from his old Peugeot.
Finally he got up and wandered over to him.
“Mr. Krammer. ?”
“I’m Lt Columbo. “
“ Oh, Yeah, Can I help You?”
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir, But its your wife, “
:What's wrong, has something happened to her?”
“I’m afraid so sir, You see, when the officer arrived he found her in the office, She’s dead sir”
Columbo waited and watched his reaction . He was aware of how he looked. The mussed hair Rumpled suit, and the raincoat that was far from new, He played with his cigar watching the reaction to the news of his wife's death. He waited for the next question,
“How? What happened?”
“Sir it appears to be a burglary gone wrong. The back door was forced open, She is int office. Apparently she surprised the intruder, and he killed he with what was at hand. I’ll have a officer stay with you for a while until you calm down. “
“Lt, Columbo, in here please.”
“Excuse me, I have to go”
He left the man standing in the driveway. From just inside the door he watched him for a couple minutes, In the office he surveyed the scene.
The victim lay on the floor The rest of the office seemed to be undisturbed except for the desk, which was messed up papers spread all over it, and the keyboard pushed off to one side, and the mouse almost of the edge of the desk.
The back door was examined. The smeared prints noted and examined. One of the other detectives called Columbo to the side door, out of the laundry room. The room was neat with a top of the line set of washer and dryer. What interested them was the door. At first it appeared to not have been used in a long time. Upon closer inspection, it seemed there was a lack of dust on the doorknob itself. Columbo had them dust the doorknob and door and frame for prints and look for more disturbed dust. Which they found. They made sure to photograph and document everything they found. Outside they found a footprint in the dirt along the edge of the path to the garage. Columbo had the make a cast of it.
Returning to the front of the house he watched Mr. Kramer for a minute. Then approached him.
“Ah Mr. Kramer , a word if I may.. Say those are nice shoes,” He lied. in truth he thought they were the ugliest things he’d ever seen.
“Thank you, I had them custom made,”
“May I, he asked, and bent to look at them closer. He looked at them, noticing the pattern on the sole of the shoe. Also the trace of mud in the edges of the pattern. "Thank you, I'll be sure to tell my nephew about them." He turned to the cars, s and started down the driveway.
"One more thing, that car of yours is beautiful."
"Thanks, its a Mercedes,
" It's a beautiful car, may I?"
Columbo walked up to the car admiring it. This time he meant it. Leaning in the driver's window, he noted the mileage,. Turning back to Mr. Kramer, he pulled out his phone, "May, I take some pictures of the car? For my nephew, he's a real car nut, he'll love seeing this car"
“Yeah, take all the damn pictures you want. What are you doing to find out who killed my wife? "
"We're working on it now,sir.”
Mr. Kramer stormed off in a huff
Columbo stood looking at him, Thinking.
An hour later, Columbo was in the office with the detectives, looking over the pictures and evidence from the scene.
“He did it. I know it.”
“How Lieutenant ?”
“I’m not sure, But it's too neat, no usable prints on the back door, or paper weight,, No extra prints in the house . Clear prints on the side door. Way too much dust dust on the door and knob, obviously hadn’t been used in a long time. Suddenly , there a nice new set of prints,why suddenly use a door you hadn’t used in ages? “ Columbo paused. Thinking.
“Okay, here what you do, Go to his office talk to everyone who was there this morning. Find out everything. where he was, who he saw, talk to everyone, find out what they were doing, also get a background on both him and his wife. Find out who saw him last and when and where.
Later he got a call from the detective, he needed to talk to one of the assistants.
“Lt Columbo, sir, a Pleasure to meet you How can I help you sir?”
“Ah, They tell me you are the personal assistant for Mr. Kramer.
What exactly did you do this morning?”
“Mr Kramer arrived just before nine. He had me take the Mercedes to the dealer for its routine service, You know tune up, oil change, and it needed new tires.”
“I see, so you had the car most of the morning?”
“Yes, from nine to almost noon, when I brought it back and parked it back in his space, and returned the keys, and gave him the bill, “
“Okay, can you give me the address of the dealer,?”
The assistant handed him a copy of the bill.
Columbo, looked it over, Interesting, Noting the mileage was noted from the oil change. “Thank you, You’ve helped a lot. Can I keep this?”
“Yes, its a extra copy I med for the records.”
“Thank you, I appreciate it.,
“Oh and one more thing, when was the last time you saw Mr. Kramer today?”
”Two o’clock I think,
“Let me think, about it for a minute, I know he had to leave for the dinner appointment with his friends. Roberta was supposed to meet them there.”
“Ok, that helps a lot. Thank You. “
Lt Columbo had an idea, “Get me a map of the city, where the office is, the dealer, and his house is. We have the mileage the dealer had when they did the oil change, and I have the mileage that's on it now, Question, What's the miles between the dealer, and his office, and the restaurant and back to his house? That should be what's on the car now, The next morning was spent driving from the dealer to the office, then to the restaurant. They then knew what the mileage should be. His car has too many miles. Columbo sat thinking how come his car has too many miles? He drove it more then he said.
“Ok, whats the distance from the office to the house? Then from the house to the restaurant? and back to the house? Some some driving answered the questions,
Columbo figured it out, the miles added up if you did the right trips in order.
“He was at the house before three pm, How do we prove he was there?” he asked the other detectives,
“Ron, How you doing with the backgrounds?”
“Got everything Lt. Right down to his email accounts, even have a list of emails he sent yesterday, “
“Let me see them, hmm”
“See here at the top, hers the time and date it was sent,”
“Whoa, He sent three at 3:05 yesterday afternoon. “
“But we have to prove they came from his computer,”
“Is that possible?”
“Yes, all computer have their own address, like a phone number, its called a ip address,”
“Can you find his, whats its called? “ Columbo asked Ron
“Yes, give me a little time,”
The next day Columbo and some other officers returned to Mr. Kramer's house. Columbo asked the officers to wait out out side.
Mr. Kramer was in the office when he arrived.
“Hello Columbo, More questions?”
“No more questions, Just facts.
Please bear with me a few minutes, I have some things to show you.”
“Sir, we know she was killed between 2:30 and 3:30 pm the day before yesterday. The question is who did it? Answer, You did it. You hit her over the head with the paperweight from the desk.” He paused for effect, to let it sink in,
“You don’t have a alibi for 2-3:30 pm that day, No one at your office saw you after 2pm. Then you show up at the restaurant exactly at 3:30.
Where did you go for a hour and a half?
I’ll tell you. By 3pm you were here in this office. Sending emails. Weather your wife was here all along or not we don’t know, but sometime between 3 and 3:30 you killed her. and managed to get to the restaurant on time.”
“So I sent some emails at 3o’clock?, Big deal, it a web based email service, I could have sent them from any place I was at, and logged in at.
“I don't know much about this stuff, technology and all, I barely even use myself, But we have some real smart guys here on the force , who know everything there is to know about it. They say you can tell exactly what computer a email came from, by something they called a ip address. They tell me, every computer has one, So they took theses emails,” indicating the papers in front of him, “and traced the ip address they came from. It came from right here. This computer,” Columbo pointed to the keyboard on the desk. “At exactly 3:05 the day your wife died, You were here,”
“Thats doesn't prove anything. So what? I was here working before I went to the restaurant.”
“That in itself maybe not, but, there are other things, little things. The fingerprints bothered us. All the smeared prints, on the paperweight, and back door, And nice clear prints on the side door. A door that hadn't been used in monts, suddenly shows up with nice clean prints, . Too convenient. You figured we wouldn’t pay any attention to them, because its your house, And we probably wouldn’t have, except for the dust and dirt on a door that hadn’t been used in months, and a footprint, in the dirt just outside the door.” With that he produced the picture of the footprint that matched the shoes he was wearing.
“When I looked at your shoes the other day, I noticed the dirt in the edges of the treads, the same pattern as in this picture of the fresh footprint we found by the back door. Your shoe made the print, so you went out the side door, after killing her, and smearing the prints, and went into the garage, got the car, and left by the back driveway,”
Columbo pulled another picture of of his case, of a tire track, from the back driveway.
“This tire track exactly mates the treads on your new tires, So you went on the back driveway.
Which brings me to one more point. The miles on your car that day.”
Still another picture this time of the one he took with his phone, of the inside of his car. Clearly showing the odometer, reading. Along with the receipt from the dealer for the work done that morning.
Now here what bothered me for quite a while why did you you have so many miles on the car from just getting it from the dealer? Especially when I saw what the dealer had put down when they did the oil change. So we spent some time driving yesterday. Here let me show you.”
Now he had the other detective bring in the blowup of the map the used to figure out the miles.
“heres a map, See here your house, the dealer, your office and the resturant?”
“Yes, what this got to do with the miles on my car.?”
exactly this, Sir; We figured out the miles from the dealer the office, and then what the distance from the office to the restaurant, then to the house should be. This is what your Odometer should have said when I looked at it that day, Instead it says this, “ Indicating the picture he took,
“Way too many miles. So then the question becomes where did you get all those extra miles from? We now know you were at home, sir, so that account for some, and you still had to drive to the restaurant, to establish your abili, when she turned up missing. That accounts for the rest of the miles. Your assistant drove the car to the office you drove it home, sent emails, killed your wife, cleaned up after it, and drove to the restaurant, then back here after you called the police. Thats how your car got the extra miles on it. And we found out why you killed her, It appears you're having an affair with one of the interns,, I suspect your wife found out about it, Which would bad enough but she was also having a affair with her too. Its all in the emails from both your accounts.”
“Take him away gentleman,”
Columbo sat at the table collecting his pictures, and whistling
“This Old Man”