ALBANYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT -
INTERVIEW ROOM A
"So, this is the young lady you were
telling us about?" Jim asked as Larry escorted Stella Wagner into the room.
"Yes," Larry nodded
carefully. "This is the witness you boys should have found on your
"Be that as it may..." Jim
let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. "Miss, why don't you begin by
telling us exactly what you saw that night." He paused to motion for
Russ to hurry over with a note pad and pencil so that he could take down every
word that Stella said.
"Um...well...like I told Mr.
Rawlings," she began tentatively as she glanced over at the reporter,
"My name's Stella Wagner and I'm a waitress at Joe's Cafe.
But...well...sometimes I pick up other waitressing jobs to help pay the
bills. You know that times are tough and, well, sometimes money's tight
"Yes, I understand," Jim
nodded and then glanced over to see Larry's smug expression. "Just
have a seat over here and just tell us exactly what you saw that night at the
Callison party. Remember, this is on the record and an official
"I...I understand," she muttered
nervously as she sat down in the chair by the desk. "Well, I was
working in The Grand Sunset Room---serving cocktails to all of those ritzy
people---and it had been a long night. I was really tired and my feet were
killin' me. Anyway, I was due to get a break and, well, I was kinda
watchin' the clock." She paused for a moment and looked up at
Detective Fitzpatrick. "This isn't gonna take long, is it? My
boss is gonna be awfully sore if I have to miss too much work today. I
missed two days last week because of that nasty flu that's been goin' around and
I can't really afford to miss much more and..."
"This won't take long at all, Miss
Wagner," Jim smiled. "All you have to do is tell us what you saw
and you can go right back to work."
"O-okay," she sighed and then
began her story again. "Like I said, I was tired and gettin' ready to
take a break so I was watchin' the clock. That's when I saw that woman go
into the lounge and..."
"Woman?" Russ furrowed his brow
as he looked up from his notes. "What woman was this?"
"The woman who went into the
lounge!" Stella rolled her eyes in annoyance.
"Um...right," Jim leaned closer
and eyed Stella carefully. "Miss Wagner, exactly where were you when
you saw this woman?"
"I was...um...right next to the
lounge. That's when I saw the woman go in. Of course, I didn't think
much about it until I heard the most awful shouting going on."
"Shouting? From inside the
lounge?" Jim listened to her every word intently.
"Y-yes," she nodded.
"I saw the woman go into the lounge and then I heard shouting. You
know, like an augment."
"Do you know what the argument was
about? Did you hear what was being said?"
"N-no. I...I couldn't hear
exactly what was going on because of the music. The orchestra was playing
so loud that I couldn't really make out what they were saying, but...well...I
could tell that they were arguing."
"And how long was this woman in the
room with Mrs.
Lake?" Russ asked as he paused in his writing to look up at
"Oh, I'd say...maybe 15 minutes.
They were really goin' at it. I heard screamin' and yellin' and then it
just stopped and got very quiet."
"What do you mean?"
"Just like I said. They were fightin' real loud, like, and then it just stopped. It was right after it
got quiet that I saw the woman run out of the lounge. Sure, I thought it
was rather odd at the time, but I didn't have any reason to think that anything
"Do you know what time this all
happened?" Russ asked with much interest.
"It was about 11:30," Stella
replied with much certainty.
"You sound pretty sure of that."
"I told you, I was watchin' the clock
because of my break."
"So..." Jim slowly paced
around the room, cradling his chin in his hand as he thought. "The
mystery woman went into the lounge at approximately 11:30. From 11:30 to
approximately 11:45, this woman had an argument with Annabelle Lake and at
approximately 11:45 you saw the woman run out of the lounge. Is that
"Y-yes," she nodded.
"When did you see Reginald Callison go
in?" Jim asked as he focused his eyes on Stella.
"It was a few minutes after that,
maybe 10 or 15 minutes."
"And how long was he in there?"
"Oh, not long at all!"
Stella's eyes moved from Jim to Russ and then to Larry. "He was only
in there for a few minutes when I saw Stephanie Lake go into the room.
That's when...well...I guess you know the rest."
"So, if Callison didn't go into the
lounge until at least 11:45...well, let's say 11:50 just to give the other woman
time to leave and him time to go in..." Jim paused as he tried to
sort the facts out in his head. "And the police were called to the
scene at approximately midnight... Hmmm...Lake's daughter must have gone
the the lounge right after Callison."
"That's what I'm trying to say!"
she exclaimed. "There wasn't enough time! Mr. Callison couldn't
have done it! It had to be that other woman!"
Jim nodded in vague agreement and turned to
glance at Russ who was waiting for him to take the lead.
"Do you know who the other woman
was?" Jim asked.
"N-no, I...didn't get a good look at
"Rawlings, I thought you said that she
could identify the woman!" Russ snapped as he glared at Larry.
"I can identify her!" she
assured strongly. "Of course, I didn't get a good look at her face,
but I saw exactly what she was wearing. I clearly remember what she
looked like---especially that beautiful scarf!"
"Yes! The woman who went into
the lounge was wearing this gorgeous scarf. It was so striking that
it really stuck in my mind. I saw one just like it at Lerner's back before
Christmas and I just fell in love with it. I wanted to buy it for myself,
but I just couldn't afford it. That's why when I saw the woman wearing it,
I noticed it right away."
"Could you describe the scarf, Miss
Wagner?" Russ asked.
"Oh, in detail!" Stella let
out a sigh, smiled, and bit her lip. "It was one of those lush silk
scarves. I...I'm sure it was imported. It had this gorgeous gold
trim and the stunning floral pattern. The flowers were golden and the
scarf's background was black. Of course, there were so many gold flowers
on it that it almost completely covered the background. And...and the gold
flowers weren't really shiny gold like the trim, they were more of just a golden
"I see," Jim nodded.
As Stella continued with her disruption,
Larry was struck by how familiar that pattern she was describing sounded.
He was certain the he had seen something similar. But where?
well, well, Did you decide to return to the scene of your crime?"
"What are you doing here,
Rawlings? Trying to dig up some
good dirt for that rag you call a newspaper?"
"Don't sound so bitter,
Callison, if The Post
really wanted to report the truth, you could have scooped us on this one.
Not my fault that you want to keep your lily white reputation or that you want
to keep your readers in the dark."
That's it! That's
where he remembered that pattern from! The night he'd gone to investigate
the scene of Annabelle Lake's murder he'd found Reginald Callison already
there. He hadn't thought much about it at the time, but he clearly
remembered Reginald shoving something in his pocket. He'd only caught just
a glimpse of what it was, but now, after hearing Stella's description, Larry
realized that it had been the scarf that she had seen!
"You know, boys,"
Larry spoke up with a grin, "I've seen that scarf myself."
"You have?" Jim
turned to eyed Larry curiously.
nodded. "And when I saw it, it was in the possession of Reginald
Jim quickly looked in Russ'
direction who was visibly shocked by the news. Without saying a word, both
men realized that they were just about to break the murder investigation wide