Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six:

Case File No. 03-263

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AMBER LOVE 30-MAY-2022 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, Year Three, Year Four, and Year Five plus now Year Six cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency.

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. 


Where We Left Off:

Gus hauled in a small meadow vole by the street name “Joe Cago” and convinced him to be an informant.

Another Day in Paradise:

This spring, we had a string of mischief activities that required investigation, but bore little evidence. Were these crimes connected? Were they done at random or was there a specific methodical process? And of course, who did it?

First Discovery: A Bone

Let’s begin with a weathered long bone found in the woods on April 21, 2022. Gus and I were on The Boulevard Trail with no specific mission other than patrolling the grounds. If I encountered branches to move, I’d take care of that. The usual sort of activity when we don’t expect to stumble across a crime scene.

bone discovered

Gus sniffed around the ground like a bloodhound (we need one of those) and walked next to this bone. The long white object stood out a little from the dead leaves, but often, I’m fooled by sticks with no bark. That part of the trail is not too far from the primary location of the large male Jersey devil-deer discovered by the Butler and Oliver.

Other Files on this Skeleton

I didn’t have time to give the bone a thorough inspection because Gus was already moving on to something else. When we returned to the hangar, I went around to the back of it and placed the bone in the large clam pot with the most recent skeleton awaiting to be cleaned. I really have to get that done because it smells. Weeks went by before I was able to look on BoneID.net and confirm that it’s a metatarsal.

bones

I had one more step to try to figure out. I went to the big black wooden box where I have most of the bone collection. I looked through all of the long bones. I found one that didn’t have a matching mate, but it didn’t look like the bone outside. I would have to wait to do a side-by-side comparison. Since that newly discovered bone was in the elements a lot longer than the one in the box, it’s brittle and broken. We’ll have to wait and see if it matches even though my first guess is that it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, that means the newly discovered bone is from a different body.

On a different date, we also found that the spine which was in the same pot of bones waiting for further cleaning, was taken and plopped in the middle of the field. It’s unrelated to this new bone discovered, but still alarming.

It felt like someone was trying to send us a message. A threatening message or a warning? Were we being watched?

Second Discovery: A Jacket

Next, Gus and I saw that this blue jacket or sweatshirt is still out there on the trail. It’s been moved to and even folded. Now it’s set perfectly next to a pile of branches that were cleared from someone’s yard. Why would you leave your jacket out there in the woods? Some of the backyards are easily accessible from the trail. It’s fine that people dump their brush especially when it’s so neatly piled. But this jacket? I know Gus and I have seen it there for a long time.

Gus in the woods finding sweatshirt

Even if the owner thinks it’s gross from being outside for years, it could be thrown away or washed. Instead, it’s folded and placed on the ground. Could this mean that the owner is a tidy person? Did they come from a strict background where they always had to fold their clothes like someone in the military or from strict parents?

Based on the location we believe it belongs to the older gentleman we used to chat with who had the beautiful German shepherd. It looks like that family has a new dog now and we haven’t met it. Probably because the Grumpy Old Man nailed up a bunch of No Trespassing signs.

Third Discovery: Plastic Piece

Gus and I continued on and off the trails. I had to use my small pruning shears to recreate the old narrow paths based on where the deer like to cut through. I find it interesting how the animals like the trails too. They move off of them when it’s more direct for wherever they’re going.

tree roots

We crossed the private road and got back to “our” side (the side that leads to our backyard). I stepped around bushes and trimmed the branches back. Gus moved in and out of my visuals. It’s one of the reasons I make him where a harness with reflective tape and a bell. I had to fight through some thorns. I swear I saw a machete in the workshop one time, but I haven’t seen it since. I keep thinking about how useful it would be for these narrow paths.

It felt longer than it was by the time I arrived at one of our familiar climbing trees. It’s the tree that’s down but has a couple thick branches angling upward into tangles of vines that make up the Witch’s Gate at the circular trail. I came out to the Circle Trail which used to be a lot wider. I feel like the plants are trying to close off their domain. The trees have branches that are low enough to cross the trails at eye level. The wild bushes like forsythias are out of control. Those things drive me nuts how rapidly they spread but one small bush of them costs $200 at Home Depot (years ago). Then the prickly maroon branches of raspberry bushes form arches about waist high. You can’t tell which end is the root. And when other weedy things climb over those arches, it makes small caves where you can imagine brownies and small animals socializing.

garbage in woods

As I got closer to the end of the Circle Trail and about to enter Bunny Hollow, I looked down and found a piece of black plastic. I don’t know what it is. The shape of it reminds me of license plate holders, but that’s not it. It probably got ripped off one of the mowers. Gus crossed over the trail went into some of that forsythia I mentioned. He came out to Bunny Hollow near the small dirt and root ramp leading into our backyard. He always wants to keep going, but I had to keep him close that day because previously, he had escaped my supervision and was on his own for an hour.

In the end, I threw out the broken piece of black plastic once we got back to the house.

Fourth Discovery: Metal Thingamabob

At some point, we made our way around back to the upper parking area where the mobile command unit still sits, covered and out of commission because it needs expensive repairs. The flatbed trailer I call the hay wagon was back. On the asphalt next to it, I found a piece of metal that looked like it could be important.

piece of metal

It looks like a bolt shaped piece that would used as a pin attached to a heavy gauge wire type of thing bent around so the whole assembly forms a square. It seems like it would be used to anchor something in place. I held it out for Gus to smell. He had no opinion on it. I left it on top of the wheel well in plain sight hoping the Grumpy Old Man would see it and do whatever he wanted with it.

Case Findings:

Of all the random pieces of evidence we discovered in just one patrol, I still wasn’t sure if anything was connected. It was time to lay out the photos on a digital crime board and gather the staff. First I showered while Gus ate which left Oliver some time alone to speculate. Gus reported on the scent signatures of each item. He said the black plastic piece and the metal thing were definitely handled by the Grumpy Old Man. They weren’t from a trespasser or wandering hiker. The bone is still questionable and requires cleaning and further investigation. That leaves the blue jacket by the trail. We left it alone and hope the owner or someone who knows the owner will take it so it stops littering the area.

Case Statuses: Open, Closed, Closed, Closed

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