If Mrs. Wagner had not decided to have a spring cleaning session in her kitchen the loose stone would not have fallen out of the wall and she would not have noticed that it was actually a double wall with a space in between. Further if she had not been so inquisitive as to look what was in between she would not have discovered the rifle leaning on the back of the wall.
This discovery lead to the unhappiness of a retired police officer who thought that he could now live in peace and quiet without the stress of the murder division around his ears and spend the remainder of his retired days tendering his rose bed. Mrs. Wagner unfortunately disturbed the relaxations of retired officer Peter Walker.
We have to take a few steps back in time, more than 20 years. Peter Walker had then been promoted as head of the detective office in a town in a small country somewhere in Europe when the crime was discovered. It was a warm spring week-end and there were many people on their way enjoying walks through woodlands and country villages. In one of these forests there was a so-called week-end house, but the hiker that happened to chance on the house was not very happy afterwards. Fritz Gerber actually had a shock. The stone had now fallen into the pond, figuratively speaking of course, and the ripples began to spread. He ran to the next village and called the police. They arrived quickly to examine the place of the crime. Five elderly people, two married couples and a friend, had been shot and killed in the week-end house and in the garden and the search for the murderer began.
Peter Walker did everything in his power. He examined the background of the victims, arrested a few relatives, only to release them again, without sufficient proof, but the murderer was not found and neither was the weapon. It was easy for the criminal investigation department and their specialists to discover what the weapon was, a rifle, by traces left from the bullets. The open question being where was the rifle and who had used it? In the twenty years that the case existed in the files of the police, there was no success.
That was until the day that Mrs. Wagner cleaned the kitchen and found the rifle. Like every good honest citizen she called the police who collected the rifle for an examination. Mrs. Wagner was just a little bit shocked when the police asked if she knew where the rifle came from. Having a clean legal sheet, the police believed her when she insisted that she did not know anything about the rifle. She had been living in the house for five years, with a rifle in the wall, of course.
Many examinations were made on the rifle and the result was that it was the weapon used to kill five people one sunny day in a holiday chalet in the forest. Even in his retirement ex-officer Peter Walker was satisfied that at last the weapon had been found and enquiries were made as to who had lived in the house before Mrs. Wagner. It seems that it was a person known as Heinz Schmitt, but it also appeared that Heinz Schmitt had decided to leave his safe little country in Europe and emigrate, to live somewhere else in the world. The crime now having taken place more than 20 years ago was now time-barred, meaning that for the police it was a closed case.
Peter Walker was on the one side happy that at last the murderer had been found, on the other hand had a feeling that he had wasted 20 years of his working life chasing a shadow.
Three years before Mrs. Wagner cleaned the kitchen, there was a man standing on a lonely beach somewhere in the world. It was almost midnight as he decided to walk towards the incoming tide. He could swim, but this was not his intention. He just kept walking and never returned to the beach. Had he not decided to end his life in this way, it might have been that the international police had been able to deliver him to his rightful punishment in a small town in Europe.
It may also have been that at last the reasons for the death of five innocent people would be uncovered, or perhaps they were also not so innocent. Who knows what skeletons live in various closets. The case was now time-barred, and perhaps the murderer would have escaped any punishment. In a way retired office Peter Walker was glad.
He could now return to looking after his rose garden.
Click here for more