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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Microstory 1068: Mabel

I think you’ve been going about this all wrong. I get that you’ve been trying to get an idea of who Viola was. That’s called victimology, and it’s an important component to any murder investigation, but it really only tells us part of the story. Even if you wanted to focus exclusively on this aspect, you’re interviewing far too many people. Most of these stories aren’t going to have anything to do with her death, as interesting as they may be on their own. Lots of people know any given individual who has died, but that doesn’t mean they were at all involved. Let me try to put in another way. Let’s say you’re a detective, who’s just caught a murder in an alleyway. You get on your hands and knees, and discover a cigarette butt on the ground near the guy’s body. You run a DNA test, and discover the man who smoked that cancer stick was John Doe. John Doe immediately becomes your prime suspect. Why? You haven’t linked the cigarette to the death. All you’ve done is linked both the cigarette, and the body, to the alleyway, but that doesn’t mean they’re related. He could have smoked that days before. Let’s say forensics can estimate the amount of time it’s been lying there. He could have dropped it, walked back into the noisy nightclub, then two minutes later—BOOM—the victim is shot and killed, by someone completely different. Do you kind of see what I’m saying? You’re trying to gather as many clues as you can, and hoping they fit together into a pretty picture, but that’s not how life works. It’s messy, and confusing, and you’re always left with tons of missing pieces. What you need are the keystone pieces. Have you even considered speaking with her parents, or any other family members? What about her nearest neighbors, or anyone who was by Masters Creek around the time of death? The police are pretty sure they know what happened, so I’ve heard that didn’t do a lot of canvassing. Of course, this is a really small town, and they didn’t send for a brooding detective from the big city with a complicated past to handle this for us in the span of ten episodes. They did their best, but I am quite certain there’s a lot they missed, and also quite certain what they missed was not part of the random population of this year’s graduating class. Somebody was there we don’t know about, and I suggest you try to figure out who that was. You’re an aspiring investigative reporter, Alma. You know what you need to do. I get that you’re kind of on a roll, and it sounds like you’re well beyond halfway done, but do remember my advice once you’re finished with this series. I don’t think we’ll have the whole story if you stop there.

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