The Elwood family was the only family on the entire lake with an elevator in their house. The elegant four floor mansion was purchased by Michael Elwood from the bank two years ago, after a rich elderly man passed away. The elevator was a necessity for the senior citizen, as he was handicapped after a violent car wreck that took the feeling in his legs numerous years prior. However, the Elwood family had no such need for an elevator. Patricia Ann Elwood was used to receiving anything she could possibly crave, essential or not. She was raised that way. Her parents had a substantial name that Patricia was taking on herself to hold up to. Patricia Ann was obsessed with the idea of financial gain and the high-class. She had always been thought of to be above of everyone else. She was born into an influential family, and afterwards in her first marriage, she married into another. A man of immense power, wealth, and influence by the name of Russ Matthew. Russ left his multi-million estate and his two kids behind when he chose to grasp the wheel of his bright red Maserati while driving home from a friend’s house, drunk.
Patricia Ann Matthew shed only a single tear at her ex-husband’s funeral. Contrary to what you would believe, she wasn’t overcome with thousands of emotions crashing down on her like waves in a vivid storm. Instead, rumors have it that her tears were a result of her being so staggered and enraged. It was concluded by everyone who had a close acquaintance with Patricia that that tear was shed as the result of hearing the news that a majority of the savings Russ had gathered was to be given back to charities. She didn’t marry for love, after all. Patricia could almost hear the sound of him laughing at her despair beyond the grave.
As the lawyer read the will aloud, several gasps were heard from around the room. How generous Russ was! Patricia gasped additionally. However, her gasp was not for the same reason. How come herself, his wife, wasn’t given the majority of this established fortune? Her selfish self, caught up in the heat of the moment, thought, “does he expect myself to raise my children, deliberating us as equals to everyone else? Middle class, even?”
And similar to every other widow who is out seeking money and power undertakes, she married another rich man. The two years that she spent with him Patricia Elwood soon lived on Lake Michigan with her children, Corey and Jess, her most recent husband Michael Elwood, stepdaughter Andrea, maid Sarah, cook Adrian, and her beloved Maltese named Chanel. All lived under the same multimillion dollar roof. The same roof that shelters an indoor pool, three guest bedrooms, no stairs, an elevator, and now a murderer.
Sarah Ivon, the Elwood family’s maid, balances a large brown grocery bag on her knee. Struggling to free one hand so she can place her thumb on the house’s security system, she allows it to read her fingerprint. The sweet woman hears a click from the door that leads from the garage to the house as it unlocks. The family dog, Chanel, greats her eagerly while yapping and scampering around her feet when she opens the door.
The live-in-maid’s feet perform a little dance as she tries to dodge the designer Maltese jumping and running in circles around her feet. Sarah resists the urge to set the bag down and display Chanel a little attention. Instead, she keeps her eyes, which barely reach above the bag, forward.
She rarely has a single minute do anything she would appreciate any more. There was always other tasks for her to complete, the list increasing every day, exceeding what she could do. Sarah catches herself missing the way life went on before Michael married Patricia. Imagining that only two years ago, there endured only Michael, Andrea and herself proved to be arduous. Life has been more complicated since Michael remarried. Not only as a result of additional people to clean up after, although she is sure that might be a component of it, but mainly by reason of missing being treated with love and respect comparable to what Andrea and Michael had shown her. Neither of them has changed since the wedding, it’s just that she remained rarely gifted with the chance to communicate with them like she once had. Sarah continued as too busy to talk to them besides for at night, when they all ate together. Patricia isn’t as shallow and rude as strangers would assume, she just isn’t as considerate. She can’t relate Sarah, and she doesn’t understand what it’s like to work. Patricia had never grown agitated or never showed a trace of disappointment in her, in fact, she offered occasional praise and “thank yous” as the maid worked. Sarah just understands that Patricia never puts herself in her shoes. Confident Patricia Ann isn’t required to, she just doesn’t understand what goes into even doing measly tasks around the house.
Sarah had moved with Michael and Andrea when they moved into this house to join Patricia and her children. The millionaire had been recently persuaded by his wife to obtain a chef that year. They settled over an acquaintance of Owen’s, a man aged twenty five named Adrian. Michael was never the one to disagree with anything that she wanted. He had always carried himself with such compassion and sympathy, courteous to all he came in contact with, since the first day that Sarah subsisted associated with him. A character who had just seen Michael would never guess that he owned a publishing company with an bounteous estate worth greater than 400 million. By looking at him, they wouldn’t guess that he had a daughter who was nineteen that he loved more than life.
Gently pressing the button that signals for the elevator, she watches the toy Maltese. White and fury Chanel is still bouncing around on her feet, and Sarah feels sorrowful that she doesn’t have can’t spend any time with her. Sarah looks down at the energetic dog and offers it an amiable smile as an apology for not stopping to play for a while.
Into the elevator Sarah’s eyes fall. Before she can even complete a full step, something catches her eye. The groceries fall to the ground as a shocked maid gasps.
A scream befalls from her lungs as she backs into a wall and stands there, eyes wide. While trying to catch her breath, she feels a fear wash over her like a violent wind in a hurricane. Covering her mouth with her hand, the maid occurred unable to see and think clearly. What Sarah had just seen was Patricia Ann Elwood, laying on the cold tile floor of the elevator; dead.
“Help! Someone!” What Sarah had intended as a shout came out as a weak whisper as her voice cracks and she bursts into tears.
“What is-” Jess, Patricia’s daughter, stops short when she sees Sarah with her face buried in hands, and shoulders shaking uncontrollably, sobbing. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
Sarah glimpses Jess in the eye and presses her lips together, tasting salt. How could she tell her that her own mother had passed?
Jess must have seen the terror and sadness in the family maid’s eyes. Her own eyes reflect Sarah’s when she realizes something had gone terribly wrong. She reviews the room and everything appears normal until her eyes catch the grocery bag on the ground. There appears to be shattered glass surrounding it, as a result of the drop. At that moment Jess’ eyes land on her own mother, lying with arms and legs crossed and jumbled. Jess gasps for air, feeling as if everything that she had has been taken from her. She stands there for a minute, not knowing what to conclude. Being the dainty and composed girl that Jess was, only a few tears run down her perfectly proportioned face.
The succeeding ten minutes prove to be quite a challenge. Between tears the two girls wonder how they can travel upstairs without using the elevator. They were definitely not longing to ride the elevator, and they definitely don’t have the appetite to move the dead body. Jess scrambles to find her phone. Nonetheless, it doesn’t turn on. Sarah quickly remembers that the home security system has the ability to call 911.
Sarah can’t speak clearly when telling Michael over the intercom what happened. All that she can muster is a unsteady “Come now. Don’t use the elevator.”
Michael Elwood loved Patricia. He saw a side of her that no one else did. He saw the vulnerable side that needed to be told that he loved her, no matter what she did or what she had. Instead of seeing selfish he saw self conscious. She was raised making sure that she stood up to the expectations of others. When you got to know Patricia Elwood, you got to know the sweet and energetic woman underneath the shell she put on.
Michael, Corey and Andrea join them downstairs. Michael stands tall and puts on a brave face, even when he feels part of him is gone with the loss of his wife. He is almost too calm for just having lost the love of his life. He has to be strong for the kids. When the paramedics come, he stands with an arm around Sarah, trying to comfort her. Reality proves that he is actually trying to distract himself from what is going on by trying to help the others get through this. Michael purposely positions himself in a way that he can’t see his dead wife. He wants the last memories of her to be joyful, with laughter and happiness. Also, he knows that if he sees his wife, who was usually full of life, deprived of that, he would break down.
Andrea did see the dead body. She is in college to become a surgeon. She has heard of many deadly situations, seen blood and injuries, and even a fair share of dead people, but nothing could have prepared her to see her own stepmother, dead. No unit in school, no textbook or professor’s lesson. Andrea throws up all over the tile floor.
Corey is worried and confused. He never thought through what would happen if Mom was gone. He has no more surviving parents left, and the thought scares him. Corey finds no tears, but only the wish that he would have spent the time with her better. He regrets not loving her the way he should have.
So there they all stand, each one reacting to the accident in a different way; one shaken up, another quiet, the next too calm, someone sick, and the last regretful. Yet one person didn’t show up.
The next several days are a blur of chaos, with investigators, police, and the FBI coming and going as they wish. The family is given time to grieve before the hired agents started asking questions to find the murderer. Adrian and Sarah are still expected to go about and do their daily tasks; even though Sarah is probably the most distraught.
Sarah doesn’t think she can ever fall asleep again without seeing Patricia Ann lying on the floor, the image forever ingrained in her memory. Four days have gone past when a man with a badge pulls her aside and tells her that she is the only person under this roof that isn’t under investigation.
Although Sarah still isn’t back to her normal self, and probably wouldn’t be for a while, the search for the murderer begins. The man with the badge and the fancy black police suit describes himself as Jaden Forest, who then says that he is very qualified and will help this family in any way that he can. Noah tells her that he is head “detective” leading this investigation, and that he wants results as much as she does.
Sarah founds her hopes sink. If she is being honest, she doesn’t want the culprit to be found. The detectives know as a fact that the murderer is living under this roof. She doesn’t know what good framing the culprit would do to this family; they will fall apart. The family will have to carry their name around, everyone knowing how broken they are. Patricia doesn’t want that. She will gladly answer questions, but she doesn’t want to be the one held responsible when, or if, they catch the murderer.
Sarah answers a few questions about what the motive for each person, assuming they were the murderer. Noah can’t take Sarah’s word on everything, as she could easily lie about something, but these leads are as good as it is going to get for a while. Sarah can’t answer as to where each person was in the house at the time of the murder, as she was in a local grocery story, and they even have video evidence to prove it.
Noah writes down everything Sarah says in shorthand, so that he can look back at the notes later. Nothing seems too suspicious. He finds a couple leads that he will be sure to touch base on when the relatives feel comfortable to answer more questions. Although the average person can’t read his notes, he has a one word down that is larger than he assumes; “body in elevator.”
Noah receives a phone call from people who are working in the medic field of the detective agency. A trace of a poison was found in Patricia. She was either ate something with it or gassed. Adrian could have slipped something in her food, or someone could have placed a deadly gas in the elevator.
A week and two days after Patricia was killed, Noah started to set time aside to talk to the relatives. He understands that one of them is the murderer, and approaches them with caution. Noah starts with Michael Elwood, who seems like a very unrealistic suspect.
Noah, the good and experienced detective that he is, knows that sometimes the most unreasonable people for the crime can offer you the biggest clues.
“Where were you when the assault happened?”
Michael looks at Noah, as if debating rather or not Noah would actually ask him that. How is he a reasonable suspect? When he sees that Noah is dead serious, he continues. “I was in my office on the main floor when I heard Sarah call me from the intercom. I ran outside and into the lower garage as fast as I could.”
Noah writes down in shorthand that Michael avoided the real answer to his question, intentional or not.
“Were you planning on handing down your company any time soon?” Noah questions the owner.
“I am getting old,” Michael answers with a sad smile. “I wasn’t making definite plans, but I am sure that after this incident, I might want to step down sooner and take some time to myself. I think that my son will get the company within the next couple years.”
“With all due respect sir,” Noah phrases his words carefully, “The very person who might have killed your wife might have done it for the same reason as that. They might want the company, and soon.”
“Nonsense!” Michael almost laughs off the idea. “I have heard that the people investigating are thinking that the killer might live under this roof, but I really think that that talk is unreasonable. If they wanted the company, wouldn’t they have just killed me?”
“That is a valid point that we are considering, Mr. Elwood. We aren’t even sure that was the motive behind the death. You said that there wasn’t anyone else who had access to the house, correct?”
“Correct. We have a very complex housing security watch. Only seven people have their thumbprint listed in the system. The complex is able to track who is in the house at any given time. And please, call me Michael, I hear my employees call me Mr. Elwood too often,” he offerers with a grin.
“Is one of those people your chef, Adrian Davies?”
“You don’t think it is suspicious at all that he was nowhere to be found during the time of the murder?”
“I’m sure he has his reasons. I don’t think that is a valid lead in this case.”
“No conclusions in this case are going to be easy for you to hear, Michael. I need you to accept that you are living with some kind of murderer under this same roof.”
Michael chooses not to answer. Noah jots down some notes. The shorthand reveals that Michael was showing some twitches, emotions and other strange clues that could lead to concluding that he could possibly be the murderer. Michael just doesn’t have a motive.
Noah continues, “We looked at Adrian’s files.” He waits to continue until Michael meets his eyes. “He has a small criminal record.”
“Not a person under this roof has a valid enough reason to kill a living person, my wife. Not a single person here would do that!” Michael raises his voice, blood boiling.
“You don’t think that Adrian could have slipped poison into your wife’s food, or that it was suspicious that Corey wanted Adrian to be hired? Suspicion isn’t arousing when you know that this happened as you were debating when to pass the company down?”
Michael stays silent, not wanting to embrace the fact that someone out of the seven people that he trusted the most, killed his wife.
Noah chooses to call Andrea in next, Michael’s only biological child. He asks her the standard list of questions, and then some.
“Where were you at the time of the assault?”
“I was upstairs in my room.”
“Did you hear that your father was potentially thinking about passing down the company?”
“Yes. Actually, it’s more of a matter of when he is going to be passing down the company, he always told me that he hated the idea of selling out.”
“Would Corey have any reason to kill his own mother?”
Andrea’s brow furrows, and her lip raises in disgust. She hates the idea of her own stepmother being murdered, everything still feels like a dream. “I really don’t think he had any reason to kill her. Sorry. I know that doesn’t help you very much.”
“You just said that Michael was thinking about soon possibly passing down the company, do you think that could have been a component if Corey was the murderer?”
“I suppose. I can’t believe he would kill his own mother though,” Andrea looks up into Noah’s eyes with vulnerability and sadness. “It wouldn’t have been Jess, right?”
“What?” From what he understands, Jess and Andrea are a year apart, and get along quite well. Much better than the stepsisters in Cinderella, he sees.
“At this point, everyone’s a suspect.”
Andrea’s eyes widen in surprise and shock, “Even myself and my father?”
Noah doesn’t know what to say in response to that. Instead, he changes the subject. “Does Adrian raise any suspicion to you at all?”
“I don’t know. It does seem strange that Corey wanted him hired. He seems like an alright guy, he spends most of his time in the kitchen.”
“How long ago did Michael,” Noah corrects himself, “Your father, hint that he might pass down the company?”
Andrea looks up, thinking. “About a year ago, I suppose.”
From what Noah understands, that is when Adrian was hired. The detectives only lead is that Corey had suggested Adrian so he could assist in the murder. Adrian could have poisoned Patricia’s food, where she collapsed in the elevator. Noah wants to continue to interview people. He lets Andrea find the door.
Noah summons an unhappy Adrian into the room. Adrian sits on an old wooden oak chair, and Noah takes note that he rocks back and forth in the chair. Right now, Adrian is the main suspect, as far as the killing goes. However, Adrian doesn’t have the motive like the other people in the house do.
Unlike in the other interviews, the person being interviewed is the first to talk. “I know that I’m the main suspect. I wasn’t at the scene to see Patricia like the others were, and I can see if you think I had the opportunity to kill her.” Adrian stops short and looks him right in the eye. “I can tell you know- I didn’t do it.”
Noah ignores the last line and starts questioning. “Where were you when everyone else was downstairs by the elevator?”
Adrian fidgeted again. “I knew that something was going on, and I didn’t want to invade the families space. I never really feel like I’m a huge part of this family, and ever since I started the job here, I knew that I really only got in the way. Since that, I try to stay away and do my job the best I can.”
Noah nods and respects his answer. “How did you get a job here?”
“I was Corey’s old neighbor down the street before he moved into a different side of the state two years ago. I-uh, I needed a job and Corey recomended me.”
“How good of a relationship do you have with Corey?”
Adrian looks suspicious. “If you are you implying that I have a good enough relationship with him to kill his own mother, you would be wrong.”
Noah moves on, clearly implying that. Adrian is a good enough friend to stand up and defend Corey, and that was all he wanted to find out. “Did you have any training or schooling in culinary arts?”
“Oh,” Adrian is surprised that he didn’t mention that, “I did. I graduated but didn’t quite get a job.”
“Is that because of your criminal record?” Noah goes out and asks.
Adrian looks at Noah. He wonders how he found out before realizing that he was a detective for a police agency after all. “Yup. The Elwoods knew about my record and kind of put me under their wing when Corey told them I could use some help. I have definitely cleaned up, and I would never even think about killing someone.”
Noah writes something down in his notebook. That last answer and Mr. Elwood’s answer didn’t quite aline.
The detective finally finds more time to interview the last two suspects three days later. The case had been chaos, and he had other work that needed done too. His goal for today was to interview both Corey and Jess, Patricia’s surviving children. He chose Corey first and starts with the normal “where were you at the time of the assault?”
Corey tells him that he had just gotten back from the bathroom, and was about to press the button to summon the elevator when he saw his dad come out of his office and tell him to come outside and follow him.
“Describe Adrian for me.”
Corey smiles, as if laughing from old times, “Adrian is a good friend of mine. When he finished college he was deep in debt and had a small criminal record, which he told me you found out about, and was really struggling. I saw that and suggested that he could live with us for a while.”
“What do you think of Elwood Publishing and what would you do if the company belonged to you?”
“I think that this business is large because my stepdad worked so hard for it to succeed. I don’t know what I would do if it belonged to me.”
Noah knew that was a lie. What kind of person wouldn’t think about owning the company if he was the most probable person in line for it?
“Have you ever thought that if your mom had passed, that your dad would retire and you getting the company?”
“Wouldn’t it just be easier to kill him?” Corey jokes as he avoids the question. Noah doesn’t think it’s very funny.
Noah asks more questions, but Corey does a nice job dodging the ones he doesn’t want to answer. He should be a politician.
Kindly, the older detective greats Jess as she walks in to find a seat. Noah almost doesn’t want to start asking her questions about her mother’s death when he sees how sad and vulnerable her face and eyes still show she is.
He has to go on anyways as he asks where she was at the time of the crime.
“I was downstairs, just sitting with Chanel. I heard the door open from the lower garage to the house, and Chanel quick ran to great Sarah. I knew that it was her, as she went to go get groceries about an hour earlier. I just sat in my seat and was waiting for Chanel to come running back when I heard shattering of glass. I ran and saw Sarah crying.” She stops short, not wanting to say what she say next.
Jess was far the most detailed in her answers, Noah could tell, even from just one question. That could be a sign of weakness, trying to cover up.
“Why do you think that Corey was the most eligible to receive the company?”
“Well, he is the oldest. I think that he would do a good job hold up what my step dad built for himself. He did go to college for people management, so I think that he was expecting this job. Or at least a job like this because he started college before we met stepdad.”
“What do you think of Adrian?”
“He seems nice, although we don’t really talk. I think he tries to stay out of our way. He is always in the kitchen instead.”
There isn’t too much about this mystery that Noah is for sure on, but he does know one thing; the killer had been planning it for a while. They had to come up with a way to purchase poison and find the best way to give it to Patricia, or to put it in the elevator and to make sure that the right person got in the elevator. If the lead from Adrian and Corey was true, that might have been going on for even a year.
Noah’s eyes widen, figuring something out.
“Jess, are there any stairs in this house?”
“No. Well, actually, I suppose there are a few stepping into a bathtub or maybe other places. But no stairs as I think you are thinking. Why?”
And with that, Noah scribbles the last shorthand note in his now almost fill journal. He had reaches the conclusion of the case. He knows who the murderer is, and what mistake they made.
Motive would have been to provoke Michael into retiring and taking care
of them, meaning passing down the company sooner.
Motive would have been that she wanted the company, and was frustrated that mom
was talking Michael into giving the company to Corey instead of to herself
He was a friend of Corey and was recommended by Corey. If he were the murderer, his motive would have been the money that Corey would offer him. He could have poisoned her food.
Her motive was needing the company. Since she was a little girl, she had always known that the company would rightfully go down to her, as she was the only other biological family member to receive it. Since she thought she would be recieving the company, she started school to be a surgeon, one of the jobs that requires the most schooling. She would use a surgeon as a fill in, as it wouldn’t be more than twelve years until her dad passed the company down. She realized she couldn’t be a surgeon and needs the company even more, because she feels sick at the mention of things that gross her out. Being in school as a surgeon, she has better access to airborne poison than anyone else. Her plan was to kill Corey, who was the one who was going to inherit the company instead of her. She planned the murder carefully, but Corey quick stopped in the bathroom before riding the elevator. That was her first mistake. Her second was lying to Noah and telling him that she was upstairs in her bedroom. There were no stairs, meaning that the only way to get from the top floor to the downstairs would be to take the elevator- which had a dead body and never left the elegant basement.
- “Andrea throws up all over the tile floor.”
- “If they wanted the company, wouldn’t they have just killed myself?”
- “I was upstairs in my room.”
- “body in elevator.”
- “he had just gotten back from the bathroom, and was about to press the button to summon the elevator”
- “I think that my son will get the company within the next couple years.”
- “Yet one person didn’t show up.”
- “We looked at Adrian’s files.” He waits to continue until Michael meets his eyes. “He has a small criminal record.”
- “Noah writes down in shorthand that Michael avoided the real answer to his question, intentional or not.”
- “Corey does a nice job dodging the questions he doesn’t want to answer.”