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Answers to:“Mystery of the Stolen Manoot”

by Hans Bluedorn

Last time I asked you to examine the stories of Brinckley the Butler, Mrs. McLeary, Mrs. Norton, and Pinkie the Vagrant, and answer the three questions: 1) Is he or she a primary or secondary source? 2) Might he or she have a reason to Lie? 3) Is there any corroborating evidence? Then say whether you think the source is reliable.

I asked you to please stick only to what you know about the case, not things you imagine could be true.

The object here isn’t to solve the mystery, but to evaluate the stories.

Here are the names of the people who replied to the quiz:

Kimberly J. Will

The Mickey Family

Robin Houchens

Jake Mokris

Joshua's Nitschke

Megan Vanderhart

William E Mickey

Fred Tingle

Marcia Montenegro

Curt Hayashida

Sonja Nitschke

Nathaniel Taylor

For those of you who answered the questions but failed to send them to me, below is "The Mystery of the Stolen Manoot," along with my answers..


Last night, a painting was stolen from Mrs. McLeary's country mansion. Constable Dobson was called to investigate. Upon arriving, Constable Dobson gathered some clues:

Mrs. McLeary lives in a large house in the country with a large servant staff.

Her prized possession is the painting "The Picnic," by Manoot. While everyone knows the picture is worth practically nothing, she considers it priceless. She keeps the painting hanging in the library. Every night she ensures that all the doors of the house are locked.

On Monday night, Mrs. McLeary's painting was stolen from her library wall. While the painting is insured, Mrs. McLeary still wants it recovered.


* Constable Dobson noticed that the library window was forced.

* The picture frame, without the picture in it, was found in the bushes near the house.

* A vagrant named "Pinkie" was found loitering around the McLeary mansion. He was arrested for stealing the painting.

Constable Dobson then asked some questions, and heard the following:

* Brinckley the Butler: "I slept soundly, sir, and so have nothing useful to convey regarding the night's proceedings. However, sir, yesterday afternoon, when I was in the garden, I chanced to encounter the vagrant known as "Pinkie" upon the grounds. I caught him in the act of peering into one of the library windows. I thought the information might be useful in your investigation, sir."

1) Brinckley is a primary source, not a secondary source, as some of you thought. Brinckley is a primary source for what he DID see – Pinkie peeking in the window.

2) Brinckley does not have a reason to lie – that we know of. Some of you were coming up with elaborate “what if” scenarios of how Brinckley could have a reason to lie. “If Brinckley was in cahoots with the Under Gardener to steal the painting and then decided to double cross him so he could collect all the money, but Pinkie happened to chance upon . . . then Brinckley would have a reason to lie.” All possible, but – as I said in the instructions – we need to stick to only making claims about things we have evidence for.

3) The fact that Pinkie the Vagrant was found near the mansion in the morning supports Brinckley the Butler's testimony.

* Mrs. McLeary: "I can't believe it's gone! My precious painting! But I know who stole it. It was that vagrant. I know because I saw him at it. I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. When I was going back to bed I looked out the window. I saw a man on the lawn; he looked like a vagrant. He was running away with a large square object under his arm. I didn't think anything about it until I came downstairs this morning and saw that my painting was gone."

1) Mrs. McLeary is a primary source.

2) Mrs. McLeary may have a reason to lie: She may want to collect the insurance money.

3) Mrs. McLeary has corroborating evidence for part of her story – the broken window, the vagrant found on the grounds, and Brinckley the Butler.

On the way to the police station, Constable Dobson met Mrs. Norton, Mrs. McLeary's neighbor.

* Mrs. Norton: "So, somebody finally pinched that monstrosity of a painting. If you ask me, I think the old buzzard stole it herself. She just wants to collect on the insurance. Everybody knows that she is hard up for money these days. If she doesn't collect the insurance money, she'll have to sell the house."

1) Mrs. Norton is a secondary source.

2) We do not know of a reason for her to lie – although, judging from the way she speaks, it appears that she does not like Mrs. McLeary.

3) Mrs. Norton’s opinion that Mrs. McLeary pinched the painting herself is supported by Pinkie the Vagrant.

* Pinkie the Vagrant: "I haven't done nothin'. It weren't me who took it; it was that Mrs. McLeary. Last night, I was lying in the bushes, tryin' to get an honest night's sleep, when I saw 'er comin' through a window with a picture under 'er arm. Breakin' out of 'er own 'ouse didn't seem natural, so I kept lookin'. She came over toward me, took that frame off the picture, and threw the frame in the bushes. Then she walked off. I don't know what she did after that."

1) Pinkie is a primary source.

2) He has a reason to lie.

3) The frame found in the bushes supports his story.

Some people discredited Pinkie solely because he was a vagrant. I thought this was unfair to Pinkie.

So, it looks like Constable Dobson has uncovered a complicated mess. What should he do now? It looks like both Mrs. McLeary and Pinkie the Vagrant are suspects, with evidence on both sides.

I’m interesting in hearing from you: What do you think Constable Dobson should do now? Should he arrest Mrs. McLeary for stealing her own painting, or keep Pinkie the Vagrant in the cooler? Should he find out more before making a decision?

Reply and tell me what you think Constable Dobson should do next.

Copyright February 02, 2004, all rights reserved. 4572 views

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