With a new lead pointing to a local veterinarian as a promising suspect, it came down to one thing. Interview the vet. Let him tell his story. Get to the details.
Walter J. Gilmour
“We questioned the veterinarian at length. Throughout it all, he stuck to his story. He did not deny knowing her or helping her out. But, he insisted, that’s as far as it went.
“Yes,” he said, “I did do some veterninary work on her dog free of charge — I repaired a torn paw.”
“No,” he said, he had not been having an affair with Joanna Messina.
“Lucking was nevertheless convinced that the informant was telling the truth and that Joanna Messina, moreover, had not lied about her affair with the vet. It appeared, then, that the doctor was violating the cardinal rule of homicide cases: he was lying to investigators, which meant he was likely guilty of Joanna Messina’s murder.
“The reason, we figured, was pretty simple: the vet had gotten tired of having his rent paid in sex and demanded that Joanna vacate the premises. The affair was over, finished. Joanna had only one choice, as far as the vet was concerned. Move out and move on.
“Joanna had other ideas. She didn’t want to live in a campground.
Campground on Kenai Lake, near where Joanna Messina’s body was found
“Joanna says, ‘Wait a damn minute, doc. I’m gonna tell that wife of yours that you’ve been examining my body in a most unprofessional manner in exchange for my monthly room rent.’
“So the doctor figures why throw away my career for the sake of this woman? He takes her on a nice little vacation to the local gravel pit. Problem solved. And as a vet, he probably knew how to handle her dog. That helped solve the mystery of the missing dog, too. It was, in fact, a neat little package of explanations. Almost too good to be true.”
Kenai Lake, near Seward, Alaska
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