*** Detectives.ai Report ***
Note: The results of this AI-powered investigation are meant to assist you in solving the case. Use the AI as a "fresh set of eyes" that will hopefully help push you in the right direction for turning this cold case into an active investigation. It is not meant to replace the work of a human detective or police investigator.
Case Summary: Professor Fordney discovers Gifford's body with a policeman at the scene, suggesting blackmailers shot Gifford and fled via a window, despite a locked door from the inside.
Estimated Timeline: To create a detailed timeline, we need to piece together the information provided in the case. Here's a possible sequence of events based on the information given:
**Before the Incident:**
**Day of the Incident:**
**After the Timeline:**
Potential Clues: Combining the timeline analysis with the list of suspicious facts, we can identify several inconsistencies and clues that may help solve the case:
1. **Timing of the Phone Call and the Gunshot**: Gifford was able to make a phone call to Professor Fordney after being shot, suggesting he was not immediately incapacitated. However, the policeman heard the gunshot while in Smith's cigar store and then took time to locate the source. The timeline between the gunshot being heard, the phone call being made, and the policeman arriving at the scene seems inconsistent.
2. **Locked Door**: The door to Gifford's office was locked from the inside, and the policeman had to break in. This suggests that the shooter could not have left through the door without unlocking it, which contradicts the theory that the shooter jumped out the window.
3. **Key in the Lock**: The presence of the key in the lock from the inside supports the idea that the door was locked from the inside, which could indicate a suicide or that the shooter was someone already inside the room.
4. **Open Window**: The open window is suggested as an escape route, but there is no evidence mentioned that supports someone actually jumping out, such as disturbances or evidence on the ground outside.
5. **Blackmail Motive**: The mention of Gifford being troubled by blackmailers and having survived a previous shooting attempt introduces a motive for murder but also raises questions about the timing and method of the eventual murder.
6. **Revolver at the Scene**: The revolver found near Gifford's body could be the murder weapon, but without forensic analysis, it's unclear if it was used in the shooting or if Gifford's fingerprints are on it.
7. **Shot Through the Heart**: Gifford's ability to make a phone call after being shot through the heart is highly unusual and suggests that the actual cause of death may need to be re-examined.
8. **Condition of the Lock**: The lock was described as "sprung," which could indicate forced entry or could be the result of the policeman breaking in. Without further examination, it's unclear when the damage to the lock occurred.
9. **Lack of Witnesses**: There is no mention of other witnesses in the building or nearby, despite the gunshot being heard by the policeman in the cigar store. Additional witnesses could provide more information or alibis.
10. **Gunshot Residue and Suicide Notes**: There is no mention of a search for gunshot residue on Gifford's hands or the presence of suicide notes, which could be relevant in determining if it was a suicide.
11. **Blood Pool Analysis**: The size and shape of the blood pool could indicate the time that has passed since the shooting and whether Gifford moved after being shot, which could help establish the sequence of events.
12. **Bullet Trajectory**: The trajectory of the bullet could help establish the shooter's position and whether it's consistent with someone jumping out the window after firing the shot.
These suspicious facts and inconsistencies suggest that the case may not be as straightforward as it initially appeared. The possibility of suicide, an inside job, or a staged crime scene should be considered. Without further investigation, the true nature of Gifford's death remains uncertain.
Investigation Plan - Although the AI will try to solve the crime based only on the case info you submitted, it is suggested investigators look into the following:
AI Solution To The Crime:
Given the information provided and the clues listed, we can deduce the following:
1. **Timing of the Phone Call and the Gunshot**: The fact that Gifford was able to make a phone call after being shot suggests that he was alive for at least a short period after the gunshot. This could mean that the gunshot heard by the policeman was not the one that killed Gifford, or that Gifford was able to call Professor Fordney before succumbing to his injuries.
2. **Locked Door**: The door being locked from the inside suggests that no one exited through the door after the shooting. This could indicate a suicide, or that the shooter was still inside when the policeman arrived and broke in.
3. **Key in the Lock**: The key being in the lock from the inside further supports the idea that the door was locked from within the room. This could mean that Gifford locked the door himself, or that the shooter locked the door to stage a suicide.
4. **Open Window**: The open window could have been a red herring, meant to suggest an escape route that was never used. Without evidence of someone having jumped out, such as disturbed ground or footprints, we cannot assume the window was the exit point.
5. **Blackmail Motive**: The blackmail motive suggests that Gifford had enemies, but it does not necessarily mean that the blackmailers were the ones who shot him. It could have been someone else who knew about the blackmail and used it to their advantage.
6. **Revolver at the Scene**: The revolver found near Gifford's body is likely the murder weapon. However, without forensic analysis, we cannot determine if Gifford's fingerprints are on it, which would be crucial in determining if it was a suicide.
7. **Shot Through the Heart**: Being shot through the heart and still being able to make a phone call is highly unlikely. This could suggest that the cause of death needs to be re-examined, or that Gifford was shot with a different weapon before the fatal shot was delivered.
8. **Condition of the Lock**: The lock being "sprung" could be due to the policeman breaking in, or it could have been damaged before. This clue is inconclusive without further examination.
9. **Lack of Witnesses**: The absence of witnesses other than the policeman suggests that the shooting occurred at a time when few people were around, or that the witnesses have not come forward.
10. **Gunshot Residue and Suicide Notes**: The lack of information on gunshot residue and suicide notes leaves a gap in the investigation. If it were a suicide, gunshot residue on Gifford's hands would be expected.
11. **Blood Pool Analysis**: The blood pool could provide information on how long Gifford was alive after being shot and whether he moved. This could help establish the sequence of events.
12. **Bullet Trajectory**: The trajectory of the bullet could indicate the position of the shooter. If it's inconsistent with someone jumping out the window, it would suggest that the window was not the escape route.
Based on these deductions, the most plausible scenario is that Gifford was either a victim of murder staged to look like a suicide or he committed suicide. The presence of the key in the lock, the revolver at the scene, and the open window could all be elements of a staged scene. However, the lack of gunshot residue information and the ability to make a phone call after a fatal shot to the heart cast doubt on the suicide theory.
Given the constraints of not being able to conduct further investigation, the most likely conclusion is that Gifford's death was a suicide, with the possibility that he was coerced or influenced due to the blackmail. The open window and the "sprung" lock could have been attempts by Gifford to suggest foul play to protect someone else or to cast suspicion away from his own actions. Without additional evidence, this is the most reasonable explanation that fits the known facts.