BOB INGERSOLL: THE LAW IS A ASS #339: INSPECTOR DANGER THE BREAKS THE CASE WIDE OPEN. OR DOES HE?
I realize that most of you probably don’t have a deerstalker cap. So go get a couple of baseball caps. Wear one brim facing forward and the other brim facing backwards. You need the right visual. Because it’s time to look for the clues and solve a crime by matching wits with Inspector Danger.
Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz is a comic strip produced by Werner Wejp-Olsen. In it the good inspector is presented with a weekly mystery to solve. Inspector Danger and his witless assistant Alfie – a foil who is so unobservant and dim that he makes the Nigel Bruce Watson look a positive luminary – investigate the crime. The strip provides you with all the clues you need to solve the crime before the Inspector. The Inspector solves the crime and his solution is printed upside down at the bottom of the strip. Meanwhile, Alfie stands around, and might as well have cartoon question marks floating around his head.
Now let me present you with the mystery from the December 8th installment of Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz. We’ll see how well you do in solving the mystery.
Herbert Hudson, CEO of the recently bankrupt company Hudson Tech, drowned when his car drove off the pier and into the harbor. It looked like suicide. Hudson’s widow confirmed that Herbert had been depressed and threatened to take his own life. She wondered why he bothered to drive the ten to fifteen miles from his house all the way to the harbor to kill himself. She also came across as less-than-sympathetic when her chief concern was that all the money was gone and she, who was “used to a certain life style,” would soon be “walking the streets.”
The lab tech who examined Hudson’s car said the crime wasn’t suicide. The brake cables had been cut so it was murder. Apparently, the police department’s budget had been cut too. If the lab tech was talking about brake cables, his police lab’s stocked with really old reference books. Automobile brakes don’t use cables anymore. They’re all hydraulic. Have been since around the 1940s. Yes, the emergency brake still uses a cable, but if that cable had been cut, the car’s regular brakes would still have worked. Hudson’s car could have stopped on a dime and spotted you a nickle.
So Hubert Hudson drove his 1934 Hudson Eight into the drink after the brake cables had been cut. (Notice how skillfully I made a play on words and saved the story?) Now the good Inspector Danger was investigating Hudson’s murder.
Hudson’s attorney said Hudson’s widow had money as Hudson left a $5,000,000 insurance policy with her as the beneficiary. The attorney also said the contract had an anti-suicide clause http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/suicide-clause.html, so the death benefit wouldn’t be paid if the death was a suicide. But that clause wouldn’t apply here, as the death resulted from a murder.
Inspector Danger paced around in circles for a panel. He didn’t think the wife was mechanically inclined enough to have cut the brake cables. He wondered whether she had someone helping her. Then he came up with his solution. Now while you read, my spoiler warning, think about the clues and see if you can identify the criminal.
I am about to reveal Inspector Danger’s solution. So, if you don’t want to know it before you figure out the solution yourself, stop reading. End of WARNING, here comes the solution.
Inspector Danger deduced that Herbert Hudson did commit suicide. If someone else had cut the brake cables before Hudson started on his trip, he wouldn’t have been able to stop his car during the ten to fifteen mile drive and would have crashed into something long before he ever reached the harbor. Inspector Danger figured that Hudson drove to the harbor, then cut the brake cables himself just before he drove his car into the water. Hudson wanted to make his suicide look like a murder so his wife could collect the $5,000,000 death benefit. The solution also told us that Inspector Danger left the case “unsolved,” so that Hudson’s wife could collect the death benefit. “Chivalry over duty.”
So did you spot the criminal? If you said Herbert Hudson, you’re right. Kind of. If you said his crime was suicide, you’re wrong. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not against the law to commit suicide. In the United States, the laws making suicide a crime were abolished long ago http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_legislation. Moreover, even when those laws were in effect, it wasn’t really against the law to commit suicide. It was against the law to attempt suicide. But if you committed suicide, you’d be dead. The police wouldn’t be able to arrest or prosecute you even though they literally had the corpus delicti http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Corpus+delicti.
Let’s try another crime. Remember, Hudson committed suicide but made it look like a murder so that his wife would be able to collect a $5,000,000 death despite his policy’s anti-suicide clause. Voila, another crime; insurance fraud.
Now, I don’t know in what state the good Inspector operates, other than a general state of confusion, so, I’ll use the general definition of insurance fraud. Insurance fraud occurs when someone does a “duplicitous act” so that he or she can obtain an improper payment from an insurance company. Usually, the person collecting the proceeds of the insurance policy is the person committing the duplicitous act, but it can be someone else. If a doctor helps a patient fake an injury, so that the patient can swindle an insurance company, then the doctor is an aider and abettor and equally guilty of insurance fraud, even if only the patient collected the proceeds. In our story, Hudson committed insurance fraud by making a suicide look like a murder, so that his wife could collect an improper death benefit to which she was not entitled.
Of course, Hudson’s dead. He can’t be arrested or prosecuted. So, calling him the criminal is a little unsatisfying. Where’s the justice in the story, if the criminal can’t be prosecuted? Sure Logan and Brisco would be kept busy, but what would Jack McCoy get to do?
How about Mrs. Hudson? Was she guilty of insurance fraud for filing a claim for a death benefit to which she was not really entitled? No. There’s no indication that Mrs. Hudson knew her husband had faked a murder. She honestly thought he was murdered. So when she filed a claim for the death benefit – not if but when, because you know someone as mercenary as her wouldn’t leave seven figures uncollected – when she filed a claim, she wouldn’t know it was fraudulent. She wouldn’t be guilty of insurance fraud. If the insurance company learned the truth, it could deny her the benefit, but it couldn’t have her prosecuted for insurance fraud, because she did not knowingly commit a duplicitous act.
Which leads us to question that still hasn’t been answered: A crime was committed so who was the real criminal in the story? There’s got to be one someone somewhere who can take the fall.
If you said Inspector Danger, you win the prize.
Inspector Danger knew Hudson committed suicide. He knew Mrs. Hudson had no legal claim to the death benefit on her husband’s policy. But he kept this information secret so that Mrs. Hudson could collect the $5,000,000, anyway. He aided and abetted Mr. Hudson in committing insurance fraud by letting Mrs. Hudson collect proceeds which he knew she was not entitled to collect.
So, let’s haul the not-so-good Inspector off to jail and put Alfie in charge of the investigations. I can see the strip now. A crime is committed. Alfie stumbles around for several panels without the slightest idea who the criminal is. Then he stands on his head to reads the week’s solution at the bottom of the page, but still has no idea who to arrest.
And we could say that Alfie never meta criminal that he could catch.