1867. An unsolved murder
© Bruce Goodman 3 July 2020
The murder of Octavius Snickenbough was in all the papers. It was in all the papers not because it was a murder (goodness knows, murders are so common these days they could hardly be considered newsworthy) but because of who Octavius Snickenbough was.|
Octavius Snickenbough was the local vicar who, despite having being married to a lovely wife for many a year, had singlehandedly fathered three children on the one night, all born in the same local maternity hospital on the same day, and all registered by different mothers with the information on the father recorded as “Octavius Snickenbough, Vicar”.
It had turned Octavius overnight, on the one hand, into a folk hero, and on the other hand, into a fiend. And now, several weeks after the births his body was discovered lying murdered in the sands of the local beach. The beach was in a sheltered bay and most popular over the summer months. The sand was a mass of hundreds of footprints going in all directions, so the murderer’s footprints going to and from the body were indecipherable.
Clearly, Octavius Snickenbough had been chopped to death by a tomahawk. In fact, it was patently obvious because a tomahawk, the kind used to split firewood kindling, was still protruding from the crown of his head.
Naturally, the three mothers of the three new-borns were questioned by the police, as indeed was Octavius’s wife. None could offer any information that caste the slightest light on the situation.
This all happened several months ago, and the police are no closer to solving the mystery and making an arrest. The closed beach has subsequently reopened, and parishioners seem to rejoice in the appointment of the new vicar whose homilies are considerably shorter than those once offered by the late Reverend Octavius Snickenbough. Rather fortuitously, the new vicar has his own house, so Mrs. Snickenbough is more than welcome to continue to live in the old vicarage. After all, why should it remain empty when it is warm and welcoming, and suitable enough for a lone widow to live comfortably? The potbellied stove in the kitchen is a little old-fashioned but Mrs. Snickenbough doesn’t mind that – once she gets a new tomahawk to split the kindling.
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