Solve-it #027: Lost Weekend – Solution


In the river. She was killed Friday night.

Bryce, with Anna as accomplice.

Anna masqueraded as Tracy in the restaurant.


The motive was only hinted at in the story. Bryce was Tracy’s guardian, responsible for her money until she turned 21. But Bryce had long ago embezzled his sister’s inheritance. As her heir, he realized that murder would be the only way of covering up his crime.

Bryce wanted Tracy to wear her favorite brown dress and hat. That’s because Anna had already purchased duplicates of them. When Tracy opted for the gray outfit, Bryce had no choice but to wing it, hoping no one would recognize the significance of this change.

Bryce had well over an hour to commit his crime. On their way to the restaurant, he made a detour, using his keys to gain entry to the tannery through a little used gate. Once at the pier, he shot Tracy, weighted her body down and dumped it by the drainage pipe. As a tannery owner, Bryce knew about the preserving properties of his waste water. By the time the rope broke and she bobbed to the surface, the chemicals would have sufficiently confused the time of death and given him an alibi.

Anna, who was about the same size and build as Tracy, was waiting outside the gates, disguised in the brown dress and concealing hat. They went to the Amber Grill, a new restaurant where no one knew them.

Anna caused a scene and made sure to exit before their friends arrived. While Anna changed and drove out to the beach house, Bryce stayed in the public eye, giving himself an alibi throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, Anna went food shopping for their guests and used the opportunity to telephone the beach house, preserving the illusion that Tracy was still alive.

This mystery is based on an actual murder in New Jersey in which a polluted river confused the autopsy results just enough to give the killer an alibi. In that case, as in this one, the mistake was eventually realized and the culprit brought to justice.


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