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"The Bloody Dumbbell" by Hy Conrad

Solve-it #302 - Jan 2007

Originally appeared Aug 1998

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The Bloody Dumbbell

Can you solve the mystery?

It was time for publicity photos. The highest-ranking bodybuilders stood side-by-side in the hotel lobby as the flash bars strobed. All four contenders wore tight, bulging T-shirts announcing the "Mr. Galaxy Classic" and tried to look at ease for the reporters and film crews. The one who bulged the most was also the most relaxed. Fritz Unger was fifty pounds heavier than his closest rival, nearly splitting his shirt with the force of his muscles. Fritz had placed first in the pre-judging and was the runaway favorite.

"Don't forget to bring your T-shirts tonight," the contest coordinator whispered to the group. "You'll be signing and auctioning them off for charity."

Fritz Unger nodded and yawned. "I'm going to my room for a nap." Then the huge German stripped off his shirt and hit a few poses. The press went wild.

The three others looked on helplessly as Fritz headed for the elevators. All three were thinking murderous thoughts but only one had a plan. He waited ten minutes, until the press had left. Then he wiped his sweaty palms on his sweat pants and headed for the elevator.

An hour later, a maid found the body. Fritz Unger was laid out on his bed, wearing only a hotel bathrobe and about a gallon of blood. His head had been smashed in with a ten-pound dumbbell.

The police ruled out robbery. The bodybuilder's wallet had been untouched. And all of his clothes seemed to be accounted for: polo shirt, jeans, socks, shoes, sweat pants, sweat shirts, tank tops, underwear-- and six pairs of posing trunks.

When the police knocked on Tony Tilly's door, they had to wait. "I was in the shower," he explained as he toweled off his long blond hair. "I came back here straight from the photo session. I want to look my best when I win."

They found the second finalist also in his room. Don "The Animal" Magnuson invited them in, then went back to washing out a sweater in the sink. "I should've known better than to wear it to dinner last night. It's the only decent thing I brought. When I win, I don't want to be photographed like some muscle bound slob. This cherry stain doesn't look like it's coming out."

The police didn't get to the smallest competitor, Ken Johanson, until just before the finals. He was already dressed to go in his "Mr. Galaxy" T-shirt. "All set," he told the contest coordinator and didn't even notice the detective. "It's time for someone to put Unger in his place," he growled as he straightened the loose-fitting shirt. "You seem upset. What's wrong?"

The detective introduced himself then, for the third time, explained about Fritz Unger's murder. "You don't have to worry, Mr. Johanson. Everything's under control. We know who killed him."

Who killed Fritz Unger?

Tony Tilly
Don Magnuson
Ken Johanson
Not sure

What clue points to the killer?