Well, sod it. I have analyzed the fingerprints from the weapon and a suspicion that Mr. Quixote had about Mr. Mann – or, as I should call him now, Kenneth Tripky – was correct. It was Tripky who took the shot, and it was the military man Jeffrey Hope who helped cover up the murder by closing the window. I would have been less surprised by this discover thinking of Hope only as a soldier or soldier prospect and had not seen the considerable nervous behavior that he displayed when the police were moving in to arrest him.
And to whom it concerns (perhaps you, Sicon112?) I had the rifle identified by the ballistics expert as a M1903 Bolt-Action Springfield Rifle with a .30-06 caliber cartridge, fitted with a scope and suppressor. Apparently this weapon was registered for drilling and training use by military recruits, but it was stolen by Jeffrey Hope in the interest of committing this murder. I had a great argument with the ballistics expert on the scene as to whether or not I was correct to call this weapon a “sniper rifle”, though perhaps I would have done well not to question the expert. In agitation we both agreed to look up the weapon, and we found that indeed the weapon was used as a sniping as late as the Second World War. The Ballistics Expert conceded that this made it a ‘sniper rifle’ “if you’re from 1945 or something.” Though I wasn’t keen to announce it, I believe that, for a man from the 1890′s, this ought to mean I was correct in my way, while the expert may have been also.
As to the motive, it seems to be little more than considerable love scorn by two men. Kenneth Tripky, an unsavory criminal and exploiter of women who had a record in the cities of Salem and Portland in the state of Oregon (just south of Washington), appears to have been borne with diabolical, perhaps hereditary tendencies, and for him killing Tara seemed as much about defending his personal ego as to get his base revenge. A considerable manipulator, he managed to convince the normally peaceful but emotionally unstable weak-willed soldier Jeffrey Hope. Given his words to me in the parking lot, I believe that Hope may have tried to be the shooter because of his relative expertise but was too timid and guilt-ridden a personality; therefore Mann intervened to take the shot, despite interference from his left-handedness. He used a cellular phone he purchased in Oregon and used as his “business” contact locally to alert Tara enough to get her to open the window in order to take a shot.
Tripky is still at large, but his door is closing quickly. Mr. Quixote has had a tip about the location of Tripky; I offered to give this information to the police, but he related to me that this was his fight to finish, and I was in no position to stop him. Even if I could involve myself in his fight I am already packing to a new case in Denver, Colorado; my flight leaves tomorrow afternoon.
Poor old doter. Though I have found multiple aspects of his… style to be quite irritating and straining to my method, he did add a little panache to the investigation. And after all, it was a welcome change to do my method with a companion after so many cases done without cohort. Perhaps I will do so again in the future.
I will see you again in Denver.
P.S. The remaining loose end of this mystery for me is the identity and intention of this ‘Deanna’. Yet as far as I am concerned I will have to leave it as remains – a non-issue for now. Any future concerns I take to be dealt with by Don Quixote in the future.