Jody Baker: Inspector Baynes Requests Help On Adventure Of The Empty House

Sunday, November 4, 2012 - by Jody Baker

Ronald Adair was murdered on March 30, 1894, between 10-11:20 p.m.  

“His head had been horribly mutilated by an expanding revolver bullet, but no weapon of any sort was to be found in the room.”[EMPT]

It didn’t take long for the very perspicacious Sherlock Holmes to know, from reading news accounts, that the murderer was Col. Sebastian Moran, now the most dangerous man in London. Holmes returned from a three-year tour of the continents and set an elaborate trap to capture and prosecute his arch enemy, Moran.

Holmes set a wax dummy of his torso in the window of 221b Baker Street. Then, having baited their trap, Holmes with Watson  took up station directly across Baker Street in Camden House which was vacant at the time. With Lestrade out of sight but within whistle-distance, they awaited their prey.  Moran appeared armed with a custom-made air-gun loaded with soft-nose (or hollow nose) expanding bullets.

From Camden House, Moran  fired through an open window, and the shot struck the head of the wax figure of Holmes. Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes subdued the perpetrator, and the whistle was blown.  Lestrade and others burst in and took Moran into official police custody. Holmes asked what charges Lestrade intended to prefer. 

"What charge, sir? Why, of course, the attempted murder of Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

 "Not so, Lestrade. I do not propose to appear in the matter at all. ….Yes, Lestrade, I congratulate you! With your usual happy mixture of cunning and audacity, you have got him." 

"Got him! Got whom, Mr. Holmes?"

"The man that the whole force has been seeking in vain --  Colonel Sebastian Moran, who shot the Honourable Ronal Adair with an expanding bullet from an air-gun ….That's the charge, Lestrade.” 

Holmes and Watson then retired to their quarters at 221b, the scene of critical evidence. 

Holmes said to Mrs. Hudson: "Excellent. You carried the thing out very well. Did you observe where the bullet went?"

Mrs. Hudson replied: "Yes, sir. I'm afraid it has spoilt your beautiful bust, for it passed right through the head and flattened itself on the wall. I picked it up from the carpet. Here it is!" 

Later Holmes was explaining to Watson the solution to the crime, “There was not a doubt of it. The bullets alone are enough to put his head in a noose.”

Now, when Holmes makes a statement, he stands by it. Nothing wishy-washy about this man, no sir. Not this man of iron will. When Holmes said – “I do not propose to appear in the matter at all” -- neither he nor Watson will be involved. They will distance themselves entirely from the case. It’s Lestrade’s ball. Let him run with it. 

MY REQUEST FOR HELP AND SERIOUS QUESTION IS THIS: If Holmes and Watson do not testify for the prosecution, how does Lestrade prove Moran guilty of the murder Ronald Adair?

1. Holmes and Watson are the only witnesses who saw Moran fire the air gun into 221b. 

2. Holmes (or Watson) is the essential link in the chain of custody of the flattened slug that went through the head of the dummy and hit the wall of 221b. 

3. Lestrade could visit Mrs. Hudson and retrieve the remnants of the soft-nose bullet that had expanded upon hitting the wax figure and flattened upon hitting the wall.  

4. What good would that do?  Forensic ballistic experts can match the striations on a bullet to the rifling in the bore of a weapon. [A Von Herder custom-built special was sure to have rifling as does a Crossman 2100 Classic of today.]  It is highly unlikely that a soft-nosed bullet that had mutilated the head of Ronald Adair and mushroomed would retain any striations that could be matched with the rifling in the bore of the air gun found in the hands of Col Sebastian Moran.  

SO HOW DOES LESTRADE PROVE HIS CASE AGAINST MORAN? 

Fellow Sherlockians, the old Inspector is in a jam and really needs your help. Any help will be greatly appreciated by a guy that may be called upon to answer questions during a discussion soon.

Respectfully Yours,  

Insp. Baynes


(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at josiahbaker@bkhcw.com.)


Roy Exum: Look At My April Garden

On this April Fool’s Day, as I take my monthly stroll through my virtual garden, there are gorgeous flowers and there are weeds, which appear to be trying harder than the flowers. So let’s see what we find before searching for “The Prize Egg” on Sunday. A FLOWER to the New York cab driver who told a young writer, “Always remember that everyone you meet knows something that you ... (click for more)

Easter Sunday Is Victory Day For Christians

Easter Sunday is a Christian's day of celebration.  We will not be denied our day of victory for the sake of political correctness.  We may be suppressed and labeled as fanatical and offensive, and we may be denied our freedom to openly express our faith but one thing we cannot be denied; the reality of an empty tomb.     He lives!   While others ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Detective Karl Fields Terminated On Code Of Conduct Charges

Karl Fields, former Chattanooga Police detective, was terminated on Wednesday on code of conduct charges. The Chattanooga Police Department said it received a correspondence from the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office o n Sept. 4, 2014,  informing it of allegations of inappropriate behavior committed by a CPD investigator during the course of a rape investigation. ... (click for more)

Autopsy Says 5-Year-Old Whitwell Boy Died Of Blunt Force Trauma

An autopsy on five-year-old Lucas Dillon of Whitwell says he died of blunt force trauma. The TBI is investigating the death, which is being treated as a homicide. The child, who lived on Jewell Lane Road, was injured on Saturday and died in a hospital on Monday. Lucas was a student at Whitwell Head Start. (click for more)

'Canes Edge Mustangs On Cox's Game-Winner In 7th

  Maybe it was just East Hamilton’s turn to win a tight game. After dropping 5-4 and 2-1 decisions to District 5-AAA rivals Bradley Central and McMinn County, respectively, the Hurricanes weren’t about to lose their third straight one-run decision in league play on Tuesday. So, Kyle Cox and Matt Milita, two of the team’s five seniors, decided to do something about ... (click for more)

Central Scores Early, Hangs On To Beat Red Bank, 7-6

Central baseball coach Glen Carter could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His Purple Pounders had bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings of Monday's 6-AA skirmish with the Red Bank Lions and things were looking pretty good for those guys in purple. But it all came down to Red Bank's final at-bat.  The Lions sent eight hitters to the plate and scored ... (click for more)