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"The Par-Tee Crasher"

adapted from: "The Case of the Fast Getaway." Miller, Marvin.  You Be the Jury.  Illustrator, Bob Roper.  New York:  Scholastic, 1987, pp. 46-53.

Par-Tee's Crime Report

Frank Carson's Criminal Record

Exhibit A Exhibit B Exhibit C

Click on the links/thumbnails to see the full-size pictures.

 
On Friday morning, Oct. 23, Par-Tee, Inc., a distributor of party novelties and supplies, was robbed.  The company safe, containing $4000 in cash, was cleared out.  Glinda Harris, the office manager, filed her police report that morning:
 

I arrived at our office on the fifth floor of Glendale Plaza at 8 o’clock in the morning.  I got there early because I like to have time alone to prepare the office for the day.  As soon as I arrived I went to open the safe.  After I opened the safe, I suddenly heard someone rattling the knob of the office door.  I thought it was Gerry Johnson, the owner, having trouble with his key again, so I opened the door.

At the door was a man about six feet tall, wearing a bulky blue jacket.  He was holding a huge knife and had a yellow paper party hat pulled down over part of his face.  He grabbed my arm and told me not to scream.  He dragged me over to that waterpipe coming out of the wall, and then he handcuffed my left arm to it.  The robber emptied the safe and stuffed the money into a paper trick-or-treat bag.  He dropped the knife and fled.  I saw him drive off in a green and white sports car.

Glinda Harris was found handcuffed to the pipe by another employee at 8:45 am.
 
Police recovered the knife at the scene of the crime and had it analyzed.  There were no fingerprints on it.  However, the name “Cutter” was branded into the handle of the knife.  Police visited a local shop, Cutters’ Cutlery, and asked about the knife.  A salesperson remembered a short, dark man coming into the store a week or two ago and buying the Cutters’ Special, a set of knives that was the only set that included the kind of knife the police were asking about.  The clerk said, “The man, whose name was something like Jordan or Johnston, said that he was buying the set of knives for a good friend of his.”
 
During their investigation, police also talked to Gerald Johnson, the owner of Par-Tee, Inc., to see if he knew of anyone who might have had a motive and an opportunity to rob his company.  Besides himself, Gerald said that only two other people had a key to the office, Glinda Harris and his son, Max.  Max rarely went to the office.  As Gerald put it, “He’d rather gamble away my money than earn any for himself.”  Gerald had given his son the key and a position at the company because he hoped that giving his son some responsibility would help settle him down.  Glinda Harris has a key because “she is an integral and trustworthy member of the company.”
 
The police did a background check on Max Johnson.  He was a short, dark-haired man with brown eyes.  He drove a Harley Davidson motorcycle.  At the age of 28, he had accumulated a number of substantial gambling debts, but each time he got into a jam, his father managed to bail him out.  The last time Max approached his father for help was two weeks ago.  They had gotten into a shouting argument overheard by Maria Sanchez, another Par-Tee, Inc. employee.  Maria told police that Max said he owed a bookie over $3000.  Gerald Johnson refused to bail his son out and said that if Max was going to get out of this mess, he’d have to do it by himself.  “At that point, I heard Max say that his father would be sorry.  If he didn’t get help from his father one way, then Max said he’d find another.”
 
Although he had the best motive, Max did not fit Glinda’s description of the robber, and police could not place Max at the scene of the crime.  The night before the robbery he had come by the office asking to see his father.  Gerald Johnson had already left, but Max stayed around and talked to Glinda.  Maria Sanchez and a co-worker left Glinda and Max around 6 o’clock.  Glinda Harris told police that they talked about the company; she said that Max had decided to really start working for his father, to give up gambling, and he wanted to know how the business was doing.  Max confirmed that information telling police he was “willing to go straight and earn the money needed to pay back his debts.”  At 6:45 that night, Glinda and Max left the office together and went out to a bar for a drink.
 
At the bar, Glinda and Max continued to talk.  Joseph Montero, the bartender there that night, told police that he only served Max and Glinda one round of drinks, but the couple talked for hours.  “They seemed to be going over some papers from that company across the way, Par-Tee I think it’s called,” Montero informed police.  “Before she [Glinda] left, Max gave her a present.  It was funny—she didn’t open it.  Then she kissed him hard and left.”

 

When asked about their time at the bar, Glinda told police that she and Max had gone over some company figures so Max would be well informed.  “The present,” Glinda said, “Was just a token of Max’s appreciation for my help.  I think I gave him a peck on the cheek in thanks for the chocolates and left.”  Glinda left the bar at 9 pm, but Max stayed until midnight to play pool with some friends.
 
Police questioned one of the friends, Jim Wilson, who played pool with Max all night.  Jim said that Max was considering selling his motorcycle and was wondering if Jim was interested in it.  Jim told police that they made an appointment to meet at eight the next morning.  Jim said that he met Max outside Max’s apartment right at 8 o’clock, and he stayed with Max for half an hour discussing the condition and price of the bike.  Max did not sell the bike.
 

Two days after the robbery, a man identified as Frank Carson was stopped while traveling 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.  His facial features, clothes, and car were similar to those described by Glinda Harris.  Police brought Carson in for questioning and obtained a warrant to search him and his car.  The police found $800 hidden in his left shoe.  They also found a notice in his car that he owed his bank $1000.  Carson did not have an alibi for his whereabouts on October 23.  Further investigation by the police turned up Carson’s criminal record.  On two earlier occasions, he was tried for armed robbery.  In light of his record, no alibi, the $800, and Glinda’s description, police arrested Frank Carson.

 

The only other piece of evidence uncovered by the police was a telephone record.  A call was placed from Max’s apartment to the Par-Tee office at 8:38 on the morning of the robbery.  When asked about the call, Max said, “Oh, I just called Glinda to ask if I should come into work that day or give my dad time to get used to having me around.  She said to wait.”