MALICE IN WONDERLAND

SOLUTION

WARNING -- This page contains the solution to MALICE IN WONDERLAND

followed by the CONCLUSION to the mystery.

 

After reviewing the Quick Start Guide, you should locate and read the Assignment Letter from the FBI.  The Assignment Letter will instruct you on how to proceed with your investigation. It will also identify the key document that you will follow as a road map through the case: the Investigation Field Notes written by Special Agent Ainsley Pike. The Assignment Letter advises you to first review and catalogue the items in your box and then read the Forrest City Observer to obtain an overview of the crimes and the necessary background information.  

 

Next, use the Investigation Field Notes to guide you.  The first section titled “BACKGROUND” suggests that you study the FBI profile of the Mad Hatter. It also reminds you to review the information in the Forrest City Observer about the Mad Hatter and the murders.

 

THE MURDER OF DANICA HALL

 

The next section in the Investigation Field Notes addresses the murder of Danica Hall. It suggests that you should study the Homicide Report, Autopsy Report and the strange document found at the crime scene. By studying these items, you should be able to answer the questions presented:

 

1.   What was the cause of Danica Hall’s death?

 

2.   What clue can be discerned from the page found at the crime scene with the white rabbit on the front?

3.   What fundamental assumption made about Danica Hall’s murder appears to be incorrect?

 

The answers to those questions are as follows:

 

What was the cause of Danica Hall’s death?  

 

By reviewing the Autopsy Report, we can discover several findings that allow us to determine the cause of death.  Notably, there was no damage to Hall’s ears or ear drums.  That tells us that she was not killed in the same manner as the three prior victims from 2016 — a hat pin through the ear canal.  

 

The abnormal findings in the Autopsy Report give us the information we need to determine the cause of death. Those findings were: (1) there is congestion of the viscera and edema of the lungs; (2) all of the vessels of the body, including the veins, contain arterial blood, (3) the mucosa of the stomach and intestines is red and congested, and (4) there is some blood-stained froth in the trachea. You must conduct your own internet research to determine what would cause all of these abnormal findings.  The answer is poisoning by potassium cyanide.

 

What clue can be discerned from the page found at the crime scene with the white rabbit on the front?

 

The page contains a coded message from the killer.  On the front of the page are two sequences of numbers.  On the back of the page is an excerpt of text from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. To reveal the coded message, use the numbers in conjunction with the text on the back. To begin solving the puzzle, take the first number (18) and count over 18 letters in the text on the back. You will land on the letter “T.”  Then take the second number (25) and count over 25 letters from the T to the next letter in the message: “H.”  Continue this process to decode the message from the killer. However, there a couple of twists and turns that you must master along the way. When you have finally solved the puzzle, it will read: THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM.

 

What fundamental assumption made about Danica Hall’s murder appears to be incorrect?  

 

The assumption that the Mad Hatter was responsible for the killing appears to be wrong.  The Mad Hatter’s prior killings were all done with a hat pin inserted into the ear canal causing sharp force trauma to the brain resulting in death.  Additionally, all of his prior victims were dressed by the Mad Hatter in costumes from the Alice in Wonderland stories.  We know from the FBI’s profile of the Mad Hatter that he is obsessive and meticulous. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that he would change the methodology of his murders and the staging of the victims at his crime scenes in such drastic ways.  It is therefore highly likely that the murder of Danica Hall was committed by another perpetrator.

 

THE MURDER OF HARPER TILLMAN

 

The next section in the Investigation Field Notes addresses the murder of Harper Tillman. It suggests that you should study the Homicide Report, Crime Scene Diagram, the Trace Evidence Report, and the Email from the Medical Examiner.  By studying these items, you should be able to answer the questions presented:

 

1.   How did Harper Tillman die?

 

2.    What is the significance of the findings about the DNA sample in the Trace Evidence Report?

 

The answers to those questions are as follows: 

 

How did Harper Tillman die?

 

From the email from the Medical Examiner, we can first conclude that Tillman was not killed by a hat pin being inserted into her ear since there is no indication of trauma to the ear or eardrum. The abnormal findings listed in the metal point to a different cause of death.  Those pertinent abnormal findings are:

 

Blood-flecked saliva in mouth and throat

White coating on tongue

Lining of stomach inflamed and ulcerated

Hepatic necrosis

Diffuse capillary leakage 

 

These findings give us the information we need to determine the cause of death: poisoning by arsenic.  The abrasion to her right palm and bruising to her upper chest noted in the medical examiner’s notes, as well as the condition of her bedroom as reported in the Homicide Report and the Crime Scene Diagram, tell us that she likely collapsed after drinking the poison from a glass a vodka and cranberry juice, falling against her nightstand and then to the floor where she died.

 

What is the significance of the findings about the DNA sample in the Trace Evidence Report?

    

Two important conclusions can be drawn from the Trace Evidence Report. First, the DNA analysis indicates that the chromosomes in the sample were all XX chromosomes.  The report further concludes that the DNA sample was almost certainly from the killer.  This means that the killer is almost certainly female.  

Second, the chromosomes from the killer’s DNA all contained a genetic variant that coded the enzyme monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA).  If you conduct your own internet research, you will determine that this genetic variant is linked to violent behavior. The genetic variant in the killer’s DNA is one of several genes that has been linked by scientists to violence and psychopathic behaviors.

THE MURDER OF MARY ANN MOSS

 

The next section in the Investigation Field Notes addresses the murder of Mary Ann Moss. It suggests that you should study the Homicide Report, the Interview Report for John Lang, and the Security Log for the Whittington Building.

 

By studying these items, you should be able to answer the questions presented:

 

1.   The document left behind at the crime scene that reads TAKE ME seems very similar to items at the other two crime scenes.  What can be discerned from studying these three items?

 

2.     Everyone who entered the Whittington Building on the day that Moss was killed was required to sign in at the security desk.  Who can be placed on a list of possible suspects? 

 

The answers to those questions are as follows: 

 

The document left behind at the crime scene that reads TAKE ME seems very similar to items at the other two crime scenes.  What can be discerned from studying these three items?

 

You must view the three separate items together to solve this puzzle.  The text on the back of the TAKE ME page yields a clue as to how to make sense of the three items.  On each one is a set of numbers.  If you place the numbers from each item in order, they make a 10 digit sequence.  It’s a phone number.  Call the number to reveal a message from the killer.        

 

Everyone who entered the Whittington Building on the day that Moss was killed was required to sign in at the security desk.  Who can be placed on a list of possible suspects? 

 

The killer must have been present in the Whittington Building on the day that Mary Mass Moss died to place the TAKE ME document and the oversized playing card near the body.  Since everyone who entered the building signed in on the security log, the killer’s name (or their alias) must be listed.

 

We know from the DNA sample that the killer must be female.  Therefore, we can exclude the males from our list of suspects.  The remaining female names give us our suspect list:

 

Dola Sperling

Kacy Davis

Anne Roberti

Hope Taylor    

Michelle Williams

Lily Trimble

Rachel Gonzalez

Evangeline Torella    

Susan King

IDENTIFY THE KILLER

 

The final section in the Investigation Field Notes challenges you to complete the investigation by answering the following three questions:

 

1.  What connection did each of the three victims (Danica Hall, Harper Tillman and Mary Ann Moss) have to the previous Mad Hatter killings in 2016?

 

2.  Who killed Danica Hall, Harper Tillman and Mary Ann Moss?

 

3.  What is the killer’s true identity?

 

The answers to those questions are as follows: 

 

What connection did each of the three victims (Danica Hall, Harper Tillman and Mary Ann Moss) have to the previous Mad Hatter killings in 2016?

 

Danica Hall had no apparent connection to the previous Mad Hatter killings.

 

Harper Tillman was the roommate of the Mad Hatter’s third victim in 2016, Riley Cooper.  Tillman discovered Cooper’s body. 

 

Mary Ann Moss was the reporter who covered the Mad Hatter’s 2016 killings for the Forrest City Post. She wrote a series of articles about the murders.  The Mad Hatter sent an envelope to Moss containing photographs of victim Riley Cooper and himself.  Additionally, Danielle Igus (who found the body of Mary Ann Moss at the offices of the Forrest City Post) also discovered the body of the Mad Hatter’s second victim in 2016, Carissa Moore.

 

Who killed Danica Hall, Harper Tillman and Mary Ann Moss?

 

From the list of suspects you created who were present at the Whittington Building on the day that Mary Ann Moss was killed, you must eliminate suspects based on the available information until you have deduced the most likely suspect who must be the killer.  

 

Since all three murder scenes contained unusual objects that had Alice in Wonderland themes, it is unlikely that the victims drank or ate the poison that killed them while in the presence of these items.  It is more likely that they were either forced to take the poison or that the items were placed at the crime scenes very soon after the victims died. This indicates that the killer was lurking nearby and waiting. Under either scenario, it is highly likely that the killer would have been present at or near the crime scenes at or near the time of death of each victim.  

 

If you can find evidence that any of the suspects had alibis that placed them elsewhere during the time of any of the three murders, then they could not have been the killer and can be ruled out as suspects. The Forrest City Observer will be most useful to accomplish this part of the investigation.  Information contained in articles in the Observer can help you eliminate suspects as follows:

 

KACY DAVIS can be eliminated as a suspect due to the events that occurred on The Spirit of Savage Bay dinner cruise as reported in the Forrest City Observer.  The Observer reports on page 6 that Kacy Davis saved the life of a fellow passenger on the dinner cruise on Feb. 22 by giving the choking passenger the Heimlich maneuver.  From an advertisement for the dinner cruise on page 4 of the newspaper, we learn that the dinner cruise leaves port at 7:00 each night and the duration of the sailing is four hours. We also know that Harper Tillman was murdered on Feb. 22.  From the Medical Examiner’s Email, we learn that the time of death of Tillman’s murder was between 8:40 pm and 9:10 pm. Since we know that Kacy Davis was aboard the ship for the dinner cruise on Feb. 22, and the cruise lasted from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm, it is not possible that she was present at the murder scene of Harper TIllman around the time that Tillman died. Tillman’s body was discovered by her roommate at 10:45 pm. Although Davis does not have an alibi for the dates and times of the other two murders, she does have an alibi for the murder of Harper Tillman.  It is therefore very unlikely that she could be the killer.

 

MICHELLE WILLIAMS can be eliminated as a suspect due to her participation in the Forrest City Iron Man competition.  The Forrest City Observer reports on page 2 that Williams won the Iron Man with a total time for the event of 7 hours, 54 minutes and 10 seconds.  If we look to page 4 of the Observer, we learn that the Iron Man event began at 2:30 pm on Feb. 22, the same day that Harper Tillman was murdered.  Since we know that it took Williams almost 8 hours to complete the event, she would not have been finished with the Iron Man competition until after approximately 10:30 pm.  She could not have been present at the murder scene of Harper Tillman around the time that Tillman died on Feb. 22 between 8:40 pm and 9:10 pm. Tillman’s body was discovered by her roommate at 10:45 pm.  Although Williams does not have an alibi for the dates and times of the other two murders, she does have an alibi for the murder of Harper Tillman.  It is therefore very unlikely that she could be the killer.

 

RACHEL GONZALEZ can be eliminated as a suspect due to her participation in a real estate open house.  An article in the Forrest City Observer on page 6 tells us that there was an open house at the Davenport Estate on Feb. 22 from 4:00 until 10:00 pm. The article does not connect the open house to Rachel Gonzalez, but another article on page 2 does.  It states that real estate broker Rachel Gonzalez obtained an exclusive listing for the Davenport estate and  personally hosted an open house at the property “this week.”  Since the article on page 6 states that only one open house has been held for the Davenport estate, Rachel Gonzales must have been present during the open house on Feb. 22 from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm.  She could not have been present at the murder scene of Harper Tillman around the time that Tillman died on Feb. 22 between 8:40 pm and 9:10 pm. Tillman’s body was discovered by her roommate at 10:45 pm.  Although Williams does not have an alibi for the dates and times of the other two murders, she does have an alibi for the murder of Harper Tillman.  It is therefore very unlikely that she could be the killer.

 

EVANGELINE TORELLA also can be ruled out as a suspect.  On page 6 of the Forrest City Observer, we learn that a female firefighter saved Forrest City resident Iskender Faust from a fire in a warehouse in the Harbor District on Feb. 21 at 11:40 pm.  The article does not identify the firefighter. However, on page 2, an Observer article tell us that firefighter Evangeline Torella was presented with a meritorious service award for rescuing Iskender Faust from a recent warehouse fire. Since Torella was on duty at the fire in the warehouse on Feb. 21 at 11:40 pm, she could not have been present at the murder scene of Danica Hall around the time she died between 11:30 and 11:50 pm. It is unlikely that she could be the killer.

DORA SPERLING can be eliminated as a suspect.  An article in the Forrest City Observer indicates that Sperling was the victim of an armed robbery at a hotel in Port St. James on Feb. 19 at 11:30 pm.  She she could not have been present at the murder scene of Danica Hall around the time she died between 11:30 and 11:50 pm. It is unlikely that Sperling is the killer.

LILY TRIMBLE can be ruled out as a suspect due to a mishap at the St. Michael's hot dog eating contest. Trimble choked on a hot dog and was taken to the hospital where she spent the night. Since we know that the contest occurred on Feb. 22 started at 6:00 pm, Trimble could not have been present at the murder scene of Harper Tillman.  It is therefore very unlikely that she is the killer.

HOPE TAYLOR can be eliminated as a suspect because she was in Switzerland on the night that Danica Hall was killed.  The Forrest City Observer confirms that Taylor was giving a speech at a conference in Zurich. Since she could not have been present at the murder scene of Danica Hall, it is unlikely that she is the killer.

SUSAN KING has an alibi and can be ruled out as a suspect.  King gave a violin performance on Feb. 22. Since we know from the Forrest City Observer that the symphony in question began at 8:00 pm on Feb. 22 and lasted over two hours, King could not have been present at the murder of Harper Tillman.  It is very unlikely that she is the killer.

Since we have eliminated all of the suspects except for one, we must conclude that Anne Roberti is the killer.

What is the killer's true identity?

The newspaper article posted online in the Forrest City archive (article 23) gave us a clue.  Read the conclusion to the mystery below to reveal the true identity of the killer.

FROM THE FORREST CITY TRIBUNE --

 

MAD HATTER TAKES REVENGE 

BY W. VAN NOSTRAND

SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR

FORREST CITY -- With the assistance of a consulting investigator, the FBI successfully identified the spree killer that took that lives of Danica Hall, Harper Tillman and Mary Ann Moss. Anne Roberti, who was already under investigation by the Forrest City Police Department as a "Black Widow" who pursued relationships with men for illicit gain, was identified as the person who committed the recent killings in Forrest City that mistakenly had been attributed to the serial killer known as the Mad Hatter. 

       The FBI was conducting a manhunt to locate Anne Roberti and apprehend her when a live video stream was posted online and went viral across social media platforms. In the video, Roberti was seated on a metal chair in an empty warehouse. Her wrists and ankles were handcuffed to the chair. She had been dressed in a costume as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She was semi-conscious and appeared to have bruises on her face and neck.

       As the world watched, the Mad Hatter stepped into view in the live video stream. His skeletal thin body was shirtless and he wore his trademark black hat. He looked closely into the camera, giving everyone watching visual confirmation that he was in fact the Mad Hatter.

      Then the Mad Hatter turned his attention to his captive. He shook her violently by the shoulders and she regained full awareness of her surroundings. Her eyes went wide and she began to struggle against her restraints. She opened her mouth to speak, but the Mad Hatter silenced her with a single finger he waggled back and forth and a vicious glare that was heavy with menace.

     And then he spoke: "We thought you dead. For my entire life, I have believed that fate robbed me of the chance to take revenge on you: my tormentor ... my captor ... my mother."

      Roberti began to struggle anew and cry out for help. The Mad Hatter cuffed her once sharply, then gagged her with a piece of red cloth tied tightly around her head.

      "And now here you are. Killing innocent women and framing your own son for their murder. What was it? Could you not bear that your own detested son had become infamous and feared by everyone in Forrest City? Did the return of the ALICE exhibition to Forrest City awaken those demons that live inside your head?"

      Roberti shook her head from side to side.  

      "You tortured me. You made me what I am. You created the Mad Hatter. But I was just a boy then. Helpless. Unable to fight back. I am no longer a boy."

       The Mad Hatter retrieved a long hat pin from a nearby table and showed it to the camera. On one end was an intricately carved piece of jade depicting a rabbit. The other end was tapered to a sharp point. It was eight inches long. Then he showed it to his mother.

        Roberti, the Queen of Hearts, grew frantic. The Mad Hatter took a fistful of her hair and yanked her head up. Then he took the hat pin, twirled it between his fingers for a moment, and held it at the entrance to her right ear canal. 

     The Mad Hatter looked directly at the camera, smiled broadly, and then shoved the hat pin home, forcing it inside her ear until it would go no further. Roberti's body shook violently. And then she became still. The life fled from her eyes.

     The Mad Hatter turned away from his mother's corpse. His face was an inscrutable mask. He looked once more into the camera, and then he was gone.