Anna Tietam said “No” – A Deviled Yeggs Mystery

I’m Lieutenant Deviled Yeggs.  I work homicide in the big city of Tracy.  Working for me are my old partners: Detective Sgt. Jim Wednesday and Detective Poached Yeggs, my nephew who is slowly becoming a good detective.

It seemed to be a complicated case of affluenza, but I am getting ahead of myself.

It turns out that my son, Easter Yeggs, knew something was wrong with Anna Tietam, pronounced “Tea’ tum,” long before we got called into the case.  She had called Dr. Kildare to let him know she was throwing up and she could not go to the airport to take Mary Sheltie’s place.  Dr. Kildare insisted that she go to the Medical Center.  After running a variety of tests, they ruled out just about every form of food poisoning and stomach viruses.  Anna Tietam had been poisoned, a slow acting poison, but one that took her life.  By the time it was isolated, the damage to her digestive system was too great.

What we immediately picked up was the fact that Anna Tietam had sworn a complaint about Geoffrey Hammer.  She charged Geoffrey with rape.  In Geoffrey’s defense, he produced a video of the encounter, which basically sealed his fate.  Anna was running low on funds, and she heard that Geoffrey had a house that was low rent and in some cases no rent at all.  That’s all she knew.  The video showed the entire encounter.  She offered to do the cleaning of the house, the laundry, etc., but Geoffrey insisted that the only rent-free boarders were part of his harem, even though his harem time was limited since his college duties took him out of town.  Anna immediately said that she had been misled and she would leave.  Then Geoffrey dropped his pants.  The size of what she saw frightened her and she started saying “no” repeatedly as he disrobed her and raped her.  Geoffrey either thought that her initial interest was a “Yes” and she knew what that “Yes” meant, or he thought that he was a member of an affluent family and he could get away with anything and claim affluenza.  What we saw on the video was horrific.  Geoffrey was definitely deranged.  And what Easter had reported about him seemed to confirm that.

But that did not mean that Geoffrey killed the young lady.  And since Easter and Jemima both knew the girl, I wanted this one solved.  I sent Jim to the dorm to figure out what she had eaten the night before she died.  Interview friends.  That sort of thing.  Poached went to the family’s home about two hours away to interview people Anna grew up with.  I texted Dr. Quinn, Jemima, and Poached.  I got more back than I thought I would about young Anna Tietam.  I got a video that Mary Sheltie was going to submit to her broadcasting professor as a “In Memorium” piece.

“This is Mary Sheltie, reporting from the field, a member of the T.R.U.S.T. Storm Chaser Two team.  We report to you today with heavy hearts.  My temporary stay was supposed to be over.  Anna Tietam was supposed to be in this very spot, but she has passed away, just before her twentieth birthday.  Our team all knew Anna.  Dr. Quinn, our faculty team member, called Anna the best analytical mind she had ever seen.  Our driver, Easter Yeggs, and the person behind the camera, Jemima Lucado, had a few classes with her.  They say that Anna was quiet, mostly staying in the computer lab, but they both had befriended her.  I only met her once, but there was a powerful connection there.  She will be sorely missed.“  Then a photo that I thought was familiar came onto the screen of Anna Tietam.  I had no idea that I had met the girl.  As the photo revealed what had been the full picture, it showed Jemima and Mary with their arms around Anna in the middle.  While Jemima and Mary were a little over average height, Anna was tiny.  The other two had leaned into the photo.  The video then switched to a tornado.  Mary continued, “This tornado tore through a few fields earlier today.  It did nothing but throw dirt around, but it would have been Anna’s first storm to chase.  Anna, if you are looking down from Heaven, this one is for you.”

The photo bugged me.  I looked online to find photos of meteorological students and it popped up.  It was from an article in the school newspaper entitled “Three to Watch.”  Jemima was meteorology’s shining star for photography.  Just a freshman (at the time) and she had already sold more money shots to television networks than any graduated meteorologist had while at the school.  Mary was thought to be the best television personality, and maybe a little humble since she avoided mentioning what the photo was about.  And Dr. Quinn’s comment about analysis was in the article regarding Anna.  Dr. Quinn felt that her expertise in the math models might drastically improve the accuracy and agreement among models, but more importantly, improve the speed.  More model runs means more useful information in predicting the weather, and in the end, more lives saved.  All those hopes were now gone.  All that potential would never flourish.

When I looked up from the photo, remembering I had been there when the three were interviewed, just visiting Easter that day, I looked up to see Gisele enter with the autopsy report.  They did not have the poison specifically identified, but they had the class, and it was probably used in herbicides.  The report noted that Anna was pregnant.  Was she sexually active?  Was the rape the cause?

Then I noticed that I had texts from all four storm chasing teammates.  Easter, Jemima, and Mary all had glowing things to say about their friend, but since I had asked for painful honesty, they all said that she was not just small in stature, she was mousy.  Dr. Quinn danced around the mousy, but her description said the same thing.  She and Jemima said that they thought Anna might be a bit naïve.  Anna had been on Jemima’s floor in the dorm and Dr. Quinn had spent a lot of time with her.  Easter, other than sharing classes, only knew her as a friend of Jemima’s.  Unless you hung out at the computer lab or you had a class with her, you might not know Anna existed.  She had no social life and as far as the four storm chasers’ recollections, no boyfriends.

Poached got back late in the day and said about the same thing.  He found the parents and several friends who were willing to talk.  No boyfriend back home.  She had been writing computer programs for years, and her high school teachers said she would go far in the field.

Jim came in the next morning, he had found paydirt at the dorm. To get easier access to the dorm, Tuesday took the day off to help him with the interviews and go where the dorm monitor would not let Jim go unless escorted.  To combine the interviews into one story, the dorm monitor noticed a woman, maybe the age to be a mother of a student, had a meal warming cart and she was looking at the girls that approached the dorm, ignoring most of them.  When the crowd that contained Anna walked in, she jumped up and offered them free meals for supper.  She mentioned a charity, but the dorm monitor did not catch it.  She would have remembered the charity if she had ever heard of it before.  Meals of that nature were common, especially in the freshman/sophomore dorm.  Anna was among those that grabbed a meal, thanking the lady.  No one responded as if they knew the woman.  In interviewing the girls who grabbed the meals, eating them, not having any ill effects, Anna was in the first half of those getting meals.  They did not seem to notice any sleight of hand so that Anna got a specific container.  Anna’s roommate confirmed that she ate that meal and threw the container in the trash.  It was removed before the thought of poison was ever mentioned.  Her fork had tested positive for the poison.  She must not have washed it before getting sick.

We put our thinking caps on.  The lady could have acted alone.  She might have killed Anna as a random killing.  If so, we might get more murders.  But who knew Anna who was about twenty years or so older than she was?  In all our investigations, no one fit the bill.  And a woman seemed to eliminate Geoffrey.

I sent Poached to the computer lab.  He found that Anna had sent the non-verbal message to the other programmers that she was married to science and programming and she was not in the market for any dating.  It was a sore subject among the programmers.  They did not socialize well with non-programmers and here was an eligible girl who did not date at all.  Jim got the same story from the roommate and a few other dorm friends.

The next day, Poached asked, “Lieutenant, can I speak to you as nephew to uncle for a change?”

I replied, “You have been disrespectful to no end talking to the duly promoted lieutenant, so why not?  Let’s try a change of pace?  Or is it the same thing with new labels?”

Poached shrugged, “Whatever?!  You have been on me to not have tunnel vision.  I take one suspect and run him or her into the ground and then when that doesn’t work, I have lost time developing a case against anyone else.  But, Uncle Deviled, have you not done the opposite?  We have a prime suspect, and we are letting him slip through our fingers.”

I shook my head. “Poached, your problem is that you see the ease in which I work and you think I am not working.  I give you assignments because that is part of my job.  So I disagree with your characterization that we are not investigating Geoffrey Hammer.  I e-mailed Dr. Kildare and Geoffrey was in town a week prior to the poisoning, but he was gone the week of the poisoning.  He might have purchased the poison, but I doubt if he could have made the food, poisoned it, and kept it sitting around for a week.  Second, the M.E. gave me a call.  Anna was roughly eight weeks pregnant, and DNA is possible for the unborn eight weeks after conception.  Geoffrey Hammer is the father.  And are you forgetting that the person who physically poisoned Anna was a female, maybe mid-30s to mid-40s, the motherly type.”

I continued, “And another thing, if Geoffrey gets male enhancement drugs, who does he get them from.  His mother was a nurse.  It could be his father.  What do we know on the family?”

Poached said, “Nick Hammer was a sales manager for an engineering company.  He was paid a minimal salary, but he made a 1% commission.  That might not sound like much, but he sold pieces of equipment from $5 million to $20 million.  For several years the economy was good, and he sold a lot.  They bought a house in the rich part of town, just before the economy went in the toilet.  Companies do not buy huge high-end pieces of equipment when times are hard, so times got really hard for the Hammers.  He had his minimal salary and Nora Hammer was a nurse in orthopedics.  An artificial body parts salesman recruited Nora as the region’s salesman.  It seemed his area was too large, and he let her have Tracy.  Just in one orthopedic group alone, she made a couple of million dollars the first year in commissions for artificial knees and hips. She had out earned her husband in the first year of her new job tenfold.”

Jim added, “They already had Geoffrey at this point.  With their newfound wealth, they started taking vacations in Mexico.  They bought a home, really a plantation, down there, but Geoffrey did not go down there until his sixteenth birthday, taking a male friend with him.”

I thought over this.  There were too many questions.  I offered, “We need more information on Nick Hammer and his wife Nora.  Nick seems to have gotten into this male enhancement thing and then got Geoffrey involved.  I see two big reasons to want to do that.  The man is inadequate without it, or they feel inadequate due to external forces.  We need to know if they had problems getting pregnant with Geoffrey.  He is an only child.  Beyond that, if he felt threatened by his wife making tenfold what he made in his best years, did that mean he lost his ‘man card?’  With the psychological dynamics of those three, we might learn more about which one is the most unhinged.  Jim, talk to neighbors.  See if you can find a nosy neighbor that is talkative.  Gossip is fine here.  We are looking for patterns.  Poached, find out who Geoffrey’s friend was that went to Mexico.  If that was a one-time shot, he might be willing to brag.  Don’t identify as a police officer.  You aren’t much older.  Maybe talk about you needing male enhancement.”

“That would hurt my street cred, Lieutenant!”

“Then go undercover with a fake ID.  Think outside the box, Poached!”

Jim immediately hit paydirt.  The woman that had been Geoffrey’s babysitter when Nick and Nora went to Mexico was very chatty.  Geoffrey was almost a miracle child.  Nick was unable to perform his duties in bed.  They used the prescription medicine available in the USA, and the results were marginally better.  They realized it had taken so much just to get her pregnant, it might never happen again.  She had her tubes tied.  One child was enough.  Then, the gossip part was that she heard that Nick was introduced to the male enhancement drugs by their live-in maid in Mexico.  Nora was out walking along the beach and Nick took the chewable medicine.   When Nora came back to the house, the maid and Nick were in bed and she joined them once she saw what the medicine had done.  That was odd, considering the years of frustration and finally he is performing, but with another woman.  From that moment on, they officially had an open marriage, inviting friends and potential clients to the house in Mexico, sharing some medicine and sharing some partners or hiring a few ladies off the streets.  They even started doing the orgies back home in Tracy.  Nick retired early and made his steady income the smuggling of male enhancement drugs out of Mexico.  Stronger than the USA equivalent, but with some strange side effects, kind of like taking an acid trip.  And after a while, it becomes habit forming.  Some may be just the rush of what you are doing, but it could be the side effects develop into an addiction.  Of course, as a Christian, you have to wonder that the sin that is involve eats at the soul to where the illegal drugs become the most important thing in life.

Poached came back the next day with a detailed story of how Geoffrey’s friend lost his virginity.  He’d taken the medicine only one time and was not hooked, but he had a wild story to tell.

We created a “mug shot” book for the dorm monitor to look through.  Casual photos were used instead of mug shots.  Blended with our usual photos, we had a few ladies from Lily the Pink in there, the members of Geoffrey’s harem (although too young), the local orgy participants that Jim had identified, and Nora Hammer.  The dorm monitor pointed to Nora.  Without a doubt, that was her.  Jim found a few of the girls in the dorm who had eaten the non-poisonous food and a couple identified Nora.  The others were not too sure, but they lingered on Nora’s picture.  But they admitted that they focused on free food more than the face of the person handing it out.

When we brought Nora Hammer in for questioning, she did not know what we had.  She denied everything, but then we showed a security camera clip that spotted her near Anna’s dorm.  Once we knew who to look for, we found her.  We had the dorm manager’s facial recognition.  And we thought the motive was to protect her son.  Once we told her what we had, she confessed.  Her motive however was the first step in getting rid of Geoffrey, too.  He was an embarrassment.  Odd, I thought Nick and Nora’s behavior would be embarrassing, but Geoffrey got caught.  Charged for rape was the embarrassment.  She took full credit for the plan and execution.  We could not extend the net to include her husband.  For most of their married lives, it seemed it was just two people who lived in a house together, but then again, I have my relationship with Glyce to compare.  As I see it, most marriages don’t add up to what we have.

And as for Geoffrey, he escaped the rape charge levied by Anna Tietam.  He escaped the murder that was being planned by his own mother.  But he did not escape the wrath of Dr. Kildare.  Dr. Kildare was one of the more conservative department heads.  He removed Geoffrey from Storm Chaser One.  He removed his graduate assistant status.  With Nick Hammer having to earn own his own through his illegal male enhancement business (illegal since the drugs were not approved for use in the USA, smuggled across the border, and the sales were never reported as earned income), Nick had to cut back on donations.  After this semester, Geoffrey will no longer be a graduate student and he would not have a job.  He could flip burgers or become a porn star like he always wanted.  I had little hope for dear Geoffrey Hammer, and I think that the Turtle crew would love to see him go, also.


I used Geoffrey in a couple of previous Easter and Jemima Adventures.  In giving him the last name of Hammer, could it be a reference to Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer?  But no, if the last name was Hammett, then it makes sense that Geoffrey’s parents are Nick and Nora, as in Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man.  Or maybe it is all of those rolled into one.

As for the male enhancement drugs, I have been inundated with advertisements through e-mails and downloaded puzzle games on the tablet that pertain to male enhancement.  I cannot believe that these gummies do what they say that they do.  I have reported many as sexually inappropriate, but it seems they simply change their e-mail address and continue sending out the e-mails.  I think I get them due to my age and being male.

But as for the connection to Mexico, I went on a business trip to a steel making city in northern Mexico.  I had business with one group of people while the others on the trip met with a different group.  When we got together at the end of the day, the other guys insisted on stopping by a pharmacy.  They had heard about this “miracle drug” from the people with whom they had worked.  They picked up male enhancement medicines without prescription and supposedly twice as potent as the drugs in the USA.  I never asked them if the pills worked, but I thought I would weave that into the story.

And as for Anna Tietam, I mentioned in a previous story last week that someone at church had pronounced the battlefield in the panhandle of Maryland as being Anna Tietam instead of Antietam.  And this story was then born.

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