Sunday Morning Breakfast TableMystery teasers are little stories where you need to figure out what happened based on the given clues.
Detective Bob Smith was out late one night looking for a murder suspect. He had received several tips from witnesses which led him into a vast untamed meadow. After hours of searching for any trace of the suspect, he decided to pack up, and go home.
Detective Smith had been off in search of this particular suspect for two days during which time he did not return home. He knew his wife, who was waiting at home, missed him, so he decided to take a little gift back to her. He just needed to decide what to get her.
While walking back to his truck, he noticed a patch of strikingly beautiful wild flowers in lovely shades of blue and pink. Knowing his wife's passion for fresh cut flowers, he reached into his detective's evidence kit and got out a pair of scissors. He noticed a couple of thorns on a bush next to the flowers, and decided to keep his gloves on to avoid getting pricked by the thorns.
He cut off enough flowers from the patch to enable his wife to make a nice arrangement. He then wrapped several large evidence bags around the flowers so they wouldn't fall apart and walked back to his truck. He placed the wrapped flowers on the seat next to him, and started the long drive home.
Two hours later, he finally arrived home. He laid the flowers on the kitchen table for his wife to find when she got up the next morning. Since the next day was Sunday, he knew that she always prepared a nice breakfast for the two of them and would find the flowers when she went to the kitchen to prepare their breakfast.
Early the next morning, his wife got up and followed her normal Sunday morning routine of briefly tidying up and then she headed for the kitchen to begin preparing breakfast. Upon entering the kitchen, she noticed the flowers, still wrapped in the large evidence bags laying on the table. She went to the cupboard and chose a nice glass vase to arrange the flowers in.
After unwrapping the flowers, she began to cut the ends of the stems on a diagonal slant which would help them to absorb more water, and therefore live longer. She accidentally poked her finger with the tip of the knife resulting in a small cut. She then continued to cut each stem as she wanted to place the finished arrangement on the table as a centerpiece for breakfast.
Since Detective Smith had gotten home at such a late hour and had been working many long hours in his search for the murder suspect, he had decided to sleep in late and had not bothered to set his alarm clock as was his usual practice on Sunday mornings. He awoke to the aroma of frying bacon and fresh coffee and decided to get up and join his wife in the kitchen for breakfast.
Upon entering the kitchen, he glanced toward the table to see if his wife had found and arranged the flowers he had so thoughtfully picked for her. Then he saw her. She was lying on the floor surrounded by water and broken glass from the vase. The flowers were scattered on the table and on the floor. He quickly ran to his wife and felt for a pulse. There was none. She was dead. He noticed that she had opened the kitchen door leading out to the back yard in order to let the fresh air drift through the screen door.
Since their house was located at the end of a dead end street, they had only one close neighbor. His name was Bill Walowhitz. They had recently gotten into an argument when Mr. Walowhitz's dog had gotten into their back yard and destroyed his wife's prized rose garden. The Detective began to wonder if Mr. Walowhitz had still been angry over the rose garden incident and had entered the kitchen through the back door, broken the glass vase over his wife's head resulting in her death. The Detective surveyed the kitchen, the screen door and the back yard and could find nothing out of place except for the broken glass vase, spilled water, and the scattered flowers.
How did Mrs. Smith die?
HintThe title is a hint as it refers to the kitchen table.
AnswerThe flowers that Detective Smith had so lovingly picked for his wife were poisonous. He had unknowingly chanced upon a patch of Aconitum (more commonly called monkshood) and when his wife cut her finger the poison contained in the plant's juices entered into the open wound causing her death by suffocation.
Aconitum is one of the oldest known toxins. The plant is extremely poisonous. The plant figures heavily into mythologies of many cultures, more commonly called monkshood. Aconitum is Greek for "without struggle". The entire plant is poisonous, but the roots and leaves contain the greatest concentration of aconitine and other alkaloids. Even touching the plant's juices to an open wound will cause pain, fainting sensations, and possibly suffocation. As with many poisonous plants, there is no specific antidote.
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