Reginald Foxglove, the victim of foul play in the Mystery of Art in the Garden.
By Steven Hoffman
Reginald Foxglove was not a very nice man so when his body was found near the Genesis walkway at 6:45 p.m. last Friday night there was no shortage of suspects in the apparent homicide.
As the head judge of the popular Kennett Garden Show and Expo, Foxglove lived and worked under a cloud of suspicion as rumors of improprieties, bribes, and corruption spread. Financially, Foxglove was in trouble after a failed investment. His performance as a head judge was questionable, at best, as allegations of unfairness mounted. He could no longer support his ex-wife and daughter, and he was also no longer making payments to a former lover and the daughter that they had together. So while his untimely death troubled some people, few seemed genuinely sad about his demise.
An entire cast of colorful characters was in town for this year’s Kennett Garden Show and Expo, and even though the show’s theme was quaint—Art in the Garden—every one of the artists, judges, and garden show participants seemed to have a motive to bash Foxglove in the head with a blunt object. Detective Joe Tuesday and his assistant Laurel N. Holly needed help interviewing all the suspects who had dealings with Foxglove, so they deputized hundreds of amateur detectives to question the suspects. Suspicions took root and the alibis spread like weeds as the Mystery of Art in the Garden deepened.
Mahogany Nightshade was at the top of the list of suspects. She was stationed at Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Shop and would tell anyone who asked about her long and troubled relationship with Foxglove. She and Foxglove had had an affair and they had a child together, but the head judge had no role in Juniper Nightshade's life. In fact, he had even stopped supporting the child financially. Mahogany was out on a weekend pass from an institution, and she also admitted to drinking and taking pills. It was all very suspicious.
Meanwhile, Juniper Nightshade was answering the investigators’ questions in Thomas Macaluso Used and Rare Books. Was she upset that her biological father had never been involved in her life? Of course. But she denied wanting her father dead.
Several people said that they had heard whispers about Huckleberry Poke’s relationship with the victim, but Poke was in La Michoacana with Basilica Hornbeam and Hortensia Hellebore at the time of the murder and the alibi stood up under scrutiny.
There seemed to be something not quite right about Azalea Beechwood. She spent the first few hours after the crime sobbing uncontrollably outside Kennett Design. Her cries could be heard throughout State Street. Yet the only connection with Foxglove that she would admit to was that she purchased her plant, Alexander, from him. Azalea suspected that Blossom Leatherwood might be the cold-hearted culprit of the heinous crime.
But Blossom Leatherwood said that she was in Talula’s Table at the time of the murder and she saw Lily Lenape, Phyllis Phlox, and Joe Dirte while she was in there. Blossom pointed an accusing finger right back at Azalea, noting that she could be violent and was unstable at times.
Several people were troubled by Aruncus Ironwood, who was seen around town with a baseball bat.
If money can be a motive for murder, Daisy Greenback had $250,000 reasons to want revenge against Foxglove. Greenback was talked into investing with Foxglove and Basilica Hornbeam, and the money was gone. But she, too, had an alibi at the time of the murder.
In the Mushroom Cap, Joe Dirte explained to investigators that he did some landscaping work for Foxglove and didn’t get paid for it. Dirte claimed his innocence and he was at Talula’s Table at the time of the murder. He, too, thought Azalea might be the guilty one.
Foxglove’s ex-wife, Dahlia, had more reasons than most to want to kill the victim. By all accounts, he treated his ex-wife poorly, and he wasn’t a good father to either of the girls that he fathered. Dahlia Foxglove said that she had “a drink or four” at Flickerwood Wine Cellars after attending a baking class in town.
Phyllis Phlox, an attorney in town who continually reminded investigators that “a person is innocent until proven guilty” was very sympathetic toward Dahlia, her client. She was suspicious of Mahogany Nightshade, the jilted ex-lover, and Narcissus Larkspur, whose company lost a lot of money while sponsoring the garden show.
There was some suspicion surrounding Gloxinia Foxglove, the victim's daughter. Investigators who tracked her down at the Centre for Vibrant Living were told that she would never hurt her own father, though.
After just a few hours of investigative work, the detectives felt like they had the break in the case that they needed. They eliminated groups of suspects as alibis were corroborated. A cloud of suspicion still hung over Dahlia Foxglove, who was set to receive money from a life insurance policy on her ex-husband. She denied responsibility and repeated her claim that she was at a baking class at the time of the murder. The presence of a potential murder weapon—a heavy rolling pin—also didn’t look good. She claimed that the class had a policy of BYORP—Bring Your Own Rolling Pin. No one believed her. Just two hours after the murder, Dahlia was handcuffed and taken into custody, charged with the murder of Reginald Foxglove. The Mystery of Art in the Garden was solved, and the streets of Kennett Square were once again safe.
The Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society’s next production will be “Jolly Time!” a pantomime in the British style. Performances of this comedy of errors and pirates will be held on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Kennett High School. Auditions are being held in mid-September. To reserve tickets or for more information about upcoming events, visit www.callkats.org.
About the Murder Mystery Art Stroll
The Aug. 1 Murder Mystery Art Stroll was a collaboration between the downtown merchants, Historic Kennett Square, and the Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society.
Characters Played by
Petunia Shiitake Lorraine DesJardien
Phyllis Phlox Susan Pezzuto
Daisy Greenback Kathie Schroeder
Basilica Hornbeam Nancy Goyda
Dahlia Foxglove Beth Holladay
Mahogany Nightshade Renee Kretschmaier
Juniper Nightshade Maia Baird
Gloxinia Foxglove Mary Kate Miller
Narcissus Larkspur Sharon Small
Castor Weedbody Annie Belgam
Aruncus Ironwood BJ Crampton
Joseph Dirte Bill Crampton
Hortensia Hellebore Margaret Hennes
Huckleberry Poke Peter Giangiulio
Blossum Leatherwood Amanda Giangiulio
Azalea Beechwood Amy Gottsegen
Ginger Tansy Hadley Ramsey
Marigold Mulberry Leah Rehrman
Cinnamon Redbud Amelia Rehrman
Lily Lenape Maddie Rehrman
Jasmine Moonseed Gabbie Crowl
Lavender Sweetpea Anais Jevtitch
Oleander Hawthorne John Hopkins
Detective Joe Tuesday, Chief Detective Joe Finn
Laurel N. Holly, Junior Detective Rachel Stoltz
Reginald Foxglove David Sykes
Shady Character Mike Ferry
Shady Character Emily Coons
Shady Character Johnathan Schroeder
Shady Character Victoria Schroeder