The Mystery of the Kennett Shiitakes
● By Steven Hoffman
Tex Bumsteer liked his steak with mushrooms, so the billionaire oil tycoon from Texas decided that he wanted to start a new semi-pro football team in Kennett Square, the Mushroom Capital of the World.
But not everyone was in favor of Bumsteer’s plan to build a massive state-of-the-art football stadium on the beautiful King Ranch property. Bumsteer, it turned out, had opponents aplenty—including his wife, his mistress, his sister, a disgruntled ex-football player who wanted to coach the Kennett Shiitakes, and the town council member who helped push the stadium project through the planning process.
At approximately 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 7, Bumsteer’s dead body was discovered near the Genesis walkway. Chief Detective Joe Tuesday immediately enlisted the help of hundreds of amateur sleuths to interview the long list of suspects in The Mystery of the Kennett Shiitakes, and the Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society's annual Murder Mystery Art Stroll was underway.
As always, the murder mystery involved an interesting cast of characters.
Keeshaun, Nosean Marshon, who was holding court outside the Kennett General Store, brashly touted his accomplishments as a former football player. He wanted to coach Bumsteer’s new team, but he was denied the opportunity. There were rumors throughout the town that dubious behavior by Marshon was captured on video. But he seemed to have an alibi, telling anyone who would ask that he was with Stella Roid, M.D. at the time of the murder.
Stella Roid backed up Marshon’s claim, but could she be trusted? She was suspected of helping athletes, including Marshon, acquire steroids, and she carried a suspicious-looking bottle of pills as she talked to people in Metamorphosis.
There was no shortage of people who had reason to not like Bumsteer, starting with his immediate family. His wife, Paraphernalia Bumsteer, knew about her husband’s relationship with a mistress, Holly Wood. His sister, Sherrie Fordum, was upset that Bumsteer was going to stop financing her lavish lifestyle. His brother-in-law would also be hurt if the money was cut off.
Another leading suspect was Ty Windsor, who was the Bumsteer’s romantic rival for the affections of Holly Wood. Windsor was at the Longwood Art Gallery, and had a possible murder weapon—a golf club. He shrugged off the suggestion that he would have a motive to kill Bumsteer simply because they were rivals for Holly Wood.
“I came in second,” Windsor said simply.
Nikki Kixx had a reason not to like Bumsteer, too. She wanted to earn a spot on the football team as a kicker, but the owner told her that only men could make the team. She claimed to be at Bedbugzz at the time of the murder, and the victim’s own daughter, Patty, saw her there. With her own alibi supported, Nikki pointed an accusing finger at Holly Wood.
Holly Wood was at the RLD Books. She had a possible weapon, a parasol, in plain sight, but denied that there was any bad blood between herself and Bumsteer. She simply didn't want the same kind of relationship that he had wanted.
Paige Turner, the town’s leading reporter, was stationed at the Kennett Public Library. She bristled at the suggestion that she might have something to do with the murder, though she did admit that was angry Bumsteer because a job as a public relations director for the team fell through. She also hinted that she hoped to sell a video of Marshon to Bumsteer—a video that would hurt the former player's chances of becoming the team’s coach.
There seemed to be unscrupulous dealings between Bumsteer and the town council. Several people suggested that elected officials were receiving kickbacks. Others were upset that Bumsteer won the bid to develop the large property situated in the beautiful rolling hills of Chester County in the first place. Joy Rider, a top equestrian, wanted the property to remain as open space. Penny Arcade wanted to build a new casino on the property. Jean Claude Van Darne wanted to stop Bumsteer from building the stadium altogether because he wanted to move the team to Canada. He made the dubious statement that everything is better in Canada. But all the aforementioned suspects had witnesses who could verify that they were not in the Genesis walkway at the time of the crime.
Sherrie Fordum, who was stationed at the Polished salon, seemed to have a strong motive to be angry with her brother. Bumsteer was going to stop giving her money. Fordum’s husband, Chad, was always coming up with ideas for new businesses, but they never seemed to work out. The Fordums were dependent on Bumsteer to stay afloat financially. Chad Fordum had an explanation for his whereabouts at the time of his brother-in-law’s untimely death. Sherrie Fordum, however, didn’t have an alibi. The detectives at work on the case focused in on this fact, and Sherrie Fordum was taken into custody just a few hours after the crime was committed, successfully solving The Mystery of the Kennett Shiitakes.