Hey there all you beat reporters and gumshoes. We’ve got an interesting case here today. This is Lisa Burton Radio, and I’m your host Lisa the robot girl. What happens when a carnival stripper misses her last show, is found murdered in her trailer, and local sentiment is to brush it all off?
I have with me today, the one person who seems to care. “Welcome to the show, Brian Stockton.”
“Thanks for having me. It’ll be good to get this story out there.”
“Now, Brian. I understand you work for the local newspaper. How did you get involved in this case?”
“It’s my job–guess my editor figured he could spare me from important stories like covering a Town Hall meeting or a loose cow running amuck on main street. So, he gave me this case to cover. Good thing, too. It needs the attention, with the police getting nowhere. If it wasn’t for me, and this paper, nobody would know what happened, and the public wouldn’t care when the police don’t solve this. I don’t know why nobody’s covering it, but they aren’t. They should be. If the police can’t find the killer, perhaps the press can.”
“Slow down, Brian. Why do you think the police aren’t finding the killer? Are they limited in resources? Do they not sympathize with the victim? What?”
“Look, I don’t want to get down on Chief Davis. He’s a good man–a good cop. But he’s up against a lot here. Not much evidence was left. Just a stripper face down in a pool of her own blood. From what I understand, there were no fingerprints, footprints, or anything else that points at a suspect. So it’s going to come down to interviews, right? Well, Davis is a small-town chief with a useless police force. A police force that spends it time enforcing useless laws. Now, if someone was speeding or jaywalking, oh, they’d get right to the bottom of it; I can vouch for that. But a case like this–I don’t know, they’re not making progress. And the county isn’t helping. They’ve had people here once–once! If I were the Chief, I’d drive down to Cleveland and demand an experienced detective get involved. What else do they have to do? It’s a disgrace. That poor woman. If they won’t stand up for her, I will. I’ll do my part to solve the mystery.”
“That’s certainly noble. Who was this woman to you?”
“Just a victim in the town where I work, but right it right.”
“So what do you have, so far?”
“That’s a good question. I have to be careful how I answer. You wouldn’t want me to slander anyone. But I have suspects. One in particular. He’s who one might expect to have done something like this. Hard up slob who had a history with her–a romantic history. But the thing is; they’re a bizarre bunch–the carnies I mean. One of them is quite incoherent, and for some reason, had the victim’s cat. I mean, why would he have her cat, and on that night, no less. She’s dead and he has her cat. But, if he did kill her, why wouldn’t he get rid of the cat? He doesn’t seem too bright, but still. I don’t know, he’s refused to talk to me so far. But I’ll keep working on him. There’s a guy there who likes to buy people’s souls. Could it be some satanic thing? Or what about some deviant? Lust? Spurned love? More than one have, you know, been with her. I suppose I don’t have any more than the police. But the answer lies among the carnies–of that I’m sure. And I’ll stick with it until justice is done.”
“This seems like an extreme path for someone to take. The investigation into a murder by someone who didn’t know her at all. I have to ask, what’s in it for you? There can’t be many promotional opportunities at a small town paper.”
“Can’t I just want justice? Maybe there is something in it for me. I’m thirty years old and look where I work. This isn’t journalism–not normally anyway. Before this, the last story I was working on was reviewing this carnival on its last night in town. Why? What was the point? Reviewing a carnival is bad enough, but who would want to read the review of a carnival after it was too late to go. That makes no sense. It’s madness. But this murder: this is a real story. It is important. It’s given me some purpose. And who knows, if the story goes national, maybe it leads to other opportunities.”
“Any closing thoughts for our listeners today?”
“Things need to change. All the time our police spend worrying about drugs and so called juvenile delinquents but when something like this comes up, they’re stumped. I don’t know, maybe no one can do better. I haven’t, yet. But this story needs attention. The work of the police needs scrutiny. Maybe that will change things. Maybe that will lead to progress. Maybe that will lead to justice.”
“If you know anything about the murder of Mary Fontaine, please contact Brian Stockton care of this show.
“Help a robot girl keep this show on the air. There are a bunch of sharing buttons on the blog site, and if you share them it will help me, Brian, and author Corey Recko. I’ll include all the pertinent details on the blog with purchase links and such. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”
It’s Halloween night 1953, the last night of the carnival in rural Ohio, and a stripper turns up dead. Tom Davis, the chief of police, orders the carnies to stay in town while he investigates, but there are no leads to Mary’s killer—no fingerprints on the murder weapon, no blood but Mary’s at the scene, no foreign hairs or fibers—no clues of any kind. Brian Stockton, a reporter for the local paper, hopes this will be his break into the big time, so he begins to investigate as well. But, alas, the killer’s identity eludes him, too. As tensions build, the carnies become paranoid, pointing fingers at each other. Could it be the owner, Bill Harris, the one who discovered the body? Or was it perhaps Gino Guglielmo, the man who runs the kootch show and has a nasty temper? Was it the eccentric clown, Otto Radowski, a man with dark secrets in his past and who just happens to have Mary’s cat? And how did the killer manage to commit such a violent act without leaving a single speck of evidence? Mary certainly wasn’t killed by a ghost…or was she?
Corey Recko’s first book, Murder on the White Sands: The Disappearance of Albert and Henry Fountain, won the Wild West History Association’s award for the “Best Book on Wild West History” for 2007. New Mexico Magazine said of the book, “The story moves along like detective fiction . . . .” Of his second book, A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster, the Civil War News review of the book concluded, “Just about everyone will find something to like in this tale of Civil War espionage that mixes in portions of heroism, intrigue, cowardice and betrayal.” Along with books, Recko has written articles on a variety of historical topics for magazines and historical journals and has become a sought after speaker (including an appearance on C-SPAN). Death of a Kootch Show Girl, a murder mystery about a death at a small-town carnival in 1953, is Corey Recko’s first novel.