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Wayne Zurl

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A Labor Day Murder
by Wayne Zurl   

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Books by Wayne Zurl
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· A Murder in Knoxville
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Publisher:  Mind Wings Audio ISBN-10:  B002Y5WVOC Type: 

Copyright:  July 8, 2009 ISBN-13:  9780982527825

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Raiding an after-hours gambling establishment leads Prospect, Tennessee Police to a clue in a year old homicide.

     Ex-New York detective lieutenant, now Tennessee Police Chief Sam Jenkins leads his officers to raid a local restaurant for proceeds of illegal gambling and untaxed alcohol. An old revolver is found during the search and confiscated along with cash, documents, and gallons of moonshine.

    All that looked straight forward until a firearms examiner links the gun to an unsolved murder.

    Sam's investigation leads him through a crew of colorful local characters, political corruption, and domestic violence to find a killer.

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Officers Bobby John Crockett and Vernon Hobbs slammed on the front door. Harlan Flatt, Leonard Alcock and Junior Huskey covered the back door and the windows at the rear of the restaurant. Stanley and I moseyed up to the front.
A man looking like a bartender answered the door. The two cops pushed their way in. Stan and I followed.
“Police department, we have a search warrant. Nobody move!” Bobby called out. No one moved.
“Where’s Audie Blevins?” I asked, waving a copy of the warrant in my left hand.
“That would be me,” said a short, well dressed man of about sixty. I handed him the paper.
“This is a warrant to search your premises for evidence of illegal gambling and untaxed liquor,” I said. “I see two card games, care to explain anything?”
“Jest some friendly games, officer. We get t’gether ever once’t in a while t’ play cards; nothin’ more.”
“Have a seat, Mr. Blevins, and don’t touch anything.” Turning to the bartender I said, “What’s your name?”
“James Begley, sir. Most ever’ one calls me Jammer.”
“Okay, Jammer, you have a seat, too.”
I told Bobby Crockett to open the back door and let the other three cops in. While Stan and I took names and capped the drinks on the tables with Glad-Wrap, the boys searched the restaurant, the adjacent office, and the storerooms.
The quickest way to put pressure on a restaurant owner is to threaten to take away their liquor license. I demanded a copy of his from Audie Blevins. As I recorded all that information, Junior Huskey got my attention.
“Sam, look-it here.” He gave me two folders and a well stuffed, padded manila envelope. One folder was marked players, the other was unmarked; the envelope was full of cash. I looked over the two page list of players. There were over thirty names with telephone numbers. The unmarked folder had several loose-leaf pages showing dates and dollar figures. The dates went back more than two years to March of 2005.
“Good work, kid,” I said to Junior, “a list of gamblers and profits from the games. You ought to be a detective.”
“I could live with that, boss.”
I gave him an encouraging thumbs-up.
Crockett and Harley Flatt carried in four plastic gallon milk jugs all full of clear liquid.
“They’s about six or seven more jest like these in the back,” Harley said. “Take a whiff, boss.”
He popped the cap off one jug and lifted it to my nose.
“Yahoo. Smells like pure alcohol; must be 190 proof or better,” I said, and turned to the closest table of players. “Any of you guys feel like you’re going blind?” No one seemed to enjoy my attempt at humor. “Confiscate everything and box up all these glasses we’ve put tops on. We’ll let the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms people analyze this for us,” I told Harley.
Then Vern Hobbs walked up, extended his hand and showed me a large revolver.
“Got this in the office, boss. Nice lookin’ gun.”
It was an old Smith and Wesson model 1917, .45 caliber revolver; a revolver that fired .45 automatic ammunition.
“This pistol have a story behind it, Mr. Blevins?” I asked.
“I got a right t’ keep a gun in my restaurant. It’s all bought an’ paid fur; all legal-like,” he said.
“Bag it and tag it, Vern. I’ll send it off to be checked.”
All the players we met that night were on the list Junior had found. I wanted each man charged with participating in illegal gambling, privately interviewed, and a statement taken from each one. We had several hours of work ahead of us.
When we finished issuing appearance tickets to the players and Jammer Begley, we took Audie Blevins to the police station to process his arrest. At three in the morning he was released on one hundred dollars bail. Our main office was filled with two sixty-inch round tables, sixteen chairs, and two file cabinets. The evidence closet held eleven-and-a- half gallons of moonshine, over three thousand dollars in cash, and a few other evidentiary items taken from the Iron Skillet. In a few hours the Sunday 8 to 4 shift would arrive at work, wonder what the hell went on the night before, and then life would go on.

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