The Hatbox Caper: A Mystery Mystery Box

LOCATION:  Mid-Atlantic

CHALLENGE:  4 stars

DATE/NUMBER:  14-Dec-2002/53,54-62


When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. -- Sherlock Holmes, the Sign of the Four

A caper is afoot.

It has come to light that Men Without Hats' hatbox has been absconded with. Not only is the existence of such an artifact a scandal in and of itself, with a host of rogues standing to benefit from either its discovery or obfuscation, but it turns out that it is obliquely referred to in one of McBrae's maps, hence the place has been crawling with treasure hunters. Inspector Culpepper had been investing rumors of the box's existence before the crime, but he has been AWOL since going out to investigate an anonymous tip as to where the box might be stashed. Fortunately, he somehow anticipated the crime and set up some strategic surveillance before disappearing.

So now its your problem. To make matters worse, the surveillance notes are disorganized, incoherent, and incomplete. What we do know is that there are nine figures involved, all men, all but one of them has a rock solid alibi, and they all took it on the lam after the crime came to light, which was some time in mid December, 2002. We also know that they ended up in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. We have reason to believe that they keep moving around since then, tho.

So, in order to solve this mystery, you'll have to hit the trails and see if any clues turn up. If you're lucky, you'll see their fingerprints or even be able to interrogate them directly. With the clues you find, and the notes below, hopefully you'll be able to solve the mystery, finger the thief, and induce a confession as to where the box is stashed ... tho solving the mystery should be rewarding in its own right.

  • Every man who had a ticket to the Men Without Hats concert had a hat.

  • After the crime, the man caught carrying a box was accused by two others -- he quickly changed the subject by asking them where the Hat Trick Club was located, and if they enjoyed it.

  • Before the crime, three men with hats were scratching their heads over the clues to getting to the mystery gathering, which they had memorized. The only thing they did figure out was that, being weaponless, they would not figure it out.

  • At the time of the crime, one man was showing off his Flutterby stamp to the other as the Men Without Hats concert usherette took their tickets.

  • The bald man can't stand hockey, but he likes men without hats. While he was pondering where the treasure was, he observed that bald men who are hatted aren't obviously bald, yet hirsute men who are hatted obviously wear hats. He was also surprised to learn that there were no no shows at the Men Without Hats concert (but he prefers bands like Iced Earth, so what would he know?).

  • Only one man who was at the Men Without Hats concert took it on the lam in Pennsylvania.

  • At the time of the crime, either a man who later took it on the lam in Delaware, or the man who took it on the lam at the Mad Hatter's Hitchhiker Hotel, was at the mystery gathering.

  • At the time of the crime, two men, one with a hat, one without, were seen at the Hat Trick Club; one of them was showing the other his Flutterby stamp.

  • At the time of the crime, one man with a weapon who later took it on the lam in Maryland was at the Hat and Mouse Club, as was a man without a hat.

  • After the crime, the man with the gun prevented the men in the Hat Trick Club from taking it on the lam in Maryland.

  • At the time of the crime, a man with a treasure map was seen sneaking into the Men Without Hats concert.

Whodunnit? Can you finger the thief by name? If so, he'll confess and tell you where he stashed the box. But make a false accusation, and who knows what these rogues will tell you ... I wouldn't trust it ...

  • Finger the rogue who stole the box:

  • Also tell us who snuck into the Men Without Hats concert (we prosecute all crimes):

NOTE 1:  The hitchhikers involved in this caper are "silent" hitchhikers. Please don't compromise the mystery by chitchat about them or by tracking them on websites.

NOTE 2:  Off-trail walking is involved.

NOTE 3:  Be wary of snakes and other wildlife when reaching into dark places. No need to dig for this box. All bearings magnetic unless otherwise noted. A pace is a long stride counted on a footfall of either foot, i.e. two paces are counted each time the right foot hits the ground. Be aware of if or when there is game hunting in the area.

NOTE 4:  Please re-hide the thing well just as you found it, and be discreet when stamping up.

DISCLAIMER & COPYRIGHT:  PERSONS USING THIS CLUE OR HUNTING THIS LETTERBOX DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK. Do not hunt this letterbox without reading and agreeing to the waiver first. Children, do not hunt this letterbox without the supervision of an adult who has read and agreed to the waiver. Possession of this clue does not imply rights of access to particular lands and route choices, or the safety thereof, including the location of the box itself. Always observe current local regulations, signs, property rights, and customs; you are responsible for your actions. Clue not indended to be taken literally or to suggest route choices; route choices (and the choice to proceed at all), are your choice.
This clue copyright © 2002, by Randy Hall. Permission to reproduce for personal use granted; all other rights reserved.