Jason Lawrence Bell
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04-27-19                 PUSH ARROW TO BEGIN AUDIO

The Chief Inspector relays his instructions to his team of detectives who have made little progress in the past two weeks. In fact, they are not certain what the crime actually is. They have a family desperately searching for the elderly mother who went out for a walk and never returned. ‘Until we can determine the motive for the crime, we have a weak case and few leads’.

Sylvia was the grandmother in question. She was the matriarch of the large Johnston family that lived in the massive estate in Vermont. It was Sylvia who created the fortune that afforded the Johnston upper class lifestyle that the family enjoyed. Sylvia was a successful writer of a children book series, ‘The Valeria Adventures’. The series captivated a generation of young adults who saw her character, Valeria, as a role model that inspired them for adulthood. Sylvia’s huge following looked at her as an example to follow. She often receives boxes of letters from confused or stressed young adults asking for direction with their problems. Sylvia was generous with her time and answered every letter with long personal responses that endeared her even more to her followers.

Sylvia’s books and her personal life displayed her deep belief in morals, kindness and truth. The lead character Valeria was a direct reflection of Sylvia and lived and exposed all of Sylvia’s beliefs and attributes. Sylvia became a beacon of positive living to the nation and she was used as a compass for youth.

But there were also the critics who challenged her influence. She was called a ‘snowflake’, ‘a bleeding heart’ and too kind for her own good. The religious organizations criticized her preaching about morals without ever mentioning religion. Sylvia once stated that she was more a spiritualist who preferred having a direct personal relationship with her god. She felt that morals and good deeds were about her relationship with herself. How SHE wanted to morally behave and what kind of life SHE wanted surrounding her. She felt church was an unnecessary middle man between her and her god.

Sylvia had enemies and many people who resented her influence. But ‘was the resentment enough to have her kidnapped and possibly have harm done to her?’ questioned the inspector. He had a list of people and organizations that were at odds with Sylvia but the list read like a ‘who’s who’ of religious and conservative groups. This was not going to be easy.

The Chief Inspector began studying the family. Sylvia’s husband, William, had died two years earlier. William was Sylvia’s rock. Though he was a simple uneducated man and worked as a low paying tailor, she always said he was her best example of kindness and truthful morals. She saw in him what many didn’t see, including her family.

Sylvia and William had three children. They all stayed living at home even when they married and had kids of their owns. The big house was enlarged with each family addition. The kids knew who the real breadwinner was, Sylvia, and subtly held the father in contempt for being the weaker less talented. They bragged about their mother but seldom mentioned their father.

Now the family was getting very nervous and even desperate. Sylvia held the purse strings and insisted on signing every check and controlling the money. With Sylvia gone the money was running out and the bank wouldn’t release funds without Sylvia’s direction. And Sylvia’s Will could not be found. The adult kids were freaking out.

Then came the article. It was the announcement of a new Sylvia book and a full-page letter from Sylvia to her family and the public. Sylvia’s letter began. ‘First may I apologize to the police and public for not explaining my disappearance earlier. This was an unprepared departure that I desperately needed to do. The day I left was the anniversary of my dear husband William’s death, and no one in his family except me would knowledge him. He was the greatest person I have ever met and to this day I marvel that I was fortunate enough to be selected to be his wife. But William’s children never saw his value. When we were first married, life was simple and wonderful. There wasn’t a lot of money but love was overflowing. Then my books became successful and money flowed in and changed everything. I was raised in a struggling family and money always seemed to be a solution. So, when money became available, I took the position of giving my children a world without money struggles. First a bigger house and better schools and many material advantages. My husband and I preferred to remained simple. William kept his tailor job and I wrote my books in my small office. But years later we realized that our children were leading a much different life then we were. They became addicted to fame and flashy cars and clothes and preferred socializing rather than creating careers and being productive. I must apologize to my children. I allowed this to happen to you. I gave you too many material benefits and though I thought leading by example would give you good direction it clearly didn’t. None of you have a work ethic or a desire to achieve. William and I repeatedly tried giving you better values but your resistance to our influence was too strong. I love you all deeply but I don’t respect you. You have joined the elite entitled class that I despise. Now comes the painful part. I am giving you the house for you all to stay but nothing else. No more money for nothing. You must stand on your own. I have moved to a new location that allows me to regain my simple life. I have established a charity so my money can do some good. I am now introducing my new book, ‘The Money Trap.’ Thank you, I love you, good luck. Sylvia.’ Peace**