Last weekend while attending a dog show in Canfield, Ohio, we went to a disco party. Yes, there are photos. No, you’re not going to see them. Me in purple leopard print (complete with purple feather boa) is an image you do not need burned into your mind!
I mention the party only because it explains what my husband and I were doing at a Salvation Army store in Youngstown. In search of appropriate disco attire, I’d already visited an SA store near home and bought him a silk shirt, but he was looking for something to add to his ensemble. He found it there in Youngstown, a beige polyester jacket. Truth be told, he went to the party looking like a used car salesman, but that’s not why I bring this up.
When we got back to our hotel after our little walk on the wild side of thrift store shopping, we found two things in the pocket of that sportcoat: a little notepad given out during a political campaign ("Elect Orlando T. Dilullo for Mahoning County Sheriff," it says on the front) and a receipt from a video store dated April 2 (no year). Thinking like a mystery writer, I wondered how much we might be able to discover about the person who’d once owned the jacket and had later donated it to a worthy cause.
The first couple things were no-brainers–the jacket’s owner must have been approximately the same height and weight as David. After all, the jacket fit reasonable well. The second thing was pretty simple, too–the man had a pet. Inside the little notebook was a list for Medicleen ("medicated pet shampoo," it says underneath), Humilac for dry skin and flea soap. I have never owned a cat, but my guess is that they’re not likely to tolerate baths. I figure the jacket belonged to a man who owned a dog.
Before the party, it was all I was able to deduce. But once we got home, I got to thinking about my little mystery, and I got on the Internet. I started with that video receipt and what I could read of the scrawled name on it. The first initial was definitely a W, and I could sort of read the last name. Within minutes, I had found my man. His name was Walter, and it was no wonder he was carrying that little notebook from the candidate for sheriff; Walter had once been a deputy.
In fact, I discovered a newspaper article that said in 2006, he’d engaged in a gun battle with a robber outside a convenience store. At the time, Walter was 62 and retired.
What else did I learn?
That little notebook must have been given to Walter in 1984 because that’s when Orlando Dilullo ran for county sheriff.
Walter was divorced in 2002 and declared bankruptcy in 2005. He has three daughters, Ann, Beverly and Cheri.
He may have remarried to a woman named Cathi. They own a Yorkie named Zoe. I wonder if that’s the dog with the dry skin.
As far as I can tell, he still lives in the Youngstown area.
Moral of the story? Well for one thing, it reminds that the amateur detectives featured in my books can find out information, even when they don’t have an official connection to the police.
The other two things I’ve taken away from this exercise?
#1 Be careful what you leave in the pockets of the clothes you donate.
#2 Never buy a used car from David.
Now I’m left with only one mystery . . . I’d love to know which two movies Walter rented that day in April!