This show is “Drive Thru Murder.” Here’s the story, along with a few disgusting extra details.
An unfortunate pedestrian comes across Missy Berry dead at the wheel of her car, engine still running, gear still in drive. Missy is an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant. Her boss Ruthie describes her as a close friend & kind-hearted person. (I know…there have been more than a few off-the-point remarks about Ruthie’s hair dye.) But others found Missy abrasive & domineering.
Plus, there’s the matter of missing money. Missy is supposed to deposit the day’s receipts at the bank, as she does every night. But bank security film shows no sign of her that night, & the deposit bag is missing.
Lt. Joe assumes the motive may have been revenge, as well as money. Several people hate Missy. One former police officer, in particular, has been harassing her. He views it that he lost his job because of her complaints against him. But he has an alibi. Joe interviews several other momentary suspects–including a couple not mentioned in the show–before he finds the man he calls his “new star.”
The “star” is Cliff, who works with Missy at the restaurant–& has suffered from her taunts & bullying. When Joe discovers this prime suspect, he says in true Kenda fashion, “I am beginning to feel wonderful.”
Cliff is a marginal person. His parents are marginal. His father, whom Joe describes as a milquetoast, was once in the military (Fort Carson, ever present in these shows), is now unable to find a job in civilian life. His British mother, also unemployed, is abrasive & domineering. (So was Missy. Anyone want to psychoanalyze that?) Cliff lives with them & attempts to support them with his meager earnings.
Here’s yet another disgusting detail: On the night he murdered her, Cliff caught a ride home with Missy after work. He didn’t murder her until he was just about a block from home. He wouldn’t want to have to walk too far. This is, of course, one way the police caught him. Missy is known as an inexpert driver, gets confused & lost easily, not likely to drive out of her usual route home. But she’s found about fifteen miles in the wrong direction. And by the way the body is positioned, Joe is able to deduce that she was not afraid, was not facing an intruder into the car, must have been driving a passenger with whom she was acquainted–& as it turned out, lived quite nearby.
Cliff is also a fantast. In his mid 20’s, he hangs around with teenagers. He constantly attempts to impress these younger guys. He brags about plans to rob the restaurant. At some point, he brags about plans to murder Missy. He requests a gun, & one of these kids actually comes up with a stolen gun. Apparently, he has no problem with handing the gun over to Cliff, no questions asked, nor even any money changing hands.
When the time comes for escape & evasion, as the military call it, Cliff does just what Joe says fugitives tend to do. He flees to a familiar place, a place where he feels comfortable. Then he hunkers down…no matter that this all makes him look guilty, guilty, guilty.
With his mother’s help, Cliff buys a one (!)-way ticket to London. He requests the bereavement fare on account of the death of an aunt, who is very much alive & easily traceable. The first place the British police look is the aunt’s house, & there is Cliff. All that remains is the difficulty of extraditing a fugitive from another country…& the “impressive piece of paper” that will need to be drawn up to make that happen.
Is Cliff’s decidedly non-military version of escape & evasion mean that he is another one of these perpetrators who believe that the police are stupid & will never catch on? Cliff gives the impression of being too stupid himself to think that far ahead.
And then there’s the aunt, the mother, & the teenager who gave Cliff the gun. They all had criminal records (mostly non-violent property crimes). They all aided & abetted Cliff in his crime. Joe decided not to arrest the mother as an accessory. She claimed she arranged for the airline ticket merely because her son was homesick for his native Britain. The bereavement fare was just a lie to save money…& indeed, that was so common a problem that the airlines have long since abandoned the concept. Joe decided not to prosecute. He quotes a baseball regulation, “Tie goes to the runner.”
The boy who provided the gun also got off, since the casual transfer was impossible to prove. Joe knew only because the boy volunteered the information. And the boy didn’t come forward when he first heard of the murder & remembered Cliff’s bragging about his plan to kill Missy. Haven’t we heard this before in various previous cases? People sit tight. They remain silent. Even in the face of murder.
But the aunt is another story. She certainly didn’t get off. When the English police arrived, she physically attacked the officers. They got her under control. She emerged bloody. And of course, the British legal system does not look kindly on assaulting police. She served a long sentence. Is stupidity hereditary?
Joe says motives for murder are sex, revenge, or money. Cliff got both revenge & money. But Joe admits that many crimes do not fit cleanly into those three categories. This one certainly doesn’t.
Lt. Joe is being quite the tough guy in this show. When he learns of the murder, he says it’s time to “grab your toys” & head for the crime scene. He maintains “a heart of railroad steel.” I want you to know he’s actually very sensitive. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
One final secret: The fast food restaurant is Arby’s.