Festival of Felonies

A Collection of Sam Jenkins Mysteries

by Wayne Zurl

This story collection includes the veteran cop's humorous mysteries:

Have You Considered Voodoo?
New York Detective Sam Jenkins is handed a bizarre case that develops into the serial killing of animals. It doesn’t take long to find a prime suspect; he’s a juvenile headed to no good end, but the system doesn’t make life easy for our tenacious squad dick.

Reenacting a Murder
When local antique dealer, G. Nobel Whitehead, is savagely killed at a historical reenactment, Police Chief Sam Jenkins wades through a cadre of quirky local characters to learn how the victim’s shady dealings led to his demise.

Paper Trail
A lone, mentally disturbed young gunman murdered his mother, two adults, and six small children at the elementary school in Prospect, Tennessee before ending his own life.

The man carried three guns; one pistol had been legally purchased by his mother for her protection. The origins of the other pistol and the fully automatic Russian assault rifle were anyone’s guess.

After Police Chief Sam Jenkins conducts an investigation to track down the past ownership of those guns, he confirms a few suspicions and uncovers more interesting facts.

The Fergusson Shooting
Jamal Fergusson’s mistake costs him his life and forever changes Police Officer Billy Puckett’s.

On a cool, damp evening in Prospect, Tennessee, seventeen-year-old Jamal tries to buy beer from a convenience store. When asked for ID, the boy decides to steal the beer and assaults a store employee.

All this was witnessed by Officer Puckett who attempts to arrest Jamal for robbery. Only the big teenager has other ideas. While resisting arrest, Fergusson violently attacks Puckett and tries to take his handgun.

Moments later, unarmed Jamal Fergusson lies dead in the parking lot.

The next day, the community expresses their outrage and a famous activist descends on East Tennessee, declaring that he will help the Fergusson family seek justice for their murdered son.

Not much stands between the angry citizens and Puckett except Police Chief Sam Jenkins.

A Fire and Old Ice

Prospect, Tennessee’s mayor, Ronnie Shields, walks into Sam Jenkins’ office with his hat in his hand. Ronnie’s wife wants to sponsor a benefit fashion show to raise money for an animal shelter. They need the chief for two things: Convince his friend, TV reporter, Rachel Williamson, to emcee the show and find amateur models to wear the outfits.

The show begins perfectly, until someone sets fire to the spring collection of a flamboyant Knoxville designer named Mr. Alex.

Jenkins’ arson investigation puts him up against a trio of redneck troublemakers and takes him back seventy years to Europe and a closely guarded family secret.

Think of this one as an episode of NYPD BLUE written by Woody Allen.


Have You Considered Voodoo?


At 3:30 p.m. on a hot and sunny Tuesday, a uniformed officer walked into the 5th Squad Detectives’ office. His blues were wrinkled, and an eight-point cap sat on his head at a jaunty angle.

“Detective Jenkins,” he said, “I understand you’re catching the squeals today.”

“Officer Thomas, aren’t we being dreadfully formal?” I said.

“Yeah, I know.” He shrugged. “Hey, listen, Sam, I’m sorry, but the lieutenant said I should bring this over to you.”

He waved a carbon copy of a field report for a moment before handing it to me. I skipped the heading and read the synopsis of the incident.

“This is a dead cat,” I said. “I can see it was murdered, but it’s only a misdemeanor in the Agriculture and Markets Law. Why give it to me?”

“Read the top line. It’s a burglary. It happened in a house.”

“Great. House or not, you’d usually give something like this to Plainclothes as a misdemeanor investigation. Inside, outside, who cares? It’s still just a cat.”

“The L.T. said it’s the second similar incident in forty-eight hours. Frampton and Leonard handled one the other day—dead chicken hanging on a front door. They gave it to PC. Marty Koenig is handling that.”

“And your boss thinks we have a serial animal killer?”

“I guess.”

“Thank him for me, the moron. I’ve got thirty-five open cases. Like I’ve got nothing better to do than investigate dead cats.”

“What can I tell you, buddy?”

* * *

Twenty minutes later I stood in the kitchen of a house on River Avenue, in one of the flea bag sections of town.

An evidence technician puttered around processing the crime scene, and the homeowner, one Cedric Bromley, stood next to me.

“Who would do this to my cat, mon?” Cedric spoke with a Jamaican accent and appeared to be on the verge of tears.


“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Bromley. Have you had a problem with any of the neighborhood kids lately or a major argument with someone?”

“No, suh, I don’t argue with no-body.”

Cedric’s dreadlocks were tucked under a black, yellow, red, and green knitted cap. The smell of cat blood, urine, and feces tainted the air in his home.

“This is not your average burglary, Cedric. Besides your cat having its throat cut and hung from the light above your sink, the person who did this took a dump on your kitchen table and left the remnants of a marijuana cigar behind. I’ve never seen a bomber that large before. Big time ganja.”

“I tell you, mon, I got no enemies. I don’t bother no-body.” He wiped a tear from the corner of his right eye. “And I tell you this, mon, not every Jamaican does drugs. I don’t know who did this.”

* * *

I left as the E.T. finished his work, and Cedric stood there dumbfounded.

Back in my unmarked car, I switched on the ignition and picked up the microphone.

“555 to headquarters, 10-33 with unit five-zero-one.”

“10-4, five-five-five, switch down,” the dispatcher said.

“501, copy,” came from the sector car.

I turned my radio to Frequency Two.

“501, on.”

“Frampton or Leonard in the car?” I asked.

“10-4, that’s us.”

“Can you meet me at your relief point?”

“10-4, five minutes.”

It took me three minutes to drive to the railroad station, and I waited only a few moments.

A blue and white patrol car with Officer Wayne Frampton driving pulled up next to my Plymouth. He rolled down the window and showed me a wolfish grin.

“5th Squad needs help from the likes of us?”

His partner gave me a wave. I returned it.

“Yeah, one of the uniform lieutenants thinks we’ve got a serial killer in your sector.”

“Serial killer?” Frampton’s salt and pepper hair fell across his forehead and covered the tops of his ears. Not exactly regulation. He drove the supervisors crazy.

“A chicken and a cat,” I said.

He laughed. “We had the chicken. Who had the cat?”

“Thomas and Armstrong.”

“Where’d it happen?”

“Inside 215 River Avenue. Rastafarian named Cedric Bromley. Know him?”

“Yeah, Gary wrote him for a stop sign a couple months ago.”

“He into anything?”

“Not that we know. He seemed okay. But all these Jamaicans like their ganja.”

I shrugged. “Tell me about the chicken.”

“There’s a Haitian family on West Street, about a block south of Main. We figured a neighbor didn’t like the smell of chicken shit from the coop they keep in the back yard. Cut one’s throat and hung it on the door knocker to bleed out. Weird thing was, somebody left a bag of human shit on the stoop and set it on fire.”

“Like a Halloween prank? Whoever comes out and stomps on the burning bag gets shit on his shoes?”

“Something like that.”

“Anything else?”

Leonard spoke for the first time. “Perp left behind a bomber roach with enough grass in it to roll another joint.”

"Festival of Felonies" by Wayne Zurl


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