7 Suspects

6. The Friend

August 04, 2022 ROLFE Episode 6
6. The Friend
7 Suspects
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7 Suspects
6. The Friend
Aug 04, 2022 Episode 6

Liz receives an angry phone call from Fred Hollister.  Jim Hodges sends Liz the last recording Aiden Croft made before he died.

Created by Jon Rolfe
Featuring Chelsea Krause, Bradley Gareth, Jill Sperling and Alex Eller.

Show Artwork by O2bri
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Show Notes Transcript

Liz receives an angry phone call from Fred Hollister.  Jim Hodges sends Liz the last recording Aiden Croft made before he died.

Created by Jon Rolfe
Featuring Chelsea Krause, Bradley Gareth, Jill Sperling and Alex Eller.

Show Artwork by O2bri
Follow us on: 

News Anchor: Today marks five years since the murder of inventor and entrepreneur, Aiden Croft. Seen by many as a visionary pioneer, Mr. Croft was responsible for revolutionary innovations in the fields of computer science and sustainable energy. Mr. Croft's body was discovered in his secluded estate in the Sierra, Nevada mountains shortly after midnight. The death was the result of a violent attack. Although several guests were staying at his house at the time of the murder, no arrests were made and no charges were ever filed. To date, a primary suspect has yet to be named.

Narrator: Episode six: The Friend.

Liz: Yeah?

Hollister: …tell them to take the damn red eye…

Liz: Hello?

Hollister: …well then cancel on the bastards. Yes, who am I speaking with? Is this the detective?

Liz: I'm sorry?

Hollister: Elizabeth Devereaux, the detective?

Liz: This is Devereaux. I'm a reporter.

Hollister: Good. My name is Fred Hollister. You might've heard of me. If you haven't, then I suggest you look me up. I understand you reached out to my ex-wife recently. You were harassing her about the God damn Croft case. Is that right?

Liz: I've been speaking to all the suspects.

Hollister: Suspects. Listen to me. Ryleigh isn't a suspect, Miss Devereaux. I don't know who killed Aiden, but I know she had no part in it. I don't want you to contact her again. She called me last night. She was hysterical. It took her a long time to get over what happened, and she doesn't need some gumshoe asshat digging it back up again.

Liz: Mr. Hollister, I don't think it's necessary-

Hollister: I'm not finished. I considered deploying an armada of attorneys to shutdown your little investigation, but I did some checking and I understand all of this was Sam's doing. Is that right? It's only for her sake you're not buried under an avalanche of cease and desist orders right now. But my ex-wife is off limits from here on out. Do you understand? Hey, you there?

Liz: Mm, yes, Mr. Hollister. I apologize for any trouble my questions may have caused. It wasn't my intention. As you say, Samantha gave me the numbers. I was simply following her instructions.

Hollister: You have questions, you talk to me. If you have any questions, you talk to me. I can tell you all about that night, but I'll tell you right now none of it will help.

Liz: Why do you say that?

Hollister: Because the police, the press and the public have been obsessing over every little detail of this case for half a decade. I don't think five minutes of talking to you is going to make a spit of difference.

Liz: Hmm. Well, I'd still like to try all the same. Should I set up a time?

Hollister: Set up a time? No, now is your time. Now is your only time, Miss Detective. Yes, Thursday morning or they can forget about another meeting.

Liz: Well, if that's the case, sir, then I think it would help if I had you full attention.

Hollister: What?

Liz: Your undivided attention.

Hollister: Fine. Diane, we'll pick this up after. Well, detective, your five minutes starts now.

Liz: Ah, yes, ah, well, in that case, let's get right to it. Uh, let's see, how 'bout we start with your friendship with, uh, Mr. Croft. You two were close.

Hollister: We were. When he'd first founded Cipher, he'd reached out to me for investment and advice. This was before all the success.

Liz: There'd been a falling out.

Hollister: He'd gone goofy.

Liz: Can you elaborate on that?

Hollister: Look, I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Aiden had always dabbled in unusual ideas. Some of his health practices might be considered peculiar. He was obsessed with longevity living. Take his diet. First it was vegetarian, then vegan, then all meat. He looked into cryo freezing at one point. He had these odd ideas about blood transfusions, too. He regularly stored his own blood, in fact.

Most recently, it was mysticism; spirituality. Not religion. He saw that as a hoax for the ignorant. He preferred more new age ideas; fringe practices. I'm sure you heard he was working with a guru.

Liz: Aaron Waters?

Hollister: Yeah, that's him. Aiden met him on some executive retreat in St. Martin. He thought his teachings were transformative. I think that was the word he used. I didn't get the appeal. I thought he was a pretentious little shit. Now, I don't begrudge a man a certain amount of eccentricity, especially if you're someone who's as brilliant as Aiden. But the recent [inaudible 00:05:22] and spiritualism and the tendency towards reclusiveness and paranoia made me worried.

Liz: You and the other shareholders.

Hollister: They know I was close to Aiden, so it fell to me to get him under control, to get him to see who Aaron truly was.

Liz: What do you mean?

Hollister: When this spiritual infatuation first started, I did some digging. Mr. Waters wasn't exactly who he said he was.

Liz: Who was he?

Hollister: A faker, a conman. Before he and Aiden met, there was an incident with a Hollywood producer. Waters had convinced him to disassociate himself from his material possessions. He'd weaseled his way into being a kind of financial advisor, suggesting he donate in all sorts of higher causes. He'd managed to defraud him out of millions.

Liz: Why were there no charges filed?

Hollister: The guy wanted to save face. Does it matter? I wanted to make sure Aiden didn't fall into the same trap.

Liz: So did you speak to him?

Hollister: I tried, but he hadn't been returning anyone else's calls or emails for months. Aiden had hired a personal assistant to handle his affairs by that point. I no longer had direct access.

Liz: Who was this person, the assistant?

Hollister: I'm not sure how Aiden found him. I think he was from London. His name was Able.

Liz: Abel what?

Hollister: No, that was his last name. Mr. Able. I don't recall his first. Didn't care, to be honest.

Liz: Uh, and all of Croft's messages came through this Mr. Able?

Hollister: That's right. At first, he was only handling Croft's schedule, but more and more he became a kind of gatekeeper. Between him and Waters, it was impossible to get anything directly to Aiden.

Liz: You were concerned that neither was acting in Aiden's interest.

Hollister: It’d crossed my mind. When I received the invite to come to the mountains for the weekend, I was relieved I could finally speak to Aiden face to face. At least, that's what I thought.

Liz: The other guests said you were pretty angry when you arrived.

Hollister: Angry? I wouldn't say that. The ride in took longer than it should have, and I didn't expect to see the others. Martin Childress and Casey Adams. Are you kidding me?

Liz: Did you know these men well?

Hollister: Of course I knew Martin. I had spent the better part of the month across the table from him in depositions. He was no friend of Cipher's. Same could be said of Adams.

Liz: I'm surprised a blogger like Adams even crossed your radar. You knew of him.

Hollister: A blogger, but also a pain in my ass. Casey Adams had been trying to dig up dirt on Croft and Cipher for years. He was the one who stoked the fire of Martin's absurd allegations. It was like the squirrelly bastard had a vendetta out for Aiden. They both did. But I thought to hell with them. I went to find Aiden.

Liz: This was before dinner.

Hollister: That's right. I went to his study. He wasn't there, but what I found didn't exactly assure me of his mental state.

Liz: What do you mean?

Hollister: It was filled with books and paintings about the occult; pentagrams and pyramids. He liked to collect that stuff. It looked like the anthropology museum run by a madman.

Liz: Do you recall if the power went off during this time?

Hollister: Oh, it went off. It made the whole scene even more unnerving.

Liz: Did you go to the lab?

Hollister: No. I thought I'd try and pull Aiden aside after dinner, speak to him then.

Liz: Ah, dinner. I heard there wasn't much small talk.

Hollister: What the hell is that supposed to mean? These people weren't exactly my friends, so no, there wasn't any chitchat.

Liz: And your wife couldn't make it. She was sick.

Hollister: Who told you that? Like I said before, she didn't have any part of this.

Liz: Well, what about the noise upstairs?

Hollister: What noise? There was a goddamn storm outside. The whole house was nothing but noises.

Liz: Fine. Can you at least describe later that night what you saw or heard?

Hollister: After dinner, I went to my room to try and make a call. I needed to talk to our Japan office. Unfortunately, there's no cell service out there, so I did some reading and went to bed. After I heard the screaming, I went to see what was the matter. Everyone was in a panic. Total chaos. Thank God I was there to take charge. I told the maid to call the police, I told Waters to get some towels. He and Sam had already made a mess of the scene walking in the blood. I knew we didn't want to disturb anything, so I brought everyone down to the library while the police were contacted.

Liz: Did you suspect anyone at that time?

Hollister: I don't know. I only remember thinking I was too late.

Liz: Too late. What do you mean?

Hollister: It was something Able had said when we last spoke. To be honest with you, until I saw the body, I didn't take it seriously.

Liz: What was it?

Hollister: He said he was worried about Aiden.

Liz: Uh, the assistant said this.

Hollister: Isn't that what I just said? Yes, yes, he said he was worried Aiden's life was in danger, that threats had been made. He wouldn't elaborate, but I assured him I would speak to Aiden about it.

Liz: You know where I can reach Mr. Able.

Hollister: I have no idea. Sam might have his number. But now, if you don't mind, Miss Detective, it's been more than five minutes. I have actual business to get back to.

Liz: Oh, one last question.

Hollister: What is it?

Liz: After dinner, once you were unable to make your phone call, you say you went to bed?

Hollister: That's right.

Liz: I understand your wife was making a tour of the house. Do you happen to know what time she returned to your room?

Hollister: I thought we already covered this.

Liz: I'm just trying to establish a timeline. Do you have an approximate time?

Hollister: No, I don't.

Liz: Did she return to your room at all that night?

Hollister: What the hell are you implying?

Liz: Did your wife have any reason to be afraid of you, Fred?

Hollister: Goodnight, detective.

Liz: Hey, it's Liz. Talk to the robot machine.

Detective Hodge...: Hey Liz, this is Jim Hodges. Listen, when we, uh, when we spoke the other day, I'd mentioned a message that Croft had left on his, uh, micro recorder; the one we found by the body. Well, uh, anyway, I just sent you the audio file. It's pretty short, so, uh, I don't know what you'll get out of it, but, oh, let me know if there's, uh, anything else I can help out with, okay? All right, well, take care.

Aiden Croft: It worked (laughs). I can't believe it. Oh. Oh, these damn power outages. That's the fourth one now, and the backup generator still fails to compensate. I need to tell Isabelle... Oh, hello. I wasn't expecting you back here. I thought you were downstairs with the others. [inaudible] I wasn't expecting you back here. I thought you were downstairs with the others.

Narrator: 7 Suspects is written, directed and produced by Jon Rolfe. Liz Devereaux is voiced by Chelsea Krause, Hollister by Bradley Gareth, Detective Hodges by Joe Shelton, the news anchor was Jill Sperling, sound design and engineering by Randy Greer. The theme music is Cold String by Tiny Music.

Shows like this and other audio drama isn't possible without support from our fans. More than anything, we appreciate you listening. If you've been enjoying so far, please take the time to rate the show on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen. This goes a long way to helping us reach other listeners.

If you have a theory about who did it, we'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at 7 Suspects. That's with the number seven. You can also email us at 7suspectspodcast@gmail.com. Remember, that's the number seven. Please be sure to tune in for our next episode, The Widow. Until then, I'm Alex Eller. Thank you for listening, and goodnight.