7 Suspects

10. The Denouement

September 01, 2022 ROLFE Episode 10
10. The Denouement
7 Suspects
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7 Suspects
10. The Denouement
Sep 01, 2022 Episode 10

Liz flies to California to meet the suspects and finally reveal who killed Aiden Croft. But what she learns there is more startling than she ever could've imagined...  

Created by Jon Rolfe
Featuring Chelsea Krause, Sarah Ruth Thomas, Jill Sperling and Alex Eller.

Show Artwork by O2bri
Follow us on: 

Show Notes Transcript

Liz flies to California to meet the suspects and finally reveal who killed Aiden Croft. But what she learns there is more startling than she ever could've imagined...  

Created by Jon Rolfe
Featuring Chelsea Krause, Sarah Ruth Thomas, Jill Sperling and Alex Eller.

Show Artwork by O2bri
Follow us on: 

Chelsea Krause: Hello. I'm Chelsea Krause, the voice of Liz Devereaux. Before we begin our last episode and reveal the killer, I'd like to take this moment on behalf of our entire cast and crew to thank you for listening. And if you've enjoyed our story, we'd ask you to please consider sharing it with others. Audio fiction podcasts are an accessible and unique creative media which many have yet to discover. If our show has delighted, befuddled, excited or just plain entertained you in any way, then don't keep it to yourself. We encourage you to please share with a family member or friend. So now that that's said, let's get to it. Without any further delay, we invite you to get comfortable, turn up the volume, adjust your earbuds and enjoy the final episode of 7 Suspects.

Samantha: Hello, Elizabeth.

Liz: Hello, Samantha. Seven days goes by fast.

Samantha: Did you speak to them all?

Liz: I did.

Samantha: And?

Liz: Well, it's like you said. It's a puzzle. To be honest with you, until last night I was dreading this phone call. I didn't wanna let you down.

Samantha: Oh? Well, what happened last night?

Liz: Are you still out in California?

Samantha: I am. I have a little place up in Marin now.

Liz: I'd like you to do me a favor. I'd like you to fly me out there and I'd like you to contact all seven suspects and ask them to come meet us at your house. I want to speak to them all again in person.

Samantha: We had a deal. One week. Why would I do that?

Liz: Because last night, I figured out who killed your husband. I know who killed Aiden Croft.

Samantha: Can you leave tonight?

Liz: My bag is already packed.

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 field 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 10, the denouement.

Nurse: Miss Hardaway?

Samantha: Oh. Yes? What is it, Peter?

Nurse: Uh, there's a woman here to see you. A Miss Devereaux?

Liz: Hello, Samantha.

Samantha: Elizabeth. Hello. Excuse me. I must've dozed off. Thank you, Peter. That's all for now.

I sleep a lot in the afternoons now. How was your flight?

Liz: When you said you had a little place, this isn't exactly what I had in mind. It's nice.

Samantha: I live comfortably enough for a sick woman.

Liz: Yeah. I'm sorry to see your condition is... Well, I'm sorry.

Samantha: It's fine. Please have a seat. Do you want anything to drink? It's just herbal teas for me, but I'm sure Peter could make you something stronger.

Liz: Thank you. No, I'm fine. Where are the others?

Samantha: It's not yet 4:00. I imagine they'll be here soon.

Liz: Right. Guess my flight got in a little early. That's good though, actually. I wanted to talk to you first. I'm hoping you can clear up one last thing for me.

Samantha: What's that?

Liz: Did your husband wear any jewelry?

Samantha: Jewelry? I'm not sure I follow.

Liz: Like a necklace or anything like that. That you know of, I mean.

Samantha: (laughs) Uh, no. I don't remember him wearing any necklaces. He rarely wore his wedding ring if you must know.

Liz: Of course.

Samantha: You're very cryptic, Elizabeth. Here I am on my literal deathbed, and we're waiting for what, for you to gather the suspects like Poirot? You know I don't have much time.

Please tell me what I want to know. Which one of them is lying?

Liz: You're right. I'll tell you. It was Aiden. Aiden was lying.

Samantha: God. I hope you didn't fly out here so you could tell me more about his affairs.

Liz: No, not the affairs. I'm talking about his murder. I think we've all been thinking about this case wrong. The murder wasn't what we thought, or it wasn't when we thought. You see, when the body was first discovered, your husband wasn't actually dead.

Samantha: You've lost me already.

Liz: He'd staged his death and the scene.

Samantha: Why would he do something like that?

Liz: Because it was the climax of an elaborate hoax, a hoax he devised long before that night.

Samantha: Elizabeth, I can assure you my husband is dead. This isn't a game.

Liz: Oh, I realize that. He was murdered that night, but it was after you and the others found him. Let me explain.

First, there's the body itself. There were eight stab wounds in the back and also the lacerated throat. The autopsy showed the cut throat is what killed him. So why the wounds in the back?

Did any one of you closely inspect the body? Did any of you actually see with your own eyes the wound in Croft's neck, when you found him?

Samantha: There was so much blood.

Liz: Enough blood that no one would question the wounds or whether they were fatal.

Samantha: Then where did it come from?

Liz: Oh, it was Aiden Croft's blood. It was Fred Hollister who told me all about Aiden's health obsession, how he stored his own blood. He'd had more than enough for a grisly crime.

Samantha: This is all making me more ill.

Liz: But it's the power outages which really give it away. Do you recall how many there were?

Samantha: How many? I have no idea. They when on all night.

Liz: Right, but maybe you remember how many there were before the body was found?

Samantha: I wasn't counting.

Liz: (laughs) No, of course not. Who would pay attention to something like that? Know I didn't at first. Everyone mentioned them, but I never thought to count them all up, not until the other night when I re-listened to their stories.

When dinner ended at 10:00 PM, there had been three total power outages. After the third, Croft to the lab. And as we all know, the power doesn't go out again until after the body is discovered.

Samantha: Let's see. Okay. Yeah, that sounds right. One before dinner and then two more during dinner.

Liz: And yet.

Speaker 5: 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.

Liz: The power didn't go out a fourth time until after you'd called the police. Croft is making this recording after you'd all found him, after everyone had gone downstairs.

Samantha: But why? Why would he do all of that? Why go to all that trouble?

Liz: I told you. It was a hoax, a prank. That was his reputation, wasn't it?

Martin talked about the jokes he played in college. Casey, about the staged blackout for the G2 announcement. Even you said he knew how to put on a show.

Samantha: So this was a joke?

Liz: That's what it was supposed to be, yes. A memorable way to show off his new invention.

Samantha: And I suppose you've worked out what that is too.

Liz: I think so. But, uh, what about the others? What time exactly do you think they'll be arriving? You told them 4:00, right?

Samantha: Elizabeth, I want my answers.

Liz: Of course. What was it again? You wanted to know who was lying, right? Aiden was under pressure to deliver something big, but the public's expectations were getting out of hand. His legacy was beginning to take hits. The shareholders, including his good friend, had concerns about his behavior. The press was sowing doubts about his genius and the woman he desired was shunning him. It was making him desperate, so desperate, he even stole researchers from his main competitor. Of course, Martin's teleportation research was a dead end. It was all dead ends until he found out what you were working on.

Samantha: I already told you about that.

Liz: You did, but Aiden didn't de-prioritize your project. He realized its potential. He was going to move you off of it altogether. Artificial intelligence was your life's work. But when he saw what you were accomplishing, he intended to take it for his own.

He finally had his next big thing. The world was waiting, but first he planned a private reveal for his friend, Mr. Hollister; his ex lover, Ryleigh; his rival, Mr. Childress, and the skeptical reporter, Mr. Adams. He planned to make fools of all of them, and he'd use your work to do it. In fact, he'd enlist your help. You were a critical piece.

Samantha: How is that?

Liz: A month before his murder, before the invites were sent, each of the guests were contacted by a mysterious individual. To some, he identified himself as Mr. Able. They each spoke with him multiple times. Each of them found him credible, but none of them actually met this Mr. Able in person.

Samantha: You already asked about him. I'd never heard of him.

Liz: That's because Mr. Able wasn't real. He was a computer program. Its purpose was impersonation. And to plant the notion Aiden craft's life was in danger, Croft planned to hoodwink his guests, invite them all to his house and stage his own murder. Perhaps after they were all reeling from the shock, he'd appear and explain they'd all been duped. And you helped him with this little game.

Just before midnight, while Croft readied his own murder scene, You stayed awake waiting for Isabel. Croft had arranged for her to come to the lab at exactly 12:10 AM. He already knew she wouldn't approach the body, given how nauseated she became when she saw blood. But by the time she screamed, you were already halfway down the hall. You had to be sure you were the first on the scene. You needed to pronounce Croft dead, pretend to take his pulse. With so much blood, who wouldn't believe you anyway?

Samantha: If what you're saying is true, that he stole my work, why would I help him?

Liz: Because you had another plan. You were the only one who knew it was a hoax. If you could murder Aiden after everyone thought he was dead, no one would be the wiser.

So as they all waited for the police to arrive, you excused yourself. Instead of going to get cleaned up, you went to the breaker box and killed the power. Everyone assumed the power had gone out again. Even Croft. He was making his last memo when you slipped back into the lab. You slashed his throat so he wouldn't cry out. The sliced jugular was enough to kill him, but after you arranged his body, you stabbed him in the back. You needed to cover up the earlier ruse to account for what the others already saw.

Samantha: (Coughs…laughs) Uh, I'm sorry. I, I assume you have proof of this?

Liz: The necklace.

Samantha: Necklace? What necklace?

Liz: The one they found underneath the body, covered in blood. You aren't the only one who knew the truth about what happened. Aaron Waters knew too. He knew as soon as the police showed him what they found under the body, but he kept his mouth shut. He was smart enough to understand what it looked like.

But let's ask him when he gets here. I'll bet this time, he tells us the truth, that the necklace was the same prayer beads he gave you for consolation right before you left to go kill your husband.

Samantha: Aiden was a liar and he was a cheat. He built himself up by stepping on others. I was okay when our marriage disintegrated. I was even okay with the affairs he threw in my face. As long as I could continue my work, it didn't matter. After all, I didn't love him anymore. We were partners.

But when he told me he was taking over my project, once he saw what was possible, I was furious. I put my life into it. I'd sacrificed everything, my husband, my self-respect, and he was going to take it away like a toddler who sees a new toy.

He made my options clear. I could either help him or abandon the project. We both knew it technically belonged to Cipher. I couldn't leave it.

He was going to make an announcement immediately, but I told him it wasn't ready. There was a big argument. He wouldn't listen to me, but I convinced him to test it.

I knew he wouldn't pass up an opportunity to make others look foolish. And when he came up with this stupid murder idea, I saw the opportunity. I could be rid of him. I'd have time to finish. I couldn't pass this up.

Liz: But why did you come to me? Why ask me to solve the murder after all this time?

Samantha: I didn't ask you to solve the murder. I asked you to interview the suspects and tell me who was lying.

Liz: The suspects. Where exactly are the other suspects? They're not coming, are they? Did you even invite them?

Samantha: (laughs) I guess you didn't figure everything out.

Liz: Figure what out?

Samantha: Did you really think it was them? All seven of them? There was never a moment when you had a doubt?

Liz: What are you saying?

Samantha: Come on, Elizabeth. Now's not the time to get dumb on me. I provided all the phone numbers. I set up all the interviews. Who do you think you were talking to?

Liz: You were testing it on me. This wasn't an investigation. It was a confession.

Samantha: You wanted to know why I came to you all these years later. It wasn't ready until now. It took time, but now it is ready. Now I know it's perfect.

Liz: But why me?

Samantha: (laughs) I told you. I needed someone who would look close, someone who could sniff out bullshit and someone who would be able to tell this story fairly.

Liz: What story? That you killed your husband, that you're a murderer?

Samantha: That I created something revolutionary, that I am an inventor on par with my husband. Yes, I'm a murderer, but I also created life.

I'll honor our deal. The story is yours. You've done the work. You've solved the puzzle, and you should receive the credit. I only want the truth to be known.

Liz: What truth is that?

Samantha: This this, this is my legacy, not Aiden's, not Cipher's, mine. You're going to tell the world all about it. You're going to tell them who the real Aiden Croft was. You're going to tell them how his genius was outdone by his quiet, unknown wife. You're going to tell them the story of Samantha Hardaway. You'll tell the whole world. What do you say, Elizabeth?

Liz: Samantha, for the last time, my name is Liz.

Narrator: 7 suspects is written, directed and produced by Jon Rolfe. Liz Devereaux is voiced by Chelsea Krause, Samantha by Sarah Ruth Thomas. 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 is impossible without support from our fans. More than anything, we appreciate you listening. If you've been enjoying, 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.

We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at 7suspects. That's with the number seven. You can also email us at 7suspectspodcast@gmail.com. Remember, that's the number seven.

I'm Alex Eller. Thank you for listening and good night.