BB’s Mini-Mystery #4

Here you go:

An Ounce of Prevention
By Rebecca Benston

Erika Johnson was a pharmaceutical sales representative. She worked for one of the big names in the pharmaceutical industry and had a large client base that had been built up over the course of five years. She had started out wanting to be a social worker, but when she figured out that she wouldn’t be able to make enough money doing social work, she answered an ad in her local paper and the rest was history. As a sales rep, she made good money and she still felt like she would be helping people because she was offering samples of medication which doctors could then pass on to their patients. At least, this was how she rationalized it.

She had just dropped off her usual week’s worth of samples to the largest medical group in town and was waiting for the elevator, when she encountered an elderly woman who asked her, “Are you able to give samples to individual patients?”

“Oh, no, ma’am, I’m sorry,” she had responded, “I’m not qualified to make the diagnosis required to dispense the samples. You can ask your doctor for samples the next time you’re in.”

“Well, my doctor won’t give me samples, I’ve asked him,” the lady said in a feeble voice, “I can’t afford the regular medication and they tell me if I don’t take it, I could have a heart attack.”

“I’m really sorry, but I just can’t,” she had said to the woman. She thought for a moment and then asked, “Which doctor is it that you go to?”

“Dr. Reed, up on the third floor,” she answered.

“What medication was it that you needed?” Erika had asked.

The lady gave here the names of her medications and Erika had told her that she would check with the doctor to see if he wanted some samples to hand out. The two parted ways with the older woman thanking Erika profusely for making the effort. Erika made a note in her calendar to visit Dr. Reed and then got in her car and drove home.

Although it was a little unusual, Erika called Dr. Reed’s office and asked if she could speak with the doctor regarding a patient of his. She told him of her encounter with the elderly woman in the elevator and he agreed that he would talk with his patient about the medications. Two weeks later, Erika paid a visit to Dr. Reed’s office, dropping off samples of the medications that the older lady had requested. She only had two of the three medications, but it was better than nothing. When she left the building, she felt like she had really done something useful and so she went out and treated herself to dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant. Dr. Reed had been pretty easy to talk to and he had agreed to pass on samples to those patients in his practice who might benefit from the drugs. Satisfied that she had done the right thing, she ate her dinner and then went home to prepare for work the next day.

As was her usual ritual, she put her suitcase and materials by the door so that she would be ready to start early in the morning. She set up her coffee pot to brew at 5:30 a.m. and then set her alarm clock to wake her at 5:45 a.m. Generally, she got up and showered before having coffee. She grabbed a cup to go and then headed out to the garage with her briefcase and samples. She usually ran into the same few people in the morning on her way to work. The neighbor, Essie Holtz was usually out walking her little dog in the courtyard. Her husband, Mr. Holtz was usually headed to his car at the same time as Erika. He often offered to help her with her bags and she usually refused. There was also Mrs. Taylor who lived across the street from the apartment building. She was usually up sitting on her porch waiting for the newspaper delivery boy.
On this day in particular, Mr. Holtz wasn’t heading to his car. Erika noticed that Mrs. Holtz wasn’t out walking the dog either. Mrs. Taylor said hello to Erika and waved her over. She told her that Mrs. Holtz had been rushed to the hospital last evening and that Mr. Holtz hadn’t yet come home. Erika told Mrs. Taylor to let her know if anything else happened while she was at work today. She wasn’t terribly close to her neighbors, but she felt terrible hearing of Mrs. Holtz’s illness.

Exactly one week later, Erika heard that Mrs. Holtz had passed away. As it turned out, she’d suffered from a severe heart attack and the doctors hadn’t been able to help her. She hadn’t been taking her medication because her husband’s insurance had run out after he’d retired from his job three months earlier. Erika went to work feeling depressed and just plain disgusted at losing her neighbor. She berated herself for not having been a better friend to the Holtz’s and for not checking with Mrs. Holtz to make sure she’d had everything she needed. She could have gotten her some medication if only she’d have asked.

The day didn’t improve much when Erika encountered the same old lady in the elevator she had met last week coming from Dr. Reed’s office. The old lady didn’t speak to her this time and Erika felt an uncomfortable silence as the elevator moved slowly down towards the lobby of the building. Feeling obligated to check, she turned to the older lady and asked her, “Were you able to get your samples from Dr. Reed?”

The old lady gave her a sharp look and then said, “He’s never offered me any samples, you probably didn’t even give them to him.” She didn’t say anything else to Erika and when the elevator doors opened, she shuffled past Erika and out the front doors of the building without looking back. She got into a car that was waiting by the entrance to the building. Stung by the exchange, Erika stood there in the elevator as the doors closed again. She waited for a moment and then pushed the button for the lobby so that the doors would open again. When they opened, she was staring down the barrel of a gun. Without a word, the person behind the gun fired and Erika’s lifeless body dropped to the floor.

The police were at the building within minutes and the investigation was on. They spoke with everyone in the building and got a list of everyone who had come and gone within the last two hours. They also got the security camera’s videotape for the lobby area. The whole thing was just bizarre and ask Detective Mathis was finding out, there was absolutely no reason for something like this to have happened. Erika was well-liked by all of the doctors and their office staff. She was generous and had a great personality. She wasn’t overbearing and she seemed to genuinely care about the work she was doing.

“It was as if she hoped she was making a difference,” said Nancy Atherton, the receptionist at Dr. Powell’s office. She cried as she spoke to the police, wiping her tears as she spoke of Erika’s visits to their practice.

Another receptionist, Judy Cook said, “I can’t imagine who would want to hurt someone like Erika.”

The building was shut down for the day while the crime scene was investigated. It was a Friday, so they had the weekend to try and figure out what had happened before people started coming back through on Monday.

What do you think? Who was this elderly woman? Did she have anything at all to do with Erika’s murder?
If not, then who killed her? Take a shot! You could win a $10 gift card! Send in your guess by Friday at 5 p.m. EST!

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