IDAVILLE, FL—Police are currently investigating the death of police detective Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, 49, whose body was discovered in a Dumpster behind the Idaville Public Library Monday.
"Detective Brown's death is a great loss," said Idaville Police Commissioner Rupert "Bugs" Meany, a longtime critic of Brown's unorthodox investigative technique who nevertheless appeared to be shaken by the murder. "Thanks to him, Idaville has the highest arrest-to-conviction-due-to-obscure-trivia rate in the nation. I believe I speak for everyone in Idaville when I say that Encyclopedia Brown was truly the greatest sleuth in sneakers."
Police discovered Brown's badly beaten, nearly decapitated body after the detective failed to respond to routine radio check-in calls. Pages from Brown's battered casebook, which contained such cryptic entries as "Whales are mammals, not fish," and "Dinosaurs and cavemen did not live at the same time," were found stuffed in the detective's mouth.
Police said the only other evidence found at the crime scene was a pair of "disgusting sneakers" and a damaged floral-patterned cookie jar that held dozens of human teeth.
According to friends, Brown spent hours at the library each evening memorizing facts—blooming cycles of house plants, the notes of the harmonic scale, America's state capitals—that often proved crucial to his violent-crime-unit investigations.
"Leroy taught me everything I know about investigative police work," said Capt. Sally Kimball-Brown, Brown's friend since childhood and wife until their divorce in 1986. "You can be sure we'll use the technique that bears his name to track down his killer."
"Encyclopedia was a good man who helped a lot of people," Kimball-Brown added. "For him, no case was too small."
Brown, the only son of former Idaville Police Chief Brown, is survived only by Kimball-Brown. Brown's salary, $.25 per day plus expenses, will be placed in a fund to establish a criminology scholarship in his name at Idaville University.
Kimball-Brown said Brown was so respected that even several criminals he helped convict have stepped forward to assist investigators.
"Thanks to him, I got a new start," said parolee Margaret "Maggie" DeLong, who was convicted for intellectual-property theft late last year in Case 03-823: The Case Of The Stolen Tape, but was later released on Brown's recommendation. "You can bet your bottom dollar I'll be working closely with the cops on this one."
"Looks like Brown finally ran up against a case he couldn't crack," said a caller who identified himself to police only as "Stewie." "But everything isn't what it seems here. Check out a gang called the Tigers. See who really runs it. There's your clue."
Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Internal Affairs Division are investigating the lead by making a long list of all the facts they know about tigers. They are also investigating wildcats, the jungle, zoo history, and rumors of unrest within the Idaville Police Department.
"Leroy and Commissioner Meany butted heads before," Kimball-Brown said. "Leroy knew he was the better detective, and it bothered him that Bugs' smooth-talking and glad-handing got him the commissioner's seat, in spite of his spotty past. It's also common knowledge that Bugs resented Encyclopedia's cleverness, which often made Bugs look like a clumsy, no-necked bully."
Tensions between Brown and Meany came to a head in 1999 when, against Meany's wishes, Brown testified before the Florida Supreme Court in The Case Of The Slippery Salamander. Meany publicly threatened Brown several days after the The Miami Herald lauded "ace case-cracker Encyclopedia Brown" for his expert testimony on a dead cockroach, a runaway judge, a peacock's egg, and a stolen surfboard.
Because of the long-standing mutual enmity between Meany and Brown, Meany was named among the suspects in The Case Of Encyclopedia Brown's Mangled Corpse. Meany denied the allegations.
"It's true that Detective Brown and I didn't see eye to eye, but I would never do something so downright dirty rotten as murder him," Meany said. "Besides, it's a matter of public record that, at the time the crime was committed, I was at the North Pole watching the penguins."
While no solid leads have surfaced, Kimball-Brown said she has a hunch that Brown knew his killer.
"The bitter irony is that Brown would have easily cracked a case like this one," Kimball-Brown said. "I just can't help but wonder: WHAT DID ENCYCLOPEDIA KNOW THAT WOULD HAVE HELPED HIM SOLVE HIS OWN MURDER?"
For the answer to this story, turn to page 76.