# Is Daryl Jr.'s Birthday Card Hiding Something?

Disclaimer: This puzzle stands alone. No knowledge is needed of or from the linked puzzle below. The link is included only because it is the same character in a similar situation.

Daryl the convict was recently caught trying to send his wife a Valentine's Day card with a hidden message about his planned escape. The lead mail inspector discovered the message, shut down the plan, and returned the card to Daryl.

Although Daryl's latest mail, a birthday card to Daryl Jr., underwent heavy scrutiny by the same mail inspectors, it actually made it through the gauntlet and went out.

Did they miss something? Is Daryl Jr's birthday card hiding something?

On the front of the card was just "Happy 10th Birthday, Son".

And inside of the card:

Daryl Jr.,

I hope you have the best birthday ever. I wish I could be there. I made you a word search because I know you love doing those. Remember the strategy I taught you: left to right, top to bottom. Also, looking for an entire word is difficult, so focus on the first part of each word, and you'll find it!

Love,

ACE
ACRE
AEON
AIM
ANGEL
EACH
EASY
EITHER
ESCORT
ESSAY
IMAGE
JEANS
OCEAN
PEANUT
SEEK
SEIZE
TEACH
TEAM
TEETH
TOOTH
WONDER

Text version of word search above:

R   O   J   S   L   I   F   T   N   B   T   W
O   C   E   F   S   U   A   E   R   D   O   H
D   E   S   S   A   Y   E   A   I   N   S   C
K   A   I   M   E   O   O   M   D   P   E   A
U   N   L   E   C   T   N   E   E   T   I   E
O   I   Z   R   A   E   R   A   I   H   Z   T
B   C   N   J   S   C   N   H   T   A   E   I
H   T   S   C   E   U   H   O   H   N   D   T
I   E   O   W   T   A   O   D   E   G   E   E
D   R   R   H   I   T   N   Y   R   E   L   A
T   L   O   C   V   N   O   S   T   L   F   S
U   T   E   G   A   M   I   H   G   R   P   Y


EDIT: 9-11-2022
Just now realizing that EACH is contained in TEACH, I am adding in a restriction for the word search: A word cannot be fully contained in another word. Therefore, the EACH that is not in TEACH is the correct EACH.

The grid is not a ruse. It is needed. The front of the card and 1st 3 sentences on the inside are just flavor text/fluff. Once you find the word property, it will lead to the answer. It is a simple and cool property which I do not remember ever having seen used, but I'm sure it has been used by someone, somewhere.

• Please leave feedback in the comments. What is the issue with this puzzle? Can I make it more enjoyable or interesting? Is it difficult to know where to start?
– JLee
Sep 10 at 13:45
• It's not that the puzzle isn't interesting or intriguing. (Unless the headline follows Betteridge's law, but then it wouldn't be much of a puzzle.) But I'm stuck and no conspirative messages about files in bread loaves have turned up. Sep 11 at 7:32
• rot13(Pyrneyl, gur uvag va gur yrggre nobhg tbvat sebz yrsg gb evtug naq gbc gb obggbz naq nobhg sbphfvat ba gur jbeqf' ortvaavatf vf vzcbegnag, ohg V qba'g frr ubj. (Gur ntr bs zl fba, gra, zvtug or vzcbegnag, gbb.) Gur jbeqf va gur tevq ner va nyy rvtug qverpgvbaf naq gurer vfa'g nalguvat arne gurve urnqf va gur tevq. Gur urnqf naq gur yrsgbire yrggref qba'g fcryy nalguvat.) ... Sep 11 at 7:33
• ... rot13(V gubhtug nobhg ybbxvat ng gur yrggref orsber gur jbeqf, ohg fbzr bs gur jbeqf fgneg ng gur znetva. V unira'g sbhaq n pbzzba cebcregl bs gur jbeqf, rvgure. Creuncf bar pna rkgraq be punatr gur "urnqf" gb trg bgure jbeqf, ohg lbh pna'g qb gung jvgu BPRNA be VZNTR. Gur pubvpr bs jbeqf vf n ovg fgenatr: GRNPU pbagnvaf RNPU, naq GRRGU/GBBGU naq NPR/NPER ner gbb fvzvyne. V'z abg fher gur tevq vf arrqrq ng nyy; vg zvtug whfg or n ehfr sbe gur jneqraf.) Sep 11 at 7:33
• @MOehm Thx for the feedback. All your ideas are good and generally on the right track. Definitely not Betteridge's Law, lest I be booed off stage! In considering your comments, I just now realized that "each" is also in "teach", meaning that there are 2 instances of each, which was not intended. I will add this fact into the puzzle by adding the restriction that a word cannot be fully contained in another word. The grid is not a ruse. It is needed. The front of the card and 1st 3 sentences on the inside are just flavor text/fluff. I will add all this into the puzzle also.
– JLee
Sep 11 at 9:07

Following from Stiv's solved wordsearch...

The beginning sound of each word is either the name of a letter or a number. For example, "OCEAN" begins with an "OH" sound, giving O, "ESSAY" begins with an "ESS" sound, giving S, and "TOOTH" begins with a "TWO" sound, giving 2.

We can then order by the position of the first letter of each word within the grid, in reading order per the letter, to get the message OCT 1 ESCAPE EAST GATE 2 AM.

• Ah, now it all makes sense :) Well spotted...
– Stiv
Sep 11 at 15:29
• Is there somewhere that M is pronounced Im or was that to make it harder? That made me rule out the mechanism. Nice puzzle!
– Amoz
Sep 11 at 16:30
• It's all rather obvious now. I wondered why so many words begin with a vowel and had similar beginnings, but couldn't see why. Sep 11 at 16:45
• @Amoz I ruled this out too, because of 'WONDER' and 'TOOTH', totally failing to see that they had their own slightly different significance...
– Stiv
Sep 11 at 21:09

A community wiki answer to share the solution of the wordsearch, initial letters circled:

Shared in the hope this might help others spot the word property and next steps...

• thx @Stiv. The word property exists apart from the word search, but both are needed to find the solution.
– JLee
Sep 11 at 14:56
• @JLee Having posted this, I've suddenly had an idea myself that I'm now working through to see if it goes anywhere! EDIT: Yeah, that didn't work either...
– Stiv
Sep 11 at 14:57
• To save you time, if it is not simple, it's probably not it.
– JLee
Sep 11 at 14:58