Here is a puzzle I have made (my first so please go easy :) ). I hope you enjoy (and that it is doable).

Dear Sir/Madam.........19th of September 1887

I present to you a most interesting case, which the official force has had no luck in trying to solve, and for which we need your assistance. The facts are these, 3 nights before Lord Linton was set to bed by his Butler Jones as was routine.

When Jones came to awake the Lord on the morning of two day’s ago, he was found dead.

There were 4 people in the house at the time, the Lord himself, the butler, the maid and the son. All external doors and windows were found to be latched, and had evidently not been opened for a few days before our arrival.

The evidence collected is as follows:

  • The stairs up to the Lords room were particularly dusty in comparison to the rest of the house. Only one set of footprints could be seen, those of Jones, once up and once down.

  • The maid was adamant that she could hear the Son pacing up and down his room. Jones was less sure.

  • Although the maid and Jones are set to benefit financially from the death of the Lord. The Son is the main benefactor of the estate.

Attached is the layout of the first floor of the house, to save you a visit:

enter image description here

I am sure with your intellect, you will have solved the crime from these facts alone. However, if you need any further evidence, ask and I will see what I can do.

Please reply with who did the crime and how do you know.

Inspector Quantum

Who killed the Lord and how do you know?

  • $\begingroup$ Is the date important? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Nov 12 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Not the exact date. Just that its not the 21st century . $\endgroup$ – Quantum spaghettification Nov 12 '16 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ How many of them and precisely who are on a same floor? $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Nov 12 '16 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot The plan given is of the first floor. The Lord lives on the floor above. $\endgroup$ – Quantum spaghettification Nov 12 '16 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ In the current stage of the question, it might attract many answers I guess. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Nov 12 '16 at 15:48

The main piece of evidence seems to be that there is only one set of footprints on the stairs. This indicates, that

The butler must have often used the window to enter or to exit the Lord's room (using a ladder or a rope).

The motive for this probably was

To meet secretly

I think the crime was committed by

The butler and the Lord

And the crime committed was

Sodomy (or whatever term was used for the action, illegal at that time). The Inspector probably found evidence of this during the Lord's post-mortem examination.

Edit: I missed the "Who killed the Lord?" at the end of your question, so probably

The Son had found out (that's why he was walking nervously at night), and that's why the Lord decided to take his own life (probably also a crime at that time).

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  • $\begingroup$ There was one set "one up and one down". $\endgroup$ – greenturtle3141 Nov 12 '16 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ As for the other two answers, this doesn't explain how there was only one set of footprints. Where is the footprint of the lord? And the other set of footprints of the butler? $\endgroup$ – vacip Nov 12 '16 at 20:37

Here is my answer.

The Maid did it

Firstly the stairs:

The stairs where dusty with only one set of footprints. This means that the dust must have been put down in the night. The obvious reason this was done was to hide footprints. Jones would not go through the effort of putting dust down to hide his footprints in the night and then in morning walk up and down the stairs putting his footprints in the dust. Therefore we can be sure it was not Jones. The Maid likely has access to more dust (note date 1800s) and therefore this is evidence against her.

The pacing of the Son.

We now know that the crime was not committed by Jones - we can assume he has no reason to lie. Yet Jones, who lives closest to the Son, did not hear the pacing of the Son. Even if we did not suspect the Maid already, this indicates that she has lied - and therefore has something to do with the affair.

The benefit financially:

This would indicate any of them, and gives a motive for their actions.


The fact that the doors and windows 'had evidently not been opened for a few days' indicates there was someway to tell this, probable dirt or dust. This indicates the Maid was not carrying out her duties in the last couple of days - she may have been preoccupied or dissatisfied with her work.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could have avoided giving the answer so soon. If it is not answered soon, it probably means not many people have yet seen your answer $\endgroup$ – Sid Nov 12 '16 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Sid Lesson learned. Sorry. $\endgroup$ – Quantum spaghettification Nov 12 '16 at 17:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also this is more like other answers. Only assumptions and probability. $\endgroup$ – Techidiot Nov 12 '16 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Techidiot Clearly I am not very good at writing puzzles :) - oh well, I will just wonder off back to Physics SE... If any one can come up with a better incarnation of this puzzle / on this style I would be very keen to see it. $\endgroup$ – Quantum spaghettification Nov 12 '16 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ I liked this puzzle, pity you didn't let us more time to answer. @Techidiot the other answers leave the lack of footprints unanswered. $\endgroup$ – vacip Nov 12 '16 at 20:38

I think the son did it. To get to the master's room, the butler walks diagonally across the room. The way the maid's door opens makes it impossible for her to step in the butler's steps, ruling the maid out. The pacing that the maid heard implies that the pacing was near enough to her to hear. However, it would be difficult to hear unless she were right beside the room that the pacing was taking place in. Therefore, the pacing must have been the butler's, ruling the butler out.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't explain how there was only one set of footprints. Evening, butler+lord up, butler down, morning, butler up and down. Where is the footprint of the lord? And the other set of footprints of the butler? $\endgroup$ – vacip Nov 12 '16 at 20:36

I think it was

The Son

The dust on the stairs

Jones went down once leaving his footprints so the son could carefully step on them leaving no footprints

The pacing

The maid, being the furthest to the son's room and the closest to the stairs, said she heard the pacing while jones was closest to the son's room and further from the stairs and wasn't sure (maybe he just heard the son's footsteps going in and out of the room?)

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't explain how there was only one set of footprints. Evening, butler+lord up, butler down, morning, butler up and down. Where is the footprint of the lord? And the other set of footprints of the butler? $\endgroup$ – vacip Nov 12 '16 at 20:37

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