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The Victim: My favorite pillow. A gift from my grandmother, embroidered with my initials. Ripped open, torn to pieces, soft innards spilled everywhere.

The Suspects: Clifford the puppy, Caleb the snake, and Caspian the ferret. Each equally capable and mischievous enough to have pulled this off.

The Witness: Piper the parakeet saw the entire thing go down from her cage. Unfortunately after witnessing such a brutal, vicious crime, she wasn't speaking. Instead, she wrote this down for me:

SUUUUUSUSSSSSSSSSSUUUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUSSSSSSSSUSUSSSUSSSSUSUSSSNPUSSSUPSPUSUUUSSSPSSUPUUUSUUUSUUUSUUUPSPUSSSSUPSPUPUPSPSSPUPSPUSNSSPSPSPSSSPSHUPSSPSSUPSHUPSSUPSSUPSHUPSSUPSSPSDSPSPSDSPSSPSPSSUPNSSPUPSPUPUPUUUPSSPUPSPUUUPUPSPUPSPUUUPUPSSSSPUUUPUPUUUPSSPUPUPSS

After looking at it for hours, I was ready to discard it as gibberish, when Dottie the hamster gave me this mysterious tip: SHUKDSVWKHDOSKDEHWLVPHUHOBVBPEROLF

Who destroyed my grandmother's pillow, and how do you know?

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  • $\begingroup$ PS. I'm new to Puzzling so I hope I got the tags right. And hope that this isn't too easy $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 11 '18 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is the fact that the message is 259 characters relevant (divisible by 7 and 37)? $\endgroup$ – gnovice Jan 15 '18 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ @gnovice it is not $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 15 '18 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ It is not? And I thought I was onto something rot13(jura V fnj gung gur guerr Af fcyvg gur zrffntr vagb sbhe puhaxf bs 64 yrggref.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 15 '18 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm so close! lol $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 15 '18 at 10:39
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Who destroyed the pillow?

The ferret did it!

What did the parakeet say?

The parakeet's message is strange. It consists of many repeated letters, 259 in total with the following distribution:

  121 × S   73 × U   57 × P   3 × H   3 × N   2 × D

What do the letters mean? We are given a hint, that the alphabet could be symbolic. Hmm. These letters could be chemical symbols, except D. (D could mean Deuterium, but that's not how chemistry works here on PSE.) The hint is given by someone called Dottie. The letters have three- or four-signal Morse encodings. Replacing them yields a message of 840 dots and dashes. Perhaps we have to arrange them in a rectangle so that dashes and dots make a nice pattern. After all, the puzzle is about an embroibered pillow and the message might be an embroidery pattern. Unfortunately, I couldn't get anything useful out of any of these ideas.

Here's a useful observation:

The three N's in the message are at positions 65, 130 and 195. That's a very regular pattern and we can divide the string at these positions to get four lines of equal length:

SUUUUUSUSSSSSSSSSSUUUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUSSSSSSSSUSUSSSUSSSSUSUSSS
PUSSSUPSPUSUUUSSSPSSUPUUUSUUUSUUUSUUUPSPUSSSSUPSPUPUPSPSSPUPSPUS
SSPSPSPSSSPSHUPSSPSSUPSHUPSSUPSSUPSHUPSSUPSSPSDSPSPSDSPSSPSPSSUP
SSPUPSPUPUPUUUPSSPUPSPUUUPUPSPUPSPUUUPUPSSSSPUUUPUPUUUPSSPUPUPSS

Let's separate the letters for clarity:

S.....S.SSSSSSSSSS...SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.SSSSSSSS.S.SSS.SSSS.S.SSS
..SSS..S..S...SSS.SS.....S...S...S....S..SSSS..S.....S.SS...S..S
SS.S.S.SSS.S...SS.SS..S...SS..SS..S...SS..SS.S.S.S.S.S.SS.S.SS..
SS...S.........SS...S.......S...S.......SSSS...........SS.....SS

.UUUUU.U..........UUU.................U........U.U...U....U.U...
.U...U...U.UUU......U.UUU.UUU.UUU.UUU...U....U...U.U......U...U.
.............U......U...U...U...U...U...U.....................U.
...U...U.U.UUU....U...UUU.U...U...UUU.U......UUU.U.UUU....U.U...

................................................................
P.....P.P........P...P...............P.P......P.P.P.P.P..P.P.P..
..P.P.P...P...P..P...P...P...P...P...P...P..P...P.P...P..P.P...P
..P.P.P.P.P...P..P.P.P...P.P.P.P.P...P.P....P...P.P...P..P.P.P..

................................................................
................................................................
............H..........H...........H..........D.....D...........
................................................................

Some patterns emerge: The P's are only present on every other column and the vertical stretches of U's are where the P's aren't. There are three thick columns of S's. And the few H's and D's are only in the third row.

What now? The line length of 64 could mean that we have to rearrange each line into a 8 ×8 square, but that doesn't work.

Ah!

Remember that we split the text into lines at the N's? So effectively, we have replaced each N with a New-line character. Perhaps the other letters represent symbols, too? That would also fit nicely with the hint.

Clearly, S means Space. After a bit of experimentation, we get U for Underscore and P for the Pipe character – that's what programmers call the vertical bar. All is clear now, and we fill in the last two: H for Hyphen and D for Dot.

Who destroyed the pillow again?

 _____ _          ___                 _        _ _   _    _ _
|_   _| |_ ___   |  _|___ ___ ___ ___| |_    _| |_|_| |  |_| |_
  | | |   | -_|  |  _| -_|  _|  _| -_|  _|  | . | | . |  | |  _|
  |_| |_|_|___|  |_| |___|_| |_| |___|_|    |___|_|___|  |_|_|

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes! Perfect. I should have included the "symbolic" hint from the beginning. My apologies to the early guessers who didn't have much to go on. And yes, programmer, guilty as charged :D $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 15 '18 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ To be frank, the "symbolic" hint didn't help me all that much. On the contrary, it led me to several dead ends. I think it's better to give hints when you see that the puzzle doesn't get solved. Giving too many hints right away may make a puzzle too easy. (But this one wasn't.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 15 '18 at 21:02
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Partial answer

The mysterious tip is

PERHAPS THE ALPHABET IS MERELY SYMBOLIC (ROT-23).

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The animal that did it was:

The Snake. The reason the parrot said 'SSSSSSS' was because that is how the snake sounded while ripping up the pillow.

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  • $\begingroup$ Misdirection ;) $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 11 '18 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @frabjrew did I get it right? $\endgroup$ – kraby15 Jan 12 '18 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ No, somebody else got the correct answer now but not the reasoning behind it $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 12 '18 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ does the answer are only found on the question? no Googling needed? $\endgroup$ – kiLLua Jan 12 '18 at 5:03
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    $\begingroup$ @killua it is really just a cipher $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 12 '18 at 5:37
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The ferret, because that's your profile picture.

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    $\begingroup$ Right answer but wrong reason. And her name is Sky not Caspian :) $\endgroup$ – ferret Jan 12 '18 at 5:37

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