Something else. The gold was never recovered. It was possible, I supposed, that Kathryn smuggled it to Europe and then divorced Messer so she didn’t have to share it with him. Only that meant whoever blew up Messer in his car didn’t do it for the gold. They probably did it, as the newspaper articles suggested, to keep him from testifying, to protect themselves. I wondered if the cops ever found out who the bomber was.
I called Bobby Dunston and asked. He told me he had better things to do than search seventy-five-year-old homicide files for a confirmed reprobate like me.
I agreed and told him that’s what secretaries were for.
He told me his secretaries were vital members of his department and their time was far too valuable to be squandered on fantastical treasure hunts.
I told him if I did find Jelly’s gold I’d make sure he and Shelby got a taste.
He put me on hold.
Ten minutes later, a woman named Ruth told me in a careful voice that the Messer murder case was never closed. She said the police had fragments of the bomb, most of them recovered from the architect’s body, and an eyewitness account from a neighbor who said that she thought she saw two men loitering near Messer’s driveway shortly before daybreak. Ruth said that the detectives did learn that a gang of eastern gunmen and bomb experts had been in Minneapolis two days before the bombing and departed immediately after. “This,” Ruth said, “fit in perfectly with the police theory that Messer’s murder was committed by outsiders.”
“Did the police explain why outsiders would want to kill Messer?”
“Did they investigate any insiders?”
“I don’t know,” Ruth said. “The file is awfully thin.”
I thanked her for her efforts and hung up.
“So much for that,” I said.
Only I didn’t stop there. I remembered Heavenly said that Kathryn and James Dahlin returned to St. Paul in September of 1936, so I went to one of the massive metal filing cabinets where the microfilm was stored and located the roll labeled “St. Paul Dispatch: Sept. 1-Sept. 30, 1936.” I threaded it into the projector and started surfing through the images. It took me about ten minutes to find a photograph printed on the September 22 Home Magazine page that showed the Dahlins and their child. Kathryn was waving Tim’s hand at the camera. The headline read HOME TO STAY.
After spending three years living abroad and in New York, Mr. James Dahlin, son of wealthy builder Mr. John Dahlin, returned to St. Paul with his lovely wife, Kathryn, and two-year-old son, Timothy, “for good this time,” according to the boy’s father …
I studied the photograph for a long time. Kathryn truly was a lovely woman, yet it wasn’t the first time I had seen her. She was the one posed with Jelly Nash in the photo taken at Guardino’s. Uncle Mike had been right about the two of them.
I also studied Dahlin’s image. I compared it with the shot of Messer printed inside a small circle in the bombing story. Dahlin was better-looking and two decades younger—nearly Kathryn’s age. It made me think that Whitlow might have been on to something with his love-affair theory.
Still, there was another image in the photograph that intrigued me even more, a woman in the deep background that seemed younger yet every bit as attractive and aristocratic as Kathryn. The cutline identified her as “Kathryn’s sister, Mrs. Rose Pederson.”
“I wonder if they ever wrote to each other,” I said aloud.
Back to the computers in the Weyerhaeuser Reference Room and the Minnesota Death Certificates Index. There were eight listings for Rose Pederson, but only one that had the same mother’s maiden name as Kathryn’s:
Date of Birth: 11/13/1908
Place of Birth: Minnesota
Mother’s Maiden Name: Conlick
Date of Death: 10/18/1977
County of Death: Ramsey
I returned to the microfilm room, where I looked up Rose Pederson in the St. Paul Pioneer Press obituaries. I found her listed on October 20, 1977.
Pederson—Mrs. George (Rose Mable), age 69, formerly of 137 Montrose Place. Survived by daughter Mrs. John P. (Shelly) Seidel, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Services Thursday 2:00 P.M. from JOHNSON-DAMPER Funeral Home, 678 S. Snelling Avenue. Interment Roselawn. Friends may call from 4:00 to 8:00 P.M. Wednesday. Memorials are preferred to the American Cancer Society.
An older, balding, slightly overweight gentleman was sitting behind the desk just inside the microfilm room, an air of expectation about him, as if he were waiting for someone to ask for his assistance. I went up to him.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said. “Would you happen to have a phone book?”
I didn’t find a John P. Seidel, but I did find a Shelly.
The woman answered with a happy, singsong voice that suggested there was nothing she enjoyed more than speaking on the telephone.
“Mrs. Shelly Seidel?”
“My name’s McKenzie.”
“Good morning, McKenzie.”
“Good morning. Mrs. Seidel, may I ask if you are related to Rose Pederson?”
“She was my grandmother.”
“Your grandmother? I thought you might be her daughter.”
“No, no, grandmother. My mother, also called Shelly Seidel, died some years ago.”