Skip to content

Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Seven: Case File No. 31-343

squirrel with long fangs

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

Gus, Oliver, and Amber had a difficult case where the crime scene was barely noticed and the victim’s remains were easy to overlook.

Voices in the Wind:

Thanksgiving Weekend of 2023 was particularly difficult in terms of stress and my own physical and emotional well-being. It was a rough time. I still pulled myself together during the following week so that Gus and Oliver could continue their routine patrols and inspections.

On Thanksgiving Day, people in the United States were already moved on to Christmas. They never even took the time for Thanksgiving to be its own holiday. There were trees and lights up. The endless loop of annoying songs. Talks for travel when the travel of that particular day wasn’t even completed. It was exhausting. Needless to say, by November 29th, when people spoke of dates for scheduling, they already assumed everyone in the conversations were talking about December. I’m all for planning ahead, but there was absolutely no mindful thinking about being in the present moment at the end of November.

Gus sitting on garden wall

We had a warm spell of temperatures in the sixties (F). It felt fun and refreshing to be outside in spring clothing, but it was not right. The planet is a mess. Snow flurries are gently falling as I write this. Gus has been enjoying the more crisp, chilly weather. I’m surprised when Oliver does. He’s asked to go out on patrol and have brief shifts on the observation deck with Gus. In hot weather, Oliver will spend his entire day out on that balcony. I’m shocked when he comes up and requests for the door to be opened or when he jumped into his buggy when it’s barely forty degrees out.

Sidebar on the Black Bear Hunt

The wildlife and birds have been behaving normally now that December has arrived. The critters are joyfully stuffing themselves to build their fat reserves and stow a cache of food for the difficult days. Unfortunately for the black bears, hundreds of them didn’t get that chance to save up food and make suitable dens because they were slaughtered with the full blessing of New Jersey’s leadership. After Segment B, the total slaughter is 468 black bears.

This horrifying news doesn’t relate to the mysterious murder the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency had to solve. On one of these warmer days, Gus led me up the private road. He decided a while ago that he does not give a shit about the No Trespassing signs posted by Lord and Lady Theodore. I figured, a little bit of trespassing couldn’t hurt. Gus was tracking a scent and I didn’t want to force him to stop working. It’s important to keep his senses honed and his body toned. The vet will still say he’s too fat.

We rounded the corner on to The Boulevard Trail which is now muddy at the entrance but neater overall. The owners have placed large rocks blocking where the neighbors used to be able to enter freely and walk their dogs or have excavation machines come through since it’s easier to do when projects like septic and well replacements are required. No more of that now. There’s also an area that used to separate the trails but is now cleared out.

I kept following Gus while pushing Ollie through difficult soft terrain. Gus brought us to a huge crime scene. It was a large space in the grass covered with clumps of hair. Gus continued with his Super Smeller taking in as much information as he could. He seemed to sense that our time was short. Oliver had no opinion on the time. He asked me to hold up a piece of the evidence for him to examine in his buggy.

“Gather up what you can,” Oliver ordered. I took out a plastic evidence zipper bag and filled it with as much of the hair as I could. The ground was wet and I had to pluck out bits of leaves and grass.

Before I could stand up and turn Oliver’s buggy around, Gus got spooked. As soon as he showed signs of wanting to run home, I felt the leash tug and released it. I knew he wasn’t going anywhere dangerous. I spun Oliver’s ride around, stuck the baggie in one of my hunting vest pockets, and we headed back to the road. Gus was not far ahead and stopped at the upper parking area. 

“We should get to work on this criminal case immediately, Gus,” Oliver said.

“I’m not done. I have to inspect inside the hangar, workshop, and mobile command unit. You can go home if you want,” Gus replied.

Ollie reached up a white-mittened paw and tapped at the front of his screen window. I know that means he’s ready to go home. I had to put trust in Guster that he wouldn’t take off while I chauffeured his partner to back door.

Once all of us were able to be gathered inside the office, we shifted over to our small laboratory space.

“I smelled traces of a massive bird around the area and on the fur. I think we’re looking at suspects in the birds of prey family,” Gus said.

Oliver sauntered over to his catnip bowl and consumed of his favorite psychotropic medicine. He returned with an important reveal.

“We can narrow down our victim identification to two critters: Synthia Sciurus,” Ollie said.

“The vampire squirrel?” I said.

We discovered the vampire squirrels some time ago. They were given the classification of Vampuirrel or Squirrelpyre. I put a sample of the fur under a special magnifier and applied a filter to my camera to show spectral traces. We did indeed find the fur of a squirrelpyre. No blood, muscles, bones, or any other body part—only the fur. Plus, a couple days later, we saw a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) dive down into The Boulevard. Gus and I crept up there and tried to spot it, but I never saw its hiding spot. It swooped out approximately 20 minutes later. This red-tailed hawk has moved up our suspect list.

Synthia’s husband Theo was a victim years ago. Now his surviving life partner seems to have been attacked in a similar way. We focused on the differences instead. Synthia’s fur was not attached to skin.

What would happen to a predator like a hawk who ate the flesh of a vampire critter?

We didn’t have any samples of blood, skin, or organ tissue from a red-tailed hawk that we could perform tests on. The red-tailed hawk species is not on the lists of New Jersey’s endangered, threatened, or special concern like the Cooper’s hawks are. Our tests would have to be observational in the field.

“Can you identify more than the species, Gus?” I asked my companion. “Do you have any idea who this bird is?”

“I’m only making my best guess,” Gus said, “but it is likely Michelle Buteo.

“Everybody’s got to eat, but I wonder if she knew she was biting into a critter with the vampyr chemistry inside it,” I said. “Are you sure there’s no way it’s one of the ravens. They’ve been coming through more confidently than ever. Remember we saw a raven and a red-tail together?”

“A raven would make more sense given the occult nature of the birds,” Gus said, “but that’s not the scent I identified.”

Case Findings:

Our victim is Synthia Sciurus, an eastern grey squirrel who was bitten with the virus to make her a Vampuirrel or Squirrelpyre.

Our number one suspect is Michelle Buteo, a red-tailed hawk who might not have known that her prey was supernatural. 

The only course of action we have at this time is to see if there are any changes in the hawk.

Case Status: Open


10, December, 2023. Available at: (Accessed: 11 December 2023).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *