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Solve-it 25

The Case of the
Charley Cheetah Theft

(Solution now available)

Featuring Nina Chase & Max Decker

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The sky was dark and cloudy as Max and Nina left Carol Decker's car. They ran past the small artificial pond in Harborville Junior High's courtyard. Nina's science class had carefully arranged various colored rocks beneath the water, but nobody sat admiring the design today. "What a gloomy afternoon!" Nina said as they ran up the steps.
Just as Max flung open the front door, the rain poured down. "Lucky thing we didn't get caught in that," Nina said. "My hair looks like a scouring pad when it's wet."
Max laughed. "You mean you don't have wash and wear hair?"
Before Nina could answer, loud voices echoed from the school media center, the only other room leading from the corridor. The two cousins hurried over and peered in.
Ms. Purdy, the school librarian, was glaring at three students. "I know one of you took Charley," she said. She glanced over and beckoned Nina and Max inside. "Maybe you two can help. I left our school mascot on my desk when I went to the cafeteria to get coffee a few minutes ago. As I was walking back here, I saw these three students in the corridor outside my door. Charley Cheetah is gone."
"Well, I sure didn't take him," Jack Weins said. "And I had a good reason for being in the corridor." He pointed to the cast on his left arm. "My mom is taking me to the doctor today. I stepped outside, didn't see her car, but saw it was going to rain any minute. Ellen was on the steps, so we walked inside together. She'll tell you that. I don't have any reason for taking Charley Cheetah."
"Ha!" Bill Bateson blurted. "Maybe you're mad that you broke your arm and couldn't be on the team. Isn't that a good enough reason? And Ellen didn't make the cheerleading squad this year. Maybe she wanted to cause trouble because of that. But me-- I just came here to get a book. When I saw that Ms. Purdy wasn't in the room, I went out to the corridor to wait for her. I sure don't have any reason to-"
"Hey, you'd do just about anything to get a good story for the school paper," Ellen interrupted. "I was only in that corridor because I was coming back from lunch. And Jack saw me, just like he said. Bill might have taken Charley just so he could have a great headline: Charley Cheetah, School Mascot, Stolen from Media Center."
"And I'd like to know where he is," Ms. Purdy said.
"Sounds like nobody had much time alone," Nina said, gesturing to the three suspects. "Maybe someone here still has Charley Cheetah right now. After all, he's just an eight inch iron figurine."
"You think it's in my purse?" Ellen angrily demanded. "Take a look." She dumped the contents on the desk. Only the usual things tumbled out. Nina reached for her hand to calm her and felt the soaking wet cuff of her sleeve.
"Well, it sure isn't in my book bag!" Bill declared, turning his canvas bag upside down. Nina noticed he had a school yearbook and two candy bars.
"And where would I hide it?" Jack asked.
Max stepped closer and Nina noticed Jack cringe. "Just how loose is that cast?" Max asked. "Charley Cheetah isn't very big. Could you have-"
Jack laughed. "You can bet my cast isn't that loose! He moved his arm closer, and Nina saw that the plaster was peeling away from the edges.
Max glanced at Nina. "Could someone else have been in here and----"
"No." Nina shook her head. "One of these three took Charley. And I think I know who it was. And I think I know where Charley is right now."

Can you solve the case?

Whom does Max suspect?
Ellen Kringle 
Jack Weins 
Bill Bateson 
Not sure 
The Case of the Charley Cheetah Theft by Carol Farley
Copyright © 1998-2001, 2000 Newfront Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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