ASWWU logo
Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Shirley H. and the Connected Crimes

April 20, 2023
Cameron Fowler

The Clocktower Conundrum

Cameron Fowler

[Content Warning: Hanging body and descriptions of death] 

Shirley had jinxed herself in wishing for these weird crimes to stop.  

Barely a week after the death of Mr. Masters at the Ferguson Art Gallery, Shirley received a call. More specifically, she received a call from Aimi, who spoke so fast that Shirley had to snap at her to slow down. As Shirley left her apartment, Aimi began to repeat what she was trying to say at a slower pace. Aimi informed Shirley that there had been a murder at the plaza not that far from their apartment, known as Heartbreak Plaza. It was given its name by locals from the sheer number of rejections that occurred there. The plaza was also known for having an old clock tower constructed several decades prior. Aimi informed her that the day prior, the clock had stopped moving. This prompted a repairman to look inside, which is where they found the body. 

Shirley made it to the plaza just as Aimi was done filling her in. Cops and police tape were everywhere keeping the public out. Shirley ducked under the tape and made it to the entrance of the clock tower, waving to her companions who were already assembled there. As soon as she was standing in front of them, Aimi spoke. 

“We have to be speedy about this one. Chief says that such a public area being sectioned off will lower confidence in the safety of the city,” she said. Shirley thought about this for a moment before speaking. 

“Then we’ll need to split up again. Hercules, you take to investigating the outside of the tower. Aimi, you must find and interrogate any potential suspects. Parvath and I will investigate the inside of the clock tower and the body,” Shirley ordered. The other three gave nods of affirmation before the first two left, leaving Parvath and Shirley. Parvath turned and tore off the police tape with ease and they both entered. 

The first thing that Shirley noted when she and Parvath entered was how dark it was. Pulling out their phones, they turned on the flashlight, giving a small illumination to the dark tower. Shirley couldn’t help but think that this scenario would be great for a horror game or movie. As Shirley took a step forward, she heard a cracking sound. Lifting her foot revealed shattered glass, and panning her phone around revealed shards everywhere in a circular pattern. The next thing her light landed on were two splotches of red on the ground, one crimson and one that looked a little more artificially colored. Shirley shuddered; she was very bad at dealing with blood, something that wasn’t a problem in the previous two bloodless cases. 

Parvath found the staircase with his light and motioned for Shirley to follow him up. They ascended the circular stairwell, and Shirley felt an unsettling feeling in her stomach that was growing. Making it to the top, the two began to look around for the body. Panning left and right, they couldn’t find anything except gears, cogs, a few shattered windows and the backside of the main clockface. Shirley was confused; was the body moved since it was called in? She took a few steps back to begin pacing when she bumped into something, something that was not made of hard steel. Shirley’s unease doubled as she turned around and brought her phone light up. 

A body was hanging upside down in front of her. A lifeless gaze with streaks of crimson running down the face met her own. Shirley felt queasy and had to look away, making her way to the nearest window for some fresh air. Parvath performed an examination of the body while Shirley waited for her stomach to recover. 

“According to her wallet, this is Emily Jones. A film critic if I recall correctly,” Parvath announced. “She appears to have had something with large spikes embedded in her head and then pulled out. A cable is wrapped around her leg as well, keeping her hoisted up and jamming the primary gears.” Shirley nodded as Parvath and her descended the stairs. She wanted to be done with the place as soon as she could. Exiting the clocktower brought them straight to Hercules, who was standing outside. 

“How did it go?” Hercules asked, only to have his question answered by Shirley’s pale face. Hercules coughed in his fist and shifted the focus of the conversation. “I couldn’t find much evidence that could help us. The only things I did find were marks in the stone wall of the tower and a damaged generator hidden in some bushes by the tower’s perimeter. I believe it powers something electrical in the tower, as the set’s power was coming from other generators closer to the scenes.” 

“Set? Like a movie set?” Shirley questioned. 

“Oh yeah, you pretty much beelined it straight to the tower. The plaza was going to be used for some sort of action movie. International Relic, or something like that. I think Aimi has one of the lead actors as a suspect. Why don’t we convene with her?” Hercules asked and received nods from his two friends. As the trio walked over to where the police were, Aimi spotted them and bolted over, coming to a halt that caused her shoes to screech. 

“Thank goodness you guys are here; the chief was about to make an arrest without you guys!” 

“Who’s currently being detained?” asked Parvath. 

“Well,” Aimi began, holding out her hand to count on her fingers. “First there’s Beau Wulf, the lead actor in the movie happening here. He’s well known for being full of himself as well his tendency to do his own stunts. Then, there’s Frida Bronars, a local florist that sells flowers daily in the plaza. She was absent during the time frame of the murder and has been very vocal about her hatred towards the production. Lastly, we have a suspect that the higher-ups detained for reasons I still find hard to believe.” 

“Why is it hard to believe?” Hercules and Shirley asked in unison.  

“Because she’s six years old. Apparently, a little girl named Molly Hodges was seen entering the clocktower repeatedly, and they suspect she killed the victim. I don’t believe this for a second, but they won’t listen to me because I’m just a cadet! I think you’re the only one who they will listen to, Shirley!” 

“Isn’t there anyone else that might be able to use their authority to let her go?” Hercules asked, concerned. 

“Well, I saw Lieutenant Puff…” Shirley frowned as she heard the name leave Aimi’s mouth. “While she does have authority, she’s preoccupied with finding the director of the movie, and is letting the lower members of the force handle the main case. I’m worried they might do something before Ms. Puff gets back!” 

“Don’t worry,” Shirley assured, “I think I have this case figured out, and it seems rather easy too. Let’s discuss the facts we’ve gathered and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean. 

Who do you think committed the crime? 

Ashley Amparano in one of WWU’s training rooms for the nursing program. Photo by Ashley Amparano

Amparano expressed this humbly. Amparano’s remarks on home show that she had peace, love, and care at home. That is not to say there were not challenges at home, but that ultimately the environment was peaceful.  

In contrast to peace, when asked about current affairs in her home country while being here in America, she said, “Where I lived before, it was a very peaceful town. It was very rare if you heard about drug dealers or gangsters. [However] in Mexico now a problem is feminicidios, homicides of women.” [11]  

Writer Olivia Adams from reported, “The incidence of femicide, or the murder of a woman for gender-based reasons, has risen significantly in recent years [in Mexico], from 427 reported victims in 2015 to 1,004 in 2021, marking a 135 per cent increase.” [12] This is a current issue in Mexico. Sadly, these statistics represent the violence that is being committed more frequently against women in Mexico.  

As Amparano’s family is in Mexico, this worry of femicide or even violence being committed becomes more present in her mind.  However, as Amparano mentioned, where she lived was peaceful.   

Her hometown is about two hours away from the San Diego border in California and only fifteen minutes away from the beach. One of Amparano’s most beloved activities to do there is going to the beach.  

She said, “I live close to the beach. I love it. I love the beach.” [13] Smiling and chuckling, she emphasized her love for the atmosphere of the beach. She remembered fondly the warmth of the sand, the crashing sound of waves, sunsets on the beach, and family and friends to share it with. [14] 

Something unique about Amparano is that she plays the violin very well. During the first quarter she played violin for the University Orchestra and now plays for Nuestra Iglesia or other churches on Saturday mornings to provide praise music in church. If you go to Nuestra Iglesia, it’s likely you’ll see Amparano contributing her time and love for music.  

Lastly, we learn valuable advice from the relationship that has meant and means the most to Amparano, the relationship with her mom. Amparano’s mom frequently told her: “Servir a los demás.” As translated by Amparano, “She would always tell me, that’s why we’re here: to serve others.” [15] 



  1. Interview with Ashley Amparano, 02/14/23. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Interview with SamanthaLee Perez, 02/20/23. 
  4. Nadal-Vicens, M., Beresin, G. (n.d.). International college students: Challenges and solutions. The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds.  
  5. Interview with Ashley Amparano, 02/14/23. 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Paxson, H. (2016). The importance of maintaining family relationships while in college. The Pulse. 
  10. Interview with Ashley Amparano, 02/14/23. 
  11. Ibid. 
  12. Adams, O. (2023). Understanding the dynamics of femicide in Mexico. Vision of Humanity. 
  13. Interview with Ashley Amparano, 02/14/23. 
  14. Ibid. 
  15. Ibid.
menuchevron-upchevron-downmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram