“The Hot Tub Mystery” by Herbert House Page 1
Part I—The Discovery
Cast of Characters
• Sam Garrison—Detective
• Roma and Clint Underhill—The hot couple
• Kavita Dickson and Larry Gonzales—EMT paramedics
• Renee Volenbach—Physiologist in the Biology Department at Noletown University
Roma and Clint Underhill had both had a long day. They were the owners of a successful real estate company in Desert Palm. Each had several clients, and the strain of the current real estate market was getting to them. It had been an unusually cool day for January, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. On coming home they decided to relax in their hot tub with some wine. While Roma changed from her work clothes, Clint said that he would join her in the hot tub after he took his Lasix.
“911… Please state your emergency.”
“Oh, Oh, I… I… ”
“Ma’am, please calm down and tell me the address.”
“I think…, yes, OK, it’s… it’s 2560 Oak Creek Drive.” “What is the problem, please?”
“I’m the maid for Mr. and Mrs. Underhill and… and I didn’t find them in the house when I came in this morning, so I looked around outside. I just found them in their hot tub out back. They are under the water. Please come, please come now!” “Yes, ma’am, I’m alerting the EMTs and an ambulance will be on the way. Please go out front and wait, so the paramedics can find the address quickly.”
Paramedics Kavita Dickson and Larry Gonzales brought the ambulance to a stop at the end of a long driveway next to an impressive two-story mansion. The maid was on the front steps and quickly directed them to the back patio where the hot tub could be seen. Empty bottles of wine were on the ledge surrounding the hot tub. Kavita quickly climbed up the steps and saw the bodies of the Underhills on the bottom of the hot tub. As she got into the water, she exclaimed, “This water seems really hot. Let’s see if we can get them out.” Larry climbed in after her and together they dragged the bodies out of the hot tub and onto the patio. It was obvious that both had been dead for some time. Kavita called the dispatcher. “Listen, Linda, this hot tub case is a DOA, but something is not right. How about sending the medical examiner and a detective out to look the situation over. Tell them to bring a thermometer!”
1. What observations did the paramedics make?
2. List the questions raised about this situation or that you think that the investigators should ask of the maid.
3. List any physiological effects that you think would be associated with this situation.
4. How might these physiological effects have contributed to the Underhills’ death?
5. Make an initial speculation about the cause of the Underhills’ death.
Part II—The Investigation
“115 degrees! What is this thing doing so hot?” Sam Garrison asked Kavita as he removed the thermometer from the water. He was investigating the death of Roma and Clint Underhill, prominent real estate brokers in Desert Palm. “This hot tub should be no more than 109 degrees.” He remembered reading a Consumer Product Safety Commission flyer on hot tubs and wondered if the tub was associated with the death. The bodies were being taken away for autopsy as he took in the scene. “Hmm. What about these bottles of wine? It looks like they had a party—all by themselves! The medical examiner will check their blood alcohol level (BAL, or blood alcohol concentration—BAC) and we’ll be able to see his complete report on Monday. We may even be able to determine their cause of death with that information. I’ll ask the maid about any medications.” He went into the sunroom off of...