Peter O’Nell, Montego High School’s favorite teacher, goes missing in the Bermuda Triangle, and the Miami Police can’t solve the case. Peter O’Nell’s pupils come to help the police with the teacher’s faithful dog. Will they be able to find out the truth?
CHAPTER ONE: Montego High School
Montego Bay is a beautiful tourist town on the east coast of Florida, near Miami Beach. The town was founded in the seventeenth century by the pirates of the Caribbean Sea, who were called “buccaneers”. Montego Bay became their home port, and there are still legends about hidden treasure there.
The new Montego Bay Wax Museum opened recently. It is a big tourist attraction with wax statues of famous explorers, buccaneers, sea captains, slave merchants and criminals.
Our story starts one Friday morning in October at the Martins’ home. Bill and Michelle Martin lived with their parents in a nice old house.
Bill was a tall boy of sixteen, with brown hair and blue eyes.
This was his third year at Montego High School. Science was his favorite subject and he wanted to become a biologist. Basketball was his sport and he was one of the best players on the school team.
His sister Michelle was a pretty girl of fifteen with short red hair and blue eyes. She loved all kinds of modern music and had a big collection of CDs. This was her second year at Montego High, and she was a member of the Journalism Club, which published the monthly school paper.
“Hurry up, Michelle! It’s late!” shouted Bill from the living room.
“I’m coming!” shouted Michelle from the top of the stairs. She ran down and took her backpack. “Bye, Mom! See you this afternoon.”
“Bye, Mom!” said Bill. “There’s basketball practice today. See you at dinner.”
“Enjoy your visit to the new museum!” said their mother. Their father worked at the airport and he was already at work.
Bill and Michelle met their good friend Nick Chan in front of the park. He was a tall Chinese-American of sixteen; he was a member of the basketball team too.
“Hi, guys!” said Nick smiling. “Let’s hope this visit to the new wax museum won’t be boring.”
“I know,” said Bill, “and we have to write a report about it for Mrs Jenkins.”
The students of the second and third year were visiting the new museum that morning. It was part of their local history course with the new history teacher, Mrs Jenkins. The old teacher, Mr O’Neil, disappeared mysteriously before the summer. He was one of the favorite teachers at Montego High, because he was friendly and his classes were interesting.
One day in June Mr O’Nell went out on his boat, the North Star. He sailed east to the Bahamas and into the Bermuda Triangle. No one knew why he was going there. The Coast Guard found his boat a few days later, but he was missing – only his dog was on the boat. They took the North Star back to the Montego Bay Port and left it there.
The Miami police said Peter O’Neil was missing, because his body was never found. They opened a police file and gave it a number: File Number 113: The O’Nell Case. Where was Peter O’Neil? No one knew – it was a mystery.
The local newspaper The Miami Times wrote a lot of articles about the “O’Nell Case.” The last one said:
Peter O’Nell, another victim of the Triangle?
July 10 – A month after the disappearance of Peter O’Nell, the police are still trying to solve the case. The 45-year-old history teacher and expert scuba diver disappeared during a boat ride in the waters of the Bermuda Triangle. Police Sergeant Robert Walters says, “People, boats and airplanes often disappear in the Triangle and no one knows why. Could Peter O’Neel be another victim of the Triangle? However, the case is still open. We hope to have an answer one day.”
Bill, Michelle and Nick met their friends and teachers outside the museum. There were a lot of rooms and exhibits with wax statues. There were also models of old Spanish sailing ships and maps of the Caribbean Islands on the walls.
“These statues scare me,” said Michelle. “They look like real people.”
“You’re right,” said Juanita, one of Michelle’s friends. “Those glass eyes give me the creeps.”
“Look at that one,” said Nick laughing. “He looks like Mr Branson, our math teacher. Look at the small beard and the green eyes.”
“Ugh, Mr Branson and his math tests…,” said Bill.
“Hey, look at this slave merchant with the red bandana and the black patch over his eye,” said Michelle. “He’s got a strange tattoo on his arm. I didn’t know there were tattoos in those days.”
When they left the museum they saw a beagle outside the entrance. He wanted to get into the museum.
“I guess he can’t read the sign,” said Bill, pointing to the “Dogs not allowed” sign. His friends laughed as they walked to school.
After a long hour of history, it was time for lunch. The school cafeteria was always a noisy, fun place for the students. It was the best time of the day to meet with friends and chat.
Michelle always had lunch with her best friends Juanita and Susan. They usually talked about clothes and boys.
“Michelle, look, there’s Matt!” whispered Susan.
“And he’s wearing a cool blue sweater,” whispered Juanita.
Matt Andersen was the handsome captain of the football team. He was seventeen and Michelle liked him.
She looked at him but he didn’t see her, so she started eating her lunch.
“Let’s talk about something else, girls!” she said, eating her sandwich.
Saturday was a busy day for Bill and Michelle. They both had part-time jobs to earn some pocket money. Bill worked at the local supermarket and Michelle took the neighbors dogs for walks.
Saturday night was special because Mrs Martin always cooked something unusual. After dinner Michelle went to Juanita’s house and Bill phoned Nick.
“What are you doing tonight?” asked Bill.
“As soon as I finish working, I’m going to the movies,” said Nick.
“Good idea! What’s on?” said Bill.
“There’s a science fiction movie at the Madison Theater that everybody’s talking about: Fifth Dimension. We can meet at my parents’ restaurant at half past eight.”
“OK! See you then, Nick.”
Nick’s parents had a Chinese restaurant near the port and he always worked there on weekends.
As Bill waited for Nick at the back door of the restaurant, he saw the same beagle from the wax museum. The poor dog was sad and thin. He was probably waiting for some food. Nick came out from the back door and said, “What an evening! There was a birthday dinner and we were so busy.”
“What’s that dog doing there?” asked Bill.
“Oh, him,” said Nick. “He’s a stray and wants something to eat. My mother always gives him some food. I think he lost his master.”
On Sunday morning the port was very busy. People were going out in their boats and the fishermen were repairing their fishing nets.
The Martins had a small cabin cruiser at the port. They decided to clean it because Bill and Michelle wanted to have a Halloween party there.
“Mom and I are going down to the port to clean the boat,” said Mr Martin. “You can come later. We can use four extra hands!”
“OK, Dad, we’ll be there soon,” said Bill.
“I’m going to wear my new jeans and pink T-shirt,” said Michelle, who loved wearing new clothes.
“You don’t need new clothes to clean a boat, silly,” said Bill.
“Boys will never understand!” said Michelle with a smile.
It was almost ten o’clock when Bill and Michelle got to the port. There were always a lot of fishing boats, cabin cruisers, and yachts at the port. It was a warm, sunny day and everything looked beautiful.
An old fisherman, Francisco Garcia, was sitting on a pier near his boat, repairing a fishing net.
“Hi, Francisco!” said Michelle.
“Hello!” said the old man with lively dark eyes. “Nice to see you.”
“Are you going out fishing today?” asked Bill.
“No, I’m going early tomorrow morning,” he said, looking at his fishing boat. “There he is again, poor thing.”
“Who?” asked Bill and Michelle.
“Peter O’Neil’s dog, Rover. He sits in front of his master’s boat every day and whimpers. Can’t you see him?” Bill and Michelle turned around. It was the same dog Bill saw at the museum and at the restaurant.
“Do you mean the beagle over there, near the boat?” asked Michelle, pointing to the North Star.
“Yeah,” said Francisco. “He’s sad because he lost his master. It breaks my heart. I wanted to take him home with me, but he only wants his master.”
“The poor dog!” said Bill. “Did the Police ever find Mr O’Neil’s body?”
“The Bermuda Triangle took him,” said Francisco. “The police will never find his body in the Triangle. He was unlucky, very unlucky, but I told him.”
“What did you tell him?” asked Bill.
“Well, when Mr O’Nell bought the boat he changed its name to North Star. I told him it was bad luck to change the name of a boat. Sailors and fishermen know that. But he didn’t believe me. He thought it was an old superstition.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Michelle. “But why did he go out to sea that day in June?”
“He brought his scuba diving equipment on board. I think he was looking for something in the sea – something important. He went out in his boat every weekend.”
“Did anyone go with him?” asked Bill.
“Only his dog,” he said, and his busy hands started repairing the net again.
“It was nice talking to you Francisco – goodbye,” said Bill, walking away with Michelle.
“The O’Nell case is a big mystery. No one knows what happened to him and no one knows what he was looking for. We just know that he was a terrific teacher and everyone liked him.”
“Well, Francisco thought he was looking for something important,” replied Michelle.
“Yeah, but I wonder what?” said Bill.
Saturday October 31 was Halloween and the town of Montego Bay was ready to celebrate it. There were jack-o’-lanterns and black and orange decorations everywhere. There were some incredible costumes in town and people were busy planning scary Halloween parties.
Bill and Michelle planned their costumes and masks weeks before Halloween. Bill was a vampire and Michelle was a rock star. She was excited because she could wear more make-up on Halloween.
They went to the port and had their Halloween party on the boat with their friends. Mrs Martin made pumpkin pies and Halloween cookies and there were good CDs to dance to.
Before midnight Nick took some pictures with his new digital camera. The party was a lot of fun and everyone loved it. No one got to bed before 3 a.m.
Bill and Michelle slept until noon the next day.
“How was the Halloween party?” asked Mr Martin.
“Oh, we had a great time, Dad,” said Bill. “Thanks for letting us use the boat.”
“We even cleaned up,” said Michelle proudly.
“I’m glad you had fun,” said Mrs Martin.
That afternoon they went to Nick’s house to see the pictures he took the night before.
“Come upstairs and see the pictures of the party!” said Nick excitedly as he opened the door.
“Why are you excited?” asked Michelle. “Is something wrong with them?”
“You both look super,” he said. “But that’s not the problem – it’s something else.”
They sat down in front of Nick’s computer and started looking at the pictures.
“Look at this one,” said Nick. “Can you see the big white spot? It’s on the boat in the background.”
They looked at the pictures of the party and saw a white spot on a boat in the background.
“Let’s look closer at the picture,” said Michelle. “I want to see the name of the boat.”
“It’s the North Star!” cried Bill. “It was Mr O’Neil’s boat!”
“But what’s that white spot?” asked Nick.
They looked at the computer for a while and then Michelle cried out, “I know! It’s somebody’s ghost in the picture! I read about it in a book. And last night was Halloween – strange things can happen on Halloween night.”
“A ghost?” whispered Bill and Nick. “What are you saying?”
“That white spot is the picture of a ghost!” exclaimed Michelle. “And it’s on Mr O’Neil’s boat, the North Star.”
“Oh, come on, Michelle!” said Bill, whose face was white.
“Do you mean that it’s… Mr O’Neil’s ghost?” Nick felt cold.
“Can you see the… ghost in other pictures?” asked Michelle.
“Well, look at these,” said Nick. They looked at three other pictures that had the same white spot on the same boat.
“Wait a minute!” said Bill nervously. “Do we believe in… ghosts?” The three friends looked at each other and didn’t know what to say.
“Do you have another explanation?” said Michelle, who believed in ghosts.
“Gee!” said Bill. “Then Mr O’Nell is… dead and not missing.” There was a moment of silence, and then he told Nick about his conversation with Francisco Garcia.
“What happened to him on that day in June?” asked Nick. “Did he have an accident? Or was it bad luck? Francisco said it’s bad luck to change the name of a boat.”
“Do you believe in superstition and bad luck?” asked Bill.
“I think good and evil forces exist,” said Nick seriously.
“Ghosts only appear when the person was murdered or died in a terrible way,” said Michelle.
“Perhaps he was looking for something important, and someone killed him to get the information,” said Bill.
“But, where’s his body?” asked Nick.
“We should tell the Police about this,” said Bill.
“The Police don’t believe in ghosts,” said Michelle. “Why don’t we try to solve this mystery?”
“Why not!” said Bill. “I like solving mysteries.”
“And I like investigating,” said Nick. “But we need more information about Mr O’Nell. What was he looking for and why was it important? Let’s plan this carefully.”
Nick’s room was the perfect place to plan things.
“Let’s find out more about Mr O’Nell,” said Bill. “Where did he live?”
“I’ll look it up in the phone directory,” said Michelle. “Here it is – his address was 1857 Stockton Street. That’s behind the port. Let’s try and get into his house.”
“But I’m sure the police already went there,” said Nick.
“Yeah, but perhaps they didn’t examine everything,” said Bill. “Let’s go there after dark with our flashlights.”
“When?” asked Nick excitedly.
“How about Tuesday after dinner?” said Bill.
When the school bell rang at 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Bill, Michelle and Nick hurried home. They did some homework and met at seven.
It was a windy autumn evening. They walked to the old part of town and Peter O’Neil’s house appeared behind some tall trees. It was a white wooden house with a brown roof and a small garden. They were surprised to see his dog sitting outside the door. He recognized Nick from the restaurant and went to him.
“Look who’s here!” said Nick smiling. “Hi, Rover! What are you doing here?”
“He’s still looking for his master,” said Bill.
“He’s friendly,” said Michelle stroking him.
“Let’s go to the back of the house and see if the door is open,” said Nick.
Rover followed them. The back door was locked so they opened the kitchen window and climbed in.
They stood in the dark kitchen for a moment – everything was silent.
“We’re in Mr O’Neil’s house!” said Bill. “This is weird!”
“Let’s start looking for clues,” said Michelle.
“Where can we start?” asked Nick.
“Look, Rover’s going to the living room,” said Michelle. “Let’s follow him.”
The living room was small and there were two armchairs near the window. There was a big color photograph of O’Neil and his dog on a small table.
Michelle looked at the photograph. “It was probably taken on his boat in the summer. Look, he’s got a strange tattoo on his arm.”
“It’s a peace sign,” said Bill. “They were popular in the 1970s.”
Rover led them to the hall and sat down in front of a door. He barked and put his paw on the door.
“Let’s open it,” said Michelle.
She was scared, but she opened the door. There were stairs that went to the dark basement and the air was cold. Bill and Nick turned on their flashlights and slowly went down the stairs, and Michelle and Rover followed them. They looked around and saw a few boxes of books, some diving equipment and a big wooden wardrobe. Rover went to sit in front of the old wardrobe and started barking.
“Why is he barking at the wardrobe?” asked Nick as he stroked the dog’s head. He barked again and looked at Nick with his big brown eyes. Then he began pushing the wardrobe door with his paw.
“Let’s open it,” said Nick.
His heart beat fast as he turned the key and opened the door.
He saw two scuba diving suits.
“There’s nothing interesting in here,” he said, closing the wardrobe.
Rover barked again and pushed the door with his paw. Nick opened the wardrobe again and looked inside carefully.
“Could there be something behind this wardrobe?” said Michelle.
“Like in mystery novels, Michelle?” said Nick laughing.
“Yes, exactly!” said Michelle. “Come on, let’s try and move it to one side.”
“OK, let’s try,” said Bill. The wooden wardrobe was very heavy but they were able to move it a bit. Rover was right – there was a small opening to a tiny room!
“This is super!” said Michelle. “We discovered a secret room!”
“You mean a secret closet,” said Nick, moving his flashlight around. “It’s very small.”
There were two big maps and some newspaper articles on the walls and a diary on an old chair.
“This is cool!” said Bill. “I don’t think the police know about this place.”
“And it’s probably full of clues,” said Nick.
The maps on the wall showed the Bermuda Triangle – the sea between Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda. There were red pen marks on the maps.
“Mr O’Nell was probably trying to find a particular spot in the Bermuda Triangle,” said Nick.
“Hmm… listen to this headline from The Miami Times,” said Michelle. “Ship with Precious Cargo Disappears in the Bermuda Triangle”
“Let’s see,” said Bill holding up his flashlight. The three of them started reading the newspaper article on the wall…
A small ship, The Pelikan, disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle last week. It was transporting ancient Roman and Greek artifacts, bought in Europe by an important American museum. The artifacts are worth millions of dollars, and they are now probably sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
“I think I understand,” said Bill. “Mr O’Nell was probably looking for the ship in the Bermuda Triangle. That’s why these two maps are marked in the same place.”
“And that’s why he went out in his boat with his diving equipment every weekend,” added Michelle.
“But why was he looking for them?” asked Nick.
“That’s a good question,” said Bill. “I’m sure a lot of dishonest art dealers want to find those artifacts and sell them on the black market… it’s a big business! They’re worth millions of dollars. But Mr O’Neil wasn’t dishonest. I’m sure he was looking for them for another reason.”
Michelle started looking through the diary on the chair.
“Hey, look!” she said. “On June 7 Mr O’Neil wrote this note in his diary: ‘Call Professor Ortega at Florida Historical Museum’. That’s the day before he disappeared.”
She paused for a moment and said, “Perhaps Mr O’Nell was working for the Florida Historical Museum and that’s why he was looking for the ship.”
“That’s a good explanation; he was an expert scuba diver,” said Bill. “Is there anything else in that diary?”
Michelle looked through the pages.
“On May 31 he wrote, ‘Blackbeard still following me at sea.’ Who’s Blackbeard?”
“Well, he was a pirate, centuries ago. I don’t think it’s him,” said Nick.
“But Blackbeard could be the name of a boat – the boat that was following him. Perhaps the people on that boat were looking for the artifacts too. Let’s go to the port and see if the Blackbeard is there,” said Bill.
“Alright,” said Nick, “but let’s go now – it’s late.”
“And it’s getting very hot in this closet!” said Michelle.
Suddenly there was a loud noise upstairs.
“What’s that?” cried Michelle.
“We’re not alone here,” said Nick. “Someone or something is in the house!” They stood still for a minute.
“Well, Michelle,” whispered Nick, “you’re the ghost expert – whose ghost is upstairs?”
“Oh, stop it!” whispered Michelle, who wanted to get out of there.
They got out of the secret closet and quickly pushed the wardrobe against the wall. They went upstairs silently and climbed out of the small kitchen window, followed by Rover. When they were outside the house they heard another loud noise and ran away.
“That math test was impossible!” said Nick, walking out of Mr Branson’s class angrily.
“I think he makes math hard for us,” said Bill. “I couldn’t finish the last two problems.”
“Me neither,” said Nick. “I studied until late last night, but it didn’t help. Even Maria Lopez, who’s a math genius, didn’t finish the last problem!”
“Hey, let’s think about the big game against South Miami High tonight,” said Bill. “They’re a strong team.”
“And so are we!” said Nick.
That evening the Montego High gym was crowded and noisy. The colors of the two schools were everywhere – orange and purple for Montego and black and red for South Miami. It was an important basketball game and the local TV station was there to film it. Michelle sat with Juanita and Susan.
Mike Andersen and his friends from the football team were sitting behind them and this made Michelle nervous. “I’m happy I wore my new sweater with the school colors,” she thought. “I hope Mike notices it.”
It was an exciting game and everyone was cheering for their team. Montego High finally won and entered the Florida finals.
Someone touched Michelle’s shoulder. She turned around and saw Mike.
“Hi, Michelle,” said Mike. “Your brother played a great game!”
“Oh, thanks, Mike, I’ll tell him,” said Michelle, who was happy because Mike talked to her.
On the way home after the game Bill, Michelle and their friends walked by the wax museum. They saw Rover sitting at the entrance. He was whimpering.
“I wonder what Rover’s doing in front of the museum at this time?” asked Michelle.
“There’s something about the place that attracts him,” said Bill. “But what? Remember the day when he tried to come into the museum with our class?”
On Sunday Bill, Nick and Michelle continued I investigating the case. This time they met in Bill’s room.
“We have to find the Blackbeard and see who it belongs to,” said Bill. “I’m sure there’s a connection between that boat and Mr O’Neil.”
“There’s a Naval Registry office at the port,” said Michelle. “All boats at the port are listed there.”
“Good! Let’s go to the port,” said Bill.
The Naval Registry was a small office near the Montego Yacht Club. Michelle went in and talked to the clerk.
“Hello, my name is Michelle Martin and I need some information. Is the Blackbeard here?”
“Let me check,” said the clerk, as he turned to his computer.
“Here it is – the Blackbeard. It’s at pier number eight; that’s where the biggest yachts are.”
“Can you tell me the name of the owner?”
“Let’s see… it’s Mr Julian Devereau from New Orleans.”
“Julian Devereau!” said Michelle, surprised.
“Yes, Julian Devereau. He and his wife are the owners of the new wax museum.”
“OK, thanks for your help,” said Michelle.
She met Bill and Nick outside and told them about the Blackbeard.
“Wow!” cried Nick.
“So Julian and Gertrude Devereau are the owners of the wax museum and the Blackbeard,” said Bill.
“And they gave a lot of money for the new park,” said Nick.
“There’s a connection,” said Michelle.
“Why were they following the North Star at sea? And what about the wax museum?” asked Nick. “Why is Rover so attracted to it?”
‘This case is really difficult,’ said Michelle.
“Well,” said Bill, “we know that the Blackbeard is at the port and that Julian Devereau owns the boat and the wax museum.”
There was a moment of silence.
“And we know he’s rich,” said Nick, “but that’s not much.”
“The clerk said that Julian Devereau is from New Orleans,” added Michelle. “Let’s go home and look on the web.”
At home they got on the web and found some interesting information.
Devereau was the owner of a maritime museum in Charleston, South Carolina, and a new art museum in Houston, Texas.
“This man owns three museums – he’s very rich,” said Michelle grinning. “And guess what you find in museums?”
“Artifacts!” cried Bill and Nick. “Like the ones O’Neil was looking for!”
“Exactly!” said Michelle excitedly.
“So what’s the next step?” asked Nick.
“Hmm,” said Bill, looking at the computer screen. “We have to find a way to get on the Blackbeard. We could find some evidence of Devereau’s connection to this mystery.”
“The Blackbeard’s at pier number eight,” said Michelle. “We can go one evening when the museum is open. I don’t want to meet them face to face!”
“The museum’s always open on Friday and Saturday evenings until 10 p.m.,” said Nick, “and the Devereau’s are there on those evenings.”
“OK!” said Bill. “Listen to my plan. On Friday night Nick and I will try to get on the Blackbeard. Michelle, you can sit in the coffee shop across the street from the museum. If the Devereau’s leave the building, call me on my cell phone.”
“Good plan!” said Nick.
It was November and almost Thanksgiving, but the three friends could only think about the O’Nell case.
On Friday evening they met in front of the museum. It was cold and windy, and Michelle ordered a cup of hot cocoa at the coffee shop. She watched the museum entrance with her cell phone in her hand, ready to make a call.
There was no one at the port that evening. The boys could hear their footsteps as they walked quickly past the North Star and turned left at pier number eight. The lights of the Blackbeard were on and the two boys stopped behind a van.
“Someone’s on the boat,” whispered Nick. “What shall we do now?”
“Let’s wait here and see what happens,” said Bill.
Suddenly the lights went off. Julian Devereau got off the yacht and into his sports car and drove away.
“Whew!” said Bill. They waited a few minutes and then got on the yacht. The glass door was closed but not locked, so it was easy to get in.
“He didn’t lock it. He’s probably coming back soon,” said Nick. “Let’s hurry!”
They turned on their flashlights. It was their first time on a yacht – everything was beautiful and expensive. They started looking everywhere – drawers, cupboards, bookshelves – but they couldn’t find anything.
Bill took a painting off the wall and turned it around, but he found nothing. He did the same with another painting and this time there was an envelope on the back.
“Nick, look at this!” Bill opened the envelope; inside there was a map of the Florida coast and the Bermuda Triangle, with some red pencil marks. It was almost identical to the maps in Mr O’Neil’s house.
“The Devereau’s have Mr O’Neil’s map, and they hid it behind a painting,” said Nick, staring at the map.
“This is evidence that the Devereau’s are connected to Mr O’Neil in some way,” said Bill. “We have to show this map to the police.”
“Will they listen to us?” asked Nick.
“Let’s go and find out!” said Bill.
Bill put the empty envelope behind the painting. Then he folded the map and put it in his shirt pocket. They got back onto the pier and quickly left the port. They picked up Michelle, who was still at the coffee shop.
“Hi, guys,” she said. “You found something, didn’t you!”
“Let’s go to Sandy’s Ice Cream Parlor and talk there,” said Bill.
Before going to their part-time jobs on Saturday morning, Bill and Michelle told their parents what was happening. Mr and Mrs Martin were very surprised.
“Why didn’t you tell us about this before?” said Mrs Martin, who was worried.
“You kids are amazing!” said Mr Martin. “No one has solved this mystery, but perhaps you can. I remember Mr O’Neil – he was a very nice man. I’m glad you’re going to the police today. It’s the right thing to do.”
That afternoon the three friends went to the police station and spoke to a police officer.
“Good morning, I’m Sergeant Walters,” said a tall man with friendly eyes. “What can I do for you?”
“We want to report something,” said Bill.
“Come into my office and sit down,” said Sergeant Walters.
Bill was a bit nervous at first, but Sergeant Walters was friendly. He, Nick and Michelle explained everything. They talked with him for about half an hour, and he seemed interested.
“Sergeant Barnes, please bring me the O’Nell case file, number 113,” said Sergeant Walters. He looked through several papers in the file and then wrote something down.
“You three are good detectives,” he said, “but do you know that it is against the law to enter private property, like Mr O’Neil’s home and the Blackbeard?”
Bill and Nick were embarrassed, but Michelle was not.
“We wanted to help the police solve the case,” she said seriously. “We were looking for clues… but we won’t do it again.”
“The Devereau’s are important citizens,” said Sergeant Walters. “They helped our community with their new museum and they gave lots of money for the new park. The wax museum brings tourists and good business to our town. We don’t have any real evidence against them. You found this map on their yacht, but anyone can have a map.”
“But this map is identical to the ones we saw at Mr O’Neil’s house, and it was hidden behind a painting,” said Nick.
“We want to solve the O’Nell case, too,” said Sergeant Walters. “But I need better evidence. For example, where is Mr O’Neil’s body? Perhaps he wanted to disappear and start a new life in another place. A lot of people disappear, you know. Or perhaps he had an accident at sea. We can’t accuse anyone at the moment. We need to find his body first.”
“Mr O’Nell loved his dog,” said Michelle. “He could never go away and leave him!”
“Dogs are very good at finding their masters… it’s their sense of smell,” said Sergeant Walters, with a strange light in his eyes. “My men and I’ll examine the secret room in Mr O’Neil’s house and take a look at those maps and his diary. But I still think he had an accident. Do you know how many people and boats disappear at sea?”
He got up from his desk and gave each of them his business card. “Call me if you need me.”
They left the police station and Bill said, “Now we have to find the body before anyone will listen to us.”
“Yeah, bodies are easy to find – they’re everywhere, didn’t you know?” said Nick, laughing.
“Oh, come on! Don’t worry,” said Michelle. “Remember what Sergeant Walters said: ‘Dogs are good at finding their masters – it’s their sense of smell.’ I think he’s giving us a clue.”
“Perhaps Rover can help us solve the case,” said Bill.
Nick thought for a moment. “You can usually find him near the North Star, or at Mr O’Neil’s home, or…”
“Or at the wax museum!” cried Michelle. Her cheeks were red with excitement. “What attracts Rover to the museum?”
“Something inside?” said Bill.
“Yes, but what?” said Michelle.
“Let’s find a way to get into the museum with Rover,” said Nick. “Dogs aren’t allowed in the building, but there’s a back door, the emergency exit. One of us can open it and Rover can go in.”
“Great idea, Nick!” said Bill.
“We can go tomorrow,” said Michelle. “It’s Sunday and there are always lots of visitors at the museum – no one will notice Rover… I hope.”
“OK,” said Bill. “Nick, Rover likes you, so you can wait outside the back door with him. Michelle and I’ll buy tickets and go in. When we get to the back of the museum we’ll open the door and you and Rover can come in. Then we’ll follow the dog and see what happens.”
“Good,” said Nick. “My mother usually feeds him at nine o’clock. I’ll try to keep him at the restaurant tonight.”
Bill and Michelle woke up early on Sunday morning. This was a very important day for them and Nick. They left their house at half past nine and met Nick in the park.
“Hi, Nick!” said Bill, looking at Rover’s new red leash! “The leash was my mom’s idea,” said Nick, as they walked towards the museum. “You and Michelle go ahead and I’ll wait for you outside the back door.”
That morning a lot of tourists were buying tickets so Bill and Michelle had to wait to get in. They went to the back of the museum and opened the emergency door.
Nick and Rover went in quickly, and no one noticed them. Rover walked to the wax statue of the slave merchant with the black patch over his eye. Rover stopped in front of it and started sniffing and whimpering – and the noise got louder. Some tourists saw him but they didn’t stop.
“I think Rover found something,” said Michelle. She and the boys looked at the seventeenth-century slave merchant. Then Michelle noticed the tattoo on the statue’s arm.
“Hey, look at that tattoo,” whispered Michelle. “Do you remember it? It’s the same tattoo we saw in the photograph at Mr O’Neil’s house!”
“The peace sign!” whispered Nick. “But they were popular in the 1970s. A slave merchant of the 1600s didn’t know about peace signs!”
Rover started barking.
“He’s found something!” said Bill, as the barking got louder and the dog became more excited.
“Could… that be his master?” said Nick, his voice trembling.
“But it’s a wax statue,” said Michelle weakly.
“Yeah, but look at the tattoo!” said Bill. “Is that a wax statue… or is it someone’s body?” They felt cold and their hearts started beating fast. Suddenly their legs felt weak.
“But how is it possible…” Nick couldn’t finish his sentence.
Rover’s bark got louder and the museum guard came by.
“I’m sorry, dogs aren’t allowed in the museum,” he said. “Please take him out.”
“No, we’re not taking him out,” said Bill angrily.
“You must obey the rules of the museum, or I’ll call the police.”
“No,” said Bill angrily, “we’ll call the police! Michelle, do you still have Sergeant Walters’s card?”
“Of course I do!” she said, taking out her phone. “I’ll call him.”
Several visitors stopped to see what was happening. Rover was very excited and barked loudly. Nick pulled on the leash to hold him back.
Michelle called Sergeant Walters and asked him to come immediately. “We have a body for you,” she said with a trembling voice. More visitors stopped near them.
Sergeant Walters, Sergeant Barnes and two other policemen got to the museum in a few minutes.
“Sergeant Walters, we found Mr O’Neil’s body!” said Michelle loudly. “His dog led us here and started barking. We noticed that the tattoo on the statue is the same tattoo we saw in a photograph at Mr O’Neil’s home – a peace sign, popular in the 1970s. And this museum is owned by Mr and Mrs Devereau.”
“O’Neil’s body?” exclaimed Sergeant Walters. “What are you saying? I want to look into this!” He turned to the museum guard and said, “I want to examine this statue carefully. Do you have a back room?”
“Yes, I’ll open it for you,” said the guard.
Sergeant Walters asked his men to take the statue to the back room. “I want to speak to the owners of the museum immediately,” he said.
“Mr and Mrs Devereau are in their office upstairs. I’ll go and call them.” The guard was worried and confused.
Sergeant Walters’s men carried the statue to the back room, and Rover started following them. Nick pulled him back but it wasn’t easy. Sergeant Walters called the police station and asked them to send a medical expert. Then he turned to the three young people, who were very excited about their macabre discovery.
“I don’t know what we’ll discover here, but something is wrong, and we’re going to find out more about that wax statue. Your detective work was excellent and you helped us a lot. But now it’s the responsibility of the police. Call me in a few days and I’ll tell you something more. Thanks for your help!”
The three friends were proud – they were helping the police solve the O’Neil case!
When they left the museum Nick took the leash off Rover but he didn’t run away – he stayed with them.
“Do you think that was really Mr O’Neil’s… body?” asked Nick.
“If it was, this is like a horror movie!” said Bill. “What if the other statues… were bodies?”
Michelle said weakly.
“Oh, please, Michelle!” said Nick. “Devereau reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein!”
“When will we find out something?” asked Bill.
“I’m going to call Sergeant Walters in a few days,” said Michelle.
Bill, Michelle and Nick did not have to wait long. On Wednesday the O’Nell case was on the front page of The Miami Times:
O’Nell Case Finally Solved
The O’Nell Case was finally solved by the Miami Police this week with the help of three teenagers – Bill Martin, 16, his sister Michelle, 15, and Nick Chan, 16. These young people showed great determination and courage. The police discovered the waxed, embalmed body of Peter O’Neil, a 45-year-old high school teacher and expert scuba diver, in the Montego Bay Wax Museum. The macabre discovery was a big shock for everyone because he went missing in June of this year. The owners of the wax museum, Julian Devereau, 46, and his wife Gertrude, 42, made a terrible confession. They killed Peter O’Nell.
Peter O’Nell was working for Professor Dan Ortega, who is the director of the Florida Historical Museum. Professor Ortega asked him to find the ship with the five artifacts that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. The ship left the port of Naples, Italy, but never reached its destination in Miami. All radio contact was lost when the ship entered the Triangle. The museum bought these valuable artifacts in Greece and Italy to add to its beautiful art collection.
Julian Devereau owns an art museum in Houston and a maritime museum in Charleston. He knew about the lost artifacts and wanted to find them for his museums. He followed O’Neil’s boat during his trips to sea. On June 8, when O’Neil was scuba diving, Devereau went on his boat and stole O’Neil’s maps. These important maps showed where the ship and the artifacts were.
O’Nell returned to his boat before Devereau could leave it. He shot and killed O’Neil with his gun. With the help of his wife he brought O’Neil’s body back to his yacht, the Blackbeard. They had to eliminate the body so they took it to the wax museum that night.
Julian Devereau is an expert chemist and he embalmed the body. Then he put it in a bath of hot wax and made it look like a statue – the wax statue of a slave merchant of the 1600s. With a patch over one eye, a dark beard and a red bandana it was almost impossible to recognize O’Neil. But the expert chemist forgot to eliminate the tattoo on O’Neil’s arm.
With O’Neil’s maps Devereau found the five artifacts in the Triangle and hid them in his museum in Houston.
The priceless artifacts will return to the Florida Historical Museum next week. The Montego Bay Wax Museum is closed for now.
On Saturday morning there will be funeral services for Peter O’Nell. All the students and teachers of Montego Bay High School will be present. O’Neil’s dog Rover, who helped to solve this case, found a new home with Nick Chan and his family.
After reading the article several times, Bill, Michelle and Nick couldn’t believe that they solved the case. But they were sad about O’Neil’s terrible death. Now Michelle had a big story for the December issue of the school paper. She was suddenly the most popular member of the Journalism Club.
“The Devereau’s almost committed the perfect crime,” she said.
“Yeah, but they forgot about a dog’s Instinct and his sense of smell,” said Bill, grinning at Rover.
“Let’s celebrate at my restaurant!” said Nick and Rover barked.
“That’s super!” exclaimed Bill.
“Hey, let’s walk down to the port and invite Francisco,” said Michelle. “After all, he’s part of this too… he was the first one to give us clues.”
At that moment Michelle’s phone rang and she saw Mike’s number on the display. Now everything was really perfect.