Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Tale of the Killer Cabbie

According to John Watson's blog, he and Sherlock looked at the flat at 221B Baker Street on the 30th of January.1

The first of the serial suicides occurred on October 12th.  This means that long before Dr. Watson meets Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is planning to kill him.

How do we know that?
Starting with what Sherlock deduces and the cabbie reveals, we have this version of the hows and whys of cabbie as serial killer:
1 - Three years prior to confronting Sherlock across a table, the cabbie was diagnosed with an apparently inoperable brain aneurism which may rupture at any moment, killing him instantly.

2 - He is a cabbie estranged from his children, not by his own desire, and wishes to leave them something more than his old clothes. He doesn't earn much as a cabbie.

3 - "I have a sponsor," the cabbie tells Sherlock, "For every life I take, money goes to my kids. ... The more I kill, the better off they'll be."

But there has to be much more going on than a psychopath in the background ("You're not the only one to enjoy a good murder, there's others out there just like you... ") who simply enjoys murder for entertainment.  If the sponsor enjoys murder and the cabbie's children get money with every kill, then why would he have killed so few people and in such a bizarre way?  Motivated by profit, if he were doing this on his own, he would be killing more victims at closer intervals to maximize benefits to his children before the aneurism in his head explodes, which it can at any moment.  Instead, he only kills four people, so someone else is controlling his actions: Moriarty.

The Victims are Connected

We know Sherlock can make mistakes and in this case, when asked if there is a link between the first three victims, Lestrade responds "There's no link we've found, yet, but we're looking for it, there has to be one," he is correct. Sherlock sends the "wrong" text to the reporters, but he has missed the patently obvious.  If they are suicides, the method, poison and access to the information as well as the substance connect them.  If they are murders,  what the victims all have in common is: someone wanted each of them dead.

Mistress in the lens.
Sir Jeffrey Patterson was having an affair.  He also didn't take cabs, but this day the company car had gone to Waterloo, for some reason.  It hardly seems like a stretch to believe Moriarty could have arranged this and had the killer cabbie waiting.  At the first news conference in this episode, his wife is reading a prepared statement.  Panning left, we see a different woman,  the woman he was speaking to on the phone before he got into a cab: the blond who said she loved him.  And, we see her through a viewfinder, someone is taking her picture.  Perhaps his wife wants it to enjoy the mistress's moment of despair.   Perhaps Moriarty just likes souvenirs.

No obvious motive for murder attaches to victim 2,  the student James Phillimore, except that he was a student at Roland-Kerr Further Education College, the same place the cabbie took Sherlock.

The cabbie takes credit for finding the murder locations himself, but it makes much more sense for Moriarty to have provided all the elements of the crimes.  Possibly, James witnessed something, a previous crime Moriarty arranged at the school and needed to be gotten out of the way.

The third victim, Beth Davenport,  was a politician who was also a party girl.  Dancing in a club on her birthday, possibly doing drugs, certainly drinking, (which is why her keys were taken away) behaviors apparently typical of her by the comments of her staff members, she would be an embarrassment to her party.   Possibly, she was simply standing in the way of a lucrative contract and her unsavory habits made her an easy target.  As it is her birthday, she also may have come into an inheritance that day that someone didn't want to share.  A call to her mobile to come somewhere immediately and secretly, and she leaves the club without mentioning anything to her staff members, finds she has no keys and is grateful for the empty cab that happens to be cruising by.  Easy-peasy.

As for victim number four, Sherlock gives us at least two motives for Jennifer Wilson's death.  She was a "serial adulteress" and also was in the media.  We assume she is in London overnight for a brief lover's tryst.  Yet, she also might be in London to meet with a source, she may be doing an embarrassing expose or able to endanger powerful and important people with the information the source she is in London to meet with will provide her. 

Jennifer Wilson was clever and possibly ambitious, she was also interested in justice and quite courageous as she kept her wits about her in the face of death, trying to lead police to her killer.  It's possible she was on the trail of a master criminal someone would identify to her.

The victims were chosen by Moriarty, the arrangements made, accomplices placed and instructed, the cabbie assigned as murder weapon.  He was a perfect choice for a killer-for-hire.  It was always in his best interests to keep Moriarty's secrets.  He has nothing to lose and everything to gain.  He comes with built-in obsolescence.  He will die soon, the secrets dying with him. 
Modus Operandi: Luring Sherlock

The  manner of the deaths is nonsensical if Moriarty simply used the cabbie to carry out murders for hire.   In that case, they should be as simple as possible, look like muggings or accidental modes of death that do not link them together.  In this way, the police never look for a single killer and the cabbie, the tool Moriarty refined, remains useful and profitable as long as possible.

And how did he actually kill them? Not using the two bottles he showed Sherlock Holmes in a game where if you outplay the cabbie, he dies and you don't.

That can't be if we believe what's already been shown us in the other murders, as the bottles each victim picked up all contained three pills.  It wasn't as if the first victim had a fuller bottle and with each successive victim there were fewer pills until we reach Sherlock's which only had one.  They each had three pills.  The cabbie had a gun.  What did he tell them?

Perhaps that he said he was going to rob them or rape the women and the pills were a drug to make them unconscious or make them lose their memory. Or was it a version of the last game, where he said two of the pills were harmless and only one was deadly and they had a 66% chance against the gun?  It hardly matters. Moriarty didn't care how they died, only that they died in such a way that no one could trace the crimes back further than the cabbie and the crime scenes support the idea of "serial suicide" so as to attract the attention of Sherlock Holmes.

Moriarty created a unique game for Sherlock,  intending neither Sherlock nor the cabbie leave that building alive.  The cabbie would have to know it was his last day, Moriarty probably offered him a huge bonus for killing Sherlock and dying, himself.  And why not?  His time was ticking away; he had nothing to live for but to insure the welfare of his children.  He must have known because there was no "good" pill.  Both were deadly. They had to be, in case Sherlock erred.  Moriarty could have provided the cabbie with an antidote he could take, of course.  Leaving Sherlock's body to be just one more victim.

In any case, Sherlock must not be shot.  He must be one of the suicides. Moriarty wanted more than his death, only Sherlock's defeat would earn the final payment.  The words from the cabbie's mouth are Moriarty's, the method to entice him, appeal to both his ego and his inherent reckless disregard for his own safety.  He'll risk not breathing for the sake of "brain-work" because "breathing is boring." 

Moriarty's identity will be safe with the cabbie's death, Sherlock will be eliminated and Mycroft will not connect the serial-killings, the seemingly random work of  a madman with the criminal mastermind he as yet cannot identify.  Sherlock Holmes will be just one more hapless victim.

Then John Watson shot the cabbie.  And Sherlock got the name. 

Journey to Reichenbach One: The Fall of Rich Brook

 1 - See JOHN'S BLOG IS WRONG - or the Solar System is for information about why this date is impossible in this Universe.  Eliminating the impossible, we must accept the improbable as true: this Sherlock exists in an alternate reality or parallel universe.


  1. there is no possible way to conclude anything in this story from the tv show facts. no continuity of facts or events

  2. This seems a bit of an extreme statement. For instance. Sherlock has a brother he has a difficult relationship with who tends to involve himself in Sherlock's life. That's continued through 4 series.

    Sherlock finds a companion he can rely on, a potential friend in John Watson. They do become friends and John continues to be reliable.

    Sherlock's relationship to the police is established, as is his relationship with Molly. His methods are demonstrated, all these things remain consistent.

    So, I doubt you meant what you wrote. What you meant was: we can't tell anything about Moriarty.

    Well, the cabbie is carrying out deadly assignments for the sake of his children. He is, according to him, being used. He seems to know a great deal about Sherlock and his goal seems to be to arrange Sherlock's death so he will be disgraced and a failure.

    MORIARTY! the cabbie cries as he dies. Consistently, we meet James Moriarty, a consulting criminal who arranges crimes for people. This is consistent with the pattern we see with the cabbie who killed people on orders. Each of the victims providing a motive for their killer.

    The cabbie fails to kill Sherlock and so, Moriarty comes out of the woodwork and arranges for Sherlock to die in disgrace. And like the cabbie, he also dies at Sherlock's feet.

    There's plenty of continuity of theme and motif, characters and motivations.

    You want to "conclude" something. You believe you can't. Perhaps the issue is that you've seen but not observed.