Four elderly ladies sat at the dining room table in Ruth Hoskins’s home. Ruth was ninety years old but still lived alone with the assistance of her son, who came over twice a week. Ruth was clear-minded but failing physically. She could only move around slowly and with the aid of a cane. With difficulty, she entered from the kitchen to join the others at her beautiful cherry wood table. Ruth always made it a point to make certain her guests were seated before joining them from the kitchen. It was common practice at their gatherings that the tea service would stay in the kitchen, self-served. Ruth, very much a person of old school social graces, was ashamed and embarrassed that she was so weak in her hands that she could not pour the tea in the dining room from a pitcher.
The women sat in silence, all of them keenly aware that, at this time last week, there had been six of them. But not now, for Vera Waller had died suddenly shortly after their last meeting. Seventy-five-year old Mary considered it a blessing that they had almost a week to recover from the shock.
But Ruth had another shock for the gathered ladies. After settling in her chair, she looked straight at Leona and said bluntly, “One of us murdered Vera. I don’t appreciate that it was done in my home, right under our noses. One of us laced her tea with enough arsenic to drop a horse.”