Motive, means, and opportunity – Episode 5

Detective Bryson interviews Wendy Anderson

Worthey called Bryson, in the middle of a hamburger, with the owner of the cell phone number in Bergman’s wallet.  A woman, no surprise there, perhaps his latest conquest.  They settled on a time and Worthey texted the address, and said he would meet Bryson at the apartment, after lunch.

Bryson never really felt comfortable when talking to mistresses, perhaps more because of his beliefs than anything else, and it would be good to have Worthey there just in case he made some inappropriate comment.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

In his mind, being married was monogamous and you didn’t play around, certainly not like the overprivileged people he had to deal with.  The trouble was, they were not the only perpetrators, it just seemed more common.

And it was at the top of the list of motives for crime, especially murder.

Between the time between Worthey’s call and arriving at the apartment, the tech team had the phone company supply the text messages off the phone number his PA had supplied, and, it seemed, after a cursory glance at the swath of text messages on Bergman’s phone, there were several women he was involved with in various parts of the country, and overseas, but only one in New York.

Her name:  Wendy Anderson.  And the text messages were salacious, bordering on pornographic.  Except the last few where it seemed the relationship had turned nasty, and several compromising photographs were in play.  It wasn’t blackmail yet, but it was reason enough to get his bank records.  Bergman was not a scrupulous man.

As for phone calls the last between Bergman and Wendy Anderson was at 7:03 pm.  But that was not the last communication, that was a text message at 9:05 pm, after leaving Anderson’s telling her that he was not signing the papers yet until she clarified her situation with Bergman.  Anderson had asked him, and he had said nothing like they agreed.

There was a reply, that she was available if he wanted to see her to discuss the ‘other’ matter but he said he had another appointment at 10pm.  The other matter was, no doubt, the photos.

A quick search on Wendy’s social media by Worthey turned up the fact she also in the middle of a messy divorce, and that her relationship with Bergman had been since school.  It appeared that all three, Wendy’s husband, James, Bergman, and Wendy had all known each other forever, so the question had be bel when did things go south and why?

More digging through the blog entries discovered that Anderson’s only child had died in a car accident, and Wendy had blamed her husband, who had a blazing row with his son just before it happened.

Worthey looked up the details of the accident and found the son had been high on drugs, and no doubt the husband’s argument was about preventing him from driving.  The blog, he noted, not once mentioned the son’s addiction.  The blog also only mentioned Bergman in passing as a family friend, and supportive in her time of grieving.

Another layer to a complex interrogation, Worthey thought, and texted a brief analysis to Bryson so he had a heads up before meeting her.

Worthey met Bryson in the building foyer.

“Nothing is ever straightforward, is it?”

“Not with the rich and infamous, no.  So, we have a couple who suffer the loss of a son, the wife blames the husband, Bergman’s on the scene sensing an opportunity, and she has an affair, you say the texts turned salacious about a month after the accident.  Who initiated it?”


“They start an affair, and soon after divorce proceedings begin.  We need to see who started it, so a lawyer’s name.  Make a note.  Ten gets you a dozen this Wendy Anderson tries to implicate her husband in the murder.  Simple enough, they were a happy trio until the son’s death.”

“This Bergman character, we’re not finished digging up shit on him, are we?”

“No.”  Bryson gave him the list he received from the PA.  “Disgruntled businessmen and husbands.  The suspect list gets longer.  Ready?”

She, like the ex-Mrs Bergman, looked to have done well out of an upcoming divorce, living in a very expensive mid-town apartment.

It elicited a shake of the head from Bryson as he and Worthey waited outside the door, standing next to one of the building’s concierges.  He’d never be able to afford such luxury and only served to cement his low opinion of the so-called rich and infamous.

The door opened, not by a maid, but the occupant herself.  There was an element of grief about her that no amount of makeup could hide.  A look, he thought, that could be genuine, but having dealt with a lot of so-called grieving widows, he’d reserve judgement.  He knew most women thought tears were their best friend in situations like this.

A bit cynical, but from his point of view, it was true.

“Mrs Anderson, I presume.”

She nodded.

“Detectives Bryson and Worthey, NYPD.  You spoke to Worthey earlier.”

“Yes.  He said you would be calling to ask some questions about Alex?”

“May we come in?”

She stood to one side and let them pass then after closing the door followed him into a sitting room the walls adorned with not as many expensive paintings as Bergman’s current wife.

She directed him to a chair opposite where she sat.  Worthey hovered.

“We believe given the circumstances and evidence so far that this will most likely become a murder case, so I need to ask you some routine questions.  I will apologise in advance because some of these may be personal given your relationship with the deceased.  You may not be aware that we discovered your phone number on the deceased.”

She had hardly moved or appeared to have registered what he had said, but that might be part of an act.   Bryson’s experience in matters like these interviews, sometimes he got a reaction, and not necessarily what the interviewer wanted to convey.  She seemed grief-stricken, but it seemed odd that a woman having an affair might be unless it was something more serious.

As far as he was concerned, she was high on the list of suspects.

“At this point, we are just ticking the boxes in the process of interviewing those who were acquainted with the deceased, and to ascertain their movements and relationships with the victim.  So, firstly, what is the nature of your relationship with Alex Bergman.”

“We are very good friends and have been since grade school.  That was the extent of it.  He tried to make more of it, but I was a married woman and didn’t think is was appropriate.”

OK, he thought, that’s the first lie.  She blinked first, a slight hesitation before answering, which meant she was picking options as answers.

That was when he noticed her demeanour had changed, from a grieving friend to a steely-eyed, very wary woman.  If he had to guess, she was hoping the phone details would not be discovered.

“OK.  Now, in the last few days up until yesterday, how would you categorise the nature of your relationship with James Bergman?”

“He was strangely distant.  We had me earlier in the day, yesterday, over his impending divorce, and the fact my husband was stalling signing the papers.

“So, you two were considering taking your relationship to the next level?”

“I was a consideration, but I’d been burned badly with my current marriage and wasn’t about to jump into another.”

“You had reservations about Bergman’s character?”

Suddenly her whole manner changed, and she went defensive.  “What are you getting at, Detective?”

“It’s a simple question.  Did you have reservations about Bergman’s character?”

She was quick to notice his expression.  “Not particularly.”

Bryson decided on a change of tack, to keep her off balance.  “When was the last time you saw Bergman?”

“Yesterday.  We had lunch with another friend, Edward Davies, who is a lawyer.  We were talking about my pending divorce.  Alex had said he thought if he went to see my husband, he might be able to persuade him to sign the papers.  They used to be friends.”

“Alex Bergman went to see your husband last night.  Would you have any idea what time that might have been?”

“I last spoke to him about seven, just before he said he was leaving home.  I saw on the news before that he was found dead near Queens Park.  That’s not very far from where my husband is currently staying.”

True to form, Bryson thought.  An attempt to lay the blame for Alex Bergman’s death at her ex-husband’s feet.  If he was convicted of a crime, and especially murder, would benefit her greatly.

Mistaking his thoughtful expression for one that craved answers, she continued, “He has a gun, you know, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a fight, James followed him and shot him dead.  He never really liked James, not even in grade school.”

“Are you saying that your husband believed there was something going on between you and Bergman?”

A second’s delay as she reworked the answer in her head, perhaps not quite expressing it the way she should have.

“I cannot speak as to what he was thinking, but his attitude towards me had changed recently, so maybe he thought there was, and his temper got the better of him.”

The hole she was digging for herself was getting deeper.  Now he had a bad temper.  What it did was add to Bryson’s mental notes to ask James Anderson.  The gun, the temper, the wife, and did he know Bergman and Wendy were more seriously involved.  Bergman had indicated it was not serious.

Perhaps it was time to introduce new evidence.

“What was your last communication with Bergman?”  He deliberately didn’t use the word phone.

“About 7pm as I told you earlier.”

“Are you sure?”

Was that panic he saw in her eyes. 

“I think it’s time I called my lawyer.  This interview is over Detective.  Let me know where and when you want to continue this.  Unless you’re going to charge me?”

“This is just a preliminary enquiry.  However, I suggest you seriously consider what you say because if you are not telling us the truth, or of matters that may help in your defence, you might find yourself in a very serios situation.”  He stood.  “I thank you for your cooperation so far.  I’ll send a message with the place and time I will expect to see you to continue this interview.”

Outside Worthey said, “She doesn’t know we have Bergman’s phone records.”

“She’s hoping we haven’t, but I think she does now.  It’s going to be very interesting to see what she comes up with before tomorrow when we get her in.”

At the very least, Bryson thought, she would have to tell them the true extent of her and Bergman’s relationship, the text messages with the veiled threats, and the photographs, which she referred to as the ‘other’; matter.

“Questions still to ask, where was she at the time of the murder, what’s the extent of her knowledge about the gun her husband has, I’m assuming she had access to it as well, and whether it’s legal, something else for you to look at.  I’m going to see the husband, James, just in case she calls him.”

“They’re divorcing, why would she?”

“Desperate people do desperate things, Worthey.  And she was beginning to look desperate.”

“You think she did it?”

“Motive, means and opportunity, circumstantial, but it’s possible.  But in my experience, up close and personal with a gun is not a woman’s style, but she might be the exception.”

© Charles Heath 2019-2023

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