Who choked Guy N. Dernier and “flung him into the ditch as a man might fling the carcass of a coyote to get it out of sight and mind,” as The Buffalo Courier said in 1922? Aside from the little black book, the only clue was a single, long strand of henna-tinted hair clinging to the dead man’s sock. After tracking and clearing most of the 100 names in Dernier’s diary, Sheriff John Montgomery announced:
“There are perhaps 20 men who would have had motive for killing Guy Dernier. He lived a dual life. He was the courtier to housemaid or to her mistress. He hobnobbed with pillars of society and with bootleggers… Dernier might have been killed by a jealous husband, or he might have died at the hand of some prostitute’s paramour.”
Two days later, county attorney R.E.L. Sheppard said, “Three leads have directed us to the doorsteps of three [men]… who can clear up this case – the most outrageous and flagrant crime I have ever come in contact in my 25 years as a lawyer.”
Finally, deputy sheriff Frank W. Bell said his suspect list was down to one, while revealing there was more to Dernier being found in his undies. “Dernier used to stage pajama parties that were very popular among the smarter, swifter crowd… it was rather a fad to ‘trade wives’ on these occasions, and I’m told Dernier played the whole field.”
After a cheating wife confessed to her husband, Bell said “the husband set the trap and the wife crawled in to be the bait,” by asking Dernier to visit. “Presumably Dernier believed a pajama party was to be staged… While in the arms of the woman, her husband stole out from his hiding place and gripped his hands around Dernier’s neck.”
The suspect was never identified.