On Mother’s Day in 2009, 41-year-old Stacey Burns of Wolfboro, NH was found stabbed to death in her bed; nobody has ever been charged with the crime, although the investigation is still active. I have a special tarot spread for these circumstances, the “Whodunit Rogue’s Gallery Spread,” and decided to put this case through it using the somber Night Sun Tarot, with reversals. With this spread, I pre-position the Death card as the central focus card and deal the 16 court cards to populate the “gallery,” then draw from the remaining cards to see where the Ace of Spades (the traditional “death” card in playing-card divination) lands as a pointer to “finger” the most likely suspect. Kings and Queens indicate mature suspects over 45, Pages show younger people under 25, and Knights reflect people of middle years (I use the classically “active” red suits – Wands and Cups – to show males and the “passive” black suits – Swords and Pentacles – to suggest females). Court cards that fall close to the Death card show people known to the victim, and those farther away imply less well-known individuals or complete strangers.
All images copyright Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy
The first thing of note is in the “rogue’s gallery” layout: all of the cards closest to the Significator are male cards, probably showing members of her immediate family, none of whom were “fingered” by the Ace of Swords. The Page of Swords is most likely the 15-year-old who found her, and the Knight of Cups looks like her husband. The King of Pentacles and King of Wands could be showing older male relatives or associates, perhaps her father and her uncle or boss. The reversal of three of the four suggests that none of them was on the scene at the time of the murder; only the Knight of Cups is upright, and the facing of the figure indicates that he may have been contemplating “death” in some way. The husband appears to have had an airtight alibi for the night of the murder, but the 2 of Pentacles on top of the Knight of Cups makes me think he may be adept at “juggling the facts.” (The figure has the pose of a tightrope walker.)
The Ace of Swords showed up reversed on top of the King of Cups reversed, with no other cards intervening, giving the impression of a covert emotional connection with an older man who may have been psychologically unstable (or who at least had hidden motives or urges), a connection that was abruptly severed. The downward-pointing sword in the Ace even mimics the act of stabbing. The cards of interest being to the right has me thinking that this was an emerging relationship rather than one of long standing. She may have been lured in by his charm, unaware of his darker side. I’m reminded of the memorable scene from the film Waiting for Mister Goodbar, where Diane Keaton invites the vicious psychopath into her bed, who then proceeds to stab her to death and flee the scene of the crime. With no other cards in the mix, there isn’t much else to go on here, but having a potential assailant in your bedroom implies willingness to accept the risk. Another possibility, with the Knight of Cups appearing between the Death card and the King of Cups, is that her husband became aware of the situation and “brought down the sword of vengeance” on her; the King being reversed could mean that the older man wasn’t present at the time and therefore wasn’t a target of opportunity.