Apparently the killer had cut and pulled loose from the rings a clear plastic seat cover on the driver's side. It was gone.
Police tried unsuccessfully to trace both the whisky bottle cap and the matchbook.
An odd thing had happened to the car. Painters there to paint the building wanted it moved out of the way. They tried to shove it but couldn't because it was in gear. It was locked and the key was missing. So after considerable discussion about whose car it was, a Ryder employee broke in and took it out of gear. He didn't notice anything suspicious.
A policeman probably would have noticed the telltale disorder inside the car and comprehended its meaning. The car movers did not.
Police later took fingerprints of the unsuspecting car shovers for comparisons with a few latent prints found inside the car. Some were properly identified.
To the police, it appeared that the killer had wiped his prints. An ID fingerprint man, however, wasn't so sure. He said he had heard that the car had been repaired in a shop before the murder and suggested it might have been wiped then.
On the horn ring button the ID man later discovered one good latent palmprint.
It positively did not match that of the victim, her husband, or any of the car movers. It did not belong to the man eventually convicted for life for the murder either.
At the time the ID man felt quite possibly the print belonged to the killer. No one knew then - nor knows now - whose print it was. The lab man never testified at the trial to come.
Perhaps the print belongs to someone in no way connected to the crime. Perhaps it is indeed the killer's. The question is still totally unresolved.
Until May 7, 1959 - 77 days after the crime - the investigation remained stymied.
That was the day an eccentric airman third class at the West Palm Beach Air Force base gave his sergeant a bloodied shirt and said he thought he had done something terrible, he couldn't remember what.
He was a loner. He felt he failed miserably at nearly everything he tried, and as questioning later bore out, most of his buddies agreed. He didn't have many.
Some weeks before he had been tried in a courtmartial proceeding for unfitness because of a snafu over whether he had married a 17-year-old girl without permission and tried to get her an allotment check. He hadn't, it turned out, and he was acquitted.
The Air Force brought the bloodied shirt to the attention of the county solicitor of Palm Beach County. From there, a routine query went to Dade County. Could the shirt have anything to do with the unsolved Mary Meslener murder? The homicide bureau decided to try and find out.
Detective Thibedeau questioned Shea at the base May 8. Shea nervously told him a weird tale about a kidnap attempt of a baby from a baby carriage near the Americana Hotel, women screaming, and a ride to a race track. He said he couldn't remember. It didn't make sense. Thibedeau returned, bringing with him the blood-stained yellow and white checkered sport shirt made by "Torino Sportswear."
Laboratory analysis established the blood as human. But whose blood, now more than ever six years later, is of extreme importance.
At the time, one lab man said he believed the type to be O, the same as the victim's. About 40 per cent of the population has O blood.
With this finding , apparently made May 14, 1959, the detectives wanted to interrogate Shea. The Air Force had already shipped him off to Eglin Air Force Base for hospitalization and psychiatric examination.