Bravo! Now that the violin has been recovered (inside the piano, thanks to your incredible investigative skills) we were able to reopen the case so fingerprints could be taken off the priceless artifact. As it turns out, prints were recovered from all four individuals in the house: the Maid, the Gardener, the Cook, and - of course - François Dabeneck himself.
Sadly, all three had already passed away by this time, but search warrants were obtained for all three of their homes, and in the Maid's house we found a dated letter of confession she had written on her death bed explaining the entire plot to steal the violin, her regret for never being able to retrieve the greatest fortune of her life, and the guilt she carried with her every day for causing the death of such a wonderful and talented man. I saved you the 43 pages of detailed account, and shared the overview below, in case you were wondering how it happened:
The three had observed François Dabeneck's habits and movements for years. He was a man of strict regiment and structure, and he lived far away from the rest of civilization because he never felt any connection to other humans. But even so, the man still had his human needs. Every Monday, the only connection to the outside world came in the form of deliveries and rubbish removal from the closest village over an hour away. Every Sunday the Maid would clean the Master Suite, but François hated the chemical smell of the cleaning agents she used, so she would always open the windows while he ate his breakfast in the Dining Room. One day, it hit her: this was the perfect window of opportunity! The three of them would work together to steal his prized violin and get rich!
The original plan was simple:
1. Sunday morning while François was eating breakfast, the Maid would open the windows like she always did, then sneak into the Salon to take the master key ring
2. She would then return to the Master Suite and remove the violin from its storage box in the armoire
3. The Gardener would wait by the window to receive it from her, and the Maid would then ransack the room to make it look like an outside job
4. The Gardener would hand the violin to the Cook through the kitchen window, then wait for the Maid to be in distress to enter the home through the front door
5. The Cook would hide the violin in the wheat sack to be taken to town the next day
6. The Maid would call out in distress, bring François to the room, and the three of them would collaborate to convince him it was an outside job and start a manhunt in the forest
But a few things went terribly wrong:
1. When the Gardener passed the violin through the kitchen window, he knocked over a large glass bottle, which François heard from the Dining Room
2. The Maid got greedy - she was the brains of the operation, after all. Rather than leaving the violin in the wheat sack after everyone left the Dining Room, she relocated it to inside the piano in the Salon on her way to the Master Suite so she could come back for it later
3. Suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the incident, François decided to lock-down the Château rather than leave on a manhunt. Until he could get to the bottom of what had REALLY happened, nobody was allowed to move from the Salon
4. After the investigation yielded no fruit, François ordered everyone to leave his home at once, and he remained there - alone - until his death years later.
Unfortunately for the Maid, this meant she was never able to retrieve the violin from the premises, and the guilt of his death haunted her until her untimely passing shortly thereafter.
So as you stand here reading this note at the gravestone of the great François Dabeneck, I hope you know how truly grateful we are for your help in solving this mysterious case! You have brought peace and dignity back to this estate. We decided to bury the violin with François here at the Château. It's what he would have wanted.