Location: Modern Pacific Northwest, small mountain town northeast of Seattle.
A 34-year-old groundskeeper returns after a regularly-scheduled night of sociable drinking at the local bar to find the sole resident of the house, a very old woman, dead in the front garden area without a mark on her. He calls 911. The paramedics arrive on the scene, pronounce her dead, and the police arrive shortly after.
What happens then?
How quick would they be to exonerate our groundskeeper of suspicion? She died of a heart attack while walking in the garden at night, which was a little bit unusual for her, but not unheard of. There is no evidence of foul play of any kind. I am assuming there would be an autopsy. Would our groundskeeper be detained or questioned? How painful are they going to make this process for him?
Factors: She was very, very old, but still pretty vigorous. She had recently been complaining to her groundskeeper of intermittent chest pains/heartburn, but had not seen a doctor of any kind in at least thirty years and thus has no known GP. Her nearest kin are in London.
Her groundskeeper is an ex-con who served jail time in for sexual assault ten years ago in a different state, but who is not a troublemaker now, and keeps a very low profile. He does not habitually overindulge, and is not over the legal limit to drive when he returns to the manor. He would have been in an obvious state of distress when the authorities arrived, as he was quite upset about the woman's death -- they were good friends. He would not profit from her murder in any way. In fact, it puts him in a pretty bad situation.
Location: Same time, same place, details below.
Second, a series of ritual-type murders committed 77 years ago remain unsolved. A police lieutenant specializing in bizarre/occult cases believes they have a direct connection to both the old woman's death and an assault that took place on a young man currently in the care of the heiress. Our lieutenant is going to share details of these cases with the heiress, including photos, files, everything. He has reason to believe she may be able to help him solve the cases. The heiress is known to him by reputation, and trusted. Would he be breaking rules to share these case files with her?
Given that these were clearly murders, but the murderer was never found, would these cases be considered open, closed, unsolved, cold, what? I'm not sure how these things are classified.
Please forgive me. I have tried Googling what I can think of re: heart attack, cardiac arrest, cardiac death, explained, sudden, etc., and I've tried adding things like police procedure but I don't get much that tells me anything about what would happen to the person who called it in, or how suspicion is assigned. I may simply be using the wrong terms. For the latter, I really have no idea what terms to search under to find out how a case like that would be classified, and whether sharing details would be against the rules.