The year was 1887 and the place was a small beach town in the United Kingdom called Southsea. Three young Freemasons met at the local pub after a stated meeting. These men were Zechariah Holmes, Conan Doyle, and a third man whose name was only recorded as Murmur. What was discussed was the trio’s common concern for the dismembered body found along the Thames River in London earlier that year. The consensus of these gentlemen was that this sort of anonymous killing was the signature of a new kind of killer. The term serial killer was not officially coined until almost one hundred years later. But, legend has it, Murmur coined it that evening. These men, all in their twenties, made a pact. No matter where life took them, they would stay in touch and send one another leads with an ultimate goal of contributing to the greater good.
These men, the original “Masonic Three” of investigations, called themselves MI:33. The initials standing for the words Masonic Investigations and 33 pertaining to the highest degree of the Supreme Council of Freemasonry, to which they all pledged their loyalty. MI:33 utilized a seal that incorporated the all-seeing eye of providence with the ouroboros (the serpent eating its tail). This referred to the eternal pledge to the Great Architect of the Universe and the never-ending discipline of investigations for the greater good.
These three men, now only known as MI:33, met several times a year all over the United Kingdom. Their last official assembly took place in 1905 in Edinburgh, Scotland after another lodge meeting. Here, they solidified their eternal bond as investigators of the most evil. They wrote a letter, all signed it in their own blood, and sealed it in wax with the MI:33 emblem. Nothing of the MI:33, or the association of the three men, was uttered again.
Until… Some time in the 1950’s New Jersey farmer Joseph Henry Holmes, the nephew of MI:33 member Zechariah Holmes, was approached by a hooded stranger. This stranger told Holmes that he was the sole heir of a legacy that spanned back to the days of Jack the Ripper and before. Joseph didn’t know what to make of it, so he accepted the letter given to him and thanked the hooded stranger. After all, Joseph’s primary concern of the day was growing blueberries and raising chickens. He never fully saw the face of the stranger, but he would tell the story decades later by only sounding the stranger’s name as “Murmur”.
Decades later, Joseph died and left his things to his daughter Ruthanne who took care of him in his last days. She eventually found a cigar box containing a strange letter with a wax seal. After Joseph’s funeral Ruthanne shared this letter with her nephew Bobby, who was in his twenties, and a detective with the New Jersey State Police.
Just as mystified by the letter as his Aunt, Bobby chose not to open it. But Ruthanne asked him to hold onto it for the time being. Ruthanne outlived Bobby who died young at 55. After Bobby’s death in 2004 Ruthanne reconnected with his oldest son Rob. She filled him in on the MI:33 letter and, after a bit of static with Bobby's third wife and widow, the letter was recovered. It rested in a cigar box among random news clippings and photos of Bobby’s children.
By this time Rob was a detective in his own right, running a private investigations firm with his brother Jason. Rob and Jason, both Freemasons, recognized the symbolism of the seal. One night, after a few beers and a lot of talk about current cases, Rob broke out the letter.
After much thought and deliberation, Rob and Jason took hold of each side of the seal and opened the MI:33 document together. As the wax icon crumbled, the paper unfolded and the message grew clearer. It was dark in the garage where they were. But they could read the two words illuminated on the aged parchment: Tempus Tuum. After a bit of research the Holmes Brothers determined that the two Latin words Tempus Tuum translate to English as “Your Turn.” Or, as legend may have it, Murmur’s last words to their great-grandfather: “Tag. You’re it.”
During this ceremony, as it were, Rob and Jason were visited by the spirit of Murmur and initiated into MI:33 being designated the seats of Conan Doyle and Zechariah Holmes. They were told that Murmur would one day return, but no timeline was provided.
Henceforth, The Holmes Brothers have held the tradition of the MI:33. Their first goal is to piece together the puzzles that others can not. The second is to do good when others do not. The third is… to… we will find out when Murmur returns.
So mote it be.