Let's start at the beginning. Richard's mother moves to Hazard when he is
still a young boy. He doesn't have a father, which automatically makes him a target for
ridicule in the small, family centered town. People are prejudiced against him from the
beginning and spread rumors about him.
The next sequence of events to occur is that a fire is accidentally set in Richard and his mothers' home. He runs to her room to warn her and finds her making love to a man who is a stranger to him. Being a young boy who has already been turned against the outside world by their merciless taunts, he is shocked and horrified by this. So horrified in fact, he decides not to interrupt, and instead runs to the safe embrace of the river, while the house burns to the ground with mother and lover inside. The Sheriff is infuriated by this because of some involvement or relationship with one of the two parties in the house. He blames Richard for their deaths, and decides from that day forward he will watch Richard's every waking move, hoping someday to catch him doing something illegal, or perhaps admitting guilt to the first crime.
Richard goes through life from that day on with people talking behind his back, pointing fingers, staring, and basically prejudicing against him. That is, until the day he meets Mary. She doesn't care what the people in town think or say. Richard and Mary both become close friends longing for a romantic relationship. They can't commit though, due to the fact that she is already involved with someone who mistreats her. They still have as close to a romance as a friendship can get. They walk by the river, watch the sun go down, and talk to each other about how someday they'll leave that old Nebraska town. Mary also speaks about how she'll leave her abusive boyfriend. Richard sees hope for them to be together. Of course, the Sheriff stands close by, silently hidden, watching these exchanges.
One night, Mary decides to break it off with her boyfriend like she's always promising herself she'll do. She meets him and they go for a drive. When they park near the woods and start talking, she loses her strength to leave him, and instead they start making out. Unfortunately, Richard catches this exchange and is reminded of the similar scene he witnessed between his mother and the stranger so many years ago. He even has the same reaction, running to the safe banks of the river, this time losing his scarf amongst the tree branches. The Sheriff, distantly behind Richard, still follows. Mary sees Richard and runs after him, not hesitating to exit her boyfriend's car considering the fact that she hates him and just might have lost her true love forever.
Mary catches up with Richard on the bank of the river, but not before grabbing the scarf, torn from his neck by the branches. They talk. Richard, hurt because he thought he actually had a chance with her, gets his point across that they can't see each other anymore, friendship or otherwise, because he can't take the pain of another loss. Mary protests, but Richard heads toward his dark trailer to attempt sleep, letting her keep the scarf as a momento of what they once had. The Sheriff sees this, and decides to head home to get some shut-eye himself, satisfied that Richard's happiness has been revoked.
Sleep does not come easily to Richard because of that nights goings on. He tries to watch TV but is overcome by the sorrow of yet another loss, which sends him into a blind rage contained within his trailer. All the while, Mary is dwelling in her sorrow on the bank of the river where she and Richard had the confrontation. She turns around when she hears a noise and discovers her jilted, abusive lover. She tries to help him understand, begging his forgiveness so he won't be that upset. This only makes him angry, so he grabs the scarf adorning her neck and strangles her to death, dumping her limp, lifeless body into the river.
Early the next morning, the Sheriff goes back to the river. For what reason, I'm not sure. Maybe to cover up the fact that he had been there the night before spying. Maybe for some kind of momento of the past nights debacle to appease his insatiable need to make Richard suffer, or something sick and twisted like that. Either way, he comes across Mary's body instead. He then wishes he had never left Richard's trail the night before or this could have been prevented.
The Sheriff automatically assumes Richard's guilt because of the argument he witnessed. Seeing the scarf only fuels his suspicions. He has the Sheriff's Department bust Richard on suspicion of Murder. After a relentless interrogation by the Sheriff, they decide to release Richard because there is no proof of any wrongdoing on his part. The Sheriff fights it because he has wanted Richard to be guilty of something--anything, since the day that house caught ablaze and killed two people. His argument holds little weight though, and Richard is released.
Richard does one last thing before leaving Hazard, The old Nebraska town which has caused him so much heartache and suffering. He cuts his hair as a symbol of moving on from the pain he has undeservingly been dealt. He then abandons his trailer, everything in it, and everything surrounding it, for a life as a drifter who can only hope for things to get better.
That's my theory. It's truly the only plausible solution to the great mystery of Hazard. Lots of points, I know, seem unfounded. Only certain points even took place in the video. The rest is just the breaking down of the video & other peoples theories and using common sense & imagination to fill in the gaps left in the storyline. Here's how I was led to choose my suspect and why every other scenario is not even a possibility.
Why The Sheriff Didn't Do It
Although the Sheriff being the murderer is probably the next best thing to
a solution, it is made apparent (mainly through common sense & breaking down other
theories, not the video itself) that the Sheriff shouldn't be the killer. First off, it is
highly unlikely that anyone, especially an officer of the law, would want revenge bad
enough to frame someone for murder. I've also heard and considered theories of some kind
of relationship between the Sheriff and Mary ranging from pimp/prostitute to lovers. Now I
know the prostitution theory may be more imaginative than mine, but isn't that reaching a
bit too far for an answer? There is no evidence that she was a prostitute, or it would
have been represented somehow in the video. The romantic link, or possibility thereof, is
definitely not out of the question, just highly unlikely.
I automatically thought it was more likely for the Sheriff to have some kind of connection to the people who died in the fire rather than Mary or either of the two murder suspects because he would be closer to being their age. Which person, I'm not sure of. Lots of people forget that not only Richard's mother was in the house when it burned down. There was also a man, her lover, who people tend to look over when developing a theory. I believe the Sheriff was connected to either or both of these people by close friendship, family, or romance (in the case of Richard's mother). There death would then issue the Sheriff reasonable motive to follow Richard, hoping he would eventually slip up and be jailed for either some connection to the fire, or any other crime. Thus, this eliminates the Sheriff as a suspect and adds merit to my boyfriend-as-murderer scenario.
Why Richard Didn't Do It
Besides the fact that no one would want, or even think, that a man as perfect as Richard would be capable of such a heinous crime, there is a solid reason why he couldn't have killed Mary-- the words to the song. He sings: " Three years ago when I came to know Mary/First time that someone looked beyond the rumors and the lies/And saw the man inside" and " I swear I left her by the river/ I swear I left her safe and sound". The first line I quoted indicates that what the people say is nothing but rumors and lies. The second line is simply Richard professing his innocence. Since it is a story song with one of the characters narrating, it makes me highly doubt that he would lie, or be so mentally imbalanced that he actually believes he isn't guilty. That is why Richard couldn't be the murderer, leaving only two possibilities-- suicide and her boyfriend as the killer.
Why Mary Didn't Commit Suicide
Aside from the point that Mary's suicide would be the most boring of possibilities, it's also eliminated by logic. First off, someone surprises Mary at the river, and when they leave she's dead. There is another reason why she couldn't have killed herself, and that would be her possible modes of death.
A strong current
Some kind of weight
Entangling in grass and weeds
Severe physical or mental trauma
Why The Man From The Car Did It
Sure having the man from the car as the murderer isn't the most fun answer. We don't even get to see the guy's face or get his name after all. But after a lot of breaking down and a little bit of imagination to fill in the gaps in the storyline, it's the only possible answer. I know some of my points go unexplained, but that's because I needed to fill in the big, gaping holes in the storyline. I tried to account for more of the night of the murder. In the video, hours go unaccounted for, so I concocted a few ideas (like that Mary and Richard had met and spoken on the riverbank before she had her final meeting with the killer on that very spot. I do similar piecing together in numerous places throughout the story). These things didn't necessarily take place that way. They all fit into my final scenario, so that's why I selected them. The whole point of this video is to make your own interpretations. Taking all of mine into effect, I believe I have found what could be the only plausible explanation to the two chapter epic. When Richard wrote Hazard, he may have intended for it to remain a mystery. All things provided, at least in my mind, the mystery of Hazard has been solved.