by Majid Cina
First of all, it seems to me that little Richard killed his mom and her lover in bed. It shows him catch them making love, and then a flame leaps up in front of him. He runs from the house to the safety of the river while the house burns down. They also show him cutting his hair... more on this to come.
Next, Richard really enjoys Mary's company, and there is some definite flirting. Mary seems to reciprocate the affection, but when Richard catches Mary making out with someone else, something in him snaps. He remembers seeing his mom in bed, and the old anger returns. He runs away, his scarf left behind. Mary, who saw Richard seeing her, looks upset and gets out of the car. She takes Richard's scarf and heads to the river to think things through. Richard is taken with a rage, and after eluding the Sheriff he stalks after her. He sees her next to the river, his scarf around her. Mary turns around, surprised to see her best friend coming for her neck.
Later, Richard returns to his mobile home, and he's watching TV, holding back the memories. In the end, the feelings surface, and we see him break in anguish and guilt. (A great scene, BTW.) By the time the cops come, he is again self-composed, and he lets nothing slip to the over-curious Sheriff
After his release from custody, Richard returns to the river, the scene of the crime and his haven both, and he cuts his hair. As before, the cutting of hair is a symbol of guilt-relief. It is a ceremony of catharsis, where he washes the blood of his loved ones from his hands. Without a home, with everyone in town turned against him, he leaves quaint little Hazard, a homeless beggar with tattered clothes and a shattered psyche.
Why not the Sheriff? After all, he was taking pictures the whole time, and following Mary, and he's obviously prejudiced against Richard. The Sheriff could be the killer, but I don't think he should be. All obvious evidence points to the Sheriff. What kind of murder mystery ends with the butler actually having dunnit? I think the story would be pretty boring if it were the Sheriff. For those of you who need more solid arguments, I pose that the Sheriff acts the way he does out of caution. Maybe he suspects that Richard killed his mother as a boy, and he is justified in his suspicions. Maybe he took the pictures because he knew he'd need some kind of evidence once Richard committed a crime. Maybe he followed Mary to make sure she was safe--you'll notice the Sheriff was there when Richard saw Mary making out. Maybe the Sheriff is just a good guy, someone who's looking out for the law.
Or is that too hard to believe? How about this? Why would the Sheriff kill Mary? If he hates Richard so much that he's willing to commit murder for it, you'd think he'd just kill Richard and be done with it. Why kill an innocent third party when you can kill the target of your hate with less chance of anyone caring, since everyone in town is on your side too? If your answer to this is that the Sheriff wants to see Richard suffer, you know you're reaching a bit too far.
Why not suicide? Simple--Mary turns around at the river. Someone came and surprised her, and when that person left, she was dead. Richard is lying when he sings, "I swear I left her by the river. I swear I left her safe and sound." Why not Mary's boyfriend? Because we don't even get to see his face! What kind of murder mystery features a killer we never meet?
So regardless of what Richard says, there is a right answer to the question, "Who killed Mary?" The truth is that Richard did it himself, and every theory I've heard pales before mine, if not in merit, then in creativity. Besides, take a look at the photo above. Richard looks like a werewolf in that video. How could he not have done it?!