After a brief pause, I asked, "Is this a natural and reasonable response from a murderer?"
"What do you mean?" Xiaotao arched an eyebrow.
"A slit across the throat shows determination. It doesn't match his behavior afterwards. Why didn't he clean up the scene immediately, then head out for a walk? Why wait to cover up after his neighbor’s discovery and call?"
"It’s his first time committing a murder,” remarked Xiaotao. “He was probably scared at the time and left the scene to calm down before remembering to destroy the evidence!"
"From the photo, the incision looks professional,” I added. “Could this be done by a novice?"
"People are capable of anything when angered,” argued Xiaotao. “He’s a healthy middle-aged man who has enough strength to inflict such a wound..."
"All questionable points can be answered by vague, seemingly reasonable explanations but this isn’t what the police should do,” I chastised. “The police should investigate every doubtful aspect of the case, find the truth and solve the case!"
"Are you educating me?” laughed Xiaotao. “You just don't want to put on a butler’s uniform and serve me tea, do you? Don't worry, I’ve made sure to pick a handsome suit. You won't want to take it off," she winked.
"Sure, dignity is important, but I love the truth more!"
"Who was it that said this?” pondered Xiaotao. “Did you get it wrong? I seem to recall the original words were: ‘So and so is important, but I love the truth more.’"
"Just satisfy my curiosity, won’t you?” I blushed. “Let me speak to the suspect. If I’m overthinking this, I promise I’ll do whatever you ask tonight!"
"All right then,” nodded Xiaotao. “I'll arrange for an interrogation!"
"You don't have to be so formal,” I waved my hand. “I'll drop by the detention room and speak to him."
Xiaotao and I headed to the detention room where suspect Ding sat listlessly. He seemed to be doing rather well at his job, evident from his big belly and pink face. As soon as he saw us coming, he rushed excitedly into the metal bars and shouted: "Officer, I’m innocent. I really didn't kill my wife!"
"Calm down,” I said. “I came here to ask you about this."
Mr. Ding nodded vehemently with tears in his eyes. I thanked Xiaotao for bringing me a chair and sat down. "Tell me exactly what happened last night. If you tell a lie, I'll leave at once and you can find a lawyer to help you!"
"I wouldn’t dare! I promise every word I speak is true!" he assured me.
Although he was nervous, he made no secret of it. Mr. Ding explained yesterday was his 10th anniversary with his wife. After work, the couple found a nice restaurant for dinner. Everything was going great but on their way back, his wife found a pair of panties under the car seat which sparked a quarrel between the two.
Speaking of the panties, Mr. Ding recognized it at a glance at the time. It did belong to his mistress but he had always been cautious about his infidelity, avoiding the car during their liaisons. God knows how the panties got there!
Having lived together, it was easy for either party to notice a change in the relationship so of course, his wife knew of his infidelity. The contradiction wasn’t so much as caused by the panties as an outburst of disgruntlement accumulated over the years.
At the mention of his infidelity, Mr. Ding appeared aggrieved. He complained about his treatment in his own home, saying his wife never showed him due respect. And on top of that, he had experienced some hiccups at work. Their house was purchased with the help of his in-laws, so his wife usually bossed him about, causing him great depression. Later on, a young woman joined his department, one who greatly adored him. Naturally, sparks flew between the two….
"Enough about that,” I frowned. “Who wants to listen to your nonsense? Be serious, won’t you?"
"Yes sir!" Mr. Ding nodded fervently and continued with his story. Apparently, the couple’s argument extended from downstairs all the way upstairs, alarming the neighbors. Angered by his wife’s rehash of all their past troubles, Mr. Ding burst into rage and smashed several items in the house, his wife following suit. Then, Mr. Ding shouted, "I'll kill you!"
His wife returned with the same volume, "Go ahead then!"
After this, Mr. Ding slammed the door and went out to have a drink, only to realize that he didn't have his wallet on him. So he called his mistress and confided that he had enough and would divorce the ugly hag sooner or later. But before they could continue with the conversation, he received a call from his neighbor, informing him of an emergency at home so he hurried back at once.
At this point, I interrupted him, shouting sternly, "You didn't return immediately, did you? The neighbor discovered the smell of blood coming from your home at 8:10. It took you 20 minutes to get back. Don't lie to me!"
“Officer, I swear I came back immediately! I wasn’t delaying at all!” Mr. Ding desperately denied.
"Where were you then?" I questioned.
"At a small park nearby!"
"Did you make any detours on the way?" I continued.
"No, absolutely not! After all, she’s my wife. As soon as I heard of her accident, I rushed right back!" Mr. Ding answered honestly.
I paused for a moment before allowing him to continue.
Upon entering his home, Mr. Ding was greeted by the body of his dead wife. Thunderstruck, he stared blankly for some time before noticing several receipts scattered all over the floor. He wasn’t sure if his wife or the murderer had turned them out but they were receipts for transactions he spent on his mistress, and the money was part of a bribe he received from his client. Mr. Ding immediately thought of the consequences if the incident came to light. Dismissal was inevitable so he quickly disposed of the receipts.
He tore them up and washed them down the sink. Then, he opened the door and begged his neighbors to call the police. To his surprise, the police surveyed the scene and immediately handcuffed him, without so much as a word. He pleaded his innocence but no one believed him.
At the end of his narration, Mr. Ding raised his right hand. "Officer, everything I’ve said is true! If I so much as speak a word of untruth, I swear I’ll be struck by lightning!"
In fact, I didn't need his oath. The entire time he was speaking, I was observing his microexpressions with Cave Vision. And judging from what I saw, he was indeed telling the truth.
"I'll reinvestigate the case!" I declared.
When I got up to leave, Mr. Ding cried, "Thank you! Thank you so much! You must be the modern day Justice Bao!" Then, I heard a loud thump and I turned around to see the man on his knees.
Out of the detention room, Xiaotao said, "His testimony has no legal effect. Our laws place more emphasis on material evidence than human testimony. In the face of a mountain of hard evidence, his one-sided statements will not be accepted in court."
“You’re right,” I nodded. “The murderer understands this as well."
Xiaotao gasped, "What do you mean?"
"I think this is an elaborate frame-up."
"He’s merely a Section Chief. What's the motive behind framing him?” Xiaotao retorted. “Your speculation is based on your belief in his words. But there’s no evidence to back you up."
"But he wasn’t lying!" I refuted.
"Your eyes aren’t omnipotent,” reminded Xiaotao. “You’re forgetting the criminals who have lied right in front of you."
Though Xiaotao had a point, I persisted, "Then we’ll investigate the case based on our own doubts and the truth will come to light the more we debate and discuss."
"But the investigation of the case has been officially completed and the judicial proceedings are about to begin,” said Xiaotao. “You don’t have much time, three days at most."
I summoned all my enthusiasm. "As always, let’s start with the body!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter