From Wu Yang's expression, he wasn’t lying, but how could that be true? If my grandfather was a suspect, Sun Tiger wouldn’t have kept it from me. Additionally, the murders happened before they came to investigate.
In any case, my grandfather couldn’t be a criminal!
Upon noticing my fierce reaction, Wu Yang arched an eyebrow, "What's the matter, Detective Song? Do you know this man?"
I didn't know how to answer his question. No comment was tantamount to admitting I did. Fortunately, Xiaotao interrupted, "What exactly did the wounded officer say?"
After further contemplation, Wu Yang replied, "I’ll hack Song Zhaolin to pieces!"
In response to our shocked looks, Wu Yang shrugged, "Those were his own words, so I assumed this Song Zhaolin was the suspect. If you don't believe me, you can speak to him yourself. I’ll give you his home address!" He tore off a piece of paper from his cigarette pack and wrote down the address.
As I held onto this piece of paper, countless thoughts raced through my head. Did Grandpa really do something he shouldn't have?
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Wu Yang said, "Ah, it's nine. I shan’t disturb you any longer. I'll head back." With that, he left with the fat director, who remained silent the entire time.
I had plans to meet the fat officer early the next morning. Since there was nothing on the agenda, we rested early.
About five in the morning, a shrill siren broke the silence. A while later, Xiaotao called, "The fat officer just phoned me to ask if we could drop by the station."
"Let's go!" I nodded.
Faced with a snoring Wang Yuanchao, I decided not to wake him up. Just as I walked out of the room, I bumped into Song Xingchen who was dressed neatly.
"You don't have to come. We’re going to examine a corpse."
Song Xingchen shook his head and seemed bored.
As soon as we arrived at the station, the fat officer sighed with relief: "Thank goodness you’re here! Please come with me."
The victim was an unidentified female, about thirty years old. The body was discovered by a hostel staff in the morning. Pieces of skin had been sliced off from her body, including skin from her thighs, abdomen, back, nipples, and genitals. I counted more than thirty cuts in total. The cause of death was a knife to the neck.
At the sight of the body, Bingxin covered her mouth in horror. Xiaotao and I failed to hide our shock as well. Quickly wearing rubber gloves, I examined the victim’s genitals and concluded, "It’s a rape-murder!"
"Exactly the same as the case that happened twenty years ago!" Xiaotao added.
Turning to the fat officer, I asked if there had been similar cases prior to our arrival.
When he shook his head, my heart sank. I feared our arrival had lured the murderer out of hiding. In that case, we were responsible for this woman’s death.
It seemed Bingxin was absolutely right about my Conan-like senses. I shouldn't have disturbed this peaceful town.
Bingxin seemed to see through my thoughts. "Song Yang—don't think about it,” she comforted. “Let's perform the autopsy first. It may not be the same murderer."
Judging from the degree of rigor mortis and Tardieu spots on the victim, the time of death was about ten hours ago. I carefully checked for necrosis of the missing skin and listened to the internal organs with the Echolocation Rod before narrowing down the time of death to eight hours ago.
It suddenly occurred to me that exactly eight hours ago, we were talking to Wu Yang in our hotel room.
Pulling out a small bottle, I smeared its contents on the edges of the wound with a cotton swab. The substance quickly bubbled up. "The wound shows vital reactions, indicating that the skin was removed antemortem. From the edges of the wound, the weapon appears to be a sharp blade, perhaps a scalpel... There are no binding marks on the victim’s wrists and ankles."
"The victim must’ve been sedated! I’ll test for it!" Bingxin interjected.
She collected a tube of blood and brought it to the room next door for testing. "Wait,” I stopped her. “Let me take a swab of her vagina first.”
In fact, the chance of finding any semen was very slim. These days, even the most uneducated, inexperienced criminals knew they couldn't leave DNA behind. I noticed a little bit of blood aside from vaginal secretions and lubricant.
The dark blood seemed to have come from the vagina. There was an almost imperceptible scar on the victim’s abdomen, suggesting she had given birth before. However, prolonged periods of going without sex could cause bleeding.
Judging by the smell, it was indeed human blood. In order to confirm how the victim was injured, I took a pair of tweezers and separated her vagina. I immediately noticed something inside covered in vaginal discharge that couldn’t be removed. "Looks like it’s an animal of some sort!" I reported.
"Mouse or eel?" Bingxin covered her mouth in disgust. "What a pervert!"
After grabbing a dilator and the longest tweezers in the laboratory, it took me a considerable amount of time to remove the animal—a gecko. It was most likely inserted into the vagina while still alive and injured the vaginal walls during its struggle.
Bingxin trembled as she looked on, while the fat officer turned to ask, "Does this gecko have any special meaning?"
"I don't know," I shrugged.
While Bingxin tested the blood, I continued with the autopsy. From the direction of the cuts, the murderer was right-handed, with a firm grip and strong hands.
If the murderer was still alive, he must be in his forties or fifties. As long as he was healthy, committing the crime was entirely possible. But as I continued examining the body, there was a sense of disobedience.
"No, it's not him!" I shouted.
"What do you mean?” asked Xiaotao. “Is it a copycat?"
To that, I was noncommittal. I asked the fat officer for an ultraviolet lamp before using the Autopsy Umbrella. Several handprints appeared on the victim, especially around the hips–a pair of large handprints, which seemed to have been left during the rape.
Since Xiaotao had also read the case files, I asked her if she had discovered anything wrong, to which she replied, "Do you mean to say the murderer is too calm?"
The murderer from twenty years ago was the typical impassioned murderer. During the rape and murders, he would constantly bite the victim’s body. Later on, he began slicing the victim’s skin for fear of leaving teeth marks behind. Over time, he formed the MO.
Since our current murderer didn't know the details, he drugged the victim first, sliced her skin, and then carried out the rape in a calm and collected manner. It was as if he was going through a fixed process, and he didn't seem to enjoy himself.
From the gecko stuffed into the victim’s vagina, not only was the murderer imitating, but he also wanted to convey something!
Just as I was pondering the case, something tiny jumped out from the victim’s genitals. It was smaller than a sesame seed. I trapped the little thing in a test tube on top of the victim’s thigh. When Xiaotao and Bingxin asked me what I had caught, I told them to take a look.
There was a louse trapped in the test tube.
Slightly different from ordinary lice, this little thing was called pubic lice, a parasite found in pubic hair. It usually spread through sexual contact or infected through unsanitary bedding, such as sleeping naked in an unclean motel.
Separating the victim’s pubic hair with the tweezers, I found many of these parasites at the root of her pubic hair. I removed several of them as evidence.
"Song Yang, what’s that?" Xiaotao pointed to an area.
Under the umbrella’s shadow was a small cluster of marks on the skin. After careful observation, I found that similar marks could be found around the wound. Removing my gloves, I pulled at my own skin and released, leaving a similar mark.
"Looks like this was left by pulling the skin around the wound with the murderer’s fingers,” I said.
"The murderer pulled the victim’s skin from both sides with his hands? If he only had two hands, how on earth did he cut her at the same time?" Xiaotao gestured with her hands.
"You’re right!” I shouted excitedly. “The murderer may have an assistant... No, it’s two people committing the crime together!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter