In order to confirm my speculations, I carefully examined the body and found two sets of handprints on the victim. There was an extremely heavy set of handprints on the victim’s shoulders. From the direction of the force, it seemed that one person else held the victim down while the other raped the victim.
Rape-murders that weren’t aimed at retaliation often included a strong sense of privacy. Generally speaking, the murderer wouldn’t share the process with others. However, there were clearly two perpetrators in this case.
Could it be someone was deliberately copycatting the case from twenty years ago? On the other hand, we couldn’t rule out the possibility of a simple rape-murder either.
Right then, Bingxin entered the room. "Song Yang-gege, I’ve tested the victim’s blood and found trace amounts of chlorpromazine hydrochloride."
"So quick this time?" I asked in surprise.
Bingxin smiled, "Well, since I detected this sedative in the last victim, the sample was still stored in the laboratory. I thought I might as well compare them. It was a shot in the dark and I got lucky."
Her words reminded me that the same drug was found in the last victim, suggesting the possibility that the two murders were committed by the same person.
Right now, I wanted to ascertain if the murderer injected the drug or had the victim ingest it. If it were the latter, concentrated amounts could be found in the stomach.
"Check the stomach contents at once!" I ordered.
Bingxin picked up the scalpel, ready to dissect. But before that, I felt the scar on the victim’s abdomen and asked her if it was left by a cesarean section. She thought it was likely.
From the melanin secretion around the scar, the surgery happened five or six years ago, indicating that the victim had a five or six-year-old. Then, I motioned for Bingxin to begin.
We found food residue in the victim’s stomach, which wasn’t of great significance except to further corroborate the time of death. Bingxin took samples of the gastric acid to be tested.
There was no need for further examination of the body, so I burned a few joss papers for the victim.
"How did the investigation of the last case go?" I asked, turning to the fat officer.
"The victim’s name is Xiao Feng. She worked in a club and part-timed as a prostitute, occasionally having sex with a few regular customers. We visited the restaurants around the crime scene and found a Sichuan restaurant where Xiao Feng was last seen with a man in a mask and sunglasses. The waiter couldn’t describe his face, but he was 1.75 meters tall and had a medium build. We’ve placed him as a suspect and we’re currently checking surveillance cameras around the area."
My intuition told me this case was related to the one from twenty years ago. I was just about to put forward a suggestion for a cooperative investigation when I noticed the meaningful look Xiaotao cast my way.
"I didn't formally introduce myself last time. I’m Huang Xiaotao and he’s Song Yang. We belong to the special team from Nanjiang City and are an independent criminal organization under the Ministry of Public Security! The purpose of our trip is to investigate the serial murders that occurred in Liangchuan twenty years ago. The two recent murders seem to be related to that case. If you don't mind, I hope we can work together. Don’t worry, you’ll still receive due credit afterwards."
The fat officer broke into a shy smile. "Never mind about credit! I can tell you’re distinguished people. If you solve the case, it’ll bring peace to Liangchuan. That way, I won’t be letting down the badge I wear so proudly! Just tell me what you need, and I’ll give you my full support."
"Song Yang, you’re up!" Xiaotao turned to me.
I nodded, "Officer, first gather your men so I can assign them their tasks."
"Alright, I'll make a phone call."
When the fat officer stepped out of the room, Bingxin returned a moment later. More chlorpromazine hydrochloride was detected in the victim’s stomach. It seemed the murderer prepared quite a fair bit of sedatives, something we could look into.
"This small county has been peaceful for twenty years, but as soon as we arrived, this copycat murder happens. Could the murders be caused by our presence?" Xiaotao wondered out loud.
"I don’t think so. When the first murder occurred, we had just arrived. I think the Blade Master reminded us at this point in time because he knew something!" I said.
"Then why didn't he stop this from happening?! What a pity these two girls died!" Bingxin retorted.
Xiaotao sneered, "He’s just a sadistic murderer who claims to be the embodiment of justice. He’s no hero, so why should he bother stopping a murder?"
It suddenly occurred to me; why didn't the Blade Master stop the murders? Perhaps he thought the two victims deserved to die!
A thought crossed my mind. "Have they identified the second victim?" I asked.
"Check with the fat officer," replied Xiaotao.
It was only 6:30 in the morning and the rest of the officers had yet to arrive. Thus, Xiaotao proposed we go out for breakfast. Meanwhile, I asked Bingxin to compare the two victims’ DNA.
"Do you suspect they’re related by blood?" asked Bingxin.
"It's just a conjecture. Thanks for the hard work. I'll buy you breakfast."
"You’re welcome!" smiled Bingxin.
Life in the small county town moved at a snail’s pace. At nine o'clock, when the officers finally arrived, we held a case discussion so the two sides could exchange information. I tasked the officers with investigating several clues–detailed information about the two victims, surveillance videos and eyewitnesses that might’ve existed when the crime occurred, discarded weapons that might be around the crime scene, the source of the murder’s chlorpromazine hydrochloride, and the people involved in the serial killings twenty years ago.
After the meeting, Wang Yuanchao decided to investigate the victims while I headed out to meet the wounded officer, Nie Yalong!
Just as I was about to leave, the fat officer caught up, holding an empty medicine bottle in a bag, explaining that it was evidence found in the last murder.
I examined the bottle in consternation. The label read, ‘tetanus immunoglobulin,' which was a common tetanus vaccine on the market. When I asked the fat officer where he found it, he said the bottle was found in the victim’s handbag left in the room.
"The bottle is empty,” remarked Xiaotao. “Did the murderer inject the vaccine into the victim’s bloodstream?"
The first victim, Xiao Feng, had been pushed from a height and killed. Since her entire body was battered and bloody. I couldn't say for certain if she had been injected, but I was sure she didn't have tetanus. If she had been injured by rusty metal, the wound would’ve been extremely conspicuous.
"Let’s just test for it,” suggested Bingxin. “I saved several blood samples from the last victim."
When we arrived at the laboratory, the DNA sequencer was still running. Bingxin pulled out the marked blood samples from the refrigerator. In less than fifteen minutes, we got the results. "There are no traces of tetanus vaccine in the victim’s blood!" reported Bingxin.
"Are you sure?" asked Xiaotao.
"I did three separate tests, and the results were all negative, negative."
Fiddling with the small bottle in my hand, I contemplated the implication of such a medicine bottle in the victim’s bag. "Is the murderer trying to convey a message like the gecko?"
"The two have nothing in common,” Xiaotao massaged her temples. “Don't overthink this. If every clue was meaningful, then solving the case would be as easy as pie..."
"You’re right!" I smiled.Previous Chapter Next Chapter