Bingxin stayed behind to test the DNA while Xiaotao, Song Xingchen, and I headed to the nursing home.
Nie Yalong's personnel file was found in the bureau. It turned out that he was severely burned in the fire and could no longer walk. Later on, he suffered from severe depression and attempted suicide several times. He was currently living in a nursing home.
The word "fire" shocked me to the core. Was this the fire where Grandpa destroyed the evidence? If this was the case, no wonder Nie Yalong resented Grandpa so much.
We took a cab to the nursing home and headed to Nie Yalong’s room. At the door, a loud crash sounded and an old man yelled, "Get out!"
Another voice rang, "Dad, anyway, your house will be mine sooner or later. Why are you so stubborn?"
"Get out!" the old man yelled once more.
A vulgar man in a suit and tie walked out of the room. Upon noticing us, he asked, "Who are you looking for?"
"We’re with the police. We’re here to speak to Nie Yalong."
"Oh, that’s the old bastard inside." The man motioned towards the room with his chin, then walked away. His flippant tone disgusted me.
When we entered the room, we were greeted by broken cups and bowls, porridge spilled all over the floor, and an old man with an intravenous drip on his hand sitting in a wheelchair, huffing and puffing in anger.
I noticed a burn mark on his neck and on the back of his hand. The old man stared at us warily, while Xiaotao began, "Officer Nie?"
"It's been a long time since I was that!" The old man waved his hand, "What do you want to know? Ask your questions and get the hell out of here!”
Xiaotao and I exchanged a thoughtful look. It seemed this wasn’t the right time to ask our questions. Thus, we helped the old man clean up the place so his mood took a turn for the better. A while later, he extended two fingers and asked me for a cigarette. Unfortunately, I had none.
Then, the old man told Song Xingchen to close the door and asked me to look under the bed.
Below his bed were a bunch of hidden items–cigarettes, lighters, photos of his wife, change, and an old notebook. I picked up the notebook, pursuing its contents. What I saw was a newspaper clipping–Nanjiang City Police Cracks The 411 Case. There was a photo of a young Sun Tiger and several officers involved in solving the case. In the corner was a man whose face was circled in red. That was a face I was very familiar with: it was Grandpa!
I flipped through the file which was filled with cases that Grandpa participated in. Of course, this was only one-tenth of all the cases Grandpa ever cracked, but it took a lot of energy to collect them all. If nothing else, it was difficult to purchase newspapers from Nanjiang City in a small county town like Liancheng.
"What are you looking at? Where’s my cigarette?" barked the old man.
Startled, I scrambled to place the file back and pulled out a cigarette for the old man. Inhaling deeply, the old man blew a mouthful of smoke towards the ceiling, his eyes filled with intoxication. "Are you here for that case?"
"How do you know? Did a screenwriter come to see you two days ago?" I asked.
"What screenwriter? I don’t know anything about that."
From his reaction, he wasn’t lying. Xiaotao lowered her voice, "Parkinson's!" It suddenly dawned upon me that the man had dementia.
Cutting to the chase, I said, "Do you remember who the suspect was?"
"Of course, how could I forget!" The old man gnashed his teeth, "Song Zhaolin!"
Clearly, the old man had gotten his facts confused, having integrated Grandpa and the suspect into one person. Judging by the anger he displayed upon mentioning Grandpa’s name, he must hate him very much.
As far as the old man recalled, “Song Zhaolin” was a self-employed boss who sold music. Twenty years ago, a vicious serial rape-murder broke the peace of the small county town! The murderer seemed particularly fond of girls in red, and several of the victims either wore red dresses or scarves.
The old man and his partner, Officer Xiao, were in charge of the case. Just when they were completely helpless, two experts came from Nanjiang City, one surnamed Sun, and the other he couldn't remember. They had extraordinary abilities, successfully finding new clues by re-examining the dissected bodies.
After the sixth murder, the police locked in on the suspect, “Song Zhaolin.” He matched all the characteristics of the murderer, but there was no evidence. Then, the seventh murder occurred and the victim was an eighteen-year-old student from nursing school. Her body had been so disfigured it was hard to imagine what sort of horrible beast could do such a thing.
Officer Xiao was furious. He vowed to pry the truth from “Song Zhaolin's” lips. Thus, he resorted to violence during the investigation. Nie Yalong tried his best to pull him away. Although the scene was very chaotic at the time, “Song Zhaolin's” ferocious gaze and threatening words remained in his mind. "You’ll pay for this!"
Soon, they learned what the price was. The eighth victim turned out to be the wife of the police officer who led the investigation team. It was exactly the same MO, so there was no doubt who the murderer was.
Then, three days later, another body was discovered–Officer Xiao’s wife. The murderer began to kill the officers’ loved ones, frightening several officers so much they proposed to quit the task force. At that point, the case was at a standstill!
Officers Nie and Xiao's intuition told them that the murderer was “Song Zhaolin.” They reinvestigated the crime scene, spared no brick or tile, even sneaking into “Song Zhaolin’s” backyard in the middle of the night. Finally, they caught a break in the case with two key pieces of evidence, which even the experts from Nanjiang City never found.
One was a pair “Song Zhaolin’s shoes” with flesh and blood on the soles. Additionally, found on the wall of the sixth crime scene was a gecko trampled to death. The lines of the sole were visible on the gecko's body. Although it was a little fuzzy, a DNA test would clear things up.
Because there was no such technology in the county at the time, this test was handed over to the experts from Nanjiang City.
The second piece of evidence was a dent in the palm of the seventh victim, which resembled the shape of a nail. At the time, they speculated that the victim had picked up a nail from the ground and stabbed the murderer during a struggle. Of course, this nail wasn’t found at the crime scene.
However, they found evidence that “Song Zhaolin” had been given a tetanus shot in a small clinic after the incident. According to the doctor's recollection, the wound that was located on his arm seemed to have been caused by a nail. It was unlikely for anyone to be pierced so deeply by a nail in this position.
These two pieces of hard evidence were enough to convict “Song Zhaolin.” But what they never expected was that a fire that would flush all their efforts down the drain.Previous Chapter Next Chapter