As soon as the words left my lips, an officer stood up and slammed the table, "Why isn't he the murderer? When the murders happened, I was a rookie officer at the time, but I witnessed everything. My two predecessors finally found hard evidence. If the bastard expert hadn’t been bribed and burned the evidence, Ma Sanyou would’ve been sentenced to death... By the way, the expert who burned the evidence was also surnamed Song. Does he have anything to do with you, Consultant Song?"
Xiaotao tugged my sleeve and whispered, "Don't say anything!"
"The bastard you mentioned is my grandfather!" I stood up and replied unabashedly.
There was an uproar in the conference room, where dozens of officers cursed at Grandpa, voicing their suspicions that the special team had come here to clean up after Grandpa.
"You say that my grandfather was bribed. Do you have any evidence?" I retorted.
"It’s just a guess. Why would he cover up for the murderer otherwise?" argued the officer.
Everyone was staring at me, and I knew that as soon as I announced my identity, anything I say would be misconstrued as whitewashing Grandpa. Fortunately, the fat officer stood up and calmed the room, urging us to focus on solving the case first.
Then, an officer walked in and said he had found some files regarding Ma Sanyou. In the 1980s, Ma Sanyou ran a music shop in the county town, and his business was booming. Ma Sanyou was both honest and straightforward, but he was extremely ugly. Up until the age of twenty-seven, he had never been in a relationship. Later on, he met a pretty girl who was a migrant worker. Her friends claimed Ma Sanyou had a lot of money. The relationship quickly developed to the point of marriage, but he never imagined she would disappear with 150,000 yuan of his savings. It turned out she was a swindler.
Affected by this, Ma Sanyou was devastated. According to a friend of his, Ma Sanyou often visited prostitutes and eventually contracted an unspeakable disease.
At the age of thirty-five, Ma Sanyou was introduced to his wife. Because it was a blind marriage, life after the wedding wasn’t smooth, with small quarrels every three days and major arguments every five days. After a few years of living this way, his wife left their two children behind, ran away with another man, and gave birth to a child outside the marriage. A few years later, she officially divorced Ma Sanyou.
After experiencing all sorts of storms, Ma Sanyou became taciturn, drank all day long, and could barely manage the store. His two children would often go hungry.
Apparently, Ma Sanyou had a bad habit of throwing garbage secretly in the middle of the night. Once, driven by curiosity, his neighbor opened his garbage and found a cat tortured to death. It seemed it wasn’t the first time he had done such a thing.
After reading the file, the officers spoke in succession, saying that it wasn’t at all surprising that such a man would commit crimes. Even I was convinced.
But there was another voice in my heart that said otherwise. Only if everyone assumed he was a criminal would his previous life seem to foreshadow the crimes.
“What do you think, Consultant Song?" asked the fat officer.
"I’ve not formed an opinion. I’d like to see him with my own eyes before I draw any conclusions," I replied.
The fat officer shook his head, "After the ninth murder, Ma Sanyou disappeared, and there has never been a similar case in the county."
"Let me see his picture!"
The officer handed me the file. When I saw the photo of Ma Sanyou, I paused. Why did I feel a sense of déjà vu? That was one ugly face–his chin so wide it could cover the sky. In the 19th century, criminologists put forward criminal anthropology. Through the statistics of a large number of criminals' bones, it was found that people with a wide chin, sharp head, prominent eyes, and thick body hair were more likely to become criminals.
According to the theory of criminal anthropology, civilization and order were born only after human beings evolved to a certain extent, and people with such atavism possessed anti-social and inhuman genes, so they were more likely to commit crimes.
However, criminal anthropology remained a hypothesis which wasn’t scientifically proven yet.
Xiaotao stared at the photo, "What an unpleasant face. Song Yang, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, I was thinking about something," I brushed her off.
Although Xiaotao didn't take it seriously, Song Xingchen gave me a meaningful look. At this moment, I broke out in cold sweat as I recalled exactly where I had seen him.
When I was very young, Grandpa met this man at home. Because I was too little, I couldn't remember what they said but I could recall how haggard the man looked. He was dressed in rags like a tramp, and Grandpa seemed to have given him some money.
As I recall, that happened in 1997, which was exactly one year after the ninth murder.
What a terrible thing! Was it true Grandpa helped him get away with it and even provided him material assistance? But why? Why did Grandpa go against his own principles?
Placing the file down, I asked, "Where did Ma Sanyou live previously? I’d like to take a look."
An old officer seemed to recall Ma Sanyou’s previous place of residence, but since it was getting late, he said he would take us there tomorrow.
After the meeting, I asked for a copy of the surveillance video and sent it to the Nanjiang City Bureau once we returned to the hotel. I got the Material Evidence Appraisal Center to help identify the suspect in the picture. As I sat alone at night, my heart churned with various thoughts. Xiaotao gently comforted me with a few kind words, but I just smiled and said nothing.
Right then, Song Xingchen walked into the room and said, "May I use your computer? Your grandfather's fund flow has been investigated."
Song Xingchen sat in front of the computer, operating somewhat poorly. He logged into his email address and found a new email titled "Little Brat,” which had been sent by Song Heting. There was a detailed list of bank income and expenditures from 1997 till the day Grandpa died. I noticed an inflow and outflow of several huge sums of money along the last few lines.
"What’s all this?" I asked.
"This account belongs to Aunt Song. It looks like your grandfather owed some money, and my aunt paid off the debt for him."
"Owed money?" I was rather surprised. As far as I knew, Grandpa never lacked money. I learned from Sun Tiger that Grandpa received a special allowance from the city bureau and provincial government which added up to tens of thousands every month. Additionally, he had his own pension.
He had little expenses; even the cigarettes he smoked and the tea he drank were very cheap. How could he owe money?
Glancing further down, Grandpa remitted money to two accounts every month until a month before his death. One was Shen Lijuan, who received 3,000 yuan a month, while the other was Nie Yalong, who received 6,000 yuan a month.
"Grandpa has been helping Nie Yalong all this time! But why didn't he mention it?" I cried.
From the records, in 1996, Grandpa remitted Nie Yalong a huge sum of 500,000 yuan. At the time, this wasn’t a small sum. As I recalled, Nie Yalong mentioned needing exactly 500,000 yuan to cure his disability. It seemed this money was for his leg.
"Didn’t Nie Yalong receive the money?” Xiaotao wondered. “Oh, I see. His son stole the money!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter