Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
“Exposed and crushed corpse. Excessive carnage. There’s no need for the police to especially go and second-guess the mind of a twisted killer.”
Loads of people say that only retards buy Volkswagen Phaeton, but the comfort and safety brought by a luxury car was indeed amazing. At the very least, they couldn’t hear the sounds of cops walking past and the huge commotion going on outside. It was as though the entire car had been submerged into the dark undercurrents of the ocean depths. The beating of their hearts became barely audible from the pressure of the congealed air.
“…you won’t be able to find him anymore.” Jiang Ting finally responded.
After winning the upper hand for now, Yan Xie did a polite ‘please advise’ gesture with his hand. “Why?”
Instead of replying, Jiang Ting asked back, “Why couldn’t you catch him earlier?”
“That damn son of a bitch ran faster than a hare. I pursued him all the way to the mouth of Sanmao Street and was almost sent flying by a car…”
Yan Xie paused. “Well, I didn’t manage to get a good look. Might’ve been an SUV, probably black or dark gray in color.”
“How fast was it?”
“…probably sixty to seventy kilometers. Why?”
“Look into it. That car is involved.”
“How do you know they’re in it together?!”
Under Yan Xie’s suspicious gaze, Jiang Ting appeared a little annoyed but he still answered in the end, “I passed by Sanmao Street on the way here. It’s a one-way street packed full of parked scooters and pedicabs on either sides. Only those who know the road condition well would drive that fast. And a person who knows it will would not have driven a large car into a crowded alley like this, let alone coincidentally blocking you at exactly that moment. Send someone to the Traffic Control Bureau immediately to get the surveillance footage of the incident earlier. If I’m not mistaken, that SUV should have a fake license plate.”
“…” Yan Xie lowered the car window. “Little Ma!”
“Remember the vehicle that I told you I bumped into earlier when I was chasing after the suspect? Check the license plate. Quick!”
Ma Xiang held two fingers to his forehead and saluted cockily, “Yes, sir!”
Seated at the back seat, Jiang Ting shook his head lightly.
“What’s up with you again?” Conscious of his move, Yan Xie shot another glance at him. “Still hungry? Should I get you another pork sausage?”
Jiang Ting threw him another confused look.
Yan Xie felt a little crooked, so he didn’t bother to explain himself, “Why were you shaking your head just now?”
Jiang Ting replied, “I said you will never find him again.”
“…What’s that supposed to mean?”
Jiang Ting ignored him.
“Didn’t you say that the SUV is an accomplice?”
Yan Xie raised his pointed brow as he sized the man from head to toe suspiciously. Even under such a gaze, Jiang Ting didn’t bother to explain further. From the look of his expression, he only sighed and used an extremely delicate and barely audible voice to say.
“It’s precisely because of the SUV.”
One hour later, at the provincial highway.
Two hundred meters of tarred road was cordoned off by the police. Red-blue lights from the police cars flickered even as the loud clamoring of walkie-talkies shook the sky. The flashlights of the technicians were shining all over the place.
Yan Xie parked the car in an isolated spot outside the police tape, then turned around to gravely say. “Who said we would never find him again? Reality proved you wrong.”
Jiang Ting remained silent.
Yan Xie pointed up ahead. “The suspect is still around in this world. The only thing that’s changed is his form of existence.”
Dozens of meters of the road surface was covered with flesh, bones, hair, and smashed up viscera. The corpse had been crushed over a hundred times by the countless vehicles travelling back and forth, and was now a bloody pulp. The entire scene was a sight too horrible to endure. Apart from what was left of a difficult to identify head, they couldn’t locate a single complete bone structure on the scene.
Jiang Ting didn’t utter a single word under Yan Xie’s righteous and piercing gaze. Based on his character, he was probably too lazy to engage in such conversation. He just opened the car door and walked out.
Ma Xiang felt his stomach go topsy-turvy before abruptly bending over at his waist to vomit out a big mouthful of bile. Standing beside him, Gou Li patted his back, his gaze filled with fondness.
“I- I’ve only seen these kind of things on Weibo. I never expected that I would be seeing one in real life… blargh!!”
Gou Li said, “Hey, the same thing happened to me too when I first entered medical school. Little Ma, you’re still young—there will be a day when you’ll be able to look at a bloated cadaver with a skull in your hand, and smile. From then on, all sorts of disgusting sights will mean nothing to you, and you’ll be able to dance in the morgue. How different are men without dreams from salted fish? Brother Gou believes in you.”
Ma Xiang responded in tears, “Brother Dog, I’ve failed the team. Just allow a salted fish like me to continue sinking into the abyss of lost dreams…”
The forensic and trace specialists went into battle, each of them held a forcep in their left hand while carrying an evidence bag in their right, tiptoeing back and forth to pick up pieces of flesh. The mouths of the road were completely surrounded by police tapes. There were still several civilians purposely stopping their cars, sticking their heads out to look around and take a picture despite the fact that the police officers were shouting their heads off to stop them.
“Move aside! Move aside!” Yan Xie squeezed through the crowd, casually snatching away a young man’s phone in passing. “What’re you taking pictures for, huh? Careful not to let the ghost of the deceased come knocking at your door. And you! Whose pictures are you secretly taking? Little Zhang, grab her phone and delete the picture from it!”
With harsh words and a stern look, Yan Xie shield Jiang Ting behind him closely. The two girls at the edges wanted to escape with the phones in their hands, but were promptly stopped by a police officer, who forcefully deleted the photos they snuck with their phones.
“Old Yan!” Gou Li beckoned with his hand. “This way! This way! Come over here!”
In the underbrush outside the fence, Gou raised his chin. “Is this dead guy the one you were looking for?”
The damage done to half of the head left in the underbrush was too extreme; the brain tissues were almost complete gone together with the left side of the face. Only the right side of the face covered in blood stains were left. Lifting the leg of his trousers, Yan Xie crouched down by the roadside to observe for a while. Clicking his tongue, he said, “What did this?”
“What other way is there? Collision impact. Although not many cars use this road, most that do are trucks. Just about twenty to thirty of those alone are guaranteed to crush him till his mother wouldn’t even recognize him.”
“And his gun?” asked Yan Xie.
“The technicians haven’t found the gun yet. They’re still rummaging through the deceased’s clothes and belongings, but we haven’t ruled out the possibility of him being shot dead and having his corpse disposed of by his accomplice.”
Nodding in agreement, Yan Xie then heard Gou Li voicing his thoughts aloud again, “But what I don’t get is, was it really necessary for them to go all out to silence him for a mere mugging?”
“He wasn’t shot by a gun.”
Gou Li turned to face where the sound was coming from, only to see a handsome young man half-crouching next to the head of the deceased. His hair was as black as ebony, making his side profile and neck look white as a sheet in contrast. No matter from what angle he looked, Gou Li couldn’t make out his age.
With his eyes lowered, the young man went on to observe the head, one hand holding onto a pair of sunglasses, while the other had its index finger and middle finger softly touching the point where the head had been severed below the neck.
Gou Li didn’t have any idea who he was. Just as he was about to call out to stop him, he was stopped by the meaningful look Yan Xie threw at him. It took more than a half a minute before the young man finally spoke out, “His hyoid bone and throat were snapped very smoothly across. It’s unlikely that they were run over by vehicles. There are also oval subcutaneous hemorrhage marks present on both sides of the neck; one on the right and four on the left, marks left by the hand of a man.”
Caught by surprise, Gou Li crouched down for a closer look. Sure enough, near the extremely mushy damaged muscles, he found difficult to discern marks indicating subcutaneous bleed. “—Fuck me?”
The young man grabbed his hand, and motioned for him to press on both sides of the neck like the murderer.
“Shit!” Gou Li sucked a deep breath. “It’s really someone’s hand.”
Standing back up on his feet, Jiang Ting removed his gloves before putting his sunglasses back on once more.
“According to the position of the finger marks on both sides of the deceased’s neck, we can determine the size of the palm, one step closer to determining the height, physique and even the weight of the murderer. And another thing, that person must have been specially trained to be able to snap his throat with just one hand. The person should be a professional killer. The fact that the SUV with the fake license manage to stay out of sight and transfer the body with ease proves that the person came prepared. So the murder wasn’t done on the spur of the moment.”
Still crouching on the ground, Gou Li raised his head. “Brother, you’re…”
“Oh.” Yan Xie replied without thinking, “A friend. I asked him to come here to check things out; see if he could provide us with some fresh ideas.”
Gou Li didn’t doubt him. Intending to be courteous, he quickly reached out his hands for a handshake. Unexpectedly, Jiang Ting chose to turn away just then, focusing his full attention on the surface of the bloody road nearby, looking lost in his own train of thoughts.
Hand frozen in mid-air, Gou Li didn’t take such a trivial matter to heart. He had always been the big-hearted and easy-going type. “Since the killer took the gun away, was he trying to cover up the source of the illegally improvised gun by getting rid of him?”
“Well.” Yan Xie rubbed the stubble on his chin that he hadn’t shave for a few days with his hand. It almost looked as if sparks were flying out of his chin, ready to set fire to his stubble at any second. “That does sound plausible logically speaking, but I don’t quite think that’s the case.”
Jiang Ting frankly said. “It’s not.”
Gou Li darted his eyes between the two, clearly looking a little confused. “…What else can it be?”
Pivoting on his heels, Jiang Ting walked towards the technician. A trace specialist was currently picking up scraps of the deceased’s clothes from the ground one by one and carefully placing them into an evidence bag.
He signaled the technician to hand the evidence bag over to him and checked it under the light for a moment. Yan Xie and Gou Li went over to him, and were suddenly greeted with his back facing them. All of a sudden, he asked, “Did Hu Weisheng confess?”
To which Gou Li replied. “Ah? Who?”
Yan Xie sneered, “Mr. Lu, how did you know we apprehended Hu Weisheng?”
Without answering, Jiang Ting turned around to give him a silent and intense stare
“He didn’t confess jack shit.” Yan Xie said with a smile. “That son of a bitch kept insisting that he’d picked up the victim’s backpack when he was out for a spin in his car on the night of May 2nd. Blinded by greed, he took it to a second-hand luxury goods shop intending to earn a quick buck. On top of that, the forensic image analysts discovered on the surveillance footage, that there had been an accomplice sitting in the back seat on the night of the crime. Yet, that Hu Weisheng kept saying the person there had hitched a ride and he had no idea who he was.”
Jiang Ting then returned the evidence bag back to the technician. “Thank you.”
“The field personnel managed to get a search warrant, and they’re now digging through Hu Weisheng’s home.” Yan Xie asked, “Why? What other clues do you have on him?”
Jiang Ting crossed his arms, his stance faintly giving off the feeling of keeping people away at arm’s length. “I’ve already told you everything I know, Vice-Captain Yan.”
With a smile, Yan Xie said, “Are you sure, Mr. Lu? Then doesn’t that mean that you’re of no use to us anymore?”
The atmosphere abruptly turned dangerous, as though as incorporeal weapons were clashing with each other in an empty void. Guo Li was inexplicably intimidated, afraid to say a single word.
“…” Jiang Ting kept his silence for a long moment until even Yan Xie believed they would be locked in a stalemate until the end of time. Finally, he heard Jiang Ting part his lips and unhurriedly say, “If a person caught committing a crime is afraid of giving up his accomplice, it’s more likely he’s afraid of exposing more dirt rather than trying to protect him.”
“What’s more serious than drug trafficking?” asked Yan Xie in puzzlement.
“There is.” Jiang Ting replied, “Drug manufacturing.”
Yan Xie was instantly struck dumb by his answer.
Just then, lights began flashing in front of the sealed road section as the media personnel that had been adamantly kept out by the police, finally broke through and came in. The area bustled with activity as they crowded behind the tape to take pictures.
Jiang Ting shifted his face subtly to one side and completely ignored Yan Xie. Pushing up the sunglasses on the bridge of his nose, he made his way towards the black Phaeton parked outside the police tape cordon.
“—Hey! Wait up!” Finally coming to his senses, Gou Li hurriedly pulled Jiang Ting to a stop. “You two were so busy talking in riddles, you haven’t even told me why the killer did not murder him to hide traces of the gun. Are you investigators looking down on us technical specialists?”
Yan Xie was a little loss for words. “Why’re you still holding a grudge on that? There’s nothing to hide about improvised firearms. Hand me some molds and I can make them too. Even on the black market, a gun will just cost over ten thousand yuan at most. Look, it’s impossible that the killer went through all the trouble of strangling someone and then disposing the body under several surveillance cameras on the highway—all for the sake of a gun. It’s not worth the effort.”
“Ah.” Gou Li blinked. “Then why did he do it?”
“Fellow reporters, please make way! Make way! The case is still under investigation so please respect the confidentiality and integrity of the police force! …”
“Officer, could you tell us how that man was killed?”
“Was he trying to cross the highway?”
“How old is the deceased and what’s his identity?”
“Come on, give us something to work with! Officer here, have some smoke. Have some smoke!”
Jiang Ting turned his face away from the cameras, frowning as he remarked, “You don’t have to try to second-guess the mind of a twisted killer. The act of strangling someone to death with your bare hands itself is already an expression of physical aggression. On the other hand, exposing the corpse and crushing it under tyres can be considered excessive carnage, implying conviction, catharsis and punishment. For this to occur, it shows that the killer is either cold-blooded and has an extremely entrenched, aggressive Alpha personality; or the employer who ordered him to do so has an aggressive Alpha personality. In either case, it’s certain that their line of thinking is completely different from ordinary people.”
Struck by realization, Gou Li nodded as he listened to Jiang Ting’s explanation.
“Rather than saying they’re trying to cover up the origin of the gun, it’s more accurate to say that the murderer is hoping we’ll believe he was trying to cover it up. But these minor details are useless to the investigators handling the case. The most important thing to focus on now is the excessive carnage itself. If you ask me, I think the goal the murderer was trying to achieve in killing him is just purely to exact his punishment.”
Yan Xie’s had a slightly odd expression on his face, but he didn’t say a word. He watched on as Jiang Ting nodded politely to Gou Li before pulling his sleeve out from Gou Li’s grip. Then walked away with his back facing the glaring equipment and clamors of the media nearby.
“…” Gou Li’s whole face looked as though he had opened the door to a new world. “Old Yan, your investigator is quite persuasive. I feel convinced by what he’s saying.”
Yan Xie just threw him a sentence. “I’m going to open the door.” And gave chase to Jiang Ting with large strides.
The door unlocked itself with a loud screech. Jiang Ting was about to reach out when a large force suddenly came from behind him. He was suddenly thrown to the side of the highway fence by his arm, and pressed forcefully against the car door.
A few meters away, the traffic police were shouting at the reporters and the onlookers at the top of their lungs. It was impossible to maintain order. Even the police cars were completely blocked, as the buzz of discussion and the sounds of cameras flashing clamored loudly in the air, as though everyone were rushing to enter a grand ceremony.
Yet, in this narrow space, the two of them was so close to each other, their noses almost touching.
“You’ve already guess who’s out for your throat.” Yan Xie said, staring into Jiang Ting’s eyes. “Right?”
To which Jiang Ting said, “Why do you want to get involved?”
The air seemed to congeal.
“Is it because of the easy victory you won without a fight made it difficult for you to forget about an imaginary enemy like me, or was it because you’re also subconsciously an Alpha with a deep sense of domination and aggression, just like the murderer who exposed and crushed the body?”
Jiang Ting continued to stare at Yan Xie, the tip of his brow arching a little as he said, “—Hmm? Vice-captain Yan?”