"When Gao Ru Xue wanted to take the elevator, she ran into the person wearing the raincoat leaving the building. That should be just a coincidence."
The police's investigation pressured this person in the raincoat greatly. Chen Ge tried to envision this from her perspective, and he believed that the killer should be trying to escape Xi Xia Hu to find a new hiding spot.
"For now, that cannot be confirmed. There's also the possibility that the killer was tailing Gao Ru Xue." Lee Zheng look at the camera inside the elevator. "We once suspected that the killer is a resident here because some of the cameras within the residential area were maliciously destroyed three days ago, and three days ago was exactly when the first murder was committed."
After he said that, Lee Zheng glanced at Chen Ge with suspicion. The police had gathered many clues and pieces of information before they came to the suspicion that the killer might be a tenant at Xi Xia Hu, but Chen Ge had managed that alone without the aid of a team. Not only had he pinpointed Xi Xia Hu, he had even managed to provide the floor that the killer was staying at.
Honestly, if Lee Zheng was not familiar with Chen Ge, he would have suspected that Chen Ge was related to these murders. Exiting the elevator, the owner provided Chen Ge and Lee Zheng all the basic information of all the tenants on 23rd floor. Han Bao'er's name was not on the list, and based on the owner's memory, there were not any particular beautiful tenants on the 23rd floor.
"Chen Ge, could you be mistaken?"
When the police arrived at Xi Xia Hu, the first thing they did was seal up the third building, and they had investigated most of the tenants. Chen Ge honestly was not that convinced about the Pen Spirit's prediction. After all, she only had a fifty percent chance to be correct.
After giving it some thought, Chen Ge turned around to ask the owner, "Are there any surveillance cameras on the 23rd floor?"
"The cameras above the 15th floor have been broken for a long time, and there's hasn't been free time for us to call people in to come fix them. The main reason though is because we've tried fixing them before, but weirdly enough, they kept getting destroyed. In the end, the management kinda left them be after a while." The owner spoke very carefully. After all, this was their mistake. "Our residential area has three groups of patrolling guards, and there has been no record of incidents happening here."
"None in the past doesn't mean none in the future." Chen Ge did not plan to argue with the owner. "Are you familiar with the tenants on the 23rd floor? Are there any suspicious tenants here?"
"Suspicious people?" The owner shook his head.
"Then have you received complaints like weird noises coming out from a certain room at night? Or some horrible, pungent smell?" Chen Ge fired off so many questions that Lee Zheng could not find an opening to chime in.
The owner thought about it and looked down at one of the doors at the end of the corridor. "We did receive a call from the tenant once. However, it was not to lodge a report but to ask for help."
"Ask for help?" Both Chen Ge and Lee Zheng stopped moving.
"There's a family on the 23rd floor that has serious domestic abuse issues, but we never once received a call from the principal parties. Normally, it's the neighbors who called us when they couldn't bear it any longer." The owner led Chen Ge and Lee Zheng to the door at the end of the corridor. "This is it."
According to the tenant list, the tenant staying there was a man by the name of Qiu Meng. He was an employed physical trainer at an established gym. "The person you're looking for is not him. Qiu Meng is almost 1.9 meters tall. I've glanced at the person wearing the raincoat in the camera-at most, that person is 1.7 meters. They are definitely not the same person."
"Open the door. We'll take a look first before we come to a decision." At a time like this, Chen Ge would not let go of any suspicion.
The owner seemed to be afraid of Qiu Ming. He knocked on the door rather unwillingly. "Is anyone in? We're from the management."
The room was very quiet. There was no reply.
Chen Ge touched Lee Zheng's shoulder. "This family might be problematic. Why don't you call your people? If they won't open the door willingly, we'll just knock it down."
"That's easier for you to say. Without any evidence, we have no right to trespass onto private property." Lee Zheng thought about it and added, "At least we need permission from Captain Yan."
While they were conversing, they suddenly heard footsteps coming from inside the room. Moments later, the door was pulled open, and a large, handsome man stood at the door. He had blurry, red eyes. He yawned. It looked like he had not had a good night's sleep in days already.
"How can I help you?"
The owner forced a smile on his face and said rather abashedly, "A killer seems to have hidden himself inside our residential area, so the police would like to ask you some questions."
"Ask me questions?" The man was confused. He slowly woke up. When he saw the police uniform that Lee Zheng was wearing, his gaze shifted slightly. "I've been sleeping at home. I don't know anything."
"Can we come in?" Chen Ge's sense was very sensitive. When the door opened, he could sense the faded scent of blood in the air. Qiu Meng glanced at Chen Ge. He was uncooperative and refused to let strangers into his home.
"This is my ID. Please provide your cooperation." After Lee Zheng showed his ID, he pulled out his walkie-talkie before Qiu Ming and called for the rest of the members to gather at the 23rd floor of the third building. Knowing he could not escape from this, Qiu Meng pulled the anti-theft door open. "Come in, sorry for the mess."
The table in the living room was overturned, and things were strewn everywhere. The vase was shattered, and a few fresh roses lay pitifully on the floor. They had been stepped on-the petals were pulverized.
Chen Ge was the first one to step into the living room. When he saw this scene, that was the first thought that appeared in his mind.
"Ask if you have any question." Qiu Ming's face was dark. He hated allowing outsiders into his home. It felt like his secrets were all exposed.
"Where were you from 8 pm to midnight last night?"
"At home, playing on the computer."
"Can someone collaborate that?"
"Why do I need that? I'm not a murderer. You've got the wrong guy!" Qiu Meng roared. He was a feisty character. Even facing the police, he could not stop himself from exploding.
"I'll repeat that. Who can collaborate that for you?" Lee Zheng seemed to change into a different person. In terms of height and size, he was no match for Qiu Meng, but he gave the feeling that if this was a fight, he could apprehend Qiu Meng in a few moves.
"I reached home around 7:30 pm. I had dinner and started playing my game." Qiu Meng surrendered in the end, and he opened his computer. "I'm also a livestream host, teaching people how to train their muscles, but today, I didn't feel like giving people advice, so I streamed myself playing some games."
The replay of the livestream proved that Qiu Meng was not lying. From eight to twelve, he was playing on the computer.
"Then why do you seem so hostile tonight?" Lee Zheng did not let go off any details that escaped from Qiu Meng's lips.
"I had an argument with my girlfriend."
"Did you hit her?" Lee Zheng glanced at the living room that was a mess.
"Why did you hit her? At what time did you hit her?"
"Do you really need to know that?" Qiu Meng seemed like he was at his limit, and he was going to explode any time soon. "At around 10 pm, I suppose. I was livestreaming at the time, and the camera was left open. If you don't believe me, you can check the replay."
The time Qiu Meng mentioned was the time the raincoat person was squatting outside Gao Ru Xue's room, waiting to ambush her. If Qiu Meng was telling the truth, then he and his girlfriend were both innocent. Lee Zheng used Qiu Meng's computer to find that particular moment.
Qiu Meng was parked before the computer until 10 pm, and his girlfriend's voice was caught by the computer. They had an argument over something small, and then Qiu Meng left the camera. There was the sound of vase being shattered and the table overturned. Then it was followed by the sound of curses and cries.
"I know I did wrong, but sometimes I just cannot control myself." The way Qiu Meng tried to brush it off as something insignificant made people mad.
"No matter what, using violence on an innocent person is a violation of someone's dignity. You need to understand that causing damage through domestic abuse is punishable by law." Lee Zheng stood up and told the owner, "If this happens again in the future, you have to take it seriously. Ignoring it will only cause him to commit a bigger mistake in the future."
Lee Zheng turned back with concern on his face. "Where is your girlfriend now? I wish to take a look at her injuries."
"She's inside the bedroom. She has locked the door, so I cannot get in." Qiu Meng leaned against the sofa and showed no signs of getting up.
"You should have spare key to the bedroom, right? Use it to open the door."
"Are police officers that free? Didn't you say you have a killer to catch? I'll handle the problem at my own home." Qiu Meng's brows were creased together, and veins popped up on his arm.
"It is because I am a police officer that I cannot leave this be." Lee Zheng stared at Qiu Meng and pointed at the door. "Open it."
He was adamant, and Qiu Meng knew that he could not get out of this that easily, so he stood up to rummage through the dresser for the spare key. He used it to open the bedroom door. Different from the chaotic living room, things were neat and tidy inside the bedroom. It was unclear whether it had been cleaned up or the place had not been touched earlier.
A woman's sobbing could be heard coming from inside the room. It was soft, like she did not dare cry too loudly.
"We cannot tolerate domestic abuse. If you need help, you can find the local woman's organization or just call the police." Lee Zheng looked at the woman who lay in bed facing away from him. He could not see anything wrong from her back. However, his years of investigative experience told him that something was wrong. He walked around the bed to attempt to look at the woman's face.
The team's profiler had come up with the killer's appearance. There were several properties to the killer; she was not strong and was very beautiful. She appeared kind and would easily make others feel comfortable in her presence. Lee Zheng remembered these details. Just as he was about to have a look at the woman's lowered face, his phone suddenly rang.
He took out his phone to answer it. Lee Zheng discovered that it was from Captain Yan. Captain Yan said that they had discovered the killer for the eye-gouging case, and he wanted Lee Zheng to bring his men as backup. Receiving the order, Lee Zheng glanced hurriedly at the woman on the bed. The woman's hair covered half of her face, so he had no idea what she really looked like. Having implicit trust in Captain Yan, he left the woman with a few more words before he walked out of the bedroom.
"The killer has been captured. Chen Ge, let's go now!" Lee Zheng headed out the front door but was stopped by Chen Ge at the last minute.
"There's no need to leave in such a hurry, this man looks like he is lying to us."
When Lee Zheng almost caught a glimpse of the woman's face, he had received the call from Captain Yan. From how Chen Ge saw it, that was definitely abnormal. A bigger anomaly was that Captain Yan would normally use the walkie-talkie to communicate at the crime scene, so why did Captain Yan use his phone to contact Lee Zheng this time?
"Come look at this broken vase." Chen Ge pointed at the shattered pieces on the ground. "If the vase was accidentally knocked from the cupboard or it rolled from the cupboard, then the pieces should have been lying around the cupboard. But take a look at the spray pattern of these pieces. The distance between them is as far as one meter. In other words, this vase didn't fall on its own; someone raise it up and smash it on the ground."
Lee Zheng inspected the evidence and realized that Chen Ge was right. The evidence did suggest that the man was lying to them.
"When you entered the bedroom earlier, I made use of the chance to also glance into the room. The bedroom was clean and tidy, and there wasn't even a water stain on the ground. This is completely different from the living room. I'm wondering, how did a man that lost his cool manage to contain his destruction within the living room?" Chen Ge looked around the house. "The kitchen and toilet are untouched as well. Only the living room is in this messy state, and the mess is very contained. So, this looks like it is purposely made to look this way."
He pulled on Lee Zheng to take a step back. "An innocent husband and wife, why do they need to create the illusion of domestic abuse? Are they hiding something? Also, the alibi provided by the man earlier-in the whole livestream video, only he appeared in the video. We did not see a trace of his girlfriend, so I now suspect that video is also problematic."
Now that Chen Ge brought that up, Lee Zheng also found the man and woman to be quite suspicious. He told the owner to leave the room to get help from the officers while he worked together with Chen Ge to surround Qiu Meng from both sides. While Chen Ge began his hypothesis, Qiu Meng showed a face that said that he was wrong and complained that he was framed, but near the end, he chose the method of silent admission instead.
"Don't waste your energy on resistance, stand up now!"
Facing both Lee Zheng and Chen Ge, Qiu Meng lowered his head. He was silent for a very long time before he seemed to come to a decision. "Those five murders with the gouging eyes, I'm the one who committed all of them. I will surrender myself and go with you."
"You're admitting that you are the murderer?" Lee Zheng shared a look with Chen Ge. Both of them understood in that instant that the man was trying to shoulder the blame for his girlfriend.
"Stand up and don't move!" Lee Zheng took out the walkie-talkie to prepare to report to Captain Yan when his phone started to ring again. He took it out to take a look and was surprised to find it was a call from Captain Yan.
"Hello? Captain Yan! I've spotted the suspect! Requesting back-up!"
After Lee Zheng finished, the Captain Yan on the phone only said three simple words.
"Look behind you."
Due to his training, Lee Zheng did what he was told. The woman inside the bedroom earlier had walked to stand behind him, and children that looked scrawny and malnourished climbed on top of Lee Zheng's body. The curious part was that Lee Zheng did not seem to notice the children. His eyes stared into the woman's dark pupils like he was hypnotized.
"I did not have any intention of killing you, but you insisted on courting death." The woman's voice sounded coarse and rough. It belied her advanced age, but if anyone took a glance at her face, they definitely would have had their breath taken away.
The beauty was not something that could be described with words. It was mixed with both sickness and madness, just like the brightest rose that bloomed in a lonely cemetery. It fed on the nutrients of death and blossomed into a beauty that would strike at one's soul.