“With these alone, we can’t conclude anything,” Peng Sijue said.
Lin Qiupu turned around to check the door lock. The door had been knocked open by the police then they smelled the blood, but when he checked the core of the lock, he found that there was no trace of prying.
The owner's clothes were hung on a hanger near the door and the keys were in his pants.
The house had open windows, making the room a bit cold. The floor was really dirty. It seemed like the house owner usually walked around wearing shoes without changing into slippers. It would take a lot of work to find the murderer’s shoe prints.
There was a plastic box of leftover peppers and duck offal in the kitchen. Lin Qiupu took the take-out receipt on the lid and glanced at it. It was delivered at 7:00. There was also a bottle of Erguotou that was half finished and a plate of spicy Sichuan peanuts. Lin Qiupu returned to the living room and turned on the TV. The bachelor didn’t have a TV box, so it was impossible to speculate the time of the crime.
He asked the local police, “How did the person who reported this find out?”
“The person who reported this was a property manager who came to collect utility bills. When he smelled gas coming out of the house and nobody answered the door, he called the police. We came and knocked the door open to find the body. The gas was on because there was water boiling on the stove. We turned off the fire at around 9:00.”
Peng Sijue opened the victim’s eyelids and said, “The time of death was about two hours ago, between seven and eight.”
“Then the delivery man was probably the last person who saw the deceased...” When he thought about this, Lin Qiupu's cigarette addiction acted up again and he subconsciously glanced at the ashtray on the coffee table. The deceased seemed to smoke ten yuan cigarettes called Zhongnanhai, but there was one of a different brand.
Lin Qiupu walked over and picked it up. It was actually a rather expensive miniature cigar. He compared this butt with the bite marks on the other butts. Then, he went to look at the victim’s pocket and found that he only had a packet of Zhongnanhai. He concluded that someone had come in before or after the crime. This person must have stayed in the house for a while before leaving a cigarette butt.
He told Peng Sijue about his discovery and Peng Sijue used tweezers to pick it up for further observation. He took out a needle thermometer from the survey box and inserted it. When he saw the reading, Peng Sijue noted, “It should have been put out within the last few hours. The temperature is still somewhat warm inside.”
“This kind of cigarette is more expensive than Soft Zhonghua. Those who smoke it are usually very rich.”
Peng Sijue pointed at the victim. “He seemed to wear very casual clothes for someone who’s meeting someone rich.”
“They might have a good relationship with each other?”
“Will you ask Chen Shi to come over?”
“No!” Lin Qiupu shook his head multiple times. “We can’t involve him in every case.”
In recent days, the wanted criminal Ji Chunma was still in the process of being arrested. That case had basically been led by Lin Dongxue and Chen Shi. The police force was seriously lacking manpower right now. Lin Qiupu thought that the death of a bachelor should not be a major case.
The two took all of the evidence they could find and temporarily cordoned off the scene to let the forensics department come over tomorrow to collect fingerprints and shoe prints again.
The body was sealed in a corpse bag and the local police were asked to help deliver it to the bureau. Lin Qiupu suggested, “You should head back first. I’ll visit some nearby residents.”
“You should take extra care of yourself on such a cold day.”
After the police car drove off, Lin Qiupu visited the neighbors. They hadn’t heard anything abnormal that night. As for the victim Zhou Taiyang, they said that he was a bachelor who didn’t associate himself with others much and only drank by himself at home.
A neighborhood aunty said, “I heard that Old Zhou recently sold his ex-wife's house for five or six hundred thousand.”
“Is his ex-wife childless?”
“No, they should have children. I once heard Old Zhou bragging that his son was doing really well out of town, and I said that I’ve never seen his son. I feel that the relationship between them isn’t so good. He’s a stepfather, so I guess it’s understandable... I heard that his ex-wife was suffering from mental illness. Schizophrenia or something. She passed away ten years ago. The house in her name was put on hold for ten years and it took a lot of real estate agents for Old Zhou to get the big red book and sell it right after.”
Lin Qiupu recorded this information down, thanked her, and left to find the property manager. Unfortunately, the surveillance camera in the community had been broken for a long time and nothing was captured.
Standing at the gate of the community, he thought for a while, turned over the notebook that was in his hand. and saw the phone number of the takeaway driver recorded on it. Thus, he dialled through. The delivery person was actually a woman. Lin Qiupu said, “Hello, I'm a criminal policeman. A customer named Zhou Taiyang ordered a meal and it was delivered, right? The thing is, Zhou Taiyang was just found dead at home. I want to ask you a few questions to understand the situation a bit more.”
“You can go to the convenience store north of Jiefang Road. I'm there.”
Lin Qiupu went to the convenience store. There was only one clerk in the store who was doing stock-take. Lin Qiupu inquired, “You are...”
“I'm a food delivery driver. My name is Gan Ping and I work two jobs. I work here after 9:00.” Gan Ping was a girl in her twenties. She is very white and thin with big eyes and a long braid.
“That’s tough work!”
“I got used to it. Officer, do you want a drink?”
“No, no. I just want to ask a few questions and leave.”
Gan Ping reported that she didn't notice any abnormalities. As usual, she dropped the order off and left. Lin Qiupu asked, “What time was it?”
“I have a delivery record here. You can check it out.”
Gan Ping took out her mobile phone and the app clearly stated the delivery and receive time of each order. Zhou Taiyang was at 7:10PM, and immediately after at 7:23PM, Gan Ping went to another community. From the records, she was completely not suspicious.
“You might be the last person to see the victim. Please try to remember it again. Any clues are fine.” Lin Qiupu didn’t want to give up.
“Uh... The customer had a bad temper. I obviously delivered it on time, but he scolded me for being so slow.”
“What did you say?”
“I apologized. I told him that there was a traffic jam and then left.”
“Anything else... That's right. The elevator wasn’t coming down so I walked up the stairs and a man brushed past me. Does that count as something else?”
“The light on the stairs was poor, so I didn't see him clearly. I felt like he was about as tall as you. He was wearing a trench coat. Ah, yes. He was wearing a mask and his hairstyle was a bit long and covered his ears.”
“What time was it?”
“Before 7:20, because I delivered another order at 7:20.”
Lin Qiupu wrote down these clues and thanked her before leaving.
He crossed the street but suddenly heard a lot of noise. When he looked back, a few men who seemed drunk were causing a racket as they walked and pushed through the entrance of the convenience store.
He didn’t want to interfere, but after seeing that these men didn’t come out for such a long time, Lin Qiupu crossed the road back to the convenience store.
He saw the men crowding around Gan Ping and one of the men asked with a perverted smile on his face, “Why are you working here? Why don’t you accompany us?!” While talking, he moved his hands to touch her and Gan Ping shrank back like a frightened chick. As soon as she raised her neck, she looked straight at Lin Qiupu outside, her eyes pleading for help.
“Are there still such retro hooligans?” Lin Qiupu murmured as he entered the convenience store and scolded sternly, “Let her go!”
1. Also known as Chinese white liquor. It’s a type of baijiu made from sorghum.
2. A land/house title deed. They use books in China that happen to be red.Previous Chapter Next Chapter