The three went to have breakfast and called Xu Xiaodong to head over as well. Xu Xiaodong held an envelope in his hand and said, "This is the missing persons file from the police station. When I returned last night, you were already gone. Did you want to take a look?”
"Bring it here!" Chen Shi took it, flipped through it, and asked the little monk, "What does your mother do for a living?"
"She didn’t work."
"No, it says she was a cashier."
"Please show me!"
The young monk took it and saw his mother's picture again. Tears welled up in his eyes. These were just photocopies. The young monk looked at one of them while the others looked at the other photos. Lin Dongxue read the words printed on the document. "Missing. 2003. About the same time as the crime that took place."
Chen Shi took notice of the signatures of the officers and noted, "Police Officer Liu was also involved in this case."
"Isn't he from another jurisdiction?" Xu Xiaodong asked.
"Maybe he applied to be part of the case himself. It seems that Police Officer Liu was very attentive of this case!"
Lin Dongxue said to the young monk, "Little master, let us look at the one in your hand."
"Nothing to it really. It’s only a candid photo of my mother." He handed it over.
Lin Dongxue took it and said, "Your mother is very beautiful! Both sisters are beautiful."
"Thank you!" The little monk pressed his palms together.
In the photo, Yin Wen was wearing a sweater and holding an iron comb in her hand. The teeth of the comb were very dense. Lin Dongxue asked curiously, "What kind of comb is this?"
"It’s for pets." Xu Xiaodong replied.
"You had pets at home?" Lin Dongxue asked.
"Hmm..." The little monk recalled, "We raised dogs, but we didn’t keep them for long since I was scared. My father sent them away.”
"How many did you own?"
"How many? I think there were a few! They were very big dogs!"
Chen Shi searched on his mobile phone, handed it to the young monk, and asked, "Are these the ones you’re talking about?"
"Yeah, this is it. They’re so big and fierce. I was often scared by them."
"These are Tibetan mastiffs!"
Lin Dongxue suddenly remembered, "Yin Lin's family also raised a Tibetan mastiff! Thirteen years ago, there shouldn’t have been many places that sold Tibetan mastiffs in Long’an."
"Chen Guang was a vet as well. The three missing people are all related to animals!" Chen Shi stood up. "Let’s go and check!"
At this time, the phone on his desk rang. It was an unknown number. Chen Shi answered and a somber voice resounded from the other end of the line. "Are you looking for me?"
"Who are you?"
There was a cough on the other side and the person seemed to be an old man. "Did you not leave down your contact information at my company yesterday?"
"I’ve long since been a policeman. Just call me Old Liu. What are you trying to find me for?"
"To be frank, we’re criminal police officers and have come to ask you something.”
"Haha! Ten years later, the city bureau finally pays attention to this case. God has eyes! Come to my house!"
After writing down the address, Chen Shi raised his eyebrows. "When you think that it’s a dead-end after climbing up the mountains and rivers, you can find another scenery within the dark gaps between dense shrubs.”
"Don't get too excited!" Lin Dongxue poured cold water on his excitement. "He was just a policeman at a local police station. How many leads could he have?"
The four immediately drove to Police Officer Liu's address. Police Officer Liu had a golden retriever on a leash and waited for them downstairs. He looked fifty or sixty years old and had gray hair, but looked like he had a healthy spirit and his eyes were bright.
"You all are...?" Officer Liu asked.
Chen Shi introduced them one by one. When Officer Liu found out the identity of the young monk, Police Officer Liu became very excited. "This case still has witnesses that survived?"
The young monk pressed his palms together to do a Buddhist ritual. "Amitabha."
"Come upstairs with me!" Police Officer Liu said.
Officer Liu's home was on the sixth floor. He slowly walked upstairs and said, "You may not know this, but the three missing persons cases you are investigating are related to several other cases. I have been pursuing this case for over a decade. I don't think this is a disappearance case at all, but a murder case. However, I can't produce any evidence. I couldn't convince my superiors and everything became tense after all that arguing, so I resigned voluntarily. However, in the years since I’ve still been following this case and monitoring that bastard I have never seen him slip up.”
"That bastard?" Chen Shi asked.
"We’re here!" Officer Liu stopped to open the door. After opening the door, the crowd's eyes brightened. What kind of house was this? It was basically a private detective office.
Five whiteboards were placed next to each other on the wall, covered with photos, paper notes, and the relationship between the people were marked with string. For the sake of clarity, a few spotlights were installed in the room to shine on these whiteboards.
"Close the door!" Officer Liu instructed.
"These are..." Lin Dongxue looked around in amazement.
"The earliest missing persons case occurred in 1998. The missing person was an illegal dog seller with a surname Bai. Of course, this case didn’t garner any attention until another case came to my attention a few years later. I kept paying attention to these disappearances since and have collected information regarding them. From the years 1998 to 2015, there have been 30 suspicious disappearances in Long'an City, and all the missing people were acquainted with one person!"
Officer Liu pointed to the whiteboard that faced the door with a photo of a man on it. There were many strings coming from that photo as if the photo was radiating sunlight around it. He was connected to everyone else.
"Liu Hong!" Officer Liu recalled the name with a heavy tone. "A businessman who sold Tibetan Mastiffs illegally in the 1990s. He has his own dog farm in the suburbs and he is currently the largest dog dealer in Long’an. The individual disappearance cases don’t show much, but when connected with each other, it will be found that all the people who were obstacles in Liu Hong’s road to wealth all disappeared! It didn’t matter whether they were health quarantine officers, competitors, or triads. It was like they all evaporated into thin air!"
The four of them were shocked. Xu Xiaodong asked, "Long'an actually hid a serial murderer? Why hasn't the criminal police team ever filed a case?"
"Without a corpse, it's just a missing case. It would never appear in front of the criminal police force." Officer Liu sighed. "Moreover, the intervals and distance between the crimes is relatively large. I have called for these missing persons cases to be investigated together, but I didn’t attract the necessary attention from superiors. I could only do it alone!"
Lin Dongxue said, "He keeps Tibetan mastiffs? He has a dog farm in the suburbs? Are those people..."
"Haha!" Officer Liu laughed. "I also thought so at the beginning. In order to find out the truth, I slipped in late at night and looked through the dog feces one by one. It made the dogs bark and I was almost torn apart by them.”
Chen Shi mumbled, "Those people shouldn't have disappeared like that. A dog's digestive tract is extremely short. Many parts of a person's body can’t be digested by dogs, such as the hair and teeth. He was able to get away with it for twenty years, meaning that he has something else up his sleeve!”
"Yes, yes!" Xu Xiaodong said, "My cat vomited a few days after eating some hair. Even a Tibetan Mastiff can't eat a living person."
The young monk stared at the three photos of his loved ones on the whiteboard in silence with tears welling up in his eyes.
Officer Liu asked, "Do you know why I live here?"
Everyone shook their heads.
Officer Liu opened a slit through the curtain and pointed at the opposite window. "That’s Liu Hong's house!"
1. Editor note: The author wrote 2005, but Chapter 228 says that the mother disappeared at age 24, and she is currently 37. I'm going to assume that this is what the author meant. 2005 would be the year that her sister disappeared, which the author said was 10 years ago. However, if it's referring to the husband's murder, then why didn't the author just keep it at 13 years for everything?I feel that making the correction above makes this sentence make more sense.
2. There’s a road hidden around even when you think it’s a dead-end.Previous Chapter Next Chapter