Chen Shi suggested that they go and see where the dregs were dumped and drove along with the truck.
When they got to the temple of the fire god, Lin Dongxue was stunned when she saw the dumping ground. "This is too big, right? It will take several days even if we called the entire second team to come over and dig."
"Don’t dig then. This kind of laborious work should be left to the third team! It doesn't hold much value in finding the corpse anyway. The key is on Mr Li's side of things."
"I don’t mean to splash cold water on you, but are you sure that the killer is an acquaintance?"
"It's an acquaintance. Otherwise, how could they find the victim's house and hang her head on the door?"
Xu Xiaodong had been looking down at his phone the whole time. Chen Shi asked, "What are you looking at?"
"Li Mengran's Weibo. Everyone heard that she had an accident and wrote messages of their condolences on her Weibo. I also left a message."
"Let me have a look!" Chen Shi took a look. "Is Li Mengran very popular? How are there over 20,000 followers?"
"Wouldn’t she have bought them? No matter how popular a middle school student is, there wouldn't be so much attention."
Chen Shi glanced over. Li Mengran usually only posted photos of her daily life. Although she lived under the high pressure of taking tests, she still frequently posted some photos of kittens, wildflowers, or things she ate while she was outside.
Chen Shi looked at the posts and asked, "Xiaodong, do you think Li Mengran is a girl who loves to show off everything online?"
"She doesn’t seem like that. Her family has a car and a house, and she wears branded clothes, but she rarely shows these off."
Chen Shi quickly looked at the people who followed Li Mengran. These were not zombie fans. He was wondering why she was famous when Li Mengran hadn’t even posted any particularly compelling content?
Chen Shi said, "I'll talk to Mr. Li again."
Lin Dongxue said, "I’ll head back to the bureau and see what progress has been made, starting from Li Mengran's interpersonal relationships."
"No, investigate Mr. Li’s relationships. The murderer's intentions seem more like they’re taking revenge on him."
Back in the city, the three separated. Chen Shi didn’t immediately go to Li Mengran's house. He walked around the area, drawing lines on a hand-drawn map around him. Judging by these lines, if Li Mengran did intend to spend the night at an Internet cafe, the route she followed would overlap that of the truck carrying the muck.
The entire third team was currently investigating Li Mengran's relationships at school. They heard that Gao Xiang, who had tried to sexually assault Li Mengran, was also invited to the office to "drink tea." Chen Shi’s investigative direction made it seem like he was solo investigating the case. However, years of investigative work gave him a keen intuition. He felt the killer was based near the neighborhood.
It may even be someone who he brushed past in these past two days!
When he went to Li Mengran's house, Mr. Li still didn't go to work today. He wasn’t sure if it was hallucinating, but Chen Shi felt that the hair around his temples had more gray hairs than the last time he saw him.
Mr. Li was looking at Li Mengran's photos from childhood with tears rolling out of his eyes. He looked up to see Chen Shi and asked, "Officer, how is the case progressing?"
"It's still under investigation, but there hasn’t been any breakthrough progress." Chen Shi told him the truth.
"I came to see you to know more about Li Mengran’s situation."
"The police have already come here six times. I’ve told you everything that I know. Why do you police investigate cases so slowly?" Mr. Li grumbled.
"May I look at this album?"
Chen Shi flipped through the photos as Mr. Li introduced them. “This was when Ranran turned one. This one was when she just learned to walk.” He smiled as he remembered, but began crying after he smiled.
When he looked at the photos of when Li Mengran was around ten years old, Chen Shi noticed that in a photo, Li Mengran was standing in front of a big hill with a short, dark-skinned boy standing next to her. Chen Shi asked, "Is this your relative?"
"No, a child we met in the countryside."
Chen Shi found that the photo was a bit thick. He touched it with his hand and pulled out a letter from the back that said, "Feifei, is your father okay? Long’an has been raining this past month and it’s boring to stay at home during the summer vacation. I want to go to your place and catch the crickets... "
Chen Shi asked, "What's the meaning behind this letter?"
"Let me see!" Mr. Li put on his glasses and looked at it for a while. "Oh," he said, "I remember! I remember now! Ranran participated in a variety show when she was a child and went to experience life in the countryside. Then, a rural child came to our place to experience life here."
"So an exchange of families?"
"It’s a bit like that. It took them three days to film here. At that time, a TV station friend said that the show was very popular and that my family’s Ranran had the temperament to be a star, so they persuaded me to participate. The filming wasn’t the same as I expected. They all had scripts. It counts as a small episode in Ranran’s growing experience!”
Chen Shi took the letter and said, "Li Mengran wrote to the child? It seems they have a good relationship. Do you know his name?"
Mr. Li smiled bitterly, "You wouldn't suspect that he was the murderer, right? Impossible. We’ve never contacted them since then. Although Ranran wrote to him, I was afraid it would affect her studies, so I threw all the letters away. I’m not sure why this letter was kept.”
Chen Shi was interested. "Is there a recording of that show?"
"You can view it online."
Mr. Li took out his laptop and found the show. When he saw the cute ten-year-old Ranran on camera, he cried sadly again. When the rural child appeared, he began to fast forward, but Chen Shi said, "Don't. Don't. Let me watch from beginning to end. "
"These are all acting!" Mr. Li said, "How could Ranran be so spoiled? She was very obedient at that time. The crew said that they wanted her to act to create an effect in the show. They made her drop the bowl and run away from the countryside, but it was all fake!”
At the beginning of the program, two families and two children were introduced. It turned out that the rural child Little Fei was the same age as Li Mengran. However, it looked like he was smaller than Li Mengran because of the nutritional difference.
Behind the lens, Li Mengran was obviously a spoiled little princess while Little Fei was a hard-working and obedient poor child.
The program was divided into two episodes. The first episode was Li Mengran's life in the countryside, suddenly going from the comfortable and convenient city lifestyle into the desolate countryside. Li Mengran had a huge psychological gap, and soon began to cry as she tried to go home.
"Is this true?" Chen Shi asked.
Mr. Li said, "These shots are all scripted. In the evening, it looks like she stayed at the dormitory of the elementary school. In fact, after she finished filming, she slept in the crew’s car. In the morning, they would film her waking up at the elementary school’s dorm again. But the village was indeed very poor. I followed along at the time. It was the poorest village out of all the villages in the surrounding area. The child's home was the poorest in the whole village. The crew sought it out on purpose. The surrounding villages got developed early on."
The two watched the program silently. Mr. Li watched the program and thought about his daughter. He sighed and watched with tears in his eyes. Then, he couldn't control his sadness any longer and went to the bathroom to cry.
Chen Shi thought to himself. No wonder Li Mengran had so many Weibo fans. It turns out she was a little online influencer.
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