Chen Shi asked curiously, "You went to your nephew to borrow money?"
Ms. Song replied with shame, "Haii, I’m ashamed to say that the family has been in debt ever since we bought the house. We’re purely demolishing the east wall to fix up the west wall. Later, Wanjun's father got sick as well, worsening the situation. In order to slowly pay off the debts, I went around trying to curry favor with my relatives so that I could borrow money. I’ve lost all that’s left of this old face of mine. During this period, the creditors urged us to pay up again, and I had already asked for money from all the relatives and friends in my circle. I had no choice but to ask Song Yuwen for money in order to repay my debts."
"Did he lend you any?"
"No, didn't Yuqiang have something to settle with him that day? It was inconvenient for me to ask at the time, so I left. I was planning to go again in a day or two. Who knew this would happen? Haii!"
"My next question might not be too appropriate. The family is already in such a situation. Why would you still send your daughter to study abroad?"
"This was our daughter's dream. We’ve been suffering for most of our lives. We know that you’d suffer from disadvantages without an education. I hope that my daughter will have a good life in the future. It can also be counted as an investment in her education. In fact, I have to thank Song Yuwen's family. If not for their family giving financial assistance to us so often, Wanjun may not have had the opportunity to study abroad. Their family really helped us a lot."
"It seems that you have a good relationship with one another?"
Ms. Song waved her hands. "I can't say that. It’s mainly because I go over so often. Relatives would become distanced if you don’t see one another often. In addition, I looked after Song Yuwen when he was a kid, so we’re a bit closer... By the way, I heard that his funeral would be held in a couple of days. The white-haired seeing off the black-haired, haii!"
"Oh yes, your daughter is abroad. When was the last time you saw her?"
"She came back for New Year last year. She brought home a lot of gifts and even bought me a sweater. I told her not to spend money. We feel relieved just having her back with us. She stayed for a few days and then left again. We usually contact each other by phone."
"Apologies for asking, but do you have a photo of her?"
"Let me look..." Ms. Song unlocked her phone and showed Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue a photo. It was a group photo of the family of three. The daughter in the middle hugged the old couple and the family looked blissful and happy. The date was last year’s New Year.
Looking at the photo, Chen Shi felt that something was wrong and asked, "Who took this photo?"
"The phone can be set for timed shooting!"
"Oh..." Chen Shi smiled. "I actually didn't know this. How embarrassing. Is this the only photo?"
"The others weren’t taken very well."
"Let's have a look anyway!"
"They were really not very good. I won't let you see."
Regardless of whatever Chen Shi said, Ms. Song insisted on not letting him see the photos on her phone. After all, there was no search warrant, so Chen Shi had no choice but to give up.
They asked some other questions, which were similar to those they had asked the husband. Afterwards, Chen Shi bid Ms. Song goodbye. Lin Dongxue said, "What a really poor couple. Oh yeah, why did you ask the same questions twice?"
"What do you think?"
"Were you trying to sound them out?"
"Then what did you think I have found out?"
"The couple's answers were almost the same. Except for one point. The husband said that the daughter came back the year before the last, and the wife said that it was last year. But the photo taken was indeed taken last year. That is, the husband remembered it wrong.”
"The husband didn’t remember incorrectly. He initially said that it was last year, then he suddenly changed to say the year before last, because his illness was diagnosed last year. I asked whether his daughter knew of his illness and he said that she didn’t know. He obviously changed his tune and said it was the year before last to patch up his lie."
"Both of them are lying. Otherwise, how could their answers be so overly consistent? It’s obvious that they agreed on what they’d say in advance.”
"This girl may not be abroad at all..." Chen Shi was suddenly baffled. Everyone knew that Shi Wanjun was studying in Australia. If this was in preparation for the murder, it would have been done too early.
The murder itself contained an unexpected factor - the pistol posted by Zhou Tiannan. The murderer started preparing three years ago? That didn’t make sense.
The lie must have another purpose! But it is inextricably linked to the murder case.
Back at the bureau, Chen Shi asked everyone to investigate some things. At present, several other leads were set aside. He was positive that the second aunt's family was suspicious. Xu Xiaodong called Chen Shi to come to the office in the afternoon and said excitedly, "I found something in the footage."
"From the surveillance that day?"
"Yeah, remember how some data was recovered later? Take a look."
Xu Xiaodong started the video. On the evening of July 25th when it was close to 11:00, a woman in a white dress walked into the building. Chen Shi asked, "What kind of strange angle is this?"
Xu Xiaodong said helplessly, "I can’t help it. The camera was set at this angle."
This was because of the security guard. In order to shoot the residents’ breasts, the camera angle had been adjusted.
Watching the video repeatedly, they could just barely make out the woman's figure. She was thin and wore very youthful clothing. Her long hair was slightly curled. She seemed like a young girl.
Chen Shi watched it several times again and was completely focused. Xu Xiaodong waved his hand in front of him and asked, "Brother Chen, have you seen something significant?"
"Why do I feel like something isn’t right..." Chen Shi pondered.
"Have you been assigned a task yet?" Chen Shi asked suddenly.
"You told me to continue watching the footage."
"You don't need to watch the footage anymore. Go and do a stake-out for me. Go to the second aunt's house and monitor their every action."
"Oh?" Xu Xiaodong complained, "Why are you giving me this kind of work again? Can’t you give me something that takes some skill? Or does Brother Chen think that I can only do this sort of stuff with my IQ?"
Chen Shi appeased him, "Investigating cases is like this. Most of it is boring. In fact, I think you’re very good. It’s just that your personality is a bit impulsive, so I’m just training your character!"
After eating this piece of candy that was used to coax a child, Xu Xiaodong reluctantly went to carry out the mission.
Chen Shi called Lin Dongxue over and showed her the video. Lin Dongxue said in surprise, "Wow, judging from the time and place, this is definitely the suspect herself... Unfortunately, it was destroyed by the angle."
"Yeah, it would have been a very violent and aesthetic scene in which a girl in white headed into the house to commit murder with a gun. With this camera angle, nothing can be seen except for cleavage."
"In fact, there wasn’t even any cleavage. So flat. Completely inferior to me." Lin Dongxue smiled.
"Well, if you look closely, you can still gather some information." Chen Shi paused the video and played it frame by frame. Due to the extremely low number of pixels and being captured at night, it was really difficult to distinguish anything. "This girl's face is very white, but the rest of her skin isn’t as white."
"It seems like she had put on makeup."
Chen Shi took out his mobile phone and compared it with the photos of Shi Wanjun that he had saved before. "Is it her?"
"I can't see her face from the front, and what’s more, these are just ‘photo scams’. You still don't know what the real person looks like."
"Isn't there an ID photo?" Chen Shi took out Shi Wanjun's ID photo. "Take a look."
"This one looks so young. Was it taken in high school?"
1. Chinese idiom meaning “To rob Peter to pay Paul”. E.g. People taking out loans from one company to cover their debts from other loan companies or when you just try to deal with the problem at hand with what little money you have even though it may cause other money problems down the line.
2. She was actually making a pun here. “Photographs” in Chinese is made up of two characters. The second character “pian”, sounds similar to “pian” in the word “scam” and they have the same pinyin. She’s saying that they’re photos photoshopped to look flattering.
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