Zhang Jinlei still tried to resist. "Even if I don’t have an alibi, you can't say that I’m the murderer. This is slander!"
Chen Shi shook his head. "Your problem is not that you don’t have evidence of your absence, but that you can’t produce evidence of your presence. During the two time periods when the murderer appeared, you couldn’t clearly prove that you were at some location. In that case, if you were me, what would you think?”
"I... I refuse to answer."
"You’re exercising the right of silence that no one has bestowed you?" Chen Shi smiled. "Okay then. You drank a bottle of Red Label whiskey at the bar on the 7th, then drove away in a car that belongs to your mother. This car appeared at the scene where the corpse was abandoned at 8:00. How do you explain this?"
"How could I kill someone? How could I kill her with my own hands? At that time, we were just able to enter a band 1 university and we could soon be happily together. Why would I kill her?”
"You truly didn’t kill her!"
Chen Shi raised his voice and even Lin Qiupu was astonished. He stared at Zhang Jinlei's eyes and said, "You killed all the other girls, except for her. As for the motive, I can't believe it even though I’m saying it out loud. Every year, you use the same method to recreate her death in order to keep the police investigating until the murderer is found! You haven’t thought about the victims you used to draw our attention. They also have family members. Hence, the older sister of one of the girls secretly investigated you and she might have already known the truth. You killed her to prevent her from talking, but this accident also exposed you.”
"How could it be like this!" Lin Qiupu couldn't believe it and whispered.
Zhang Jinlei swallowed hard. "Do you have any evidence?"
"We’ll have some soon. You should calm down here first!"
Chen Shi gave Lin Qiupu a meaningful glance and they temporarily left the interrogation room. Lin Qiupu asked, "Is this true? Or is it just a random guess? If this is the motive for the murders, it’s too unbelievable!"
"Relax, the evidence is on the way."
While Zhang Jinlei and Xiao Ran were being brought in, the police were searching their residence. This had been arranged by Chen Shi.
At the same time, in another interrogation room, Lin Dongxue dropped a bombshell. "I went to your alma mater and found that you had scored over 500 points in the college entrance examination six years ago, and had reached the band 1 level. However, you filled out band 3 universities as your choices."
"It's my freedom to fill in whatever university I wanted to!" Xiao Ran said with her head down.
"Coincidentally, these band 3 universities happened to be the ones that Yan Qilin had filled in at the beginning. That is, they were the universities that Zhang Jinlei was going to attend regardless of his family's objection. But things took a new turn. During the summer vacation that year, the Zhang family made a compromise with their willful son, saying that they had gotten Yan Qilin a special enrollment opportunity in a band 1 university. Therefore, Zhang Jinlei still filled in band 1 universities according to his family's wishes but you could only go to a band 3 university."
"..." Xiao Ran clenched her hands tightly, revealing her inner tension.
"Then I called the band 3 university. You had received the notice but you didn’t enroll there. After that, you worked in Long'an until you moved in with Zhang Jinlei."
Xiao Ran raised her head, "I admit that I secretly changed my university choices. Later, I heard that Zhang Jinlei wasn’t going, so I didn't go either."
"It seems that you still love him very much. But every time we’ve contacted you before this, you always acted very magnanimously. Your best friend and the person you liked got together. You could only cry in silence, but never talked about it."
"What could I do?!" Xiao Ran yelled, "He was infatuated with Yan Qilin, and I didn't have the ability to snatch him back. If I don't pretend to be a little lofty, should I complain everywhere like Xianglin's wife?"
Lin Dongxue said, "You only pretended to act loftily, but in fact, you were helping the Zhang family to break them up. You said that Yan Qilin was almost arrested as a prostitute and that you were at the scene, but we heard another version later on. In fact, you were the one who pushed her down into the fire pit."
Xiao Ran gritted her teeth. "So what if I harmed her? Even so, there was still Yue Chao who came out running to save her. No matter what, she was always surrounded by boys who were willing to do things for her. I could only be jealous in secret."
Lin Dongxue paused. "So, you killed her?"
Xiao Ran's eyes widened. "I didn't..."
Lin Dongxue put a piece of paper in front of her. "This is a form I got from the place where you work. It has your handwriting on it. We’ve identified the handwriting to be the same as the handwriting on Yan Qilin's arm."
"Impossible! Impossible!" Xiao Ran reached out to grab the paper. She wanted to confirm it.
Lin Dongxue withdrew her hand, "Yan Qilin's mobile phone shows the two calls that you made to her. At that time, your confession said that you were just asking her to go shopping, but your classmates said that you two had almost no contact with each other at that time. We re-examined the case from that year and picked up on a small detail. After Yan Qilin's death, you were the first to arrive at the scene, and you were the first to call Zhang Jinlei and Yue Chao. Granted, notifying Zhang Jinlei was to be expected, but why would you notify Yue Chao? It was because the code you wrote on her arm was related to Yue Chao. Unfortunately, the police back then didn’t find out about this. Even if Yue Chao later admitted himself that the code was related to him, that was your childish means of framing him.”
"I... I have alibis. I have one for every year. Why would you suspect me?!”
"I didn't say that you had committed the murders afterwards. I am saying that Yan Qilin was killed by you! Although you clearly hated her, you would secretly burn joss paper for her at this time every year because of your guilty conscience!"
Under the repeated blows, Xiao Ran's spirit finally collapsed. She looked at her hands and said, "I... I hated her! She snatched Zhang Jinlei, and then took my chance to go to university. During the summer vacation, she told me insincerely that she and Jinlei were going to study at that band 3 university. I gave up the opportunity to enter a band 1 university like an idiot and filled out the same choices. Then I learned that the Zhang family had already gotten her a special enrollment opportunity. She wanted to use this to get rid of me forever! Why did she have to take everything away from me? She took everything away from me, so I... "
"So you killed her?!"
Xiao Ran’s mind got stuck. She lifted her tear-filled eyes and stared at Lin Dongxue. Lin Dongxue's gaze oppressed her and became the last straw that crushed her.
"I just wanted to invite her to come out and talk in order to clarify everything. You guys would never know what she was like in private. She always felt that she should have the best from birth. Others were only worthy of licking her shoes. I… I lost my head and used the box-cutter in my pocket to slash her. I shouted for her to shut up. After I regained my composure, I realized that she had collapsed onto the ground and was bleeding continuously… I was both frightened and excited. This ho had never been so helpless and pitiful in front of me. I picked up a bag of salt and sprinkled it on her to make her die even more painfully... At that moment, I was very happy and felt that I had won. The true nightmare followed. The police came to investigate, and I was scared I’d be found out. I started to have nightmares and saw her covered in blood, telling me to pay for it with my life. Even when I got together with Jinlei afterwards, I could feel that he had no eyes for me. She was forever the only one for him! The person who won was her. She died, so she became the most beautiful memory, and I’m just a sad substitute!”
1. A character from a short novel written during the Republican China era by Chinese writer Lu Xun. She was a poor farm widow who encountered many misfortunes.
2. Harmed her.
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