Hearing this, Li Qiang immediately became agitated, and he waved his hands desperately, "Officer, don't talk nonsense, okay? How could I have killed He Taiyang? I have no grievances with him."
Song Lang stood up and smiled, "You should sit here for a while, take a break and then we can talk. You can look for the police officer at the door if you want water or cigarettes."
Song Lang took Lin Qiupu outside, and Lin Qiupu said with surprise, "Captain, why do you think he killed him?"
"There are clues that Li Qiang had visited He Taiyang's house on the 16th of last month."
"The 16th of last month?" Lin Qiupu recalled. "The day Madam He died?"
"Was it a coincidence? There must be something to it. Madam He's death itself is suspicious. After her death, He Taiyang took out a million in cash and brought a large amount of cash to meet someone late at night. What can you think of? Yes, this is an extortion case! There’s a high probability that Madam He’s death was related to He Taiyang. Li Qiang, who went to his house that day, happened to see this scene and blackmailed He Taiyang. According to our revised reasoning, the person who met the deceased that night was the murderer... Just now, Li Qiang accidentally made a slip of the tongue, making me more certain about this point."
Lin Qiupu very much admired Song Lang's line of thought. He was actually able to make sense of all these clues. He said, "So what's the motive for murder?"
"I don't know." Song Lang lit up a cigarette. "When new evidence appears, we may have an idea."
It was already noon, so Song Lang ordered a few takeaways, and asked someone to send a meal as well as water to He Jingjing and Li Qiang respectively. He finished his meal, drank tea and read the newspaper leisurely. It was almost 2:00 in the afternoon but Song Lang had no intention of continuing the interrogation.
Lin Qiupu couldn't sit still any longer and asked Song Lang, "Captain, what are you waiting for?"
"Haha, I'm waiting for evidence!"
"When Li Qiang was brought in, I asked people to search his residence at the same time. If this million was in his hands, he wouldn’t have been able to deposit it in the bank. It would definitely have been hidden somewhere."
"Is it legal to search like this?"
"Relax. There’s no problem."
Lin Qiupu groused in his heart about whether "no problem" meant that it was legal or illegal, but he didn’t dare to question the captain's decision face-to-face.
At that moment, several police officers came in. Song Lang got up eagerly from his chair and asked them how the investigation went? However, the group of officers shook their heads. One of them said, "I didn't find a lot of cash. In fact, we couldn’t even find 100 yuan in his house."
Song Lang raised his brows slightly, and he pondered for a moment. "Was there anything anomalous in his house?"
"Uh, it's hard to explain in a few words, but we found this." The policeman took out a transport ticket.
The ticket had been bought recently. Li Qiang had planned to go to a place far away. Song Lang instructed, "Little Lin, check who Li Qiang has been in contact with recently. The money may have been hidden elsewhere by him. Go and search together with these two older brothers. You must find it before it gets dark."
"Captain, I don't know whether I should say something." Lin Qiupu hesitated.
"Are you afraid that I’m investigating along the wrong direction?"
Lin Qiupu nodded in embarrassment.
"Don't doubt your own judgment because of a minor obstacle. Three days have passed since the murder happened. No matter how stupid the murderer is, they will come up with a set of ways to deal with the police. You have to imagine that you are Li Qiang and think about where you’d put the money."
"What if there really isn’t any money?"
"If you really hit the south wall, then you can turn back! That way you have done your best." Song Lang smiled and patted his shoulder. "Hurry up. You must find it before dark, or we’ll have to let them go."
After Lin Qiupu left, Song Lang took He Jingjing to the interrogation room. He Jingjing had already become impatient from waiting, "You police are really inefficient. It took so long just for you guys to interrogate me. How do you plan to compensate me for the time I wasted?"
"Sorry, I was interrogating another person before this. He has a connection with you as well as with this case."
"A connection with me?" He Jingjing raised her eyebrows suspiciously.
"Have you already thought of someone?"
"I didn’t even finish middle school, and my brain is slow. Don't try hinting things at me. I can't think of anyone!" He Jingjing countered.
"Then let me try another question. When we met at your house last time, you mentioned the legend of the bowl." Song Lang put a small bowl in an evidence bag on the table, "Why did you fabricate the lie about how He Taiyang received this bowl?"
"Fabricate? Don't slander me! This is a fact!"
Song Lang put the other two identical bowls on the table. "In fact, we’ve already investigated it carefully. This legend has indeed circulated around the pawn industry in Long'an. Those fooled have paid as little as tens of thousands and as much as 100,000. Nobody has ever paid one million in life-preservation money. He Taiyang was very stingy. Even if Madam He passed away half a month ago, he wouldn’t spend one million to avert misfortune. How much is your pawn shop’s monthly turnover? One million is a huge sum of money. The statement you provided was full of loopholes. Why did you lie to us? I believe you didn’t want the police to find out where the money had really gone, or that the person collecting the money has a connection with you."
He Jingjing became angry from being exposed and yelled, "Don't confound black and white here. Why should I lie? I just told you what I saw and heard. You police are so annoying. You have to doubt everything, and you slander people just because you couldn’t catch the murderer!"
Song Lang said solemnly, "You think there’s no proof left after He Taiyang died? There are only your fingerprints on this bowl. It didn't pass through He Taiyang's hands at all."
He Jingjing was taken aback and continued to put up a last-ditch struggle. "He... he wears gloves when he works."
Song Lang sneered. "He Taiyang's fingerprints are everywhere on the safe, cabinets, and counters. You’re telling me he wears gloves? Speaking of safes, you couldn't open the safe in front of us that night. He Jun was the one who opened it for you. However, only your fingerprints are on this bowl, which shows that you actually know the safe’s password and that you were just acting in front of us. Look, when one lie is exposed, another lie will be exposed as well. You desperately denied this lie in order to cover up another matter. Am I right?"
He Jingjing's face was pale, her throat kept moving, and her nostrils twitched as she panted heavily.
Song Lang's tone became milder, but his attitude remained tough. "We have found out a lot of things about you. He Taiyang has no blood relationship with you at all, and both of you were also not in a father-daughter relationship. Madam He had a very poor relationship with you. It was not the kind of poor relationship that a stepmother has with the step-daughter but the kind that the legal wife has with the mistress."
He Jingjing suddenly lost her calm and shouted, "Did I want to be the mistress of that rotten old man?! Was I willing? My own father sold me and used me to pay off his debts. He Taiyang told everyone that I was his precious daughter, changed my name and entered me into his household registration. However, once behind closed doors, he’d start ‘doting on’ me! Do you know what kind of life I’ve been living these past few years? I have been kept like a canary. He Taiyang forbade me from going out and monitored my every move. Every night, I would hide under the blankets by myself and cry secretly. What would you know as an outsider? What would you know?!"
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