“My parents divorced a long time ago, and I was raised by my father. At that time, my father wanted to adopt him, but he didn’t meet the requirements, so we never went through the formalities. We grew up together since we were young. Later, he got into university, and my father passed away. We didn’t interact much after that, except for having meals together during holidays, like a family reunion. Two helpless individuals seeking solace in each other. Later, he dropped out of college but suddenly became very wealthy. Two years ago, I accidentally looked at his phone and discovered what he had been doing…”
Trembling, Lan An continued, “Afterward, I sold the house my father left behind and bought a new one. I used the excuse of moving to invite him for dinner and took the opportunity to drug him…”
At that time, she specifically bought a new house in a place where nobody knew them. She arranged a room with good soundproofing, only a small window, and hid all metal objects in the room, leaving only a bed and bedding.
She bought an iron chain, the best iron lock, and a collar. The iron chain went through the head of the bed and fastened together.
She meticulously measured the length, allowing him to walk to the bathroom and use the toilet, change clothes, and live a relatively normal life.
After locking Song Lan’en in the room, she was extremely careful, even using plastic utensils when serving him meals.
She made every effort to isolate him from the outside world.
She knew that someone like Song Lan’en wouldn’t choose to call the police, nor could he seek help from neighbors. Once discovered, his actions would be exposed.
In the bathroom, she only placed an electric shaver.
Song Lan’en must have been furious because he started refusing to eat anything.
Lan An and Song Lan’en had a long period of cold war. Sometimes she would hear the sound of him grinding the iron chain in her dreams, which kept her awake.
Eventually, it seemed that they both resigned themselves to the situation, like two roommates living under the same roof.
Every day before going to work, she would leave the meals and clean clothes outside the door. When she returned from work, she would find the used utensils and the clothes he changed.
Occasionally, she would leave a few recent newspapers and some books.
Sometimes she would sit by the door, rambling about her life, the recent happenings at the art gallery, and how the children were doing.
But there was no sound or response from inside the room.
They lived this almost non-communicative life for two years.
The only time Lan An entered that room was when Song Lan’en fell ill. She noticed that the food hadn’t been touched for two consecutive days, so she entered the room. Song Lan’en had a high fever, and she was terrified. She bought fever-reducing medicine and took care of him attentively for three days.
Only during those three days, they seemed to go back to their childhood, to a time before everything happened.
Three days later, Song Lan’en’s fever finally subsided, but Lan An, exhausted, fell asleep leaning on the headboard. When she woke up, she found Song Lan’en looking at her.
He reached out and touched her hair, his fingers resting on her neck.
Just as she thought he was going to kiss her…
He rolled his eyes and looked at her. It was not a loving gaze; it was a fierce, predatory look, as if a beast was staring at its prey.
She was momentarily frightened.
He gritted his teeth and told her, “Get lost.”
She ran out of the room and cried for a long time.
Afterward, everything returned to normal.
She pondered over it and felt that her plan was not secure enough. She feared that one day someone would discover what Song Lan’en had done, and she wanted to take the blame for him. But she was also afraid that if she wasn’t there, Song Lan’en would starve or get caught. So she left a spare key with Liu Yumei.
Recalling all of this, Lan An continued crying.
She had brought it upon herself, and no amount of dying a thousand or ten thousand times could atone for it.
Her actions not only let the devil, Song Lan’en, go free but also caused Liu Yumei’s death.
Perhaps if she had drugged him and immediately called the police, everything would be different.
Su Hui looked at the file in front of him.
Song Lan’en, 27 years old this year, majored in chemistry in college but was expelled two years later due to failing multiple exams.
He had learned bomb-making from Lan Ziwen, Lan An’s father, since childhood and modified and manufactured them based on his knowledge of chemistry. He continuously improved the power and structure of the bombs.
He had an antisocial personality, was insane and cunning.
He had been providing explosives to Jie Qiu, enabling that man to roam the city, resulting in a series of sand explosion cases.
This was a typical case of indiscriminate killing by an organized group.
Lan An finally spoke up, and Lu Junchi immediately asked for more details, preparing Song Lan’en’s information and photos for a manhunt.
Lu Junchi asked, “Where might Song Lan’en go?”
Lan An shook her head and said while crying, “I don’t know. After he dropped out of college, I haven’t been in his social circle.”
She cried and felt a sense of fear. It was her actions that had caused such a catastrophe today.
This demon had gained his freedom, like Pandora’s box being opened. She thought that he would create new explosion cases in the city…
“What about his phone and other belongings?” Lu Junchi asked again.
“I… I threw away his phone… the SIM card was flushed down the toilet. I confiscated his ID… as his girlfriend, I canceled the lease of his apartment.” Lan An cried and said, “I thought I cut off all his connections with the outside world…”
She had only wanted to keep this man alive, even if it meant keeping him locked up for a lifetime, as long as no one knew about his crimes…
“Who are his accomplices?” Lu Junchi asked sternly.
There was no doubt that Song Lan’en had connections with others.
“I really don’t know. At that time, besides Jie Qiu, he had some other people he interacted with. I don’t know those people, but I know there were men and women among them…” Lan An replied.
The interrogators changed again, but they couldn’t extract any information about Song Lan’en’s accomplices.
Perhaps Lan An truly didn’t know much about it.
Qiao Ze was filled with indignation. “This woman is so despicable and unaware of her own evil. I feel disgusted just thinking about what she did. Yet here she is, still crying and playing the victim.”
In his view, such a person was even harder to guard against than a real violent criminal with a knife and gun.
Su Hui analyzed, “She fell in love with Song Lan’en not only because of their childhood acquaintance. I think this woman has a pathological infatuation with serial killers, along with unrealistic fantasies. She deluded herself into believing that her actions could make him change for the better. In history, there have been many people who were attracted to serial killers, and some women even wanted to marry them. Psychologists have conducted various analyses of this mentality: the savior fantasy, maternal needs, substitution fantasies, and so on…”
However, due to the small number of cases and a lack of research, the specific psychological reasons behind such behavior are still difficult to determine.
Investigative reporter Sheila Isenberg once wrote a book called “Women Who Love Men Who Kill,” where she stated, “These women’s relationships with murderers satisfy their needs to some extent.”
Lan An’s actions to protect Song Lan’en and take the blame for him were not driven by public safety concerns; they were merely for her personal satisfaction and self-delusion.
Lu Junchi agreed, saying, “By doing such things, she will also face legal sanctions…”
Then they obtained some fragmented information from Dong Anchen.
It was he who gave Song Lan’en those sands through a small window, and in return, Song Lan’en gave him two bombs, telling him that it would solve the problem with Yu Keke.
After the incident, Song Lan’en had the terrified Dong Anchen shift all the blame onto Lan An.
It seemed that not only ordinary people couldn’t understand her actions, but even a serial killer might not appreciate them.
When Lu Junchi came out of the observation room, he saw Su Hui standing alone in front of the whiteboard in the conference room. The whiteboard was left by Xing Yunhai, bearing his handwriting.
Only one light was on in the conference room, casting a dim light that made his figure look very thin.
Lu Junchi couldn’t help but walk over and gaze at Su Hui’s delicate profile.
Su Hui squinted and turned his head, confirming that it was Lu Junchi who had come, then turned back.
Today, they had learned the true identity of Fine Sand, and the case had made significant progress. But no one could feel happy about it. While they had caught Lan An and discovered Fine Sand’s true identity, the psychopath had also regained his freedom.
Just the thought of such a terrifying and dangerous man still roaming the city kept their hearts in constant turmoil.
Lu Junchi wished he didn’t need to rest and could tirelessly capture Song Lan’en as soon as possible.
Su Hui looked at the whiteboard filled with clues in front of him and blinked as he began to speak, “The killer intentionally disguised the crime scene, leaving behind other people’s cigarette butts and hair to mislead the police. This behavior is called staging, and the individuals involved in this kind of work in the black market are referred to as stage setters. Two years ago, I had a suspicion that there might be stage setters affecting our judgment. But now, I’ve gradually come to understand some things, and it seems our thinking back then was mistaken…”
Over the past two years, Su Hui’s memories had been blurry and chaotic, but as he returned to his job, his recollections slowly started to come back. Today, he was tirelessly trying to reconstruct this particular case.
Despite facing setbacks during the past two years, he had become more meticulous and composed. His perspective and problem-solving approach had also undergone some changes.
Fine Sand, unlike many other cases, rarely had fingerprints and it was difficult to find footprints. Surveillance devices were easily damaged. Both the evidence and witnesses were scarce, making it challenging to catch the perpetrator.
The type of bombs used in the Fine Sand case were homemade and bore evident traces of their production. Each crime scene featured the same type of fine sand, similar installation methods, and close delivery times. There were several points of connection between the cases, proving their relevance. Some sporadic and blurred images indicated that the killer acted alone.
The materials and manufacturing of such bombs were not within the reach of an average person.
This type of violent method was typically extremely covert, to the extent that even close acquaintances would remain unaware.
When Fine Sand occurred, faced with various circumstantial evidence, they naturally assumed that the killer was a reclusive individual with anti-social tendencies. This profile also led them to conclude that the killer acted alone.
They erroneously believed that the killer was both the manufacturer and the deployer.
Under such premises, they struggled to explain and reconstruct the case.
Typical bomb clients had their own distinctive behavioral patterns, but Fine Sand displayed multiple different behaviors in subsequent attacks, almost like an incredibly sly and adept fox.
The modus operandi also varied; one moment, causing harm in busy areas, and the next, leaving behind traces of explosions in the wilderness.
There was no discernible motive, specific target, or planned pattern to the crimes, except for the requirement of planting a bomb in the city every ten days, disrupting the peaceful lives of the people.
The police were under immense pressure, and Su Hui and Moonlight had differing perspectives during the profiling.
Two years later, during the interrogation of Lan An, Su Hui reevaluated everything.
After changing his approach, it seemed that he had finally found a breakthrough.
They had steadfastly believed that there was only one perpetrator, while considering the various intricate scenarios as the perpetrator’s disguises.
However, perhaps having only one killer was the biggest misdirection presented to them by the culprit. And all the other inconsistencies were left unmasked.
The wrong answer they believed in was, in fact, the correct answer.
Su Hui summarized briefly and looked up, his fair face appearing somewhat pale. “Moonlight and I were probably not mistaken back then. Fine Sand is not a lone bomber; Song Lan’en is an armorer. These bombs were made by one person but were deployed by different individuals, with Jie Qiu being the leader. The individuals responsible for planting the bombs formed a small group, and every ten days, one person in the group would receive a bomb for deployment. That’s why the case presented various different profiling results.”
Lu Junchi furrowed his brow, pondering for a moment, before nodding in agreement.
Once they overturned the prerequisites that the perpetrator was a sole individual and that the deployer was the manufacturer, everything became clearer.
Su Hui continued, “Multiple killers, this is a more effective method than staging to disrupt the police’s perspective and investigation. At that time, there may have been multiple deployers who would take the same type of bomb and deploy them in the city according to their own methods.”
In history, this kind of crime with collaborative division of labor is extremely rare.
This pattern is like a group of players waiting for a game mission.
Every ten days, a new bomb is produced, and they would draw lots or make a selection to determine who would carry the bomb. Then, based on their own choices and preferences, they would place it at a location.
The assigned person would wander in the city, eventually carrying out the criminal act.
Therefore, their tools and timing share some commonalities. However, because of their different placement methods and target selections, they exhibit different criminal patterns.
Their staging methods have perplexed the profilers.
This explanation makes everything fall into place.
Lu Junchi lowered his head, pondering for a moment. Su Hui’s deduction sounded surprising, but upon careful consideration, it seemed highly likely to be the truth. He stated it as a hypothesis, so he needed concrete evidence to prove his point.
“There is one killer who is cruel and deliberately chooses iconic buildings and crowded locations to place the bombs. The other killer, however, has a hint of humanity and avoids pregnant women and children when placing the bombs. At that time, I only caught one of the deployers. That day, I happened to encounter Jiie Qiu…”
At this point, Su Hui lowered his head. “The police did not apprehend the armorer and the others, so before, this case wasn’t truly solved.”
Now, with the return of Song Lan’en, the core of this organization has also returned.
Lu Junchi organized his thoughts. “Do you think they will commit crimes again immediately?”
Su Hui nodded. “They might have stockpiled a significant amount of materials, considering the time required for bomb production. We probably have around two days…”
With the search for Song Lan’en and the actions of the police, these individuals would soon realize that they were being hunted.
The city was completely locked down, undergoing strict investigations. There was no way for them to escape.
It was a race between good and evil.
Involving countless lives.
Su Hui coughed, covering his mouth, and shared his speculative conclusion. “The worst-case scenario… Song Lan’en has been silent for two years, bottled up for two years. This time, they might act together, intending to cause greater casualties.”
It would be a mad final hunt.
Listening to Su Hui’s account, a chilling sensation initially spread through Lu Junchi’s fingertips. What unimaginable evil could take such a shape? But then, a surge of determination welled up within him.
Facing such enemies, he wanted to solve the case as soon as possible.
They had to stop this disaster.
Lu Junchi asked, “Why do you think this group of people would do such a thing?”
To effectively identify their crime targets, we need to understand their motives for the crime.
Su Hui replied, “I haven’t figured it out yet. This organization is both collective and individual. Time and purpose will change according to the group’s thinking, while individual will and ideas will be intertwined, becoming variables.”
The motives of those killers are certainly more than just seeking revenge against society.
“Can you determine how many people are involved in this?”
Su Hui’s thoughts had never been as clear as they were at this moment. Two years ago, he and Moonlight had different opinions, and there were several cases that couldn’t be attributed to either of them. He spoke in a deep voice, “There might be four killers in total, excluding Xie Qiu, there are three more.”
Back then, he caught Xie Qiu, who committed the most crimes, and Moonlight probably had one killer in their sights. The other two people remained hidden in the darkness.
After two years, those scattered sands had finally connected…
Lu Junchi said, “I understand. I will inform the leadership and make all the necessary preparations. Don’t push yourself too hard. Let’s go eat something.”
Su Hui understood that haste makes waste. This could be a prolonged battle lasting several days, and he couldn’t collapse halfway through.
He thought for a moment and said, “Then let’s have dinner first, but tonight, I want to go somewhere.” He paused and looked up at Lu Junchi. “Can you accompany me?”
Lu Junchi asked, “Is it related to the case?”
If it were a normal time, outside of work hours, he would be willing to accompany Su Hui for as long as needed. But now, time was pressing, and he had to calculate it precisely.
Lu Junchi knew Su Hui well. He was a homebody with no family or many other friends. Apart from the bureau, crime scenes, and the university, he didn’t like to wander around aimlessly. Moreover, with the recent revelation of Song Lan’en’s identity, his focus was entirely on the case.
If Su Hui brought it up at this time, it must be something crucial.
Su Hui’s gaze lowered. “It’s somewhat related. I want to meet someone…”
Lu Junchi asked again, “Is it someone I know?”
Su Hui nodded. “You could say you know him. He is an old friend of mine and possibly the person who can accelerate our discovery of the truth in this situation. He used the code name ‘Moonlight’ before.”