Late at night, in the hospital, after Mo Xiuxiu confessed some facts, Qiao Ze quickly summarized the information and sent it out.
The Major Crimes Unit, Review Division, various leaders, and the police community simultaneously received the latest progress in the case.
The entire death live broadcast plan was proposed by a male student named Tao Yingxu from Wanhu No.1 High School.
However, he was later killed, and the killer impersonated Tao Yingxu to continue the plan. A prank that threatened lives turned into a real murder game.
The current suspect is a friend of Tao Yingxu…
What kind of friend is this? They took over the entire plan, turned it into a cruel execution method, and then hanged Tao Yingxu in the demolition house?
Su Hui walked out of the ward and sat in the hospital corridor, having a conversation with Lu Junchi.
After listening to Su Hui’s account of the interrogation process, Lu Junchi summarized all the current information and asked after a moment of silence, “Su Hui, do you think we can proceed with the profiling now?”
Su Hui remained silent for a moment and said, “There is still too little evidence at the moment, and we only have Mo Xiuxiu’s testimony. The profiling is likely to be inaccurate. However…”
He hesitated for a moment, glanced at the electronic clock on the hospital wall. In his blurred vision, he couldn’t see the exact numbers, but he could see the red digits ticking.
Both ends of the phone call were filled with silence, but Lu Junchi knew what Su Hui wanted to say. Su Hui also understood Lu Junchi’s meaning.
Time was too tight now, and there was less than half an hour until the next live broadcast.
No investigative speed could catch up with that pace.
Fingerprints, bloodstains, footprints, autopsies, none of the comparisons could be made in time.
They could only rely on the most basic investigative skills and criminal psychological profiling.
If they could make a correct profiling now, it would help them speed up the process of finding the killer.
Su Hui looked out of the hospital window, where everything was hazy. He could vaguely see some tall buildings in the distance, and the dark clouds in the sky were gradually dispersing.
The full moon shone brightly, illuminating the night.
This was Huadu, the city beneath their feet.
Tonight, for the sake of a few young lives, many people in the city were sleepless, carrying heavy responsibilities on their shoulders.
Su Hui pursed his lips, tightened his grip on his cane, and calmed himself down.
He no longer hesitated but spoke seriously, “Time is urgent. I will proceed with the profiling, but it cannot be used as the final basis for closing the case.”
Lu Junchi responded, “Understood.”
“The killer is two individuals. The one who claims to be the anchor and is the mastermind is a male, under twenty years old, with a similar height and weight to Tao Yingxu. It is possible that they are going through a rebellious phase of youth…”
“The killer’s actions reflect cowardice in psychological analysis. He is highly impulsive. The meticulous aspects of the plan were likely designed with the help of Tao Yingxu, while the killer’s own behavior would introduce loopholes and variables. The killer is extremely self-confident and paranoid, exhibiting extreme cruelty and arrogance. In the killer’s mindset, he only believes in what he considers right and holds himself superior, looking down on others and seeing them as expendable. External factors and opinions cannot shake his decisions. He enjoys fixating on details and dislikes listening to others’ perspectives. He is highly sensitive and suspicious.”
Su Hui spoke quickly, basing many of his evaluations on the details from the crime scene and the words of the broadcaster. He strived to provide empirical evidence for each of his profiles.
Listening to Su Hui’s account, Lu Junchi gradually formed a clear image of the killer in his mind.
It was a self-assured, paranoid, impulsive, and cruel young person.
Su Hui cleared his throat and continued, “The killer is likely a friend of Tao Yingxu, not limited to classmates or relatives. You can start investigating from his social connections. This person knows Tao Yingxu very well, and they share a deep bond, possibly involved in the plan from the beginning, knowing all the details of tonight.”
“Furthermore…” Su Hui closed his eyes for a moment, continuing based on his understanding of the killer from the case, “The killer is very familiar with Wanhu City. He has been to many places here and has meticulously planned each crime scene. Unlike Tao Yingxu, who likes this place, he has an extreme aversion to it and dislikes its people. He seems like an outsider, forced to stay in this place. He is a selfish person, and I believe his actions tonight might be driven by vengeance.”
Lu Junchi furrowed his brow, feeling that the boy might not be a native of this place. His thoughts and actions were incongruent with the locality.
“How did he come here then?” Lu Junchi asked.
“We can’t be certain at the moment, but it’s possible that his family has experienced some upheavals,” Su Hui coughed a few times. “He lacks empathy, despises life, and doesn’t believe in the legal system. However, even so, the killer isn’t killing for pleasure. He has a purpose in this live broadcast. He is willing to sacrifice everything to achieve his goal.”
As Su Hui continued, he increasingly felt that the killer wasn’t a psychopathic murderer who derived pleasure from killing or sought attention. He had a purpose, and step by step, the killer was moving toward his predetermined outcome.
Su Hui took a deep breath, gripping his cane, and continued, “I suspect that he might have some connections and grievances with the people mentioned before.”
Lu Junchi responded, “I’ll instruct them to investigate in that direction…”
The current information was fragmented, but time was running out. They hadn’t been able to piece everything together effectively.
Su Hui said, “The killer is intentionally creating this situation. He needs to put certain individuals on the sacrificial altar, escalating the situation. That’s why the previous questions were intentionally unanswerable for both the police and the public.” He paused briefly and further explained, “The game isn’t over yet. Some puzzles haven’t surfaced, so we can’t complete the entire picture.”
Such behavior led to the current situation.
Lu Junchi said, “So, it’s highly likely that we haven’t encountered the subsequent puzzles yet?”
Su Hui replied with an affirmative sound, “But as we go further, it becomes different. Long Xiaochen, Lian Chengyan, Na Xuehai, these individuals are rising from obscurity to prominence. The killer’s demands are also escalating. Initially, it was about disclosing crimes, then involving the media, and in the end, it should be the moment when public and media attention is at its peak. The next target will undoubtedly be someone more famous and wealthy than Na Xuehai. In the killer’s perception, that person is the most sinful. He wants that person to step into the spotlight.”
Lu Junchi’s voice came through the phone, “Why doesn’t the killer use legitimate channels to fulfill his demands?”
Su Hui answered, “Taking this path is closely related to the killer’s personality and experiences. Firstly, he doesn’t believe in the legal system and is uncertain if using proper channels would result in punishment for the other party. Secondly, he might want to tarnish the other person’s reputation and destroy them publicly.”
He mentioned this and suddenly thought of something. “I even suspect that the last person might not be guilty… The trial of the three individuals with irrefutable evidence is enough to make people doubt this last person…”
Lu Junchi remained silent for a moment, digesting the information Su Hui had provided.
At this moment, Su Hui remembered the girl who was accompanying them. “There is another person, an accomplice. She is a female, aged 14 to 18, a high school student, probably from Wanhu No.1 High School. She is very thin and ordinary-looking, quiet and reserved. Currently, there is no further evidence to indicate the role she played in the entire case. She may have been coerced, or she could be a follower or admirer of the killer.”
“So, the third live broadcast could have been carried out by these two individuals?” Lu Junchi asked.
“The third live broadcast was most likely fabricated by them. The male accomplice disguised himself as Tao Yingxu, and the girl probably assisted him. Some of the voices were pre-recorded, which is why there was minimal interaction in that broadcast. The screen showed the girl’s hand, and upon closer examination, there were differences. The purpose was to make everyone believe that Tao Yingxu died in that live broadcast. Tao Yingxu’s body only appeared at the end,” Su Hui explained.
Lu Junchi continued with his questions, “Based on the forensic examination results and Tao Yingxu’s time of leaving school, he died between 4:10 and 4:40, which was before the start of the live broadcast. I have a question: If the killer wanted to deceive the investigation, why didn’t they schedule the live broadcast earlier or later?”
Su Hui narrowed his eyes and rubbed the head of his cane’s cat repeatedly with his thumb. “Because the killer believes that Tao Yingxu is a very important person with many connections to him. If his death were to happen at the beginning, it would likely lead the police to the killer quickly. But the killer doesn’t want to waste this body. He thinks that placing it in the middle or later part of the entire live broadcast gives him the greatest chance. The killer doesn’t know when the police will discover Tao Yingxu’s corpse, so he has people guarding it to prevent anyone from uncovering the truth.”
After contemplating for a moment, Lu Junchi acknowledged Su Hui’s analysis. If the live broadcast had been the first or second one, they might have already discovered some relevant information, which would have hindered the killer’s subsequent plans.
Lu Junchi asked, “So, in your judgment, how many more live broadcasts are there?”
Su Hui replied, “At most one or two more. This matter will be concluded tonight.”
At this point, Su Hui suddenly thought of Mo Xiuxiu’s testimony.
Tao Yingxu’s goal was to draw attention to Wanhucheng, hoping to continue the abandoned building project.
So, is Tao Yingxu’s objective completely different from the killer’s, or is there some overlap?
If Tao Yingxu is still orchestrating everything, who would he choose as the ultimate target?
And how would he achieve his goal?
As for the current killer, are their goals aligned?
Lu Junchi interrupted his train of thought, saying, “Let’s focus on finding the killer first. Once we find the killer, we can gain a better understanding of their motives. The local police have already contacted Tao Yingxu’s mother, and I will go meet with her immediately…”
Su Hui agreed, standing up and saying, “I’m done here as well. We’ll meet up
Time was running out, and they had to make an effort to change the course of the situation and take the initiative.
Su Hui had a feeling that at this point, they were just one step away from the truth.
It was late at night, and in Wanhucheng, there wasn’t much nightlife. Many families were already preparing to sleep.
The lights gradually went out, and the world was about to sink into darkness.
There were no streetlights on this stretch of road, it was pitch black and quiet.
A thin girl was walking along the road when suddenly she stopped, looked up at the sky, and felt as if there was a streak of light crossing the deep blue horizon.
Time was too short, just in a breath, preventing her from seeing clearly.
“Li Xiaonan, what’s wrong?” The boy walking ahead turned around and urged her.
“It’s nothing, maybe it was a shooting star…” the girl said as she ran a few steps to catch up with the boy. She had silently made a wish in her heart just now, hoping that tonight would pass quickly.
“The moon is out. There haven’t been any astronomical predictions recently, so how could there be a shooting star? You must have mistaken it,” the boy’s tone was somewhat cold and carried a hint of sarcasm.
Listening to his words, Li Xiaonan felt the coldness brought by the night wind, and her thin body involuntarily trembled. She was afraid of him. The person in front of her was unpredictable, a madman. She didn’t know what he would do next.
He was a ruthless killer, and she had already seen him kill several people tonight… Perhaps the next one would be her…
She regretted not being brave enough to escape during the last live broadcast…
She also regretted why she had agreed to do this with him.
“Hurry up, we’re running late,” the boy urged her again.
Li Xiaonan lowered her head and hurried to catch up.
There were police officers everywhere in Wanhucheng, but they moved like mice in the alleys, knowing how to navigate and avoid being found by those people.
They couldn’t go to the abandoned building or the houses scheduled for demolition, but they knew more hidden places. This location had already been chosen in advance.
The two of them bent down and entered through a fence, entering a deserted place.
From the outside, it appeared to be a metal sheet fence, but once inside, it was like a hidden paradise.
It was unimaginable that there would be such a place in the center of Wanhucheng.
This was a small sports stadium, also abandoned and unfinished. There was no maintenance, and the facilities were incomplete. Tall weeds grew, and occasionally children would come here to play football or explore.
They walked through knee-high overgrown grass.
The boy turned on a flashlight and entered one of the unfinished buildings. He climbed up to the third floor, which was a large grandstand higher than the ordinary floors.
The boy called into the darkness with caution, “Ye Xincheng, are you there?”
The place was too spacious, and his voice echoed slightly.
After a while, a muffled voice came from inside, “I’m here…” The voice asked again, “Tao Yingxu, is that you?”
“It’s me,” the boy said, adjusting the mask on his face. He held Tao Yingxu’s phone in his hand. “I just sent you a WeChat message. Why didn’t you reply?”
“My phone ran out of battery.” Ye Xincheng only had an old, worn-out phone, and the battery had aged. It would soon run out of power. He paused and asked, “Why are you carrying that thing? It looks creepy.”
The boy adjusted his mask and lowered his voice. “It’s for convenience during the live broadcast.”
Ye Xincheng asked again, “What’s wrong with your voice?” He remembered Tao Yingxu’s voice being clearer and more pleasant.
The boy coughed twice. “I caught a cold recently.” He urged, “It’s time, let’s start as soon as possible.”
They quickly arrived at the predetermined location. Li Xiaonan placed some items on the ground, including tape and ropes. The boy opened the emergency light he carried with him.
The entire space lit up with white light.
The two of them skillfully prepared.
The boy named Ye Xincheng walked over and pointed at Li Xiaonan, asking, “Who is she?”
The boy answered him, “She’s helping me with the livestream.”
Ye Xincheng hesitated for a moment, his gaze filled with fear, and he swallowed nervously. “I watched your previous livestreams… Are they all still alive?”
The boy approached with a rope in his hand, like a hunter preparing to bind his prey. “Yes, so far everything is going smoothly. They’re all alive, just as I told you before. This is all just acting. Until now, everything has gone according to plan.”
“Didn’t the police come looking for you?”
“Naturally not. Those idiots have been running around in circles because of us.”
Ye Xincheng didn’t raise his hands to cooperate with being bound. He furrowed his brow and asked, “Did you bring the ten thousand yuan you promised me?”
The boy said, “I brought it. I’ll give it to you after you finish the livestream.” As he finished speaking, he lifted a cowhide paper bag in his hand.
It was necessary to employ certain methods to convince these students.
Previously, Tao Yingxu had already learned about the family situations of these people and what they wanted.
Everyone had their weaknesses, but not everyone was as easily deceived as Mo Xiuxiu. They would ask for certain things in return. For example, Kong Tao wanted a pair of new basketball shoes.
As for this boy named Ye Xincheng, he was in need of money. He wanted to use it for his mother’s medical treatment and requested a reward of ten thousand yuan.
Ye Xincheng warned, “Give me the money now.”
The boy turned his head, his terrifying white mask staring at him. In the darkness of the night, the mask appeared horrifying, and Li Xiaonan beside him stopped moving.
“Didn’t we make a deal before? Don’t you trust me?” The boy’s tone was slightly displeased.
Ye Xincheng spoke, “Give me the money first! I’ll cooperate with you and trust you.” His voice trembled slightly.
The boy found him a bit difficult to handle and attempted to negotiate, “But what if you take the money and don’t livestream? How about I give you one thousand yuan as a deposit?” As he spoke, he took out several bills from the bag.
Ye Xincheng took them without counting, stuffing the money into his pocket, and immediately tried to run away.
“Wait!” Li Xiaonan stood up and tried to stop him.
The boy also noticed something was off and grabbed him, saying, “What are you doing? Are you trying to cheat me out of the money? Once you have the money, you won’t livestream anymore?”
Ye Xincheng’s face turned pale under the emergency light, his eyes red, and he gasped rapidly. “I regret it now! Let me go, or I’ll tell the police about everything…”
The two young men wrestled with each other, and the scattered money covered the ground.
Ye Xincheng, in an instant, glanced at the money on the ground. Subconsciously, he reached out his hand, wanting to pick it up. It was something he desperately needed… even if he could only grab one or two bills.
But the boy had already approached him and launched a fierce attack. Ye Xincheng hesitated for a moment, slowing his reaction…
The boy wasn’t physically strong, but he possessed a viciousness. He picked up a brick from the side and struck Ye Xincheng’s head.
Ye Xincheng took a hit and was momentarily dazed.
Then the boy took advantage of his
momentary distraction and pushed him down to the ground, pinning him beneath his body.
Ye Xincheng raised his hand to block, and the strap of the boy’s mask broke. The white mask fell to the ground with a loud thud.
The boy’s face was revealed beneath the mask. It was hard to see clearly from a distance before, but now that they were closer, the white light illuminated his face.
Ye Xincheng, who had only seen Tao Yingxu a few times, still recognized him and widened his eyes in disbelief. “You… You’re not Tao Yingxu!”
Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.