EXTRA: HELL HOUSE
The next day, Su Hui got up and dressed slowly.
Lu Junchi pulled him close and kissed him gently, helping him button up his clothes, adjust his collar, and finally put on a scarf, wrapping him up tightly. “Be careful, it’s cold outside. Don’t catch a cold.”
Su Hui made a sound of agreement and obediently followed him, allowing Lu Junchi to lead him towards the garage.
Due to excessive indulgence the previous night, Su Hui felt his waist was sore. His head felt heavy, his steps were unsteady, and he felt a bit uncomfortable when moving.
After the events of last night, when he had finally surrendered after enduring as much as he could, Lu Junchi had taken him to take a shower.
After the shower, Su Hui had been so exhausted that he leaned on Lu Junchi.
Lu Junchi gently dried his hair for him, adjusting the temperature just right, as if blowing the fur of a cat.
Eventually, Su Hui fell asleep in Lu Junchi’s embrace.
However, today, while Su Hui was in such a state, Lu Junchi seemed full of energy.
Lu Junchi had intentionally chosen to wear a turtleneck sweater today to hide the strawberry marks on his neck. He made breakfast for Su Hui, but Su Hui didn’t have time to eat and had to pack it to go.
Once Su Hui got into the car, his eyes still seemed a bit vacant. He accepted the food Lu Junchi gave him and drank milk in small sips.
As soon as they arrived at the bureau, Yao Fei’s information was sent over.
The missing girl’s name was Qi Kexin. She had disappeared when she was just fifteen years old, still in middle school. She vanished after hanging out with friends on a weekend, during a winter night exactly seven years ago.
Now, seven years later, if she were still alive, she should be around twenty-two years old.
Lu Junchi uploaded her information and quickly found her profile in the missing person’s database.
Then, he compared the detailed information with the victim database but didn’t find any similar victims.
In comparison, Yao Fei’s information was more comprehensive. It contained detailed records of the girl’s daily life, her usual activities, places she visited before her disappearance, and everyone she had been in contact with.
Yao Fei had even managed to collect multiple fingerprints from her belongings, there were DNA test results, and based on her features, an adult comparison portrait had been drawn.
Su Hui was also looking on, and after becoming familiar with the information, the next step was to start cross-referencing cases.
After thinking for a moment, Su Hui reminded Lu Junchi, “You can search for cases of missing girls under the age of twenty in the same area.”
Lu Junchi entered the system, “I’ve done a preliminary search. In the nearby areas, over the past ten years or so, there are a total of twenty-three cases that fit the criteria.”
Their first step was to identify relevant cases from this list.
Su Hui pondered for a moment, then advised Lu Junchi, “Arrange them by year.”
Lu Junchi manipulated the system, “It’s relatively evenly distributed, about two to three cases per year.”
Su Hui said, “Try arranging them by month and approximate time of disappearance.”
Although Lu Junchi didn’t quite understand the purpose, he still complied. He rearranged the list by disappearance time, “Spring: 5 cases, Summer: 2 cases, Autumn: 5 cases, Winter: 11 cases. Most of the incidents occurred in the afternoon to evening, with only two in the morning.”
By sorting this way, even Lu Junchi noticed something unusual. His brows furrowed slightly, “There are significantly more cases during the winter compared to other seasons.”
Su Hui explained, “This is called crime timing, analyzing the seasonal patterns of crime.”
Lu Junchi said, “I’ve heard about these theories, like how warmer weather in summer might lead to more cases of sexual assault or violent crimes. Winter might see more theft or robbery cases.”
Su Hui continued, “These theories were initially proposed by experts in France based on statistical data of criminal behavior. What you’re referring to is a more broad concept of crime seasonality. Just like animals having mating seasons, temperature and external conditions can influence human behavior. So, different types of crime might have seasonal and time-based characteristics.”
“But when applied to specific cases, there might be different indications. Some criminals might not have a specific timing for their crimes, but some do have certain crime cycles and fixed times. Some killers might prefer spring, while others might like autumn, and some may specifically target winter.”
Su Hui added, “However, this is just one of the factors to consider. I’m trying to identify whether there are human factors causing the disappearances of these young girls. The reasons for their disappearances are complex. It’s not yet confirmed whether these missing cases are necessarily related. We still need to analyze the case files and check whether there are any sporadic cases in other seasons.”
Lu Junchi turned on the printer and started printing out those case files.
Su Hui carefully reviewed the materials, this time ignoring the factor of time and removing cases that clearly didn’t match Qi Kexin’s case.
Generally, these missing cases could be divided into passive and active disappearances.
Qi Kexin’s case was clearly a passive disappearance.
Su Hui selected the active disappearance cases and set them aside.
There were also cases where individuals with intellectual disabilities had gone missing, and those were also excluded.
Finally, only a few cases remained.
After Su Hui completed the cross-referencing, he checked the time and found that these few cases had occurred during winter evenings, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
From this perspective, these specific timeframes might not be coincidental, but rather one of the characteristics of the crimes.
Su Hui handed the list to Lu Junchi and said, “Give these missing persons’ names to Yao Fei. He should have other channels to gather information. If he finds any further leads, we can continue to follow up.”
As law enforcement officers, they couldn’t reveal too much case detail to Yao Fei. Providing a suspected list was enough to help him investigate along the leads and assist in finding these missing girls.
Su Hui knew that investigating cold cases like these was incredibly difficult, often requiring dozens of people working for years. Many missing cases remained unsolved not due to other reasons, but because investigators couldn’t sustain the effort.
With limited clues and resource-intensive demands, the police often focused more on homicide cases. These missing cases weren’t under the purview of the Major Crimes Unit either.
Currently, they were only helping out a friend and shouldn’t overstep their bounds.
Lu Junchi agreed with a nod and handed the list to Qiao Ze for handling.
With no new cases at the moment, Lu Junchi and Su Hui continued their discussion, “Do you think someone is specifically abducting these girls?”
Su Hui massaged his temples, “It’s hard to say at this point. If there’s a single perpetrator, their preference seems to be underage girls from 12 to 18 years old. Among these case files, I think there are three that are more closely related to Qi Kexin’s case.”
Lu Junchi picked up the files, “The incidents occurred eleven years ago, seven years ago, and three years ago respectively?”
The timing of these cases not only fell within winter but also were in close proximity to each other, all around the time of Christmas.
Su Hui nodded and propped himself up with his cane, “Perhaps there might be even earlier cases. Given this frequency, if the perpetrator is still in Huadu, they might strike again this winter.”
Lu Junchi became alert and quickly left a message for Qiao Ze, “I’ve asked Qiao Ze to remind the detective teams and related precincts to be vigilant for similar information.”
Just as Lu Junchi finished typing, he turned back and asked, “Assuming there really is a perpetrator, with so many girls missing and potentially killed, yet no bodies found, this situation is unusual.”
The city’s environment changes according to human activities. Many previously deserted areas get developed, and they often discover old remains. But these missing girls weren’t in the police’s database.
If there truly was a perpetrator who had killed multiple people over several years, each hidden body increased the likelihood of exposure.
If this had been happening for years without the police detecting anything, it was indeed strange.
In the new office, there was a large electronic screen displaying a map of Huadu.
Su Hui pointed, and the relevant area on the map was magnified. He pointed to the map and said, “The location where the girls went missing isn’t far from here, in the southern outskirts of Huadu. This area used to be rural and was incorporated into the city due to expansion.”
Lu Junchi nodded in understanding, “This area is known for haphazard construction.”
Such an area had many blind spots, and even if there were bodies, they would be hard to find.
Su Hui continued his analysis, “Perhaps the police haven’t yet discovered the burial site of the perpetrator.”
Suddenly, he thought of another possibility, his eyes narrowing as he stood up, “Or maybe, the person abducting the girls isn’t necessarily intending to kill them.”
Lu Junchi understood his implication, and his brow furrowed.
After thinking for a moment, Su Hui said, “If we can gather evidence to show that these are connected cases of missing girls, then I believe we should extend the search for related cases across a broader time frame…”
Before they could continue, there was a knock on the office door.
Lu Junchi said, “Come in!”
Qiao Ze opened the door, “Captain Lu, I just reminded the sub-precincts, and they’ve reported a potentially related case. The Major Crimes Unit has been requested to assist.”
Lu Junchi asked, “When did the incidents occur?”
Qiao Ze replied, “Last night. The parents of the victim filed a report last night, and this morning, the sub-precinct received two more reports. One was from a potential eyewitness, and the other was from someone who found the victim’s phone.”
It was indeed a coincidence. Just as they were discussing old cases, a new one arrived.
He Jiaojiao opened her eyes. She had no idea how long she had been unconscious, but she felt very hungry and cold.
In front of her was a narrow room, cluttered and lit by a light bulb.
She lay on a wooden board with some scattered bedding. Her head still felt dizzy; her wound from earlier was probably still open and untreated.
He Jiaojiao remembered that before she was knocked unconscious, she had been arguing with her mother. After hanging up the phone, she was pulled into a car by a man.
She didn’t know whether she should be relieved that she was still alive, even though her current situation wasn’t much better. The room had no windows, only a door. The air inside was foul, a mix of excrement, food, and various odors that made her feel nauseous.
Despite a small exhaust fan constantly whirring, it didn’t do much to improve the air quality.
“Oh, you’re awake.” As soon as she opened her eyes, she heard a voice.
He Jiaojiao looked towards the source and saw a young woman with almond-shaped eyes.
The woman was strikingly beautiful with very long hair that hung down to her waist. Her face was free of makeup and extremely pale due to a lack of sunlight. He Jiaojiao couldn’t determine her age, but she seemed relatively young.
He Jiaojiao sat up, noticing that the room had not just this woman but another young girl sitting on another bed in the corner.
The girl was unusually thin, her cheeks sunken, her hands skeletal. If it weren’t for her eyes moving, He Jiaojiao would almost have thought she was a corpse.
However, He Jiaojiao wasn’t in a much better state. She was extremely thin, like a moving skeleton frame. Her waist was so slim that it seemed it could be grasped with just two hands. She looked at the two women in the room, then shifted her gaze towards the wall, “Who are you?”
“I’m called Tan Li, and she’s Qi Kexin,” the woman with almond-shaped eyes said, smiling at her. Her smile was radiant, but He Jiaojiao sensed a malicious intent behind it.
Tan Li added, “Welcome, you’ve arrived at hell on earth.”
Well that’s one welcome I never want to hear!