Criminal Investigation Notes
Criminal Investigation Notes: Extra 2

Five minutes later, Yu Yan and Yao Fei were standing in the forensic department of the central bureau.

Yu Yan lowered his head and looked at the body of Zhou Bingyi in front of him. The old woman was in her sixties, a bit chubby, with sagging breasts, wrinkles around her eyes and neck. Her hair was sparse, and to make it seem like she had more, she permed it.

Her eyes were open, her mouth slightly ajar, and her skin appeared pale due to excessive blood loss.

Yu Yan glanced at the autopsy report, the result was somewhat unexpected: “Stabbed in the abdomen, but the cause of death was poisoning?”

In his years as a police officer, he had seen many methods of murder.

Such a method used on such a lonely old woman was really a waste of resources.

The forensic expert nodded: “Blood primarily flowed from the wound in the abdomen, causing shock. However, the cause of death was fluoroacetamide. Based on the autopsy results so far, it’s uncertain whether one perpetrator or two were involved.”

Yu Yan frowned, contemplating quietly. Fluoroacetamide was a highly toxic rat poison. Because of its persistence, animals consuming the poisoned carcasses could experience secondary poisoning. It had been banned now, but there were still many rural areas and underground workshops producing and selling it.

This poison appeared as a white powder, easily mistaken for a seasoning. Ingesting a small amount could quickly prove fatal. It would cause convulsions, asphyxiation, and even gastrointestinal bleeding before death.

Yu Yan couldn’t quite figure it out.

Why would someone want to kill this elderly woman in such a manner? Whether poison or a knife, either method alone would have been sufficient to end her life.

Why go to such lengths?

Yu Yan closed the forensic report and said to Yao Fei beside him, “Let’s go to the crime scene later.”

The forensic expert added, “Perfect timing. Team Leader Li is over there re-examining the physical evidence with Jiang Xiang. You don’t need to apply separately.”

As Yu Yan was about to leave, he noticed Yao Fei staring at something. He halted his steps and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Yao Fei, quite audacious, used his gloved hand to manipulate the right hand of the deceased. “The ring that the deceased often wore is missing. Also, she recently trimmed her nails.”

People who habitually wore rings would leave traces on their hands when they suddenly removed them. On Zhou Bingyi’s ring finger, there was a faint white mark, but due to the swelling of the body, it wasn’t very conspicuous.

The forensic expert nodded. “The deceased’s nails are very clean, leaving no information behind.”

Yu Yan patted Yao Fei’s shoulder, praising him generously. “Observant and meticulous, well done.”

After removing their gloves, they left the forensic department. Yu Yan looked downstairs and saw that there wasn’t a single police car parked.

Their Behavioral Analysis Unit was small and didn’t have its own designated vehicle. They had to share with a few other departments, so this situation frequently occurred.

Yao Fei’s brows furrowed slightly. He felt like those people were doing this on purpose, especially a few who treated these cars as their own private vehicles.

Lunch required them to drive, picking up their children from kindergarten every day, but when they needed a car for official business, there were rarely any available.

Yu Yan didn’t mind and made a prompt decision, “Let’s take a taxi.”

“It’s not easy to find a taxi at this time.” Yao Fei asked, “Where’s the address?”

Yu Yan had just looked at the information and remembered, “Shu Cheng Residential Complex.”

Yao Fei said, “That’s not far. Teacher, I’ll take you there.”

Before Yu Yan could refuse, Yao Fei went to the carport beside the central bureau and wheeled out an electric scooter, handing Yu Yan a helmet.

Yu Yan hesitated as he took the helmet. An electric scooter… this vehicle was just like a motorcycle, and it was quite large.

Yao Fei simply climbed on the scooter, motioning for Yu Yan to get on as well. “Get on.”

“Is it safe for two people? And do you have another helmet?” Yu Yan looked at the helmet in his hand. He felt a bit guilty for using Yao Fei’s helmet.

Yao Fei turned to look at him. “I don’t need it.”

Yu Yan: “Well, about that…”

Yao Fei: “For dealing with traffic police.”

Yu Yan: “…”

Yu Yan thought about reminding him that he’s also a police officer and should not be casually handling the work of colleagues, but he held back.

Yao Fei: “Hurry up. Aren’t you in a rush? If the evidence team withdraws from the scene, we’ll have to follow a separate process to get the keys.”

Yu Yan finally put on the helmet with some reluctance and sat on the back seat.

He was a bit cautious, not immediately hugging Yao Fei’s waist. He felt that two grown men doing this in broad daylight might look odd.

Yao Fei twisted the throttle, and the scooter roared as it shot forward.

Yu Yan felt his body tilt rapidly backward, almost being thrown off, and quickly reached out to grab onto Yao Fei’s waistband.

The young man’s waist had no excess fat, only the tenacity of muscles.

Sensing him drawing closer, Yao Fei’s lips curved into a faint smile.

They sped along the road, and Yu Yan became more and more convinced that this guy was treating the scooter like a motorcycle.

Through a few sharp turns, since there was no suitable footrest on the back seat, Yu Yan had no choice but to hold onto Yao Fei tightly.

He didn’t expect that even approaching thirty, sitting on the back of his apprentice’s scooter would still make his heart race, and he was starting to feel dizzy…

Ten minutes later, Yao Fei extended a leg to the ground, coming to a steady stop. “We’re here.”

Yu Yan stumbled off the scooter, removed the helmet, and bent over to retch.

Several sudden turns in the middle of the ride had left him feeling nauseated, a feeling he had to endure until now.

Yao Fei was startled by his reaction. “Teacher, are you okay?”

After getting off the scooter and regaining a bit of composure, Yu Yan felt a bit better, but he hadn’t vomited.

He squatted on the roadside for a couple of minutes, then stood up. His eyes still felt a bit teary. “This isn’t a motorcycle…”

Seeing that Yu Yan was fine, Yao Fei let out a sigh of relief. With a hint of regret, he said, “Yeah, it’s not a motorcycle. I need to find a place to charge it. We might run out of battery on the way back.”

Yu Yan: “…”

Zhou Bingyi’s residence was in Shu Cheng Residential Complex to the east of Huadu. It was a small community that was around fifteen years old.

The facilities in the community were neither very old nor very new.

This area was mostly residential, lacking new companies, so there weren’t many young people renting here. Most of the residents were homeowners.

They first went to see the person who reported the incident.

The husband downstairs kept talking about bad luck.

His wife, Zhuo Jing, had dark circles under her eyes and seemed absent-minded. She repeatedly emphasized to them, “I heard a sound, and blood was dripping downstairs incessantly.”

Her feeling was like she had watched a horror movie and then found herself living in that movie, leaving her at a loss.

Yu Yan’s own face was pale, but he was trying to comfort her. Then he asked, “Do you know the elderly lady living upstairs?”

Zhuo Jing calmed down a bit and said, “Yes, occasionally we greet each other when we meet. I don’t even know her name. She lives upstairs and is usually quiet, hardly ever going out. We’ve told all this to the police officers.”

She found these two officers a bit strange. They didn’t seem like detectives, and they were asking many questions again. She wasn’t sure what they were investigating.

Yu Yan and Yao Fei went upstairs again. The evidence collection team was still there, and yellow police cordon tape blocked off the area outside the door.

They walked in and immediately smelled a strong odor of blood.

The evidence collection team was busy working, and they started searching for relevant items in the room.

“The murder weapon might have been taken away.”

“Have they found the victim’s phone?”

“It wasn’t found previously by the sub-bureau. We just found it during the scene search. The phone was in the gap of the sofa and it’s already out of battery.”

“What about the victim’s identification?”

“It’s in the cabinet.”

Yu Yan quickly obtained the victim’s phone from the evidence collection team. The fingerprints on it had been extracted as is, and he charged the phone.

The phone was an old model without a password, with very few apps on it, only a few like phone, messages, WeChat, and so on.

He casually opened WeChat and looked at the first chat, which was from a senior citizens’ group. It seemed to be a check-in activity, with everyone in the group leaving comments like “checked in”.

All the input was very neat, just two characters, “checked in”. Yu Yan switched to the chat details page and took a screenshot.

As soon as he switched back, he saw a message notification: “You have been removed from the group by the group owner, Blue Fireworks.”

Yu Yan furrowed his brows slightly. Why did the other person suddenly remove someone? Did they already know that Zhou Bingyi had passed away?

At that moment, the captain of Team Four, Li Bei, arrived. He came in and took a bottle of mineral water from his subordinate, taking a few sips.

Then he said cheerfully, “Alright, we’ve made progress on this case. The entrance of this building faces the activity area in the courtyard. We found an old man playing chess, and he has a good memory. He remembers who entered this unit’s door yesterday afternoon until evening. I’ve taken him to the surveillance footage at the entrance of the community for comparison. Based on his information, we’ve identified three individuals. We’re currently confirming their identities.”

The detectives in the room became excited. “Hey, that’s good news. Does this mean we’ll have the suspects identified soon?”

Yu Yan handed over the phone and said, “Captain Li, there’s a check-in group on this phone. I find it a bit strange. Can we investigate this lead?”

Li Bei took the phone and agreed, “Sure, Teacher Yu, thank you for your efforts. I’ll let you know if we find anything.” However, his expression seemed distracted.

The next few detectives began to chat excitedly about where they would celebrate once the case was solved.

Evidence collection, trace analysis, forensics, detectives—these roles had distinct responsibilities at the crime scene.

As behavioral analysts, they technically didn’t need to be present at the scene, so those people would likely find them a bit of a hindrance.

Yu Yan felt like an outsider standing in the room and turned to see how Yao Fei was doing.

Yao Fei had wandered around the room, removed his gloves, and was resting. He took out a cigarette and held it in his hand. His long eyelashes drooped, and he placed the cigarette under his nose, taking a sniff before reluctantly placing it back in the pack.

When he saw Yu Yan approaching, Yao Fei looked up.

Yu Yan said, “If you can’t resist, go outside and smoke.”

“Forget it.” Yao Fei put the pack away. “Teacher, the officers have found important clues. It seems like they don’t need our help anymore. Should we head back?”

He thought all the reports would eventually end up in their hands. Seeing the scene probably wasn’t necessary and might even get on people’s nerves.

Yu Yan said, “Let’s wait a bit longer and leave together with them.”

Yao Fei considered and said, “Sure, that works. After all, they have cars. How about you share a ride with Captain Li?” He could tell Yu Yan had felt quite dizzy earlier.

Yu Yan said, “No need. Let’s go together. You just need to ride slowly. Safety comes first. It’s dangerous to ride too fast…”

Yao Fei nodded. “Alright.” He paused, then added, “How about you apply for a car, Teacher? I have a driver’s license.”

Yu Yan shook his head. “Let’s wait until everyone from the department is here.”

They had requested three slots from Director Tan and had gone through selection exams. Their leaders had given them the green light all the way. Now they were just waiting for everyone to join.

Director Tan was very supportive of their work. Applying for a car now would undoubtedly be approved. However, with only two people in the department at the moment, it was likely someone would accuse them of receiving special treatment. Waiting for a while might be better.

Yao Fei rolled his eyes. “There are only five of us in total. We’re not even half of the criminal investigation team.”

Yu Yan said, “We’re different. We’re all elites, of high quality.”

On the other side of the room, a few detectives burst into laughter, seemingly about something they were discussing.

Yu Yan stood in the room where someone had just died, feeling the laughter was a bit grating.

Yao Fei glanced over and muttered under his breath again, “I feel like they brought us in to take the heat if the case can’t be solved. Once they think there’s a chance of solving it, they’ll just drop us…”

Yu Yan said, “Don’t say that. We’re all police officers, and we should all be dedicated to solving the case. Have you found anything?”

Yao Fei said, “There’s a dog leash inside the house, scratch marks from dog paws on the sofa, and a piece of dog food dropped behind the cabinet. It should be a small breed of dog. However, there’s no trace of dog hair or any other signs of a dog. The place is overly clean, like the room was just cleaned.”

This indicated that the victim used to have a dog but stopped raising one for some reason.

Yao Fei paused and continued, “Also, I smelled a floral fragrance on the jacket the victim left on the chair.”

His sense of smell was keen and he was often teased for having a nose like a dog.

The scent wasn’t that of perfume. It was winter now, so flowers wouldn’t be in bloom. It could only have come from a greenhouse or flower shop. She might have visited a flower shop, perhaps even bought fresh flowers.

Yu Yan nodded and made a note of these findings. He added, “I noticed that the victim circled a date on yesterday’s calendar. It seems like this date was already planned for something, a meeting with someone or some other event.”

On the way back, Yu Yan rode in Yao Fei’s car again. This time, the ride was smoother due to familiarity.

Although Yao Fei drove fast, it was clear he had good driving skills.

Sitting in the back seat, Yu Yan caught a faint whiff of mint from Yao Fei’s body.

For some reason, he suddenly thought of the “suspension bridge effect.”

When they arrived at the bureau and got out of the car, Yao Fei said, “Teacher, if you ever want a ride, just let me know.”

Yu Yan handed him the helmet. “Forget it. Keep these little tricks of yours for pursuing girls.”

The formal name for the “suspension bridge effect” is “Misattribution of arousal,” which refers to the situation where individuals misinterpret their own physiological reactions. For instance, when experiencing physiological responses due to fear (such as being on a suspension bridge), they mistakenly attribute these reactions to feelings of attraction or love for the person they are with. The reason for this misattribution of physiological responses is that both fear and attraction responses can have similar physiological changes, such as increased heart rate or difficulty breathing.

Schachter and Singer (1962) were early researchers who discovered this phenomenon. Their study was based on the idea that two similar physiological arousal states could be attributed to a specific cause. This led to the development of the Two-Factor Theory of Emotion. The influence of misattributed arousal on emotional processing can occur in various contexts, such as romantic situations or physical responses after exercise.

An example of this phenomenon might be when someone is in a highly tense state, they could perceive the person they are with as more attractive and even mistakenly believe that they have developed feelings for that person. White et al.’s study (1981) found evidence of this phenomenon. They discovered that individuals experiencing unrelated physiological responses tend to rate others as more attractive than average, and for individuals they don’t find attractive, they rate them as less attractive than average.

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