TSA Chapter 58

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Chapter 58: Invested

“Even if someone sees evidence on the scene, it doesn’t mean they will discover a clue,” Gu Shi said, her head tilted. “How was the room entered?”

“One of the suspicious things about this case is the door lock. The entire cylinder was dislodged before the janitor entered the room.”

“One of the suspicious things, meaning there are more unusual circumstances?”

“I think there’s a problem with the nightstand.”

“Pried open?”

“If it was only pried open there’d be no issue. But our technician examined the screwdriver marks from prying it open for their depth, angle, as well as the marks left from the force applied to the drawer and top of the nightstand. I think they will probably find something there.”

“Did the drawer need a key to unlock it, or was it made to look like it was forced open?” Gu Shi said.

Zhang Chi nodded. “We don’t know right now, but I think that’s how it was. Similarly, I have my doubts about the door.”

Gu Shi got into analysis mode and said clearly and logically, “Perception is great, but we still must rely on evidence found at the scene. Detailed deconstructing it will reflect the criminal’s or pretender’s mentality, and after the lock and micro traces from the floor are deciphered, no matter the degree of difficulty, in the end the facts will be revealed. So then there must be some verdict?”

“Not as of right now. This case is quite difficult. Boss wants me to have go at sketching again.”

“It’s a challenge and an opportunity, but have they determined that conditions are appropriate for making a sketch?”

“That’s the problem I’m facing.” Zhang Chi seemed a bit helpless. “Right now there are too many indeterminate factors, but what is clear is how difficult this case is.”

“No witnesses?”

Zhang Chi nodded. “Not only are there no witnesses, the victim’s registration information used someone else’s ID card.”

“Is it an unknown person?”

“No, you can’t say that. But we found him and he said the two of them ran into each other on the street, that he lived in a nearby area. The deceased arranged a time with him and every time would give him something. This week they missed each other, and in the end he didn’t know anything about the victim.”

“So that lead is cut,” Gu Shi said. “Has the deceased been identified?”

Zhang Chi smiled wryly. “The deceased’s family has been very uncooperative., equivocating, muddling things, and not offering up much information unless you ask. And when you do ask you feel something is off. When we finally went and checked we found that he had checked into this hotel more than sixty times over the last six months.”

Gu Shi shook her head scornfully. “So he had the habit of visiting prostitutes, a man of his age.”

“You’d never guess it. A good-looking man of twenty-five and manager at a Fortune 500 company. Supposedly was number one in his group within six months of entering the profession. Promoted very quickly, now in charge of sales for the Greater China region.”

“A lot of energy, working nonstop, not wasting a second.” Gu Shi pondered, then turned to Zhang Chi. “In that case, you can investigate his phone and internet usage.”

“Captain Liu already thought of that.”

“Dead end?”

“It’s rough. For now at least there’s nowhere to go. We couldn’t find his cellphone at the scene. It was turned off. Security camera footage wasn’t helpful either. There were a lot of dead ends with the internet investigation as well.”

“So, everyone’s hopes rest on you. That makes sense. Security footage was no good?”

“You remember last time I had to sketch from security footage, don’t you? Wasn’t that a tragedy?” Zhang Chi didn’t want to talk about that embarrassment.

“No case is exactly alike. Just because you failed before doesn’t mean you will every time. And you’ve just broken a major case, which proves that you’ve improved by leaps and bounds.”

“Looking after you is an assignment Teacher gave me. You don’t have to encourage me like this to repay me.” Zhang Chi scratches his head awkwardly. Gu Shi’s uncharacteristic reaction through him off-guard.

Gu Shi pulled a poker face, asmused by his rare show of bashfulness. She covered her mouth as she laughed. “So that’s what you’re worried about.”

“It’s not a worry. What I’m most worried about is that everyone’s looking to me to solve the case, but if the person in the security footage was not at the scene at the time of the crime then I’ll be letting everyone down. Which is more unbearable for me than my sketch misleading us down the wrong path.”

Gu Shi suddenly realized something and muttered to herself, then she told him some things he should do the next day when he went to the office, earnestly making him write it down in his notebook. “With these things I can help you analyze and explain your worries. If you can’t draw your sketch after that then don’t look for excuses!”

“YES MADAM!” Zhang Chi saluted her and joyfully put an asterisk by his notes in his notebook.

“Did someone come to visit you today? he asked as he looked at the fruit and fresh flowers on her nightstand.

“Oh, Director Li from the Chinese Medicine Department,” she said plainly.

Zhang Chi’s mind raced. Director Li… Wasn’t that Chen Ting’s mother?

Gu Shi didn’t look at him. She closed her eyes again and continued resting, without a hint of agitation on her face, as if she felt particularly at east with him beside her.

Seeing her indifferent reaction, he said “oh”, relieved, and lay back down and resumed staring blankly at Gu Shi’s profile.

He closed his eyes and thought of Gu Shi’s earnest expression as she instructed him, and he felt a surge of indescribable joy fill his heart. This wasn’t her job, she didn’t need to take any heed of it. He had a countdown going in which to draw his sketch before the forensic autopsy report. She was helping him race against time.

“Evidence is unbiased, independent of man’s will and does not lie.” Gu Shi always held that theory, believing that reconstructing the scene of the crime was the best way to reveal the truth.

She urged him to focus his attention on the details of the crime scene investigation. They could help determine the time of the murder and the suspect’s main motive.

“Was there anything unusual about the rope when it was removed from the body?”

“What do you mean unusual?”

“The condition of the rope, any traces of blood.”

Zhang Chi closely scrutinized the crime scene investigation videotape and went through every photo taken. If it had not been for Gu Shi’s advice he never would have paid attention to those minor details. It was just like she had said: “Just because you see something doesn’t mean you discovered something.”

He called her and impatiently reported back. “When the rope was removed from the body the blood was already congealed. There were no drops of blood.”

“Was any part of the rope dropped on the ground soaked with blood?” She could only direct him remotely. Zhang Chi was her eyes, taking her on a tour of the crime scene.

“I’ll look again.” There was the sound of riffling papers on his end, and the clicking of a mouse. “Found it. And? I don’t see anything different.”

“In other words, when the rope was removed from the blood on the ground, there was no string of blood attached?” Gu Shi asked from her end.

“I didn’t see any.”

“Any traces of blood near the rope, like it had been moved?”

There was a pause, then an excited voice, “Yes!”

Zhang Chi felt like a blind man groping in the dark, being led this way and that, but not knowing himself what he was avoiding or passing by.

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