In this case, they had locked onto the most suspicious suspect. She had a deep hatred for Lin Yiyan and Xu Kai and there were a lot of doubts in her testimony. Qiao Xuening was the only possible person left.
The key lay in her modus operandi. How did she escape the surveillance of the community?
None of the surveillance cameras in the community captured Qiao Xuening’s figure. It was a secret room with a modern urban background. The murderer couldn’t fly away. The only way she could be missed by surveillance was if she changed her face.
Xiao Lou heard Yu Hanjiang’s speculation and seriously analyzed it. “If she changed her face completely then she wouldn’t need to find a stand-in who is exactly the same as herself for an alibi. Besides, she would have to give up the career she struggled so hard for in the entertainment industry. She wouldn’t be able to film as Qiao Xuening or even use her bank card.”
Withdrawing a large amount of cash from a bank required an ID card and going to the bank counter to have their identity checked before the money could be withdrawn. Last month, Qiao Xuening had gone to the bank to withdraw a large amount of cash. This record could be found in her account.
If she took out the money herself then it meant she didn’t have plastic surgery at the time. Otherwise, the bank teller wouldn’t be able to withdraw huge sums for her.
It shouldn’t be the stand-in withdrawing money because Qiao Xuening shouldn’t have handed over all her bank accounts to the stand-in to manage. If this was the case, the stand-in could truly replace her at any time.
Xiao Lou added, “I think the person who went to the bank to withdraw money last month should be Qiao Xuening herself. She arranged for her stand-in to get plastic surgery… is it necessary to change her appearance and give up on the entertainment industry just to kill Xu Kai?”
Yu Hanjiang thought carefully. “Your words make sense. There is another way to get the best of both worlds. She doesn’t need to do surgery to completely change her face. She can temporarily change her face and pretend to be someone else.”
“You mean, disguise herself like Jin Xiaoyue?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “A clever makeup technique can make the face seen on surveillance look completely different. In winter, many people wear down jackets so it will be hard to distinguish her true figure. We will have to look at the surveillance carefully one more time, investigating every person one by one. Group Leader Li, can you please call the security guards in the community over to recognize people?”
Li Xinyang was confused by the words but he was very cooperative in seeking the help of the community’s security guards. There was no surveillance camera at the entrance to Xu Kai’s villa but there was surveillance at the intersection leading to the villa.
The murderer must’ve hid in the villa after Xu Kai went out and left the villa after killing him. Not a single second of the surveillance could be spared from the night Xu Kai went out drinking to when he was killed at 4:30 yesterday and the police arrived at 10:30.
Xu Kai’s villa faced the south and there were two roads passing the entrance of the villa area. One was to the west and led to the west gate of the community. The other was the main road, the widest one in the community.
Yu Hanjiang put the monitoring of these two intersections on different computers and observed them.
The security guard of the community stood behind him and checked every pedestrian passing by. From time to time, his voice was heard. “This lady with a child is a resident of Area C 101. I know this old man. Aunt Zhang… the person carrying the briefcase seems to be Mr Li…”
There were few residents in the villa area and the owners were rich. The security guard knew more than 90% of the people. Yu Hanjiang asked the security guard to eliminate the suspicion of the pedestrians in the surveillance one by one.
The video played until 7 o’clock in the evening when a cleaner in an orange down jacket appeared on the screen. She held a broom in her hand and lowered her head as she walked into the villa area, cleaning the snow along the road. The surveillance happened to capture her slowly sweeping the snow and she soon disappeared at the end of the road.
Yu Hanjiang frowned. He immediately rewound a few seconds before pressing the pause button to freeze the image on the cleaner’s back. “Call up the surveillance from the other side of the road. See where this cleaner went from 7 o’clock in the evening.”
Li Xinyang hurriedly called up the surveillance on the other side of the road on another computer. However…
30 minutes passed and the cleaner still didn’t pass by. At 7:30, Xu Kai’s car drove out of the villa area. This was consistent with his cousin’s testimony. He went to the entertainment clubhouse to have a drink with people at around 7:30. In other words, the cleaner was near the villa and saw Xu Kai leave.
Xiao Lou felt creeped out as he thought of a pair of eyes staring at Xu Kai’s car.
The cleaner wore a fat down jacket, cotton pants and shoes. She looked slightly bloated and like a middle-aged aunt from the back. This was the key reason why Yu Hanjiang ignored her during the first round of investigation.
Yu Hanjiang asked with a calm expression, “Do you know her?”
The security guard replied, “Our community has many cleaners and I can’t tell from the back.”
She went to sweep the snow on this road but didn’t come out of the intersection. Where else could she go?
Li Xinyang had goosebumps. “It seems the murderer pretended to be the cleaner and sneaked into the deceased’s villa? She was wearing such a fat down jacket. It is likely that the murder weapon is hidden in the clothes… as well as the ice cube tool?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Check the surveillance after 4:30 yesterday afternoon. I’ll see how she left.”
Li Xinyang adjusted the surveillance to 4:30 yesterday afternoon. It was the period of time when Xu Kai died. The group stared at the intersection. They watched until the police arrived after 10 in the evening but there was no sign of the cleaner aunt.
The police had carried out a thorough search of the entire villa and the murderer definitely wasn’t in the villa. Did she escape in a different way?
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Rewind to around 5:30 in the afternoon.”
Li Xinyang did as he said and the video resumed at 5:30. Yu Hanjiang stared at the screen with a serious face. He had noticed a detail when he watched the video just now and it needed to be checked again. From 5:30 to 7:30 was the peak time for getting off work and there were several pedestrians on the road.
Before long, at around 5:40, everyone noticed a man around 1.8 meters tall, wearing a black down jacket, a hat and a scarf walking over with a briefcase in his hand. He was in a hurry like he had just left work.
The camera captured his profile. He wore a mask and a pair of silver-rimmed glasses. His sharp eyebrows and pair of narrow eyes made him give off an aura like that of an elite company executive. The road where Xu Kai’s house was located could lead to another villa area. If someone entered the community from the west gate after getting off work, it made sense to take this road home.
Yu Hanjiang asked the security guard, “Do you know him?”
The security guard looked closely. “I’m not familiar with him. I don’t seem to have seen him before.”
Yu Hanjiang ordered, “Get the video at the west gate of the community and play it around 5:30 in the afternoon.”
Li Xinyang quickly found the video of the west gate camera. Yu Hanjiang stared sharply at the screen and everyone held their breaths. However, after 15 minutes, no man wearing a black down jacket appeared.
The west gate was connected to the road in front of Xu Kai’s villa. Yu Hanjiang paused the video and stared at the person on the screen. “The surveillance at the west gate didn’t capture his image but he suddenly appeared on this road. Obviously, he didn’t come in through the west gate but out of the community. He also wasn’t found at any other intersections near Xu Kai’s villa.”
Li Xinyang’s eyes lit up. “In other words, this is the murderer who escaped from Xu Kai’s house?!”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “That is the only explanation.”
Xiao Lou analyzed it seriously. “It seems she first pretended to be a cleaner and wore a fat down jacket. After sneaking into Xu Kai’s house, she poured tap water into the ice making container she carried to make a lot of ice cubes. Then she hid in the villa and waited for Xu Kai to return home. The crime could’ve been committed in the middle of the night but Xu Kai was drunk and came back soon after dawn. The drunk Xu Kai went upstairs and fell asleep. She didn’t do anything at the time. This is probably because she didn’t want Xu Kai to die in his sleep. Therefore, she waited patiently for Xu Kai to wake up.”
Yu Hanjiang continued his train of thought. “In the afternoon, we suddenly came to the door and woke Xu Kai up. The murderer probably didn’t expect the police to come. As we questioned Xu Kai, she hid in the villa and listened. The moment we left, Xu Kai went upstairs to take a bath. She immediately killed Xu Kai, put on another set of clothes, stuffed the cleaner’s clothes into the down jacket and escaped.”
It was no wonder why the surveillance of the community couldn’t capture Qiao Xuening. She came in pretending to be a cleaner and came out pretending to be a man with a height of 1.8 metres. She must’ve worn 12cm shoes that increased her height.
Li Xinyang pointed to her shoes. “She is wearing this type of Martin boots and it can’t be seen if she is wearing insoles inside. After all, she is a woman and her body will look strange if her legs are too thin. Thus, she wore the super long down jacket.
From the outside, the visual of a tall, muscular man was created by the long down jacket.
In fact, her down jacket was stuffed with a set of cleaner’s equipment and she used makeup to draw the sharp eyebrows. She wore glasses and glued her double eyelids into single eyelids. After killing Xu Kai, she changed clothes at his house and left the community like this.
The murderer was really an expert at changing her appearance.
Xiao Lou looked at Yu Hanjiang helplessly. “She was hiding in the villa when we were at Xu Kai’s house. She probably already knows we are investigating her. She will destroy the evidence and escape.”
Yu Hanjiang spoke decisively. “Return to Binzhou immediately.”
The two of them hurriedly drove back to Binzhou. On the way back, Yu Hanjiang made several consecutive phone calls. He told Qu Wanyue, “Immediately find a way to control Qiao Xuening in the crew and collect her fingerprints. Then have Long Sen send them to the forensic centre for identification.”
Qu Wanyue heard Yu Hanjiang’s serious tone and quickly agreed. “Yes. By the way Group Leader Yu, what is the situation on your side?”
“There are serial murders and the murderer is on the run. We have to be faster than the murderer.”
Qu Wanyue was shocked. “I understand. I will go now.”
Immediately after, Yu Hanjiang called Binzhou Airport. “I am Yu Hanjiang, the group leader of the Binzhou criminal investigation police department. We are currently investigating a murder case and the murderer might flee. If the ID card Qiao Xuening is used then immediately restrict their movements. In addition, if you encounter any suspicious identities that look different from their ID card then please detain them.”
The operation was quickly launched over at the airport.
Yu Hanjiang sped up and rushed back to Binzhou City overnight. Once he arrived at the Binzhou forensic appraisal centre, Xiao Lou’s colleague gave him the identification results. “We compared the fingerprints sent by the production team to the fingerprint database. This person is called Yu Xia and she died four years ago.”
Proofreader: Fictional Reality