Chapter 545 – The Truth
Xiao Lou and Tang Ci came out together and found Yu Hanjiang waiting for them in the corridor. The man in the police uniform leaned against the window. His arms were folded over his chest and he frowned while thinking about something.
Yu Hanjiang met Xiao Lou’s gaze and immediately took a step forward. “You had your friend find a good lawyer so quickly. Are you planning to let this lawyer defend you?”
Xiao Lou looked calm. “After all, I don’t understand the law. I don’t know what to say and what not to say.”
Tang Ci glanced at the two of them and told Xiao Lou, “Professor Xiao, please rest assured. I will definitely prove your innocence.”
Yu Hanjiang raised an eyebrow. He looked at Tang Ci with a cold and sharp gaze, obviously not believing his words.
Tang Ci nodded at Yu Hanjiang and calmly turned to walk away. Xiao Lou was escorted back to Cell 1. Yu Hanjiang stood at the door of the cell and looked at him through the iron window. “Have you thought of any new clues?”
Xiao Lou sat on the wooden bed with a serious expression. “Don’t you think there are many strange things about this case?”
Yu Hanjiang motioned for him to continue.
Xiao Lou said, “Let’s go through the evidence you have. First, there is the phone call record between me and Ning Xue. Second, there was the dismemberment room where you found my hair along with Liu Qiao’s hair. This combined with the photos of me in Ning Xue’s phone made you infer that I had a relationship with her…” Xiao Lou paused before continuing in a firm tone, “However, these two pieces of evidence aren’t iron-clad evidence.”
“Oh? All of these pieces of evidence are very unfavorable to you. Your only explanation is that your phone number and your hair was stolen?” Yu Hanjiang’s voice was cold. “This explanation isn’t very convincing. You can’t use this explanation to convince a judge.”
“Group Leader Yu, where was the deceased Ning Xue’s phone found?”
“In the square where fireworks were set off for New Year’s eve. She accidentally left her backpack…” Yu Hanjiang frowned sharply when he said this and abruptly raised his head to meet Xiao Lou’s calm gaze. He suddenly realized it. “At 9 o’clock in the evening of the 31st, Ning Xue answered the phone. Then she came to the lake and drowned. The time we received the call was around 9:15 and her mobile phone was lost in the square. If she answered the phone in the square at the time then…”
“Then she didn’t have enough time to rush back to the scene of the crime.” Xiao Lou spoke calmly. “Normally, it takes 10 minutes by taxi from the central square to the conservatory of music. However, on the evening of the 31st, there was a fireworks display in the square to celebrate the new year. According to the custom of previous years, there will be traffic control around the square and taxis will be diverted. She wouldn’t have been able to get a taxi at all.”
“……” Yu Hanjiang’s mind gradually became clear.
The location of the deceased’s phone didn’t match the time and place of the crime. This was the first loophole.
The previous reasoning was that Ning Xue answered Xiao Lou’s call and went to the lake only to be killed by Xiao Lou. Yet on the night of December 31st, she would’ve answered the phone at 9 o’clock in the fireworks square (if it was really answered by her) and then appear at the conservatory by 9:15. This was simply impossible.
It proved that the call at 9 o’clock definitely wasn’t answered by Ning Xue herself. Her phone should’ve been in the hands of another person at the time.
It wasn’t Ning Xue who picked up so it naturally wouldn’t be Xiao Lou who called.
The mobile phone was just a tool to force the false evidence of ‘Xiao Lou and Ning Xue talking’.
Based on the way Yu Hanjiang was frowning, he clearly understood what this meant. Xiao Lou continued. “I will analyze it for you. At 9 o’clock, the murderer must’ve seen me and Liu Qiao at the conservatory of music. Therefore, they used the 136 phone number prepared in advance to call Ning Xue’s number. If the murderer was alone, they would’ve called her with their right hand and answered with their left hand. Then they returned to the square to discard Ning Xue’s phone. If they had a partner, the partner would be at the square to cooperate with the play.”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Ning Xue’s death time was before 9 o’clock.”
Xiao Lou said with satisfaction, “It seems that Group Leader Yu has already realized the key point of this case. I believe that at your level, you will definitely be able to find the real murderer.”
Yu Hanjiang looked at him with complicated eyes and turned to leave.
Xiao Lou was slightly relieved in his heart. He lay on the wooden bed and stared at the ceiling thoughtfully.
The murderer’s means of planting evidence to frame him were indeed very powerful but unfortunately, they ignored the details of the traffic control on that night and the time difference became problematic. The whole crime process was too idealistic and it was easy to arouse suspicion.
Now Xiao Lou had pointed out the key doubts. Next was to see how capable this Tang Ci and ‘Yu Hanjiang’ were.
Tang Ci left the police station and immediately took a taxi back to the company.
Liu Qiao had stayed in his laboratory because she was currently a wanted criminal. It wasn’t convenient for her to show her face. The only relatively safe place Tang Ci could think of was his own laboratory.
In case the police were monitoring Liu Qiao’s communications, Tang Ci didn’t contact her en route.
He returned to the laboratory and found that the entire place was empty. Tang Ci was shocked and hurriedly called out, “Liu Qiao?”
A familiar voice entered his ears. Tang Ci turned his head in the direction of the sound only to find that Liu Qiao had turned herself into the size of a thumb and was hiding behind a smart robot. It would be difficult to find her for a while even if a hunter came.
Tang Ci saw the little girl the size of his finger and couldn’t help smiling slightly. “You can hide.”
Liu Qiao made a light jump and landed on the table in front of him. She asked with concern, “How was the meeting with Professor Xiao? Did he tell you about the next steps?”
Tang Ci sat down, opened his laptop and entered a series of URLs.
Liu Qiao was beside him and staring at the computer.
A long string of garbled code appeared on the screen. She couldn’t understand it at all. She only heard the sound of Tang Ci’s fingers quickly tapping on the keyboard. She waited patiently before the screen lit up and dozens of surveillance videos appeared at the same time.
The numerous surveillance videos gave him the appearance of a policeman handling a case.
Liu Qiao exclaimed. “You invaded the surveillance system? Where is this surveilling?”
The blue light of the computer shone on the man’s white face and illuminated his skin so it was almost transparent.
He tapped on the keyboard and said quietly, “It is the surveillance of the conservatory of music and the medical university next door. It covers most of the school area. We have to check them one by one.”
Liu Qiao immediately raised her spirits. She changed back to her normal size and sat down next to Tang Ci. “There are too many. Let’s check it separately.”
Tang Ci found another computer and divided half the videos to her. “You can check the medical university. You are more familiar with the environment than I am. The surveillance near the laboratory building has been destroyed but the surveillance on the main path is basically still there. Look for Zhang Hengyu and see if he appears in the surveillance.”
Liu Qiao nodded and started to fast forward as she searched them one by one.
Tang Ci was in charge of the conservatory of music videos. He first checked the video by the lake after 8 o’clock last night. The camera by the lake was destroyed and it was difficult to catch sight of the students who came and went. There were also several key cameras near the gymnasium that were destroyed and many dead corners that the surveillance cameras couldn’t shoot.
The murderer was very cunning and prepared in advance at the conservatory.
Tang Ci had no choice but to continue to expand the range of the search.
Balloons—Xiao Lou once mentioned this keyword. As Xiao Lou and Liu Qiao walked out of the backstage area, they saw a person in the corridor leaning over to sort out the remaining balloons.
Tang Ci looked for balloons in the surveillance. Sure enough, the surveillance showed a large number of balloons near the ‘student activity center’. This was consistent with the balloons that were arranged on the scene that night.
At 6:30 p.m., several students rode bicycles while carrying packages, banners and other items including several bags of balloons. They headed in the direction of the gymnasium. At the fork in the road to the gymnasium, Tang Ci lost track of them due to the destruction of the cameras but they were obviously the staff members who came to set up the finals venue.
Tang Ci enlarged the screen.
That night, all the staff members wore a blue sign similar to ‘volunteer’ around their necks. Most of them wore black clothes. There were a total of five people carrying balloons and banners in the video. There were three men and two women. They talked and laughed all the way. They should be students of the conservatory of music and they were very familiar with each other.
Tang Ci called up the surveillance at this fork in the road and checked the video after the event at 10 o’clock.
At 10 o’clock, the singing competition ended and a large number of spectators poured out of the stadium. Within a few minutes, the instantaneous flow of people was very large. Add the dim light of the night and it was difficult to find clues from the surveillance.
Tang Ci had to zoom in and look second by second, not wanting to let go of any frame.
It wasn’t known how long he looked. Just as he felt that his eyes were about to go blind, he suddenly saw a figure in the crowd.
This person wasn’t too different from the students around her. She was quite tall at over 1.7 meters. She was wearing a long black coat with a hat covering her face. Such clothing wasn’t unusual in winter but Tang Ci noticed that her clothes were somewhat familiar. She was carrying a large school bag behind her.
He compared it to the five people he saw before and found that the similarity of the clothes reached 100%.
In winter, there were naturally students wearing the same coat but this person’s clothes had a feature. There was a red balloon that had the air leaked accidentally hanging from the lower left corner.
She left alone.
The staff members should’ve left the scene with their companions. Why did she leave early?
She disappeared at the end of the road where the surveillance was destroyed and it wasn’t known where she had gone.
In the surveillance video after 10 o’clock, she wore a hat and her face couldn’t be seen clearly. However, at 6:30 p.m., she was on the way to the venue with her companions and her face happened to be captured!
It was easy to see which of the five she was by comparing the clothes.
Tang Ci took a screenshot of this face and entered it into the student database of the conservatory of music. He soon got a result.
“Chen Mengmeng, 20 years old, a junior in the Department of Vocal Music. She is in the same class as Ning Xue and lives in the same dormitory.”
Liu Qiao heard this and immediately leaned over to look at Tang Ci’s computer. “Is she the suspect you locked onto?”
“Look at this. Do you feel that this black coat looks familiar?” Tang Ci asked.
Liu Qiao thought back for a moment. “It seems that I have seen it somewhere. By the way… yesterday when Professor Xiao and I left the backstage, I saw a person crouching in the corner to sort out balloons. I didn’t see the person’s face but looking at these clothes, it should be her!”
“Professor Xiao suspects that someone was watching you secretly and called Ning Xue to create the so-called evidence when you were walking out of the gymnasium.” Tang Ci narrowed his eyes as he looked at the enlarged photo on the computer. The girl’s facial features were beautiful and there was a faint black mole at the corner of her lips. “The person who monitored you is probably Ning Xue’s classmate Chen Mengmeng, the real murderer who killed Ning Xue.”
Liu Qiao didn’t have much of an impression of Chen Mengmeng but she carefully recalled Xiao Lou’s retelling of the police meeting and remembered some details. “I remember that Professor Xiao was hiding in the police station and eavesdropping on their meeting. The field team mentioned that they visited the deceased’s roommates. One of the roommates named Chen Mengmeng took the initiative to mention that Ning Xue had two boyfriends and she told the location of last night’s date.”
Tang Ci nodded. “Then the police found Ning Xue’s bag and mobile phone in the square where the date took place.”
Liu Qiao’s eyes lit up. “In other words, Chen Mengmeng led the police to find the evidence, whether intentionally or unintentionally.”
Tang Ci also felt that this possibility was very great. He frowned and thought about it. “Why would Ning Xue go to the lake alone? The only reason is that someone she trusted asked her to go there and this person also knew that the tree by the lake had the names of Ning Xue and Zhang Hengyu engraved. In general, the roommates are the most likely people. As for the mobile phone that appeared in the square, it is likely that the murderer killed Ning Xue and used her phone to fake the evidence of the call. Since you and Professor Xiao had gone to the lake by that time and the police would soon arrive, she didn’t dare place the phone by the lake. She had to hide it in her backpack and wait for the competition to end before leaving it at the central square.
The more Liu Qiao thought about it, the more reasonable it felt. She continued to analyze it. “The roommate Xu Mingyue went to the library that night. She passed by the lake when her bicycle’s tire burst. Then she screamed to attract me and Professor Xiao. Chen Mengmeng is a person from the same dormitory and she must have known Xu Mingyue’s habit of going to the library every night. Thus, she placed nails on Xu Mingyue’s route in advance?”
Tang Ci continued. “Chen Mengmeng was also a staff member of the singing competition that night and was very close to the lake. She could clearly grasp the movements at the lake. Suppose that she asked Ning Xue to meet by the lake at 8:30 to chat. She drowned Ning Xue in the lake, took Ning Xue’s phone and went backstage for others to give her an alibi. The police initially thought that Ning Xue died after 9 o’clock. It turns out that Chen Mengmeng’s alibi is actually invalid. She must’ve gone out at 8:30 with an excuse like ‘go to the toilet’.”
Liu Qiao, “……”
Such a girl hidden in the crowd was almost ignored by them.
Liu Qiao had a serious face. “What about the murderer who killed Zhang Hengyu?”
“In this world, we have teammates so there must be more than one hunter. She also has accomplices.”
Liu Qiao rotated the laptop 90 degrees and pointed something out to Tang Ci. “The surveillance on my side filmed Zhang Hengyu leaving the medical university at 4:30 and coming back at 9 o’clock. He headed in the direction of the laboratory building. All the cameras were destroyed and no suspicious targets were seen approaching the building.” She couldn’t help wondering, “How did the murderer get in?”
Tang Ci watched the surveillance calmly. “The murderer didn’t go in. Rather, they never came out.”
Liu Qiao quickly reacted. “You mean, the murderer was already waiting for him in the experimental building?”
“This is the only thing that explains it. Otherwise, what was Zhang Hengyu doing running to the laboratory building alone late at night?”
Liu Qiao followed this line of thought. “A person who can let Zhang Hengyu enter the laboratory building without any defenses must be someone he trusts. Who can stay in the laboratory building at all times without being noticed. It should be… a teacher?”
Tang Ci opened his mouth. “If a teacher asks the students to help with an experiment, the student naturally won’t suspect it. In particular, Zhang Hengyu is the class leader who studies more seriously so he might feel proud. He made an appointment with Ning Xue to go to the square to watch fireworks that night. Why did he come back early? Most likely, the two of them received news from people they trusted and had to change their plans.”
Liu Qiao frowned and thought about it carefully. She wasn’t familiar with the forensic department but Professor Xiao seemed to have mentioned that he had a teaching assistant.
She remembered that in order to concentrate on investigating the case, Professor Xiao said he would let the teaching assistant help him take over the classes. He went to the office to send an email to his teaching assistant…
Liu Qiao reacted abruptly. “The teaching assistant! The teaching assistant often helped Professor Xiao as a substitute and it was easy for him to approach Professor Xiao, learn Professor Xiao’s whereabouts and steal his phone number card!”
The two of them looked at each other and stood up immediately.
Tang Ci picked up the car keys and turned to go out. “Find these two people as soon as possible. If they run away, Xiao Lou’s name won’t be cleared.”
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality