Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Nanjiang Province, Bai Ling City!” Zeng Ke was looking at his computer screen as he said, “I never thought that Cui was really Cui Lizhu’s surname!”
Zhao Yu and all of the members of his special investigation group, including Cui Lizhu, were gathered around the computer, looking at the latest information.
“Your real dad is called Cui Fangyu!” Zeng Ke signaled to Cui Lizhu as he spoke. “But, the comparison information came from Nanjiang Prison! Unfortunately, your father was a prisoner there!”
Cui Lizhu sighed helplessly, then mumbled, “Such is my fate…”
“Unfortunately, this person has already died!” Zeng Ke said regrettably. “According to the prison records, Cui Fangyu was sentenced to ten years for smuggling. However, even before he had served half a year, he passed away due to a myocardial infarction! Luckily, although DNA wasn’t popular back then, the Nanjiang Police kept a copy of his DNA on file! Otherwise, it would have been very difficult for us to find a match!”
“Then… What about my mother?” Cui Lizhu asked.
“Hold on!” Zeng Ke quickly tapped on the keyboard, finding the related information very quickly. “I only have the information from the prison records. Cui Fangyu was apparently the boss of a logistics company. His wife… Mm…” Zeng Ke’s expression went dull, as he told Cui Lizhu in a low voice, “I’m sorry, Cui. On the information, it states that your father was widowed…”
“Let me see that! Imprisoned in 1998…” Wu Xiumin said. “Cui was only two years old then. So, in other words, her mother might already… after she gave birth to Cui…”
“It can’t be…” Cui Lizhu was obviously upset. “Please don’t tell me that my mother died while giving birth to me! If that was really so, I am really a devil killer”
“No, there’s no record of that! Don’t panic. The file is too old, so let me figure out some other way to find the information!” Zeng Ke comforted her. “Give me some time, and I can definitely find some more detailed information!”
Then, as she saw that Cui Lizhu was getting emotional, Wu Xiumin immediately walked over to Cui Lizhu and hugged her shoulders. She then said, “I think you just need a hug right now.”
Wu Xiumin was really a psychological expert. She merely hugged her faintly, and Cui Lizhu jumped into her embrace, squeezing her tightly. Then, she started sobbing. Wu Xiumin had realized that, at that moment, Cui Lizhu was fragile and really needed someone to show her kindness.
“Why do I feel that this is not a coincidence?” Zhao Yu looked at Cui Lizhu’s parents’ information, growing more suspicious by the second. “Cui Lizhu’s name was given to her by Tao Xiang, and Tao Xiang let her keep her surname, Cui, instead of changing it to his, which was Tao. Does that mean that Tao Xiang knew Cui Lizhu’s parents?”
“I asked Tao Xiang about why we didn’t share the same surname once before.” Cui Lizhu sobbed as she explained, “He told me that the reason my surname was Cui was in order to provide a cover up. You know that my dad was constantly changing his identity, so our names were merely codes! This made sense to me, so I didn’t pursue it any further!”
“But…What role does Bai Lili play in this?” Zeng Ke pointed at the information on the whiteboard and asked. “Tao Xiang had a photo of Bai Lili, who was holding a baby Cui. Why would Cui be with Bai Lili as an infant?”
Ran Tao clapped his hands and said, “Tao Xiang was dating Bai Lili! Tao Xiang didn’t have any biological children, so he took Little Zhuzhu. I mean, he stole little Cui! Then, the two of them broke up, so Tao Xiang told Cui that her mother had run away with another person!”
“Hey! No one ran away! That was 1998, right when Bai Lili became a headless female corpse! Don’t bullsh*t, okay?” Wu Xiumin refuted. “Plus, Bai Lili was so pretty. Why would she be with impotent old Tao Xiang? My guess is that Bai Lili was related to Cui’s parent’s. She was either their relative or a nanny hired to take care of Cui!”
“Don’t panic!” Suddenly, Zhao Yu suddenly had a strange feeling, as though he had already found the crucial clue, but had yet to grasp it!
He thought carefully, while giving an order to Zeng Ke, “Hurry up and write down the information about Cui Lizhu’s parents on the whiteboard! Write down the dates and let us align them in chronological order. Maybe we can organize some ideas!”
“Yeah, yeah!” Zeng Ke quickly obeyed Zhao Yu’s instructions and listed the information in chronological order.
“No, the earliest year was when Cui Lizhu was born!” After he wrote everything down, Zeng Ke started analyzing the dates aloud. “After she was born, her mother passed away. Then, only her father was taking care of her!”
He paused for a moment, then continued. “But, that didn’t last long, as in another two years, Cui’s father was involved in a smuggling bust and was imprisoned. Then, he died of myocardial infarction after being in the prison for half a year. We don’t know where Cui Lizhu, who was only two years old, went after her parents passed away.”
“With Bai Lili!” Wu Xiumin said excitedly. “Look at the photo! Cui had just turned two years old then, right? Look, Bai Lili was most likely a nanny that her father had hired. Cui Fangyu entered the prison, and no one was looking after his child, so the child must have been passed to Bai Lili!”
“However, if Cui were to two years old then, it would be 1998!” Zhao Yu creased his eyebrows and said, “It was during that year that Bai Lili was killed by the murderer and became the last victim of the Headless Female Corpses Case!”
“Oh my God. Cui Lizhu must have then fallen into Tao Xiang’s hands! Would it be that Tao Xiang was the murderer in the Headless Female Corpses Case?” Wu Xiumin was stupefied. “After Tao Xiang killed Bai Lili, he must have realized that Bai Lili was taking care of a child. So, maybe he took the child in and raised her. Hence, he had stopped killing then?”
“Oh my God! I have goosebumps all over!” Ran Tao hugged himself.
“Impossible! Don’t make such a joke, okay?” Cui Lizhu refused to believe what was being said. “My dad never killed anyone! He is the king the thieves, not a murderer! You must believe me! I was raised by him all along, so I know him the best. He isn’t a murderer!”
“Calm down. I feel like we are on the right path.” Zhao Yu signaled everyone to calm down, but he was boiling inside, too.
“Could the murderer be Cui Lizhu’s dad?” Ran Tao suddenly thought of another possibility. “After all, her biological dad died in the prison, then after 1998, there weren’t any more killings in that case!”
“Dumba**, can you stop talking now?” Wu Xiumin roared. “You are merely playing a silly guessing game now! Bai Lili died after Cui Lizhu’s biological father died in prison! Duh! I have never heard of a dead prisoner that could go out and kill someone! Please don’t make this harder, okay?”
“Exactly!” Zeng Ke said. “Regarding the rest of it, I’m not sure. But, the time when Cui Fangyu was in prison and the time when Bai Lili died are conclusive. Cui Fangyu was imprisoned during the spring, while Bai Lili died during at the beginning of winter. In other words, when Bai Lili died, Cui Fangyu was already dead and buried! Hence, his having killed her is impossible!”
“But…” Zhao Yu looked at Cui Lizhu, who was crying her lungs out, and said, “We can’t confirm Cui Lizhu’s birthdate, though! She was only told her birth year by Tao Xiang. What if Tao Xiang made it up? We have to ensure that crucial piece of the timeline before we can continue.”
“Finding her age is easy!” Wu Xiumin said. “We only need to bring Cui to the police station forensics department! Then, we can find out her exact age by checking her teeth! But, as for the photo…”
“The photo could be certified by radiocarbon inspection!” Zeng Ke chimed in. “But, we still wouldn’t know when was the photo printed! So, we could only know the age of the photo itself, but we couldn’t know when the photo was taken exactly!”
As they stopped their discussion, Zhao Yu suddenly felt smug with success. He pointed at the photo and told everyone, “So, we as detectives should take note of all of the details, as it is the details that will determine our failure or success. Understand? Look closely at Bai Lili in the photo. Look carefully at her clothes. Did you see the label? Boston, right? A down jacket, right?”
He waited for a moment, letting his questions sink in, then said, “So, we only need to find out which year that particular style of down jacket was launched, then we can pinpoint the date, right?”
“Impressive! You definitely deserve to be our Captain!” Ran Tao gave Zhao Yu a thumbs up.
Zeng Ke was an expert in finding information, so he turned on his computer and immediately contacted the manufacturer to make an inquiry about the jacket. The information was sent back almost immediately!
The down jacket that Bai Lili wore in the photo was a limited edition bestseller. It was first sold in stores in 1995, and had been manufactured yearly since then. The worst news was that it looked exactly the same every year!
“Hehe, hehe…” With everyone’s stupefied gaze directed at him, Zhao Yu redirected the topic to resolve the awkward situation. “Look, what did I say earlier? A limited edition bestseller down jacket is not something that just anyone could afford. Hence, Bai Lili couldn’t just be a nanny that looked after a child! Right? What do you think?”