Bone Painting Coroner - Chapter 749 - Perverse Killings

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Chapter 749 - Perverse Killings

Translator: Choufleur

Prince Rong’s Estate.

Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu had just returned from Xianghe Inn. Before they even stepped through the doors, Lu Jiang had already stepped forward to report. “Your Highness, the Capital Magistrate is here.”

“How long has he been here?”

“He’s been waiting inside from two hours ago.”

He nodded and entered the hall together with Ji Yunshu. When the Capital Magistrate saw them, he put down his tea and hurried forward to greet them. “Your Highness, Teacher Ji. You have finally returned.”

The two of them sat down and the manservant poured them two cups of hot tea to warm them up.

Jing Rong raised his cup and took a sip. He ignored the Capital Magistrate and looked towards Ji Yunshu instead. “So?”

Her eyes narrowed. Holding that cup of hot tea, she answered, “I believe that the culprit and the merchant leader knew each other.”

“Oh? Why do you say that? Those merchants just now clearly said that their leader didn’t know anyone in the capital.”

“But my autopsy results cannot be mistaken. The fatal injury on the deceased was to the heart. According to the shape of the would, the murder weapon was a short blade; to be precise, a dagger. Daggers are normally 7 inches long, but the murder weapon was only 4 inches long. Such delicate and short daggers are very rare. Moreover, the murderer took the deceased completely by surprise when he was stabbed from behind by that short dagger.”

Jing Rong was still confused and waited patiently for her to continue.

She paused for a moment to arrange her thoughts. “This is because, when someone uses a dagger in combat, the wounds are typically on the opponent’s abdomen and waist as these areas are easier to reach. In order to pierce the victim’s heart, the dagger must be held in reverse. The deceased only had a single wound on the heart, and the wound goes straight inwards. If the assailant had held the dagger in reverse, stabbing in from the front, the wound should be angled top down. [1]

“Thus, I may conclude that the assailant had stabbed the deceased while standing behind him. Think about it, in what situation would someone turn their back towards a stranger? The only possibility is that the other person is someone you know or trust. Thus, one would be killed completely unaware.”

Understanding dawned on Jing Rong with her explanation.

The Capital Magistrate was treated as if he was invisible, but he nodded his head repeatedly in agreement as he hurriedly inserted a question. “Then what about the other seven skeletons? Did they die in the same way?”

“No, their murders were premeditated.”

“Why do you say that?”

“If we order the seven skeletons by their time of deaths, the first died from a very sharp metal rod driven in from his forehead through his brain; the second died from being pierced through his cervical vertebrae (neck bones); the third was pierced through his sternum; the fourth in the lumbar vertebrae (spine), the fifth, through both wrist bones, the sixth in the kneecaps, the seventh, through the tibias on both calves.

“All of them were pierced by a sharp metal rod and died from blood loss. The murderer’s modus operandi is very strange; seven lives, taken from the forehead down to the calves. The strangest part of it is that those people all died from slowly losing all the blood in their bodies. The murderer didn’t want to end their lives immediately.”

How perverse! Just describing it would give one the chills.

Jing Rong analysed, “According to what you said, the murderer should have a grudge with these people, due to the cruelty of his methods. However, this prince has never seen such a strange method of killing. Additionally, if the murderer was systematically working his way top down, killing people by piercing their bones, then why was the merchant that died a few days ago killed by a wound through the heart?”

The Capital Magistrate hurriedly tacked on, “Could the murderer have changed his modus operandi? After all, one would get sick of a dish if they ate it for seven years.”

“That can’t be.” Ji Yunshu immediately denied the possibility. “The murderer had used the same modus operandi for several years in a row. This method has already become his habit and would not change. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Unless the person who killed those seven skeletons is not the same person as the one who killed Gao Meng.”

Ah!

The minute she said that, Jing Rong’s brows knitted tightly together. “So there is a high possibility that this is two separate murder cases. However…” he mused, “If this really were two unrelated cases, then why would both murderers know that there was a dried well under the Buddha statue? And how did they move the statue without anyone else knowing? Lastly, why did Gao Meng go to that derelict temple in the middle of the night?” The questions tumbled out one after another.

Ji Yunshu shook her head solemnly.

Immediately after that, Jing Rong turned towards the Capital Magistrate and asked, “Are you certain that the deceased had died in that derelict temple?”

“Why does Your Highness ask this?”

“This prince is merely guessing. Could have died somewhere else and later brought to the temple and thrown down the dried well?”

“This…” This is really difficult to ascertain.

The Capital Magistrate thought for a moment and shook his head again. “We cannot be sure. Anyway, when he was discovered, he was already dead in the well. The derelict temple was flooded and we couldn’t even search the surroundings for clues even if we wanted.” Unfortunately so!

Ji Yunshu had not been to the scene of the crime yet, and also could not directly determine the place of death. “Currently, these are the information that I could glean from the corpse and the seven skeletons. Tonight, I will work through the night to make a simple sketch of the portraits from those skeletons. However, it would only be an approximation. Ideally, these would be sufficient to identify them. Otherwise, I can only continue to work on them to make them more accurate, but the time taken would be much longer.”

Jing Rong replied, “That would be our only option for now.”

“I would like to go take a look at the derelict temple tomorrow after the floodwaters have receded.”

The Capital Magistrate glanced worriedly at the sky. “It looks like there will be another storm tomorrow. The waters won’t recede for another four to five days.”

“But the longer it’s left, the less likely we will be able to find any remaining clues in the derelict temple.”

“Teacher should also keep your own safety in mind.”

Ji Yunshu didn’t reply. She looked at Jing Rong, a question in her eyes. Would they go tomorrow? Or not?

Jing Rong considered the question. “Teacher Ji is right. If we go to the crime scene any later, all the clues left behind by the murderer would likely be washed away by the rain. If we were to investigate then, the difficulty would be compounded. Even if there is a tempest tomorrow, we will still have to go.”

What else could he do after he’s said that? The Capital Magistrate could only agree.

After that, Jing Rong summoned Lang Po. “Bring some men to investigate all the large smithys and weapon forges in the city. Ask if there had been anyone who had forged a sharp metal rod and a 4-inch long dagger. If you find any, immediately find out who they had been sold to. Check in detail and do not overlook anything.”

“This subordinate will do that now.” Lang Po accepted his orders.

Ji Yunshu worked through the night and painted rough portraits of the seven skeletons, according to their time of death.

Jing Rong didn’t disturb her and merely ordered the maids to send several rounds of hot tea. He stood there on guard the entire night, standing under the eaves, looking at the fine drizzle dancing around the lanterns with tiny glimmers, looking like a miniature milky way with their bright spots of light.

Right now, he could do no more than provide silent companionship.

[1] If this didn't make sense to you, don't worry… it didn't make much sense to me either. I spent at least 15min trying to figure out the positioning. I'm sure she'll explain it a few more times in the next chs and hopefully it'll be clearer.

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