Published at 15th of May 2019 06:18:54 AM

Chapter 23

“I don’t know anything . ”

Chen Nian’s eyelids were drooped, her entire being radiating fatigue and weariness .

Wrapped in the customary blue shirt worn by the Police, Chen Nian’s petite frame resembled a fragile ice cream stick left in the ice cream packaging after one has polished off the entire ice cream .

Sat right opposite her were three police officers – Zheng Yi, Senior Yang, and Xiao Yao . Also present was a female lawyer who had just been appointed to protect Chen Nian .

“In other words, you do not have any impression of the suspect, do you?” Xiao Yao asked gently . After all, the person whom she was questioning was a frail, helpless girl who had just been through one of the worst scares in her life .

Chen Nian stared into empty space for a long time, quiet, and unmoving . She lowered her head slightly, and fixated her gaze onto the cold, concrete floor . Chen Nian rubbed her eyes stubbornly, and when she finally looked towards the officers, her eyes were bloodshot . “Am… am I at… . fault?”

“That’s not what I meant” . Xiao Yao comforted Chen Nian immediately . Taking a quick glance at Senior Yang, Xiao Yao continued, “We suspect that the suspect has a habit of stalking and tailing his victims . ”

Chen Nian slumped into her chair, an expression of confusion etched on her face . It was as though the traumatic experience had inadvertently caused her reaction time to slow exponentially . After a long period of time, Chen Nian opened her mouth and inquired, “Wh…Why?”

Xiao Yao paused . According to Senior Yang’s analysis, the raincoat man was extremely cautious and meticulous, and appeared to have a good understanding of his victims before he perpetrated his crimes against them . And one of the easiest and most efficient methods of gaining a good understanding of strangers is to stalk them . However, it was not necessary to divulge such gritty details to the young girl .

“This is simply one of our numerous lines of inquiry . ” Xiao Yao finally said . “The suspect is likely to have stalked or tailed you previously, which is why we’re asking whether you have any impression of the suspect . ”

“Can you recount the details of the incident once more?” Xiao Yao softened her voice as much as she could . “Don’t be afraid, we’ve already managed to capture the suspect . He will definitely bear the punishment inflicted by the law . ”

Chen Nian fell into a momentary silence before slowly nodding her head .

Zheng Yi, who had been quietly observing Chen Nian’s and Xiao Yao’s exchange the entire time, finally spoke up . “Take your time to recount the incident . There’s no rush . ”

Chen Nian turned to look at Zheng Yi . His gaze, as usual, was unfathomable . She was unable to decipher his thoughts .

Chen Nian began to describe the entire incident once more . She was returning home from school when, all of a sudden, she was seized and thrown onto the perpetrator’s motorcycle . He clamped his hands on her mouth, and brought her to the abandoned [factory] . There, he threw her onto his bed, and started tearing manically at her clothes . The police arrived shortly afterwards .

Senior Yang and Xiao Yao had no further questions . Zheng Yi, however, asked Chen Nian once more, “You don’t have any impression of the suspect prior to the incident?”

Chen Nian shook her head resolutely .

“What about this phone number?” Zheng Yi placed a string of numbers in front of Chen Nian . “Do you have any impression of this phone number?”

Chen Nian glanced at the string of numbers placed before her . After some time, Chen Nian shook her head once more .

“But based on your phone records, it appears that someone had previously utilised this phone number to send you a text message . You have also dialled this phone number previously . ” Zheng Yi said slowly, his unfathomable gaze fixated on Chen Nian .

“Is that so? I don’t… . don’t recall . ” Chen Nian responded . “When did … did this happen?

“The day before Wei Cai went missing . ”

Chen Nian furrowed her brows, and appeared to retreat into the recesses of her mind . Finally, Chen Nian unfurrowed her brows . “He was the… the one who initiated contact…and texted me first . He… he told me that he was… . late . As I was… . unable to recognize the mobile number… that sent the text… I… I tried calling to clarify… but nobody picked up the phone… . Since nobody responded… I ignored the message… thereafter . ”

“How did the suspect know your mobile number? And why did the suspect send you a text message?”

“I don’t know . ” Chen Nian looked extremely perplexed . “Shouldn’t… shouldn’t you ask the suspect… instead?”

That’s not right . Chen Nian’s phone records showed that, once, many days before the suspect texted Chen Nian out of the blue, a conversation had taken between Chen Nian and the suspect .

And the person who initiated that very first conversation, was Chen Nian .

Zheng Yi stared intently at Chen Nian . Just when Zheng Yi was about to expose Chen Nian’s lies, Chen Nian appeared to be struck by a sudden thought, and piped  up, “I… I think I do… . have a vague impression… of the suspect . ”


“There…there was this one time… At the road side… Someone asked to borrow my… mobile phone to… make a call . I…I think it was him… but I’m not entirely… . sure . ”

Chen Nian’s latest revelation corresponded with the findings of Zheng Yi’s investigation .

Based on the phone records, Bei Ye and Chen Nian had only contacted each other thrice – one text message, and two missed calls . Chen Nian’s explanation appeared to be extremely reasonable .

After all, just the mere thought of Chen Nian and Bei Ye being good friends is ludicrous . One was an excellent high school student with a bright future ahead of her, whilst the other was a lowly hooligan, ready to embark on whatever odd jobs he was able to find after graduating from technical school . There was nothing in common between the two youths – so why would they have any reason to interact with each other?

Chen Nian felt like she was in a trance, her ears ringing with Bei Ye’s plea . “You must remember to stay strong . ”

Xiao Yao placed the transcript of Chen Nian’s interrogation and a pen before Chen Nian, and indicated for Chen Nian to sign off on the transcript . Chen Nian glanced at the red string tied around her wrist, and ever so slowly, she picked up the pen .

Placing the tip of the pen at the bottom of the transcript, Chen Nian began to ink her signature onto the transcript .  Chen Nian .  Chen – her family name; Nian – being true to one’s heart .

Chen Nian gazed at her signature . The longer she looked at the word “Nian”, the less it looked like a Chinese character, and the more foreign it became .

Zheng Yi exited the isolated interrogation room, walking along the hallway before coming to an eventual stop . Puzzled, Senior Yang turned back to look at Zheng Yi, “Why are you staring off into space?”

“It’s nothing . ” Zheng Yi frowned absentmindedly . “It’s just that I thought we would be able uncover crucial pieces of evidence at the crime scene . After all, Wei Cai must have struggled whilst she was being stabbed, and it would be highly unlikely that the perpetrator would be able to leave the crime scene without a trace . ”

“But Wei Cai has been dead for almost an entire month now . ” Senior Yang responded .

“I understand – but based on my investigations, it appears that not many students frequent the crime scene . I thought some evidence might have been preserved given the lack of human traffic . ” Zheng Yi sighed . “I guess it’s less important now – after all, we still managed to capture the perpetrator based on the criminal profile you produced for us . ”

“You sure do have a lot of insights . But – put these thoughts aside for now, and focus on resolving this matter as soon as possible . ”

Bei Ye’s interrogation was progressing very smoothly in the other isolated interrogation room .

The police officers managed to discover some crucial pieces of evidence in the area Bei Ye stayed in; a yellow raincoat which had been partially burnt, and a shirt containing smudges of Wei Cai’s blood on it . However, they were still unable to locate the murder weapon for now .

Bei Ye made no attempt to cover up any of his wrongdoings .

“What is your impression of the very first victim whom you raped?”

“I don’t have much impression of her . If I recall correctly, she had pretty big breasts . ” Bei Ye had a stoic expression on his face, but readily answered all the questions that had been thrown at him . “It was my first time, so I was very anxious . She was very scared, and did not try to resist me . She kept begging me not to hit her . ”

Bei Ye’s version of events corresponded seamlessly with the results of Senior Yang’s and Zheng Yi’s investigation . When the police officer questioned Bei Ye about the second victim, Bei Ye’s version of events reflected the results of the investigations conducted by the police officers once more . In addition, Bei Ye even offered the police officers information about additional victims whom had been undiscovered up till that point in time .

There was no question about it . Bei Ye is the raincoat man .

“Why did you wear a raincoat when you carried out your crimes?”

“It’s not because of the weather . ”

“So why did you wear a raincoat?”

“In order to avoid leaving any evidence at the crime scene . ” Bei Ye stated matter-of-factly . “I was worried that the victims would put up a fight, and claw off some form of evidence from my clothes in the ensuing struggle . ”

What a cautious and meticulous criminal .

Finally, the police officers turned to the topic of Wei Cai’s death . “When did you start taking notice of Wei Cai? The victims whom you targeted prior to Wei Cai all had innocent and obedient images; conversely, Wei Cai was neither obedient nor innocent . ”

“I always bumped into Wei Cai when I hung out on the streets . Wei Cai’s dressing style was very mature, and I gradually grew to be interested in her . I thought there was no harm in switching it up and trying someone wilder . ”

“Were you tailing Wei Cai on the day she disappeared?”

“Yes . ”

“We need further elaboration on the circumstances surrounding Wei Cai’s death . Please also explain why you changed your modus operandi – prior to Wei Cai, you had always perpetuated your crimes under the cover of the night . ”

Bei Ye lowered his eyelids momentarily before meeting the interrogation officer’s gaze once more . “Originally, I wanted to stalk Wei Cai until I managed to figure out the usual routes and locations she takes or hangs out in . I would then wait for an opportune moment to strike once it was night time . However, Wei Cai was always surrounded by friends once it was night time, and it was near impossible to catch her alone then . As such, when I finally caught her in the secluded hill behind her school, I thought that it was a good opportunity for me despite the bright daylight . ”

Zheng Yi’s gaze was glued onto Bei Ye . Bei  Ye’s answers were extremely fluent and comprehensive .

“So, you committed the crime at the hill behind Wei Cai’s school?”

“Yes . ”

“… . Continue . ”

“I overhead Wei Cai speaking to her friend on the phone; it seemed like she was requesting for her friend to come out to the hill and meet her . However, based on the bits and pieces of conversation which I could hear, her friend did not seem inclined to meet Wei Cai at all . I thought then – it was now or never . ”

Bei Ye had offered the police officers a critical piece of evidence which proved that he was the criminal . Aside from Wei Cai, the person whom Wei Cai was speaking to over the phone, and the criminal who had been tailing Wei Cai, no one else should have been privy to the conversation between Wei Cai and her friend .

Senior Yang interjected, “Please reiterate what Wei Cai said during the phone conversation you described earlier . ”

Bei Ye recounted the conversation with ease . There were no deviations between the information he offered, and the information which the police had obtained .

“Why did you murder Wei Cai?” After all, the perpetrator never had a habit of murdering his victims after he had completed his crimes .

“It was never my intention to kill Wei Cai . I wore a mouth mask that day, but Wei Cai managed to tear off my mouth mask during the struggle . Wei Cai identified me immediately, and threatened to report me to the police . At that point in time, I didn’t have time to think about the implications, and simply acted out of instinct . ”

Indeed, the post-mortem examination conducted by the forensic pathologist revealed that there were various fibres found under Wei Cai’s fingernails, and such fibers corresponded with the material of mouth masks typically used by people .

‘How many times did you stab Wei Cai?”

“Once . ”


“I think it was here . ” Bei Ye gestured to the area where his liver was located .

Bei Ye’s version of events was entirely consistent with the various results of the investigations conducted by the police officers .

Bei Ye continued his narration, explaining that he panicked once he realised that Wei Cai was dead . He knew that the consequences would be unimaginable the moment Wei Cai was found to be murdered . As such, he took the opportunity to dispose and bury her corpse at the deserted San Shui bridge on a stormy night .

All of  a sudden, Zheng Yi, who had been silent throughout Bei Ye’s entire interrogation, interjected . “Why did you strip Wei Cai’s clothes off her?”

Bei Ye turned to look at Zheng Yi, and responded without missing a beat . “I idealistically thought that Wei Cai’s corpse would only be discovered after a long period of time – maybe after one year has passed, or maybe after the end of two years . If Wei Cai’s corpse is fully clothed when they discovered her, it would provide clues pointing towards the season and the time period when she was killed . ”

Bei Ye’s explanation caused Senior Yang and Xiao Yao to look at Bei Ye in a new light – it was shocking that this youth was able to take such great care to cover up his tracks even in moments of panic .

Zheng Yi continued to stare at Bei Ye, trying to decipher any sort of clues, or any flicker of emotion from Bei Ye’s face . However, the youth seated right in front of him maintained a blank face during the entire interrogation session; he was neither clam nor anxious, neither cold nor warm .

It was as though Bei Ye had morphed into a unmoving statute – aside from the words spilling out of Bei Ye’s mouth, his entire being, his entire body, provided no clues for the police officers to decode .

“What happened to Wei Cai’s clothes?”

“I burnt them . ”

“Where did you burn the clothes?”

“By the river . I drenched the clothes with a spare can of motorcycle engine oil, and scattered the remaining ashes into the fire once the clothes were destroyed . ”

There were no other gaps which the police officers required to clarify . The entire recount was complete .

“What about the murder weapon?”

“I threw the murder weapon into the river as well . ”

“Precise location?”

“At the old pier south of the river . ”

Xiao Yao meticulously transcribed Bei Ye’s confessions . The police would dispatch a team to retrieve the murder weapon in due course . Zheng Yi once again requested for Bei Ye to describe the material and size of the murder weapon – unsurprisingly, Bei Ye’s answers corresponded with the forensic pathologist’s findings set out in the autopsy report .

Hit by a sudden thought, Zheng Yi asked Bei Ye, “Why did you bury Wei Cai in the marsh upstream?

“I picked that location by chance . After all, the San Shui river is extremely secluded, and there is hardly any human traffic there . ” A sarcastic smile formed on Bei Ye’s lips, “I thought she would never be discovered . Ever . ”

Zheng Yi fell silent at Bei Ye’s words, his heart clouded with a sense of unease and worry . The only reason why Wei Cai’s corpse had been wonderfully preserved for twenty odds days despite the sweltering heat, was simply because Wei Cai had been buried in the marsh, which served as a natural protective seal over Wei Cai’s corpse . To the forensic pathologist, it was as though they had found a treasure trove chock full of information, as they were able to obtain large amounts of evidence from Wei Cai’s immaculately preserved corpse .

Was the location really picked by chance?

Having concluded their interrogation regarding the circumstances surrounding Wei Cai’s death, the police officers progressed to the next topic .

Zheng Yi launched the first question, “How did Chen Nian come to your attention?”

“She stutters . ”


“Once, whilst I was hanging with my friends by the roadside, I overheard someone speaking with a stutter . That got me curious, so I turned to look at the person . She’s quite attractive . ” As Bei Ye recounted, his blank expression was gradually replaced with an annoying smirk . Ah, the notorious hooligan Bei Ye was back .

“Why did you bring Chen Nian back to your house? Prior to Chen Nian, your modus operandi was to perpetuate your crimes against your victims outside your home, so why did you tweak your routine this time round?”

“My old routine was getting boring and unexciting . I wanted to enjoy the thrill of kidnapping her in broad daylight, and locking her up within the confines of my home . She looked like an extremely obedient girl who could be easily bullied, so it seemed like she would cause me minimal trouble even if I were to lock her up . ”

Yes – he originally thought of her as an extremely stupid student who was not only unable to keep up with her studies, but was also unable to defend herself against the numerous bullies . Someone who was rather compatible with him .

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Subsequently, he discovered that she was extremely bright, and that she was extremely resilient in nature . Ah, she was more compatible with him than he originally thought .

Zheng Yi turned to take a quick glance at Senior Yang . Senior Yang thought that the gradual change in Bei Ye’s mindset was unsurprising, and was typical of criminals who gradually seek greater challenges as they gradually commit more crimes .

Zheng Yi continued his questioning, “Were you intending on killing Chen Nian?”

“Depends . ”

“Depending on?”

“I’ll keep her alive if I’m happy . ”

“Why? Chen Nian saw your face too; she’d be able to identify you with ease . ” If that was the motivation for his murder of Wei Cai, why not Chen Nian too?

Bei Ye paused momentarily before straightening up and looking into Zheng Yi’s eyes . “She won’t report me to the police . ”


“I overheard the conversation between Wei Cai and her friend – and it so happens that they were talking about Chen Nian . Chen Nian was bullied on such a regular basis that she was already used to the abuse . It would be near impossible for her to report to the police – after all, it’s not like she would receive any protection just by reporting the incident to the police . ” Bei Ye replied quickly, only slowing down when he spoke about Chen Nian’s plight .

Bei Ye’s words were akin to bullets which were fired callously and unforgivingly at Zheng Yi’s heart, one bullet after the other . It was as though Bei Ye knew about him and Chen Nian, and that Bei Ye was intentionally describing to him the hopelessness Chen Nian experienced every single day . But how would that be possible? He didn’t even know Bei Ye prior to this incident; he must simply be over imagining things .

Zheng Yi quickly cleared his train of thought, “When Wei Cai was speaking to her friend over the phone, did she mention anything else, other than the bullying inflicted on Chen Nian?”

“No . ”

“Did Wei Cai mention anything about someone coming to meet her at the hill behind the school building?”

Bei Ye looked at Zheng Yi . “No . ”

Zheng Yi decided to switch up the line of questioning . “Do you have Chen Nian’s mobile number?”

“Yes . ”

“How did you manage to obtain her mobile number?”

Upon hearing Zheng Yi’s question, a carefully stored memory crystallized in Bei Ye’s mind . That day, he had, just before Chen Nian entered the school compound, snatched her mobile phone away from her, and used her mobile phone to dial his mobile number before storing his mobile number in Chen Nian’s phone and returning it to her . “You can call me whenever you encounter any form of trouble, no matter big or small . ”

After that incident, however, he had secretly removed his contact details from her mobile phone, hoping to remove all traces and clues that pointed towards their friendship . At that time, Chen Nian had saved his name in her mobile phone as “Xiao Bei Ge [1]” .

He could still remember the feelings of surprise that engulfed him when he saw her moniker for him .

“I stopped her by the roadside . I lied that I had forgotten to bring my mobile phone out that day, and requested to borrow her mobile phone to make a short call . ”

“Who did you call?”

“I called myself, obviously . ” Bei Ye looked at Zheng Yi and raised a single eyebrow . “If not, how would I be able to obtain her mobile number?”

“You sent her a text message – what did you mean by that?”

“It was nothing, I just wanted to send her a random message to see how’d she respond . ”

“Did she call you in response?”

“Yes . ”

“Why didn’t you pick up the phone?”

“My phone was on silent, so I hadn’t realized that she called me . ”

“Even then, why did you not return her call when you saw the missed call from her? If you were interested in her as claimed, why did you not continue probing her further?”

“My mum dropped by to look for me then . I was in a terribly foul mood after my mum left, and felt that it was meaningless to tease Chen Nian further, so I didn’t return her call . ”

Upon hearing his response, Zheng Yi lapsed into a momentary silence . The truth of Bei Ye’s answer can be easily verified, as they would be able to easily establish whether the purported ‘visit’ was true by simply questioning his mother .

Since Bei Ye brought up the topic of his mother, Senior Yang took the opportunity to pursue this line of questioning . “How much do you know about what your mother does for a living?”

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Bei Ye raised his eyes to look at Senior Yang, a deep crease forming over his eyelids as he bore his gaze right through Senior Yang . Bei Ye’s lips curved slowly curved upwards, easily forming a derisive, mocking smirk . “The entire city knows what my mum does for a living, so why would I be any exception? In fact, I have witnessed firsthand what she does for a living  – the rest of the city merely hears about what she does, while I am the only one who has actually  what she does . ”

An awkward silence settled over the interrogation room . The police officers were feeling pricks of pity, and even embarrassment, for Bei Ye .

Senior Yang, had, during the course of his career, encountered many youths like Bei Ye with negligent and even abusive parents . With a slightly heavy heart, Senior Yang sighed internally . After all, the extremist and wayward behaviours of problematic children are more often than not a result of the neglect and abuse they received from their parents .

“Do you hate females?”

“I suppose you could say that . ”

“Describe the thoughts that were running through your mind when you raped the female victims . ”

“I didn’t think too much . I only knew that raping them was something which I wanted to do . ”

“Do you think this ‘desire’ which you have is a result of your mother’s influence on you?”

“How would I know?”

“What do you think about your mother?”

“I wish she was dead . ”

Senior Yang paused momentarily before continuing . “What about your father?”

“He died a long time ago . ”

“I’m asking what do you think about your father?”

“It’s pretty good that he’s dead . ”

“You haven’t even met you father before . ”

“Yes, but he played a crucial part in my mother giving birth to me . ”

Another momentary pause . “You despise your very own existence?” Senior Yang asked softly .

“Yes . There isn’t any reason for my existence . ”

With a criminal father who was convicted for rape, and a mother who works as a prostitute for a living, it was not difficult to imagine the difficult and harsh environment which Bei Ye grew up in .

“What about the people around you? What do you think about them?”

“They are strangers to me . I don’t care about them . ”

“What about those who bullied you and mocked you?”

“They can all die for all I care . ”

After some time, Senior Yang finally managed to complete interrogating Bei Ye about his background, the welfare centre responsible for him, his impression of his father, mother and other people who were approximately his age, and his views towards society . It was as though a character named ‘Bei Ye’ had been stripped of his external layer of protection and skin, and his inner thoughts and feelings lay bare for all to see .

The evidence was indisputable .

Although Senior Yang was no stranger to tragedies caused by negligent and abusive parenting, he could not help but feel a sense of pity at the terrible hand Fate had dealt Bei Ye .

Finally, Senior Yang asked, “Do you admit that you are the raincoat man, and that you have committed the crime of rape against XX and XX, the crimes of rape and murder against Wei Cai, and the crime of attempted rape against Chen Nian?”

“Yes . ” Bei Ye responded .

Under the supervision of Bei Ye’s lawyer, Ciao Yao organized the transcript of Bei Ye’s interrogation and confession, and placed the transcript and a pen before Bei Ye .

Bei Ye took the pen and, without a moment’s hesitation, inked his signature at the bottom of the transcript .

With that,  the investigation of the identity of the raincoat man was conculuded .

Zheng Yi looked at Bei Ye, a variety of mixed feelings warring in his heart . Before Bei Ye left the interrogation room, Zheng Yi asked, “Did you ever regret what you did?”

Bei Ye remained silent . Just when Zheng Yi thought Bei Ye was not going to provide him with an answer, Bei Ye countered, “Would regret help me to obtain a reduced sentence?”

[1] Ge – The Chinese word for ‘older brother’ . As earlier mentioned, Chen Nian had started to address Bei Ye as Xiao Bei Ge because she relies on him and looks towards him as a source of protection and comfort, like how an older brother would shelter his younger sister and keep harm at bay .