Chapter 20 - The culprit must have travelled on XX

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As soon as the collaboration of the two teams started, the CIF team and team One1 went straight to the site.

It was impossible to conclude just by looking at photos.

There were police lines in all places where the fire happened. People passing by couldn't help but talk about the arsonist. In particular, when the teams visited the houses that suffered casualties, the victims were desperately begging them to catch the culprit.

"Detectives, my mother should not have left like that. It was all for naught! Please catch that bastard, even if it means lessening the injustice my mother has suffered."

Inspector Jung Yu-mi responded calmly.

"For the safety of all the citizens, we will make sure to catch him. Do not worry. He will be caught soon."

"Thank you. Thank you. Thanks…"

As the detectives and other CIF members looked at the scene, Hansol glanced at the burn marks and went outside. Inspector Jung thought it was suspicious and followed Hansol.

"Doctor Im, where are you going?"

"Looking around. Why?"

"Nothing. We are out to see the scene… but you—"

"Inspector Jung, you can see around as well if you want to. Do you know what characteristics the arsonists are? They set fires close to them. So at least the arsonist is someone who lives in one of the two neighborhoods he lit the fire in. Then, what about the time of the crime?"

At Hansol's question, Inspector Jung tried to recall the information.

Even though that took place in 10 minutes, both sites had fires set on the same day, so she thought the criminal was using some vehicle.

"… Ah! Come to think of it, there was a point that the time of the crime was too short for the person to be at both places. Then the culprit must…."

"Must be using a vehicle. Do you see that over there?"

Inspector Jung looked at where Hansol pointed. There was a shared bike in the stand close by.

"Ah… no way."

Inspector Jung looked like she had realized something. Hansol approached the shared bike and continued.

"Not many could look around because they were focused on things like dawn and using lighters. There were also 20 fires in just a week. Look at the forest and not the trees2 and the answer will come."

After Hansol finished what he wanted to say, he turned on his phone and moved while looking at the screen. Inspector Jung, puzzled, followed him and asked, "Where are you going, Doctor Im?"

Hansol didn't respond and just stared at his phone. Curious, Inspector Jung looked at the screen.

'That… the shared bike app!'

It was an app that could tell the location of the shared bike around and show how many were parked in real-time.

"There are a total of nine here and the next neighborhood."

"Right. The culprit must have been quick to pick the location through the app. And, if he was smart, he would have swapped bikes at the shed each time he set a fire. The traces will be weak. Of course, we know the culprit is psychopathic, but we don't yet know if he is smart."

It takes an hour to go both ways. After figuring out all the locations, Hansol asked Inspector Jung to see if she knew something.

Then, she replied, "Priority… obviously people don't park the shared bikes on the crossroads or corners; they need to put them in the shared bike stand. And there are several bicycles parked on the roadside. That is…"

"What we need to look at is the average number of parking spaces at the nine locations of the shared bikes stands. In fact, we can tell if the DB is accessed. There is a need for an ID to use the shared bike. Did the criminal use their own ID or someone else?"

"No. I am sure it must have been a stolen one."

"And they couldn't have stolen just one right? During the day, the person has a normal life and he might be someone who is trusted by the people a lot. So instead of stealing he could have maybe borrowed an ID too."

"Then, we will have to collect and examine repeated specific IDs. I will pass it on to the Violent Crimes Unit."

As Inspector Jung went on her way, Hansol also headed to the others.

"Will it not be necessary to check if there was a report of identity theft too? From midnight to 4 am, any report is filed. The perpetrator isn't out of sight yet. People who use shared bikes usually take in many energy drinks. Wouldn't that help narrowing it down?"

"I understand. Then Doctor, come with me."

Both teams were going around with the site tour and tried to find more clues. After a couple hours, they couldn't find anything that stood out. And as the cooperation seemed to dilute less and less, the team leaders of both units were glaring at each other.

"What investigation did the 1st Violent Crimes Unit3 even do?"

"Then, the CIF is known to be handling special cases, so how come you didn't find anything here?"

"You two must have found nothing."

Hansol broke their talks and made both of them frown.

"Through the scene of the incident, we found some commonalities. There was a shared bike slot operated within 50 meters of the incident."

Lee Jae-woo, who hadn't thought of that until now, gave a slightly surprised expression. Because the criminal's reasoning was concentrated, they didn't know his means of moving from one site to another.

Hansol continued speaking.

"It must have been because he was riding the shared bike that the culprit managed to set off 20 fires in 2 weeks. It would be nice if there were eyewitnesses… There is currently none for us to talk about. First, we'll look at the records left in the bike stand in both the neighbourhoods. A person who used it from midnight to 4 am, the time of the crime happening."

Inspector Jung Yu-mi added another thing.

"… and at that time, the culprit must regularly have energy drinks in both towns."

"Right. We found something we were missing out on despite being easy to find. Let's hurry. If the police line is cleared, the arsonist will set another fire. He is already a mad man."

"Now, did you all hear Doctor Im's words? Members! Hurry up and search further!"

Team Leader Lee Jae-woo shouted at the team members. While the Violent Crimes Unit went ahead to get data, Inspector Jung asked Hansol.

"Thank you for accepting my opinion, Doctor Im."

"It was sensible, and the CIF exists to handle special cases."

Hansol answered calmly and turned to the Violent Crimes Unit, who were moving to and from.

"There are a total of nine locations in both neighborhoods. Have you confirmed it?"

"Yes… I already checked. The DB connection is slow…."

"Alright. After downloading the DB, hand it over to the CIF after organizing the data. Before that, take a tour of the whole site."

Usually, the profiler needs to be the one who sees the scene. It is called behavioral appraisal.

However, this case was first only under the Violent Crimes Unit, and it was raining a couple days back, so the site was already damaged. The shared bike stand was the only thing from where the information could be gathered.

There were indeed skid marks on the place from where the fire started in one case, which meant that the culprit must have taken pleasure in igniting the fire at high speed and ran away. He must have fallen into the feeling that no one could stop him.

Obviously, he wasn't interested in arson initially, but after doing it once, he was no longer afraid of committing it again.

Hansol toured all 20 places.

All the incidents looked similar. When closely looked at, each place had bike marks.

There were more evident bike marks at the more recent arson site, but the detectives had missed that till now. Sometimes the most obvious things are ignored in the investigation, like in this case.

Hansol thought of this from the arsonist's point of view.

I'm bored, can I light the fire? That would have to be the first act.

If he had a disposable lighter, the culprit had to be a smoker. Those who usually smoke litter on the streets.

Usually, smokers throw away the cigarette butts and wouldn't pay attention if the butts are put off or not. Instead, this arsonist must have enjoyed watching the butt of the cigarette burn.

For now, Hansol decided to put that thought aside. There were no cigarette butt's in the place, and the ones didn't have any DNA.

During the day, the culprit is a trustworthy person, and at night he is rotten inside. The simple thought of setting fire and running away showed that. It would have taken some time for the person to think and develop the idea and practice it.

He would have relieved the stress building up inside by practicing it somewhere without being caught. He must have acted like a hunter…. and the thrill…

Hansol could sympathize with the thrill which must have been born from it.

Hansol continued to walk until…

He found something.

Hansol stood there and looked at the child in the playground grabbing something and tearing it.

Hansol's footsteps naturally headed there.

"Kid, what are you doing?"

It seemed like a voice made of compassion. The child raised his head and looked at Hansol. The child showed Hansol what was in their hand.

"Dragonfly. The wings are soft so I grabbed it."

"Can you give that to uncle as a gift?"

The child pondered for a moment considering the soft voice, and then handed the dragonfly. After receiving it, Hansol dropped the struggling dragonfly to the ground and smashed it under his feet. And the dragonfly which couldn't fly died.

The child was weeping, scared to look at Hansol.

Hansol didn't mind because he wasn't going to empathize with this child.

And he began to 'educate.'

"Look carefully. You killed the dragonfly."

"I-I didn't kill it! I just touched the wind…!"

"Can a dragonfly without wings fly again? You messed up its life. If you are going to hurt it, be sure to kill it. It is no fun to play with it and kill."

"I-I wasn't going to kill it!"

"You weren't going to? You were smiling brightly as you ripped off the wings? Be honest. It was fun right? Don't lie to adults."

Hansol left the playground after that.

"Huh… ugh… uhhhhh!"

When the child's mother, who was talking to another person, heard her child's cry, she couldn't even find the trace of Hansol.

  1. We're changing the terms for the teams from 1st team, 2nd team, 3rd team, etc., to Team One, Team Two, Team Three, and so on. ↩️

  2. The forest is the collective representation of numerous trees. It signifies that a person cannot see the larger picture because they are only concerned with what is directly in front of them. This term means that the trees block one's view of the forest. ↩️

  3. Interchangeably used with the term Team One. ↩️

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