Chapter 30 - Woo Jin-hyung at 00 clock, Kim sisters at 1 o’clock… then

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The next day.

Inspector Jung Yu-mi and Kang Woo-cheol went to work with dark expressions. That expression made people guess how their talks went.

Team Leader Woo-jin came with a cup of mixed coffee in hand and looked at the expressions of the two as he asked, "How was it? Are we going ahead?"

Woo-cheol sighed.

"I can guess just by looking at Woo-cheol's face that the victim really decided to drop the charges. Inspector Jung, what happened?"

Inspector Jung began to explain step by step. According to her, Kim Dohwa didn't object to meeting them.

However, as the story progressed, she became increasingly apprehensive. In terms of dropping the charges, she stated that suspect Lee Wanjae would pursue and harass her to the ends of the world…

Not just that, but that Lee Wanjae would release a compromising video of the two if she didn't withdraw the complaint. This wasn't found in the victim's statements.

The suspect said everything the victim said was false and that before meeting him, the victim was already diagnosed with depression. After they met, the two had many troubles because of her mental condition.

Inspector Jung stated that the victim was already at a point where her self-esteem was eroding and was now unsure if what she was saying was true or false.

"… we're going to take Lee Wanjae's statement today, right?"

Hansol broke the silence and asked. Even though he knew, he thought asking this would help this stagnant air.

"Let Doctor Im take charge. The suspect will lie through this to get out, so using Doctor Im would be good. There are many conflicting statements between the victim and suspect, so help us out."

"… I understand."

Hansol thought of the movie <Gaslight> and imagined how Lee Wanjae was eating Kim Dohwa alive.

When the relationship started, the suspect wouldn't have expressed much. However, he had a crooked love and thoughts and would have gradually revealed those feelings.

It is possible to imagine Kim Dohwa being beaten by the suspect. Then he switches tactics and tells Kim Dohwa she's insane. Lee Wanjae was pushing her to take drugs, whether at home or elsewhere, but Kim Dohwa was beginning to think of herself as an active drug addict who tasted everything at the end of despair.

Now, the suspect wants to share a video of the two of them… of course, the video was not recorded with one`s consent. Perhaps Lee Wanjae taped it against Kim Dohwa's will, who had previously stated that she was having difficulties with her memory owing to drugs. She might have also been threatened in an attempt to crush the possibility of a woman wanting to feel human again.

'… and if no proof of Lee Wanjae being a drug distributor was found, and this information was reported to the police, and she was summoned, Lee Wanjae would blame his lover and try to get out of the matter.'

As Hansol was thinking about it, Woo-jin appeared.

"The autopsy results of the Kim sisters are out, Doctor Im… I think we should head to the National Forensic first."

"Let's go."

Hansol and Woo-jin arrived at the National Forensic Service.

J, whom Hansol spoke of, was in charge of the autopsy. Hansol could have heard the results directly through J, but since this case was assigned to CIF and not him alone, he decided to follow the rules.

"You are here. We will check the results now."

"How is it?"

At the question of Woo-jin, the junior of J, an autopsy surgeon, answered, "A drug substance was detected in the intestines. Ecstasy and heroin were detected together. The direct cause of death was confirmed to be an overdose of drugs."

"… so they were hung after they died?"

"Yes. According to the autopsy and body confirmation, the culprit waited until all of the urine and feces were removed after the victim died."

Hearing those words, a scene was drawn in Hansol's mind.

The culprit endured the horrible situation of waiting through the discharge process, and only after the body turned stiff did he manipulate it and hang it in the shape of a Hanged Man.

"… the criminal worked like he was making an art."

Team Leader Woo-jin frowned at Hansol's words.

"Making art? Like he didn't see them as humans?"

"At the time of Woo brother's case, one was in the shape of a Hanged Man even after being killed. It seems like he made art by using the body. Again, after all the discharge of the body had come out, the body was hung in the cleanest way possible. Both cases have one thing in common: the Hanged Man. I cannot help but think that it is as if someone had instructed for this to happen."

"… th-that is terrible…."

Team Leader Woo-jin covered his mouth with his hand. He said he would go to the bathroom. Maybe Hansol's words or the bodies made him nauseous.

Hansol just looked at the body calmly.

"Both bodies were found with excessive drugs in them and no sign of violence, right?"

The man nodded, saying it was right.

"Right. There were no fighting traces on their bodies like someone had tried to kill them. In fact, when the body was moved to the National Forensic Service, what surprised us the most was that both the bodies were so clean. It was like a craftsman when he cut off the unneeded part and left the cleanest and most beautiful things."

"The criminal has his own art world. In the first case, it was an expression in the form of lying down by putting puzzle pieces together, and in the second, he showed a clean artwork. What do you think will be the third one?"

Neither J nor the autopsy doctor answered. It was such an unpredictable question.

First, it was a sculpture, and second, an artwork…

The third could be the sculpture again, and the fourth be an art, but the culprit wasn't that predictable.

Hansol imagined the third one.

'… if I were the culprit giving instructions, the third would be in another way. The first puzzle piece was a sculpture, the second turned into an artwork… one was on the floor and the other hanging… then the third could be in the water? After going through the land and air, the thing left is water. The third Hanged Man will be underwater.'

Thinking that far ahead, the team leader returned, wiping his lips.

"Phew… Despite seeing bodies so often, I don't know why I feel sick."

He must have been puking.

"Are you okay?"

"I am fine, but… the autopsy didn't reveal any traces of the culprit, right?"

The autopsy doctor nodded and said only traces of drugs were found, with no more evidence.

"Alright. Then I will take the document."

Team Leader Woo-jin got the data from J and went to the car. He handed over the data to Hansol as if he didn't want to touch it.

"There was no evidence of the criminal at the site… he must have waited a few days for the corpse to release everything… how did he take care of it and not leave a single trace behind? And it appears that the Kim sisters have left their home… yet the real estate agent should have gone to show the house to his clients… How did the house remain silent for those days? How come there was no report till the neighbors did?"

"Perhaps… Could it be that the person who signed the contract after the Kim sisters signed a contract? I think we can look into that and see why no one moved into the house."

"Hmm… right. We need to dig from there. Otherwise, we cannot confirm anything."

"In the example of the one-room place in a university… the owner had to be linked to the institution or something to have a place there, and they should have moved in at some time. However, there was no trace of movement. The neighbors were also unaware that the owner of that place had changed… So many questions?"

At Hansol's words, Team Leader Woo-jin tapped his chest as if he was feeling sick.

"I don't know why I feel so nauseous like this. The Hanged Man means number 12…."

The voice of Woo-jin turned serious. Holding the steering wheel, he seemed to be trying to grab something to not lose his mind. And as the evidence surrounding the bodies was moving in his mind, Hansol spoke.

"The number 12 must have a lot to do with this. If we look at the clock, it is numbered from 1 to 12. Even at 24 hours clock, there is 12. From such a simple thing, a year has 12 months. Ah…!"

At that moment, Hansol realized something. As soon as he uttered it, it flashed through his mind.

Looking at the clock, the numbers 1 through 12 are there.

"What time was the estimated death of the Kim sisters, team leader?"

"Time of death? I didn't ask for… look at the papers."

Among the Woo brothers, the older one was known to be alive when killed and was known to have died around midnight. If so, the estimated time of death of the Kim sisters this time… was around 1 this morning.

It was turning clockwise. One at 00 and two killed at 1, and three and 2… no, it cannot be that easy.

Hansol thought till then and remembered the group of Shin Jong-tae. The three were sentenced to prison for 12 years, and the lawyers didn't appeal. Three people were sent to prison for murder… in a way, the prison was the safest place for them.

'… there is no way those three will die. Maybe the next crime could be done similarly to how the previous ones were killed… and around 2am. However, we don't know how many people will be killed. It is clear that the purpose of the man doing this wants his presence known….'

"Hmm… team leader. Woo Jin-hyung's estimated time of death was midnight."

"And? Ah, can I smoke?"

Team Leader Woo-jin wasn't feeling well, so he opened the car window and smoked.

Hansol nodded.

"And the death of the sisters is 1 am."

"Um? Well? Are you saying that the criminal committed the crime by delaying an hour?

"As said before, Hanged Man means 12. 12 is also a number that appears on the clock. A year has 12 months, and 24 hours on the clock also has numbers from 1 to 12. Woo Jin-hyung is at 00 o'clock and Kim sisters at 1 o'clock… then what will the time of the next crime be?"

"… Uh, that's insane. I felt goosebumps! The bastard who is doing this is doing it like that? the next time will be at 2 AM."

"Right. The third victim will be killed at 2 o'clock."

As soon as Hansol said that, Woo-jin couldn't even enjoy the smoke and rubbed it off.

"We found a piece of evidence… the question is, how do we find the next victim?"

"One thing is certain, the person using this is targeting the cases the CIF is responsible for. So…. It is someone from inside."


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