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Stage 5 - ROE

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Jan 10th, 2019
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  1. 05. THE DISMEMBERED BOY
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  3. https://i.gyazo.com/41af8190ff7fe327f7698538e589aa7c.png
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  5. Gilbert was right. The autopsy found many bruises and wounds on Jenny, none of them from the day of her death. They were old injuries.
  6. When we summoned Weber again he was once wailing like he wanted to drown himself in tears. This time, however, Joseph was far less sympathetic.
  7. "Answer the question, Weber." His tone was ice-cold.
  8. This was a side of Joseph that I rarely saw. He was not someone who judged others easily, not because he was especially fair and logical, but because he was too kind.
  9. Between sobs, Weber admitted to his drunken violence towards Jenny, and that he knew Jenny's baby was stillborn. The argument they had that night was not because Jenny aborted the fetus - it was because she had decided to leave him forever. His accusations towards Gilbert's cult were merely trying to deflect blame - and his own shame.
  10. Even though Weber admitted to violence against Jenny, his alibi on the night of the murder remained impeccable. He woke up many people that night with his drunken ramblings.
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  12. Surveillance and investigation of the Bluepeak town cult continued for three days. We did not find any useful evidence during this time, but there were no new victims either. It was hard not to suspect that the killer was among the cultists.
  13. On day 4, the Ymir snowstorm warning escalated again. We had to spare some people to get to the homeless to shelters so that they would not freeze to death, and handle complaints about attraction closures between tourist and staff that sometimes turned physical.
  14. As we tried to keep our heads above water, we got another "timely" dose of bad news.
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  16. Lake Herschel's scenery made it a famous tourist attraction, though to locals like me it was just a pool of water that we've seen too many times already. The only thing I liked about it was the annual winter fishing festival, a good opportunity to catch a few fat tasty fish for the dinner table.
  17. Joseph and I stood beneath the big metal elk sculpture. He lifted a hand before his eyes to shield it from the sunlight as he tried to look up at the hollow sculpture.
  18. A dead body hung from the elk's horns.
  19. Or should I say, a row of body parts. Starting from the elk's neck, we saw the victim’s left foot, right foot, left leg, right leg, torso, left arm, right arm, left hand, right land, and finally the victim's head hanging from the tip of the elk's horn. The pieces hung from ropes that were of the exact same length, spaced the exact same distance apart. I had to commission old George's crane to take the pieces down with great effort.
  20. It did not snow last night, but there were no tracks other than footprints around the elk statue. No tire or track marks from a crane, not even the mark of a ladder. It was as though the murderer climbed the massive frame of the statue after dismembering the victim.
  21. As we took the torso down, we found a hexagram mark on its left chest - the same symbol that was found underneath Vera's body. The center of the chest had been cut open, then sewn back up with red thread. I pressed my thumb against the area. The ribcage parted exactly like one that just had open-heart surgery performed on it. If my guess was right, the killer took his heart as the souvenir.
  22. Once again, the killer committed a crime that defied common sense. In addition to his "signature" bite marks on the neck, his acts had become crueler each time, and the " souvenir" became more gruesome. It was like the killer was taunting us for our ineffectual investigations, growing bolder with each unsolved murder.
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  24. Neither Joseph nor I spoke on the way back to the station. The atmosphere in the car was subdued, almost suffocating. Joseph had gotten a lot quieter these days - he no longer pored over those a-dime-a-dozen horror novels, or bothered me with his ridiculous ideas. Now he spends the day flipping through his notebook with deeply furrowed brows. The phantom of the serial killer has taken a toll for everyone, including myself. In all my years as sheriff, I had never seen a criminal so troublesome.
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  26. I went to the morgue with Joseph. The escalating snowstorm warnings have stretched the station's manpower to the limit, but the coroners were free to focus on their job.
  27. "Male, 176 cm tall, between 15 and 17 years of age. Time of death was around midnight." The coroner's assistant took notes as he spoke.
  28. "Stitches on the front chest. Dark bruising around the stitched area indicates it was done after death. "
  29. The coroner reopened the victim's chest. Just as I thought, there was a large incision on the ribcage in the middle. The coroner pulled open the left ribcage and spoke after a brief hesitation, "The heart has been removed."
  30. I could not help to interrupt, "How was the technique of the removal?"
  31. "Very professional. In addition to the stitches, the cutting was fine yet decisive, as though performed by a professional surgeon." He turned over the victim's severed limbs, reassembled in their proper positions. "Same for the dismemberment - the surfaces are so clean that the bones could be reattached perfectly. There were few if any broken bone pieces."
  32. Well, this is just great, I thought to myself: not only was our killing a master hypnotist, he was a surgeon.
  33. "Rope marks on the neck, wrist, upper arm, thigh and ankle. The relatively shallow impression and lack of bruising indicates that they occurred after the victim's death and dismemberment. Four small, orderly-spaced holes on the neck, approximately 4cm deep," the coroner looked up at me as he said this.
  34. I gave him a resigned nod. "A pint of blood was drained, right? That makes five pints. What does he want with all that blood - bathe in it like Bloody Mary?"
  35. Joseph gawked. The serial killer had driven me to the brink - I did not even realize what I was saying.
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  37. The boy's name was Lucas and he lived in Snowlake town, across the lake from where he was found.
  38. The sun had not shone on the lake for days because of the cold front. The waters were covered by a thick white fog. As I stood in front of Lucas' house, I turned to look at the lake behind me. Through the fog, all I could see of the other shore was the vague silhouette the metal elk, cold and imposing.
  39. Lucas' parents did not stop arguing even as we entered the house, blaming each other for not keeping a watchful eye over their son. Tired and feeling a splitting headache, I was about to try to get them to quiet down when the two of them suddenly turned their criticism towards us, blaming the tragedy on our ineffectual investigation that allowed the murderer to roam at large.
  40. "This is all your fault!" Lucas' father shouted as he tried to shove us out the door.
  41. I was about to reply, but Joseph spoke before I did, "Neighbors say Lucas was in the habit of jogging around the lake in the middle of the night - AFTER the curfew was issued. Do you know anything about this?"
  42. The couple stopped, looked at each other, and began deflecting blame.
  43. "Multiple neighbors have reported hearing loud arguments coming from your house before Lucas' night excursions. Have you ever thought that it was you who made Lucas leave the house in the middle of the night, even at the risk of running into the serial killer?"
  44. Joseph's tone was calm, quiet, showing nothing of the impulsiveness he had when he shouted at Gilbert. But there was fire in his eyes.
  45. The couple began muttering to themselves. Any moment now and their argument would escalate, or they would turn their target to Joseph.
  46. "I'm sorry we couldn't do more. Our condolences for your loss. "
  47. After that, I dragged Joseph out of the house. He followed me with no signs of anger and frustration, but he said what I did back there wasn’t like me at all.
  48. "They won't understand what you're trying to say. Some people just won't ever admit that they were wrong. It's always somebody else's fault, the world's fault."
  49. The winds were getting higher. I put out my cigarette and threw it away. Joseph pulled his coat tightly around him as he walked ahead of me. His silhouette looked frail, fragile even.
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  51. It was close to sunset when we got back to the station. Joseph and I came up to the evidence board in the office, and he put the photo of the hexagram on Lucas' chest on Lake Herschel on the map.
  52. At that instant, our gazes met and we knew we saw the ray of hope in each other's eyes.
  53. The Graveyard, Sidera Lodoicea Ski Resort, north Balmung city, Whitestone town and Lake Herschel. There seemed to be a pattern to where the five victims were discovered. If one connected the first three locations with lines to form a triangle, the other two locations plus another one in the western mountains would form another triangle that overlaps each other, forming a hexagram. I traced the map with my finger, measuring the distance. If I was right, the next location would be – Bluepeak town!
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  55. At that instant, the phone on my desk rang.
  56. "Sir," it was Tracy. "You need to come to Bluepeak town. We found a - a bathtub full of blood here. "
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