Once they arrived on the scene of the crime, the inspector walked hastily towards the body. It was another young man, this time 29 years of age; David Lachaise.
“Open his shirt!” said the inspector to a police officer with a serious and determined voice.
The inspector’s mind could not absorb what he had just seen. On the chest of the young man, the exact same X sign was marked at his heart. The inspector thus came to the realisation that this was no longer a mere murder case; he was now on the chase for a serial killer, whom he needed to stop before any further victims fell.
“Send the body to the laboratory for the autopsy immediately; we haven’t a minute to loose!” said the inspector to the police officer. He then turned to Valerie and said; “Valerie, I want you to gather every detail you can about this man. I want to know everything about his life; private, professional, educational; family. Everything!”
As the night slowly set itself in, the inspector sat waiting impatiently the result of the autopsy and Valerie’s research. He drifted away into his thoughts as he tried to imagine what could the X mark possibly indicate, and how could he stop this killer before striking again. A knock at the door awoke him from his moment of mind drifting. The doctor came in and in his hand the report.
“Doctor, please tell me, what have you found?”
“Well inspector, it’s practically the same case. The man was 29 years old; the time of death was once again between 11PM and 1AM. The same means of death, which I suppose was induced by a syringe filled with air, into the artery. Once again; we found some sleeping substance in his system, in addition to consumption of alcohol in relatively high amounts. As for the X mark, it is done in exactly the same manner, most probably even with the same knife, as the depth of the wound, and its width, are the same.”
“Have you found any signs of any sexual activity from that night on the body?”
“None whatsoever sir” replied the doctor.
The inspector thanked the doctor for his report, and just as the man left the office room, Valerie walked in with the result of her research.
“Ah Valerie, just the person I needed to see. Please enlighten me with the results of your research.”
“Inspector, I have gathered all the information I could get from the system, and I questioned the flatmate, and here is what I know about our victim. David Lachaise comes from a middle class family; he was raised to be independent and self-sufficient. He studied medicine and was working in the same time while studying to finance his living. Upon graduation, he managed to find a job as an assistant in a private practice in town, where he was working until now. He is a hard working young man, and everybody in the practice praises him for his devotion and intelligence. In his private life; he seems to be very easy to live with, according to his flatmate; he is very well organized and clean, and very respectful of personal space. He is single and was never married. His flatmate claims that despite having had many relationships, David never passed the threshold of six months with any girl. It seems he is frightened of the idea of commitment.”
The inspector stood up and walked around the office as he lit a cigarette, and said; “this is quite interesting. We have two victims of different social and educational backgrounds, but both are successful in their professional lives and manage to live well it seems out of their jobs. Yet both of them are unstable in their emotional life, but they are not necessarily victims of heartbreaks, they are rather unable to commit. But where does that lead us with knowing who the killer is and why do they murder them? And what is that X mark?”
A moment of silence passed, which seemed to Valerie as an eternity as she watched the inspector dive into his thoughts. Suddenly, the inspector turned towards her and said; “Valerie, I want you to find out the favourite places where those two young men hung out; their favourite bar, coffee shop, restaurant, club, anything. And I want to know if they have been to any of them on the night of the murder, and if yes, were they with someone.”
Hours passed as Valerie researched; questioned and gathered information from all corners and all sides. She had not remembered a single case where she had worked this much, but most importantly, she could not remember a single case that the inspector was so enthusiastic to resolve as this one. Despite the tragedy of the murders, it seemed the inspector was happier than he had ever been. As if the challenge of cracking a case was the fuel for his life, the source of satisfaction and energy to move forward. He was as a new born man.
As the inspector walked into the office the next morning, Valerie intercepted him to brief him with the information she succeeded in gathering.
“Good morning Valerie, tell me what have you found?”
“Sir, I have found the favourite places of the two young men. Our first victim, Jeremy, was a regular of a brasserie in Neuilly called Chez Marcel. He was seen entering there on the night of his death at about six in the evening with a young lady. The lady is described as about 165cm tall, shoulder length brunette wavy hair, fair white skin and in her mid-twenties. I had a sketch made of her portrait if you would like to see it” Valerie handed the inspector the sketch and continued explaining; “they were then seen leaving the brasserie together sometime before ten in the evening. They were also seen hoping in his car, a Mini Cooper S, and leave the area. This same car was found on the scene of the crime in Neuilly, we identified the license plaque, and it is confirmed to be the victim’s car.”
“Very well, and for the second victim” asked the inspector.
“David Lachaise’s favourite place was an Italian restaurant in Saint Michel called Bella Napoli. He went there at least once a week, sometimes more. On the night of his death, he was seen walking in with a young girl; her description fits exactly the description of the girl who was with the first victim. They also arrived at the restaurant at about six in the evening and left a bit before ten. But it seems in this case they took the metro, but we do not know where they got off.”
Inspector Leveuf sat down at his desk and rolled a cigarette in absolute silence. Valerie stood there awaiting comments or instructions, but no words came out of the inspector’s mouth. He lay back on his chair, lit his cigarette and took a first puff. As he blew the smoke out, his eyes drifted up to the ceiling as if following the ascending smoke. The silence was finally broken as the inspector looked at Valerie and said; “All the indications seem to point out at that young girl as the potential killer. It is too much of a coincidence for her to be seen with both victims in both crime scenes two nights in a raw. In addition to that, the means of killing seems to fit a female killer. It would be very difficult for a girl with this description to struggle with fit young men like our two victims.”
The inspector took another puff of his cigarette, got up from his chair and started walking around the office while explaining:
“I believe that the crime most probably happened in this way; the young girl somehow meets the victim somewhere some days before, they look at one another, she attracts his attention, they flirt a bit. Eventually she gets a date with him. As most men, he will take her to his favourite place, to share with her the moment, but also to show off his new conquest in a familiar space where people know him. They sit, they eat, maybe drink some wine. After more than three hours spent in that place, they move; possibly to his place, maybe to her place. I would assume to her place, where she can feel more comfortable to get to the act. The autopsy proved that no sexual action was taken during the nights of the murder, in other words, our killer did not let herself go with the young men. She probably takes them to her place, offers an additional drink, in which she slips some sleeping pill or powder. The victim drinks and immediately falls into a deep sleep. Once she is sure that the young man is asleep, she injects his artery in the neck with a large syringe filled with air; death is immediate. She then undresses the victim, gently carves the X on the chest at the heart, then puts his clothes back on and carries the body and leaves it where we found the victim.”
The inspector walked towards the window in his office and watched the streets outside as the cars drifted back and forth in absolute urban frenzy. He turned to Valerie and said; “Our mission now is to identify this girl before she strikes again. We don’t know much about who she is, so we need to somehow track her down. I want double patrols all around town, and I want tripled patrols in Neuilly and Saint Michel; she might decide to revisit the scene.”
Inspector Leveuf sat and smoked another cigarette. He looked at the sketch of the killer and wondered to himself; how could such an innocent and sweet looking girl become such a brutal killer? What happened in her life that led her to this vengeful mentality? The inspector couldn’t even imagine an answer, but he knew that time would bring the answers to him as the case unravelled itself.