Chapter 514 Cooling-Off Period

It was in the opinion of many people that serial killers were absolute lunatics or unhinged, cold-blooded thugs.

The fact was that it wasn’t an accurate representation. Serial killers weren’t all the same. Studies have shown that a number of them come in the form of highly educated idealists who have a high sense of morality, even willing to sacrifice themselves in pursuit of the truth they so desperately sought.

They often came as good-looking, well-dressed, and well-spoken individuals with stable careers and closed interpersonal relationships. As for how they ended up being serial killers, the reasons varied from one individual to another.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a serial killer as a person who has murdered three or more people, with a cooldown period between the crimes. Unlike mass killers, they would carry out massacres in one place in a short period, or spree-killers who murdered in a frenzy.

Jack, the Ripper, was your textbook serial killer.

His crimes only occurred within the confines of Whitechapel, and he had a consistent behavioral pattern. According to Lestrade, among the three murders that had taken place within half a month, there was a ten-day gap between the first and the second, but the third murder happened only five days after that.

It was clear that the rate of murders was accelerating

Whether the killings were for a mission, entertainment, ideals, or only a career choice, the killer got a certain kind of satisfaction from the act itself.

It wasn’t dissimilar to those addicted to video games or patroning brothels, where serial killers were simply addicted to killing people. Every time after visiting a brothel, most people would have a so-called refractory period, and similar to that, the “cooling-down period” was like a serial murderer’s refractory period.

After each murder, the killer’s excitement would peak before gradually deflating. They would relive the experience and continue to learn until their next crime was due.

This phenomenon proved to be little more than troublesome, considering how you’d be facing a constantly evolving enemy—the shortening cool-down period a tell-tale sign of the declining emotional stimulation and gratification that each murder granted the killer. For that reason, the murderer would need to kill even more frequently to ease the gradually intensifying cravings.

If Zhang Heng remembered correctly, two more murders occurred in the East End on the third day after the first letter. However, one of those crimes was different from the restmodern-day researchers concluded that this particular case wasn’t the work of Jack the Ripper himself. But it was unclear if it a copycat or if someone was trying to rock the boat, taking advantage of the chaos to kill before putting the blame on Jack the Ripper. In short, Zhang Heng didn’t have much time to solve the case. If possible, he wished that no more murder victims turned up. The best-case scenario was to find the murderer within three days. Of course, now that the rate of the killings had only gotten more frequent, he might not even have three days to solve this. Not to mention how he was competing against the formidable Sherlock Holmes.

Zhang Heng got to work immediately. After examining the body in the morgue, he went straight to the crime scene. But whatever that had happened there had long been cleaned up, and all the evidence collected by the police. There was still small traces of blood on the ground, but other than that, not many clues were left. After a visit to all three murder sites, it was clear from the locality of the crime scenes that the murderer was only getting bolder. He had moved from dark and dingy alleyways to a loading area, then to the fence behind the apartment-each new murder having a possibility of being discovered than the last. Zhang Heng marked the three locations on the map, then going by Lestrade’s addresses, he visited witnesses who discovered the bodies and the last person who saw the victims alive. Unsurprisingly, having been harassed and bombarded with questions by reporters, police, and nosy curtain-twitchers, the witnesses were immediately put-off by Zhang Heng the moment he revealed the purpose of his visit.

When he took out a gold coin from his pocket, though, their attitudes took an almost instant turn. The once hostile witnesses become hospitable again and readily regurgitated answers they had been repeating so many times before this.

The police reports had actually provided all these facts, and Zhang Heng had already read them, so that wasn’t his focus.

Thanks to the generations of fans inspired by Jack The Ripper, Zhang Heng already had a list of suspects. The specific names and ages may not be useful, but their corresponding occupation and motives are made for a great reference.

For instance, a retired sheriff believed that Jack the Ripper was a sailor on a German merchant ship since the Whitechapel district was very close to the pier. The arrival and departure of the merchant ship from London coincided with the time the victims were killed. He speculated that the murderer was probably a seaman. As for the killer’s mysterious disappearance and the fact that no further crimes were committed afterward, the sheriff surmised that the murderer must have fled to the United States.

Zhang Heng could then use this information during his interviews with the witnesses and enquire if they saw any sailors around the victim’s last seen location on the night of the incident.

There were other theories like the royal conspiracy theories, the barber theory, midwife theory-all of these a sort of collective intelligence. Each approach had a corresponding entry point, but the results, on the whole, weren’t ideal. The witnesses spewed all manner of claims, and the ramblings weren’t nearly good enough to form a firm conclusion.

Zhang Heng realized that he might be heading in the wrong direction, but he had to give it a try anyhow since he had the advantage.

He had been so busy the whole day that he forgot to eat his lunch. In a blink of an eye, the sun was already hanging low, so Zhang Heng decided to call it a day. He had been to many places today, and he had managed to collect a diverse and extensive chest of information. It was time to stop for now and sort his thoughts out.

When Zhang Heng returned to 221 Baker Street, Holmes had already finished his dinner and was tackling a dessert plate with a fork. He did not seem to be in a hurry.

“How was your investigation today?”

“I don’t have any leads for now. What about

you?”

“I’ve found a handy clue, and I’m digging deeper into it. I should have the results tomorrow,” Holmes smiled. “Would you like me to give you a few tips, my dear eastern friend?”

Zhang Heng shook his head.

“The one who sprints first might not be the first to reach the finishing line.”

“That’s true, but the person who runs first would always hold an advantage. I’m already choosing the opera we’ll be watching,” interjected Holmes as Zhang Heng seated himself across the table.

Mrs. Hudson walked in carrying dinner. It was smoked bacon, peas and bread, and a few pieces of fruit. The dessert was pudding. Zhang Heng finished his meal quickly, wiped his mouth, and returned to his room. He took out the revolver he had bought three months ago, a kerosene lamp and a knife.

Holmes raised his eyebrows in surprise at the sight of Zhang Heng’s gear.

“Going out again?”

“Mmhmm. The murdrer may be on the prowl. Even if I don’t find him, I could at least inspect the environment and condition of the crime scene at night,” Zhang Heng added after a pause. “Also, I could use the chance to understand the sex workers in a deeper fashion.”

“Not bad,” applauded Holmes. “You’re becoming more assimilated to this city.”

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