May 9th. Another murder. The newspaper says it all. The headlines read: “Third Tape Given to Police”.
The page says the following:
“Yesterday afternoon, police received a third tape. As per the previous two, the tape was delivered outside police headquarters with a note, this time labeled ‘Number 3’. Leading Detective Robert Fowler had no comment regarding the tape, citing it, as per the previous tapes, to be kept confidential pending investigation. However, Fowler had this to say: “In the wake of the tape’s discovery, this being the third in the span of 2 months, we are under the assumption of this being the work of a serial killer.” As of yet, there has been no clue to the identity of the killer and no link between the victims.”
I sigh and set the newspaper down. “Just like the last two.” I think to myself. Of course, now the case is becoming a manhunt for a serial killer. The first was Harmon Willis, an office clerk who lived in a flat in the suburban parts of town. That place was known for being pretty sketchy compared to most flats. Most tenants ranged from drug dealers and addicts to thieves and prostitutes. Willis was one the very few clean residents, as far as the landlord was concerned. According to his co-workers, he was pretty unremarkable; he never spoke up during work, never took the spotlight during parties. He was just always there, existing. I remember the news a week after the tape was delivered. They had regret on their faces when they had to speak about the dead man, and spoke the usual sayings of “he didn’t deserve this” and “who could do this?” and such. It didn’t help that the autopsy revealed that the victim did not die a painless death.
The investigation did catch my attention, though not in the same way as most. I do admittedly have something of a morbid fascination with serial killers. It’s not something I like to pride myself about, but I can’t help it. In my younger years, I made a habit out of studying men like Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, The Zodiac Killer, and so on. It didn’t make me a popular person, to say the least. Of course, I’ve grown out of the obsessive studying, though the fascination still remains.
Interest in the John Doe Tapes peaked when the second tape was delivered and announced. The victim, Lindsey Duggan, was a frequent rehab attendee. With problems ranging from excessive alcohol consumption to heavy drug addiction, she was described as a problem person, relatively well known around the sketchy parts of town, especially for being kicked put of pubs and bars due to unruly behaviour. A stark contrast to the first victim, who, like said victim, was found to have died horribly.
I work in forensics at the station, albeit not in the field. But I know this information via word of mouth. Of course, the vivid details are to be kept away from the public for risk of a panic, which presents a high risk of riots and the killer disappearing in the chaos. Fowler made that point especially clear.
I set down the newspaper and stand up off the bench I’ve sitting on for the past two hours. I look to my watch, which reads 9:58. Work takes up a lot of time, but it pays well and it’s enough to make a living. I start to make my way home, my eyes leading the way, even though my mind is elsewhere. Namely on how long it’ll take before they find the victim, and how long it’ll take to identify the body. Some killers do like to leave a mess.
May 20th. 10am. The body was found last week and they’ve finally got a name. Stephen Carver. An engineer for a power plant outside town, reported missing four days after the tape was delivered. The murders are happening faster, and the higher ups are getting impatient. Our killer’s getting smarter, too. I’m in the morgue with the body and I can see why it took so long to get an identification.
First, the victim was drained of blood. The puncture marks in the wrists, throat and femoral artery of both legs make this very clear. Afterwards, the hands, feet and head were severed with a hacksaw. And furthermore, the body was further mutilated to the point it was practically unrecognisable. We only managed to ID the victim from the missing person’s report and the address of where the body was found on the tape.
This is a first, as the killer did not leave the locations of the previous two bodies. Suffice to say, Fowler is making a personal effort to find the one they’re now calling the “John Doe Killer”, a name based on a note found with the first tape. It said the following:
“I send you this tape, but nothing more. You can watch if you please. Or you can leave it alone. You won’t find me either way. J.D.”
That was the only lead to go on. We checked for any suspects connected to the victims and compared their handwriting to the note. Nothing came of it. So, for the time being, we’re at a stand-still in the case. The best everyone can do is hope the killer doesn’t strike again.
June 2nd. Another tape. Same as the others. It’s only a matter of time before they find the body. Perhaps they won’t. The killer is stepping up the game, as the newspapers say. I’m outside in the park as usual, setting on a bench and reading. I think about resting for a time before a voice speaks from right next to me.
“They won’t find him.” I look up to see a man. Early 20s. Blonde hair. Glasses. “Excuse me?” I ask. “He’s getting smarter with each murder. And by the time they find the body, he’ll be long gone.”
I’m a little curious about this man. But I am also a little uncomfortable. “How do you know this, exactly?” I ask him, to which he replies, “I’ve been doing some work of my own. You ask me, the guy’s an expert. And it won’t be too long before he kills again.” My interest starts to peak at these words. Against my better judgement, I ask “Is there more you can tell me?”
He chuckles slightly before replying, “Yes. I have a loft outside town. Best place to study. Especially since no one bothers to look around. The place is usually filled with vagrants and addicts, but I did some clearing out.” I am a little skeptical about this, but I decide to go along with it anyway. But first, I need to ask a question that’s been bugging me a bit.
“Why me? Why not tell this to the detective?” The man’s face went stern. “The way that guy’s been going about this case, he’ll very likely just assume me to be the killer based on my research. I’d prefer to speak to someone more reliable about this.” I give it some thought, but again, I decide to go along.
“Alright. Tomorrow. 8pm. If you’re not there, I’m gone. Deal?” I propose. “Deal.” he responds before he walks away. As curious as I am about him, I’m not sold on this man and his proposition. To me, he seems dangerous. But my curiosity gets the best of me and I head home. As I go to bed, I’m thinking of bringing some protection. I know a man for that.
June 3rd. 7pm. I’m going over the forensics to double check for any mistakes or oversights. Nothing to be concerned about, thankfully. I’m still nervous about the man in the park, but my curiosity continues to win over my common sense. I suppose that’s another unusual habit of mine. However, I was able to collect my protection from my source. Risky, but necessary. Hopefully, I won’t need to use it. But you can never be too careful.
During the remaining duration of my shift, I start planning how I’m going to approach this. And to me, the logical way is to hear the man out. And if he does start trouble, I can always say it was self-defence.
An hour passes and I’m looking at the loft the man told me to go to. A part of me very much wants to back out, but my curious mind continues to take me over as per usual. I steady my resolve before I knock on the door. I swear the knocking echoes in my ears before the door opens a few seconds later.
“You’ve arrived. I was beginning to think you were gonna back out or something.” he says, a surprised grin on his face. I return a greeting smirk. “So did I. But I suppose this was too good to pass up.” I chuckle, trying to tone down the awkward silence. The man nods and beckons me inside.
The first sight I see once inside is a board with multiple newspapers and notes stapled on it. Another noteworthy sight is a computer on a nearby desk. It’s more than clear this man has been researching the case for some time. And my suspicions are reassured.
“First, I want to tape this session if that’s okay with you.” he says to me as he open a door to another room. “Fine by me.” I reply as I follow him inside. As soon as he sits down and switches on the tape recorder, he begins the session, almost eagerly.
“June 3rd. 8:09pm. This session is conducted by myself and a willing member of the police regarding the John Doe murders.”
I enter the room just as he looks at me and gestures me to speak. “Yes,” I say, “I am curious about your proposition regarding the case and I’m sure it will be more than helpful.” He smiles approvingly before abruptly speaking, “I’m Colin, by the way. Can I get your name for this?”
I smile and say “Just call me John.” I close the door.
June 10th. 11am. The news says the following:
“Police have just reported to have discovered the remains of forensic examiner John Hewitt, who was reported missing 4 days prior. The remains were found in a loft belonging to investigative journalist Colin Milton, who is currently being sought after as the prime suspect. The loft was found thanks to a tape delivered to the police station detailing the address. Police found numerous study material on serial killers, leading to the assumption of the John Doe Killer being a serial killer prodigy. Also found was a photo of the deceased Hewitt, which Detective Robert Fowler has claimed as evidence linking Milton to the killings. Colin Milton has not been found and should be considered extremely dangerous.”
Good thing I kept a souvenir of our little talk. It would be very troublesome to me if the police found it. And I’m sure they won’t find Colin any time soon. They certainly didn’t find John, after all.
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