"When I said I wanted to go ice skating, this isn't what I-" Hanson broke off as his foot skidded on the ice, and he froze, waiting to completely fall.
Jo smiled, walking ahead of him back to the centre of the ice. "Hey, Henry."
"This is fascinating!"
"It doesnt look real..." lucas added, looking under the sheet.
Hanson caught up with Jo. "Fascinating isnt exactly the word I'd go with. Horrifying, grisly, something out of the dark ages..."
"Lingchi wasnt actually outlawed until the beginning of the twentieth century,, although it is in short a much more brutal version of Europes execution of drawing and quartering."
"Death by a thousand cuts. Although that wasnt an exact amount. Depending on how well you could bribe the executioner, the cuts could all be inflicted post morten. But a person could die from anywhere between three hundred to three thousand depending on how vindictive the sentence was."
"And this guy?"
"Oh, he definitely was alive when this started." He pointed at some of the more shallow cuts visible where the skin had not been peeled off. "These started to heal."
Hanson looked sick.
"So someone tortured him over the course of several days, dismembered him, and then dumped him in the Rockefeller rink?"
Henry nodded at Jo, and then twisted in his heels to face the second body. Ge pulled the sheet back, looking at the neat bullet hole in the centre of the womans forehead.
"Maybe it was a murder suicide! A case of a woman scorned and so she tortured him and then killed herself."
Jo shook her head at Lucas. "That would be thankfully neat and quickly tied up, but theres no gun yet. "
Henry frowned at the blood pooling under the woman. "She also wasnt killed here. No brain or bone particles, and the splatter pattern is wrong."
"Really?" Lucas asked, leaning over.
"Its Henry. Of course he's right." Hanson sighed. "I'll get some people looking for the gun, but I wont waste sleep over finding it before we find the killer."
Henry stood. "I will know when we run the blood, but I would hazard a guess that all of the blood, including what is under our Miss Doe, is all from the man." He clasped his hands behind his back and walked around the bodies to look at the phrase painted in blood above them. "Liberum Mortis."
"It means death is freedom."
"A mercy killing?"
"That's a far cry from mercy, Henry."
"Unless it wasnt for him." He turned back to the bodies that were being prepared for transport back to the morgue.
"Lingchi was meant for more than torture, which is why families could bribe the executioner to perform the sentence after the body was dead. It was meant for the afterlife, as the Chinese believed ones body had to be whole in death to be while in the afterlife. By flaying and dismembering them, the bodies were forever marked in the afterlife as having commited the crime of treason."
"So you think the man is the real victim here?"
He hummed. "You also might want to look for similar murders in the past. "
He nodded. "It is very neatly done."
She sighed. "Why cant anything just be easy... Fine, I'll let Hanson know we arent going home early tonight."
"It looks like something out of a horror movie." Lucas finished setting the dismembered parts on the slab. "I cant decided if this would be the monster, or what the monster would do."
Henry pulled on his gloves. "Life is nothing like one of you films with its gratuitous blood and frights. It is often much worse."
"Someones in a pessimistic mood today."
"I am not-"
"Its okay. I'm optimistic enough for both of us."
Henry sighed. "Did you clean the bodies?"
"Yeah, but there wasnt much to do. They were already really clean - almost scrubbed clean. Found some traces of soap in a few of the gashes."
"So we are unlikely to find anything of the killer on the bodies themselves... what about the women's dress?"
"Off the rack dress. Brand new too, and cheap. Probably not what she was wearing originally."
"Which would match the lack of identification for the victims themselves..." he sighed.
"I did send the prints over to Detective Martinez, so hopefully that turns up something."
He nodded, looking over the bodies. "This started out personal. I believe we will find that the killers motive is deeply entrenched in pain..."
"Now it is clinical. The cleanliness of the bodies. The lack of trace evidence. The arrangement. I would wager a guess that there is no trace of the killer on security cameras either. They have become quite skilled at their macabre hobby."
"Anyone ever tell you that you have a twisted fascination with death, doc?"
"Ah, Detective Hanson! And yes, repeatedly."
"Good to know. Anyway, jo sent me over with the other autopsy files. There have been four other identical killings, and three others that might have been the first few killings. They arent as neat."
"As I thought." He took the folders from Hanson. "Thank you, detective."
"No problem. Let us know if you find anything new."
"Of course." He turned to Lucas with a smile. "Lucas? We have work to do."