GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION

by K Cheryl Mwanza| Episode #4

“What do you have then?” Dube asked as she sat on a desk closest to the white board. Celeste had a black marker in one hand and was standing before the board.

Danai stood next to her and when everyone’s attention was on them, he cleared his voice then opened his mouth to speak.

“We went through the letter and found various things that might be of assistance to your investigation. To begin with, the author of the letter had immense hatred for his mother but at the same time has a great appreciation of her-“

“Why is this important?” Dhlamini asked.

“Your killer is not going to stop with just this victim.” Celeste answered. “The hatred that he has for his mother is so intense, anyone who reminds him of her is in grave danger. You are looking at the profile of a serial killer in the making.”

“You said something about the killer appreciating his mother. How would that work when he has intense hatred for this said mother?” Dube asked, “And what is it exactly about the letter that gives you the impressions that he both hated and appreciated his mother?”

“The line about your victim and the killer’s mother wearing way too much perfume.” Celeste answered. “When you say it now, it means nothing, but you have to put that line in context. The only time your killer would have been bothered by his mother’s perfume would have been before he started liking women. That is before puberty. However it’s not the perfume itself your killer hated. It’s what it represented.”

“History has it that in the mid-eighties and early nineties, women of loose morals had a thing about wearing too much perfume. It was an indicator to potential customers. So to speak.” Danai added. “So your killer had somewhat of a flashback to his mother and ‘those days’ when he came across the victim.”

“On the appreciation side, the way he comments about the blackness of the victim and how she carried herself. We linked it back to his mother since this came soon after the line about the perfume. He was attracted to that. A woman comfortable and proud in her own skin.” Celeste ended by looking at the detective.

“I don’t get how someone can be attracted to the person he hates.” Dube stuck by her guns.

“It’s like when a white man believes he is better than people from other races, but finds himself lusting after a black woman.” Celeste answered. An awkward silence fell about the room after Celeste had said this. To ease the tension that was beginning to creep in, Dhlamini opened her mouth and said the first thing that came to her mind.

“So now we have the profile of the women the killer’s fancies. It would have been better if we had something more.”

“We actually have more.” Danai answered. “The opening of the letter is an indication that your victim was the killer’s first victim. The killing itself was to the killer like a first sexual experience-“

“That’s like a metaphor, right?” Dhlamini asked.

“No.” Danai answered. “The first half of the letter reads like a romantic novel. Because it was like that for the killer. He got both aroused and satisfied from the abduction to the torture, for him it was like sex.”

“The way the encounter is described shows that the killer is obviously violent but at the same time controlling and addicted to power. He gets his thrill from breaking people and watching them beg for mercy. Beg for their lives.” Celeste said, “Your killer is someone who works in a position that allows them to decide the fate of people. This job also allows him to watch people beg for their lives and at times, even lose their lives.”

“So someone who is a judge or used to be a judge?” Dhlamini asked. “Based on everything you have just said, that would make perfect sense. A judge has ultimate power over a convict’s life and sometimes that power results in the state executing the convict. An ex-judge on the other hand would have lost that power and would be looking for ways in which to get it back.”

“If that is the case, then we have to look at all criminal judges who at some point in their careers resulted in someone being executed. From then on we dig into their pasts and try to determine who has mommy issues.” She said as she walked away the table making some calls.

“There is something else, though.” Danai said. “From the way the letter is constructed, it doesn’t read like a confession or a cry for attention. It’s like the killer was telling a friend what was happening in his life. But then it’s like he hadn’t been in touch with that friend for a long time. So he wasn’t sure whether or not the friend would be interested in what was happening in his life.”

“Based on that, the killer sent the letter to Mrs. Mare not because she was a journalist. But because he considered her as a friend because at some point their lives intersected. Maybe not directly for Mrs. Mare, but that’s not how your killer saw it.”

“So the killer is obsessed with Cynthia?” Ngoni asked.

“Not necessarily. But all that is going to depend on how the relationship between the two of them manifests in his mind. For the moment your wife is safe because she reacted positively to the letter.”

“So his relationship with Cynthia has nothing to do with the murder.” Dube said, “ So why now? Why kill Laura now? Why use her murder to connect with Cynthia?”

“He was recently triggered by something that both reminded him of his mother and is connected to Cynthia.” Celeste swallowed hard to try and hide the excitement in her voice but she failed miserably. Pinching herself to stop smiling she added, “Unless your killer is stopped, he won’t stop killing.”

Before Dube had a chance to answer, Detective Mudiwa Chiwenga rushed into the station breathing heavily waving his cellphone in air. He drew everyone’s attention and by the time he had calmed down, everyone in the room was dying from curiosity.

Catching his breath, he calmly said, “Cynthia Mare’s editor just called me. Another letter just came through. Addressed to Cynthia.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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