The apartment building wasn’t particularly glamorous, but it wasn’t falling apart either. Functional, and well kept. The apartment manager clearly took pride in his work. He didn’t look proud right now though. He looked rattled. The beat cops had him sat on a chair in the hallway, wrapped in a blanket outside the apartment. Detective Burrows could feel herself getting pissed off. ‘If that chair came from the crime scene…’ she seethed to herself.
“Good morning. It’s Mr. Stanley Fredericks isn’t it?” she knew the name from the case file she’d read on the way. The apartment manager nodded nervously “I’d just like to ask you a few questions. Fuck it’s cold here!” Shocked out of her normally professional attitude my the sudden drop in temperature.
“Why did you sit the poor man in a draft? He’s already freezing!” She snapped at whichever cop was closest.
“Sorry Detective,” said Officer Hammond “I didn’t feel a draft when I sat him there”. Janet Burrows holds up a flat hand to shut him up and says,
“Take him down to your car and crank up the heat. Is that going to be okay for you Stan? I’ll meet you down at the station when I’m done here”. Stan Fredericks nods gratefully and grip his blanket tightly as Officer Hammond leads him outside.
Janet sighs and steps into the apartment. The smell of rotten meat and ruptured guts already threatening to turn her stomach. She forces herself to take a slow deep breathe, hold it in to acclimate to the smell, and then slowly let it out again. She’d done this countless times before. A trick she’d learned back when she was a rookie.
Despite this her stomach nearly flipped again at the sight of the corpse. The cop in the apartment with her, Officer Phillips, gave a nod of understanding.
“I know right?” he said, a little unprofessionally, “Who does this?”
“That’s what we’re here to find out”, said the Detective as she put on a pair of latex gloves. She forced herself to look at the body as she recorded her observation into her phone.
“The victim appears to have been strapped into a metal frame of some kind in an upright position. The body itself has been butchered, apparently by various power-tools attached to the framework”. She paused a moment to gather herself before continuing.
“Butchered is an understatement. The ribcage has been sawn open and mechanically pulled apart. The abdomen has also been opened, spilling the ragged remains of the intestines and completely destroying the genitalia. The circular saw that was used to split the torso still sits with the blade lodged in the crotch, presumably embedded in the pelvic bone.
“The flesh of his arms and legs has been similarly sliced open and pulled apart, exposing the bones. The hands and feet have been completely mutilated. Judging by the position of the bladed armatures, the extremities must have been the first extremities damaged, making the victim incapable of freeing himself or walking away from this. Only the head is untouched.
“The framework is etched with strange symbols, and the entire device is facing a full-length mirror. Whoever did this wanted the victim to see what was happening to him, which would explain the undamaged face.”
“Detective?” interrupted Officer Phillips, “As horrible as it sounds, I think he did this to himself. This note was attached to the frame when Fredericks found the body”. The police officer hands Janet an evidence bag containing a blood splattered letter. Janet Burrows took a few moments to quickly read the apparent suicide note.
“Have you read this, Phillips?” asked the Detective.
“I skimmed it. We all did. Hammond, Davison and me. This whole thing’s going to give me nightmares. Fredericks was still holding it, reading it over and over, when we got here. This Anderson guy was a total whack-job!”
“You’re not kidding! Where are the notebooks he talks about?”
“On the the desk there by the mirror, Detective. Sorry, but I’m going to have to get some air. I’ll have Davison come in.” he said
“Thanks” she replied ansently as the officer left. The first of the journals she picked up was full of scribbled technical drawings showing how the horrendous contraption behind her was put together. She flipped through a few others describing folktales and magic before continuing to record.
“Everything is this room is staged to make it look as if the victim subjected himself to cruel and intense lethal torture to become, according to the ‘suicide note’ and the notebooks found at the scene, a ghost.
“Whoever went to such great lengths is clearly disturbed. There’s nothing as yet to indicate motive, besides what we’re supposed to believe. The handwriting will have to be analysed and compared with the victim’s other writing to establish identity, though I’d honestly be surprised if we found any other examples of the victim’s writing in this apartment. The perp has been very thorough.
“There’s a chance that the perp made a mistake. There may be a shopping list in the trash, or a post-it note somewhere that was overlooked. I’m sure that the victim’s photo id will confirm that the victim’s name really is Mark Anderson. Signing his own name would be sloppy.”
Detective Burrows turned off the recorder as she began looking for places a writing sample might be hiding. She was still shining her pocket flashlight behind furniture when the coroner arrived.