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Murder in the Midnight Hour

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It was 2:00 am in Seoul, South Korea, when two homicide detectives for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency were called to the scene of a murder in an alleyway. They took the body back to the Agency to have it examined while the two detectives tried to figure out the one question that mattered most: Who could have done this?

 

"Body's been dead for about 2 hours, so since midnight," Mario said as he entered the detectives' office, "There was a few maggot eggs but we managed to scrape them away, and we've identified the victim as Eun-Chae Lee."

"Great, so now we know who our victim is, but we still don't know how he died." One of the homicide detectives sighed.

"Well, Geon, these things take time. We can't solve a murder in less than 24 hours. We need evidence, witnesses, a suspect..." The other detectives replied.

"Yeah but..." Geon trailed off, "Juho, what places were around where we found the body?"

"All I can remember is that underground tattoo shop and the rundown restaurant." Juho replied.

"Look up the names of those places and who owns them." Geon replied, "Mario, can you get Jungbin to go through Eun-Chae's emails and phone records?" Mario nodded and left the office to tell Jungbin.

"So, who do you think killed him?" Juho asked.

"That's not our job, we only provide the evidence and testify." Geon replied.

"Okay, but still, who do you think could've killed him?" Juho asked.

"I don't know." Geon sighed.

"Should we go see how they're doing..? I don't want to sit in this office all day." Juho sighed as he got up.

"I guess, but who's gonna be here to answer the phone?" Geon asked.

"Fine, I'll just go." Juho replied as he left the office, closing the door behind him. He walked down the cold, bright white hallway to get to the elevator, then went down to the lab. Soon, the elevator doors opened and Juho stepped out. He entered the huge room to see how the investigation was going.

"Juho! Glad you're here, I went through Eun-Chae's emails, and I found this one from someone called E2PR1T2011..." Jungbin said as he opened the email, "I tried to track down who owns the email and where it was sent from, but I guess they used some sort of military grade VPN because I can't track it!"

"Jungbin, what makes you question this email in particular?" Juho asked as he wrote stuff down in his mini notepad.

"Look at this line in the email." Jungbin replied, pointing to a line on the screen that read: "If you tell anyone about this, I will make sure you're dead. Got it?"

"Well now we know that this was no accident. But we still don't have a cause of death." Juho replied.

"I know, I know." Jungbin sighed, "It could be days before we figure out who did this."

"Especially because there aren't any obvious wounds," Mario interrupted as he entered the room, "Also, Jungbin, you left Eun-Chae's phone records on the printer." he handed the stack of papers to Jungbin.

"Ah, thank you, Mario." Jungbin replied as he began going through the records, "In the past month, Eun-Chae has made 20 calls to Madman Tattoos...interesting."

"Isn't that that sketchy underground tattoo shop in the alleyway where Eun-Chae was found?" Mario asked.

"I think it is! I have to tell Geon." Juho replied as he began walking away.

"Hold on, Juho. First off, you need to know the cause of death first if you're going to question anyone in that shop." Mario replied. Juho paused and turned around, 

"I could just ask if the owner or anyone in the shop has seen Eun-Chae recently."

"That's true. Okay, go do that. But they close in 2 hours." Jungbin replied. Juho nodded and went off to the elevator, then back to his office.

"Find out anything?" Geon asked as Juho entered the office.

"Yeah, I'll explain in the car." Juho replied as he grabbed his coat and ID.

"Where are we going?" Geon asked as he stood up, also grabbing his coat and ID.

"That tattoo shop, turns out Eun-Chae has made 20 calls to that place in the past month." Juho replied.

"Okay, what does that have to do with anything?" Geon asked as he and Juho walked out to their car.

"Eun-Chae was found in the alleyway outside the tattoo shop, he made 20 calls to said tattoo shop in the past month, and he got an email from someone going by E2PR1T2011 saying that if he told anyone about some unknown thing, they'll make sure he's dead." Juho explained.

"So you think someone at the tattoo shop did this?" Geon asked.

"I think the owner did it, but as of now, all we can do is ask questions." Juho replied as he started the engine. He put the address to the tattoo shop into his GPS.

"How are we going to go in there without looking weird?" Geon asked, "I don't know about you, but I got enough tattoos."

"We just go in and ask for the owner, that's all." Juho replied as he drove down the street.

"What are we even going to ask him?" Geon asked.

"Just if he's seen him recently, and if he knows anyone that had trouble with him." Juho replied.

"So are we gonna take him down to the station for questioning?" Geon asked.

"Yeah, that would be the best option." Juho sighed as they pulled into a parking space. He checked his mirrors to make sure he was good.

"We better hurry, it looks like it's about to pour." Geon stated as he looked up at the sky.

"Right, right." Juho got out of the car along with Geon. Juho locked the car as they both walked down the alleyway. At the end of the alleyway was a small shop with a bright neon purple sign saying "Madman Tattoos".

"You first." Geon pushed Juho gently.

"Fine." Juho sighed as he opened the door to the tattoo shop. They walked in and were immediately hit with the smell of cigarettes, coffee and alcohol, the speakers blasting Miscast by X Japan.

"Hi! Welcome to Madman Tattoos! Unfortunately, because we close in less than two hours, your tattoo probably won't get done in time, but you can book an appointment for tomorrow night! Say at like, one in the morning?" The man at the desk said as soon as they walked in.

"Oh, no. We're not here for tattoos, are you the owner?" Geon asked.

"Oh! You're looking for the owner? He's in the back." The man replied.

"Thank you." Geon said as he and Juho walked to the back office, passing multiple people covered in tattoos drinking, smoking, and talking. Geon was the first one to enter the office by kicking the door open. There was a man sitting at the desk typing on his computer, he was dressed in all black and had short black and pink hair. He turned around in his chair to face Geon and Juho,

"Can I help you?" he asked sarcastically, "Don't you know that it's rude to kick down doors, have some manners."

"Are you the owner of this shop?" Geon asked.

"Yeah, what about it?" The man asked.

"I'm Geon, this is Juho," he said as they both got out their IDs, "We're gonna have to ask you to come with us." The man stood up and sighed, "Fine." Geon and Juho led the man out into the main room and to the front door, "Sangyun! Can you close up shop for me? I'll pay you extra." 

"Sure!" The man at the desk replied before the three of them left the building, it was starting to rain.

"Looks like you got a nice shop, sir." Geon said, trying to start up conversation.

"Yeah, I opened it back in 2011." The man replied, Juho and Geon looked at each other.

"What's this about, anyway?" The man asked.

"We just need you to take you down to the station and ask you a few questions, that's all." Juho replied, "You should be fine."

"I hope so, I don't have a lot of time on my hands now anyway." The man sighed.

"Really, why's that?" Geon asked.

"I have to extend the amount of hours the shop is open because of all the clients we're getting." The man replied.

"Oh, well, what are your hours now?" Juho asked as he unlocked the car.

"12:30 in the morning until 6:30 in the morning." The man replied.

"Good to know." Geon replied as put the man in the backseat, then got in the passenger's seat. Juho got into the driver's seat and started up the car.

"Before we get into the main questions, could you just tell us your name, age, birthday, and where you live?" Geon asked as he took out a notepad.

"Sure. My name is Kyuho Lee, I'm 27 years old, born on April 17th, 1992. I live in Seoul." The man replied.

"Where in Seoul?" Geon asked, writing stuff down in his notepad.

"I live in the apartment building two blocks away on the corner." Kyuho replied.

"Okay, cool, thank you for being so cooperative." Geon said as he finished writing down the information in his notepad. Kyuho just nodded his head. The rest of the drive back was silent, just Juho following the GPS, Geon writing down more information in his notepad, and Kyuho staring out the back window. The rain was coming down harder now, as if the streets were going to flood. When they got to the station, Geon and Juho ushered Kyuho into the station and then immediately into a questioning room.

"One of us will be back in a few minutes, just hang tight." Geon said as he and Juho left the room, leaving Kyuho to sit at an empty table with a bright light shining down from the ceiling.

"So, which one of us should question him?" Juho asked.

"I'll question him, you just go into the other room." Geon said as he went back into the questioning room. Juho went into the other room and watched through the large one-way window.

"So, Mister Lee, do you mind if I ask you a few questions? Geon asked.

"Go ahead." Kyuho sighed.

"Do you recognize this man?" Geon asked as he took out a picture of Eun-Chae to show to Kyuho. Kyuho looked at the picture,

"Yeah. That's Eun-Chae Lee. He comes into my shop a lot."

"Do you know what happened to him at midnight? It just so happened to be right before your tattoo shop opened." Geon replied.

"No, what happened?" Kyuho asked.

"We found him dead in the alleyway, outside your shop, Mister Lee." Geon sighed.

"Oh god, that's awful." Kyuho replied, then he paused, "Wait a minute, you think did this?"

"You're our prime suspect at the moment, Mister Lee." Geon replied.

"Yeah, no. There's no way I killed Eun-Chae." Kyuho replied, "Why would I kill one of my top customers?"

"We were thinking you could answer that, Mister Lee." Geon sighed.

"What do you mean?" Kyuho asked.

"In the past 20 months, Eun-Chae has called your shop 20 times, can you explain that?" Geon asked.

"I can sum it up, only because I'm not in charge of answering the phone." Kyuho replied.

"Who is?" Geon asked as he began writing in his notepad.

"Sangyun, he's the receptionist at the shop. He answers the phone, fills out the appointment book, fills the coffee machine and the cooler, and puts data into the computer." Kyuho replied.

"Than, just to make sure the stories match up, could you sum up what Sangyun told you about the 20 phone calls?" Geon asked as he continued writing down information.

"Yeah. Sangyun told me Eun-Chae called because he wanted to schedule appointments to get tattoos, other times he would call just to complain about the restaurant across the alleyway." Kyuho replied.

"Okay, can you explain the email?" Geon asked.

"What email?" Kyuho asked.

"The email sent by E2PR1T2011@gmail.com. We believe that you sent this email using a VPN so that we can't track it down." Geon replied.

"I don't own that email address, I don't even own a VPN." Kyuho replied.

"But isn't it coincidental that the year 2011 is in the email address, and that's the year you opened your tattoo shop?" Geon asked.

"Yeah, it is. But I do not own that email address." Kyuho replied.

"How do I know you're telling the truth, Mister Lee?" Geon asked.

"I can let you check the computers in the tattoo shop tomorrow night." Kyuho replied.

"That would be great, thank you." Geon replied as he wrote stuff down in his notepad.

"Yeah. Can I go home now?" Kyuho asked.

"Yes, you can go. Thank you for your help." Geon replied as he got up and opened the door. Kyuho got up and left the room, 

"Can I get a ride home? It's pouring."

"Yeah, sure." Geon replied as he and Kyuho went down to the garage. Juho was sitting in the other room, writing stuff down, when suddenly he got a call.

"Hello?" Juho asked as he answered the phone.

"Hey, Juho! It's Nansil! I got good news!" Nansil said over the phone.

"What is it?" Juho asked.

"Well, it's not really good considering it's about the case, but I did find the cause of death!" Nansil replied.

"Tell me so I can write it down for Geon when he comes back." Juho replied as he got his pen ready.

"Where is Geon?" Nansil asked.

"Dropping off someone we questioned, but that's not the point. Tell me what killed Eun-Chae Lee." Juho sighed, getting slightly annoyed.

"Eun-Chae was killed using ethylene glycol, you know, that stuff found in antifreeze." Nansil replied.

"Oh shit.." Juho mumbled as he wrote down the information, "Thank you, I'll report it to Geon right away."

"Anything to help!" Nansil replied as he hung up the phone.