The sun’s just about to pierce through the night sky when I pull up on the street corner. I exit my jalopy and speed walk past the forensic vehicles and brown police cars—due to the early hour, the scene isn’t yet packed with morbid curiosity from the public.
Sliding past the yellow DO NOT CROSS tape, I spot Dempsey in the distance. I allow the bleak alleyway to envelop me like a spider web holding a prey captive.
Two unclothed corpses, both females, lie on the ground, their backs against the walls opposite each other. From where I stand, I can tell they’ve been mutilated, limbs and faces alike. Few light stands have been set up, giving the corpses these eerie, shadowed expressions—it feels like I’m standing on the stage of a twisted, life-size puppet show.
Taking a deep breath, I approach Dempsey who acknowledges my presence with an almost imperceptible tilt of his chin but stays quiet. Something of a telltale of his: he doesn’t want to be disturbed. I can only imagine how many theories are swimming through his head. I quietly move in to conduct my own observation, whipping out a notepad and a pen.
The two women are about the same age—mid to late twenties. The first corpse, dark-haired, has had both of her legs amputated. The absence of stubs and the presence of burnt flesh indicate the remains of her thighs might have been cauterized to limit excess bleeding, suggesting one of two things: the victim was still alive when the limbs were sawed, or the perpetrator didn’t want a bloody mess on his hands. I inch myself closer, noting the lack of trauma on the arms, torso, and face. Then I notice the back of the head; hair tangled and grimy with dried blood. Retrieving a pair of white gloves from my pocket and slipping one on, I push the hair back gently, revealing a deep, crude cut that’s been afflicted to the back of the skull, split open, nearly cracked in half all the way from the nape to the apex of the head, but what makes me feel like I’m hallucinating is what I find inside.
I move on to the other corpse, the one with hair dyed in the color of amethyst gemstones. This one, unlike the other, has had both arms severed without any mitigation—there are no signs of cauterization as far as I can tell. Whether that was deliberate or not is a mystery, but ‘exsanguination’ is a possible cause of death.
I take note of the intact legs, torso, and skull before reluctantly tackling what’s been done to the poor woman’s face. Her eyeballs seem to have been completely gouged out as all that is left are two hollow sockets, covered in mangled flesh and coagulated blood, a more arduous job than what the perpetrator had expected. Still, the trauma is just as gruesome, very similar to the other.
These murders are linked; performed by the same person, or people, carefully planned, and oddly executed.