I’m sitting behind my computer, aimlessly trawling sex sites on the net. Carl left hours ago. He didn’t say goodbye, and I pretended to be asleep. You might expect me to feel guilty, but such thoughts have long since been expelled. Like a drug addict, my mind is on my next fix. Where, what and how are words frequenting my thoughts. I cancel all of my projects and tell Lucille not to expect me for the coming weeks. I fabricate a story about an improvised holiday. The mail circulates in the office and I immediately receive several replies wishing me a happy holiday. After clearing out work-related emails and handing over my most immediate tasks, I return once more to the sex sites I’ve been visiting.
I find myself strangely drawn to S&M sites, or BDSM: Bondage, Domination and Sadomasochism. I get a bizarre thrill as I watch women in humiliating and degrading positions, most of them bound whilst being fucked in all of their holes and cavities. Yes, I use such language now. The prude and demure Justine is but a memory, her place taken by her brazen, strong-headed and sexually unrestrained sister. As I scroll through the images, I masturbate until I come, imagining myself in an equally degrading position as I’m made to pleasure several men. I come in an explosion of lust, surrendering myself to exhaustion. I must have fallen asleep because I wake up to my phone going off.
I realise I need a suitable cover for my dark-side activities, and decide to use the Reaper murders as pretext. I take a shower and walk downstairs in my dressing gown, nursing a cup of coffee as I start the investigation. I follow the basic checklist of any research I conduct. I first start reading up on any applicable case studies and general information, in this case on Wikipedia, crime sites and casebooks dedicated to the crime. I take notes on information regarding suspects, established as well as potential victims, informants, policemen involved in the investigation, etc. I print a map and mark all the sites relevant to the crime: discovery sites, sites where the victims were last seen, work areas, living quarters, etc. From there on I dig deeper, searching independently for the facts to be revealed in the course of the research. Lastly, I start mapping events. This is done via a timeline as well as an interconnected super system of involved people, places and objects. It’s only at the last stage that the super system starts to reveal clues that can be used to form a hypothesis waiting to be proven.
I’m transfixed to the screen of my computer for the whole day, only stopping for short breaks as hunger grabs hold of me. I scan through numerous articles going back to the period of 1996 to 1998. The overall picture tallies with that of general consensus, but there are small details and variations that I note.
1. There were two murders before the first official victim, both prostitutes and both strangled. The only suspect was a pimp connected to the women, but evidence was never strong enough to indict him.
2. Both murders were done in haste, the bodies dumped in backstreet alleys.
3. All of the girls except for Celine Martin and the Jane Does whose occupations couldn’t be confirmed were applying their trade in and around Rue St-Denis.
4. The last sightings of the girls were with different men, some later offering alibis. This leads to the conclusion that the women may have visited an area with restricted public access.
5. Two girls, Marie Laroche and Leila Girard, appear to have been close friends, sharing a flat for two years prior to the murders. They both worked at a brothel called the Golden Key, now going by the name of Sin City.
6. Two victims where strangled prior to decapitation, the other five having their cause of death ruled as the decapitation itself.
7. Several articles mention the women being raped prior to their death, although police sources remain silent on this. An unidentified police informant leaked to the press that all victims had been both vaginally and anally raped shortly prior to death.
8. All victims were found naked. Their belongings were never found.
9. Two sources, one related to a crime site and another to an anonymous crime blog, list six of the seven victims as being found with their hands tied behind their backs.
10. A few articles include a picture of the double-headed eagle tattoo that one of the Jane Does bore. At the end of the right claw, the initials DT can be discerned.
11. There is no mention of jewellery or any other objects taken as trophies from the victims.
12. Speculations as to the perpetrator vary. The first two murders, which didn’t cause much of a stir beyond the unusual death by beheading, didn’t appear linked at all, and it was only after the third murder the following year that media reported of a possible serial killer. A pimp, a butcher and possibly a doctor have all been mentioned. There were also allegations of links to satanic rituals, although this has never been established.
I put my notes away, neatly transcribed into my notebook, and start mapping the names, the locations and the facts that are known to me. I work until past midnight before I surrender to sleep. I wake up to the guest bedroom door opening and closing. Then I fall asleep again. There are no dreams.