Thought #40. Verdict: guilty 2/2.

I went to a library and asked for a copy of the newspapers that had been mentioning or examining any fact related to the crimes. I can still see legitimate fear in the face of the librarian when she saw me, it’s an image that I will never forget. I picked up the pile of papers and studied it carefully, taking notes in a little notebook: locations, names of the victims, times and dates. In short, I tried to gather as much information as I could, in an attempt to clear up my mind. My life was a real mess as I couldn’t foresee what would be my next movement. I couldn’t think clearly. When I handed out the material to the librarian I had a hunch that something didn’t dovetail.

For the next four weeks I visited the crime scenes and to my surprise, I couldn’t recall any of those places. People would run away from me as though I was a plague-ridden dog. Maybe I wasn’t doing myself any favours by wandering around like a madman. On one occasion, someone summoned the police and I was taken to the nearest police station, held in custody in a cell and then questioned. After 24 hours, they had to release me as they didn’t have any crime to pin on me.

Exhausted by the efforts expended in trying to shed light on the mysterious circumstances of those crimes, I had no option but to visit my old psychiatrist and friend. He received me at his office and we affectionately hugged each other. I needed therapy. During the following five months I did nothing but visit him. It took us more than twenty sessions to understand what was going on. Schizophrenia didn’t prevent me from bringing back my memories and I hadn’t tried to blot them out. Apparently, I could have been a victim of a misleading investigation and I could have been accused for want of any other potential suspect.

Unfortunately, society often attributes people who suffer from a mental illness with aggressive traits. Say the words disorder and crime and our brain would end up making a strong connection that would eventually make it impossible for us to see the forest for the trees. I’m unable to hurt anyone. But appearances, more often than not, are deceptive.

More by accident than design, the therapy helped me to remember how the trial procedure took place. The interrogation room where I was questioned before the trial was cold, lifeless and featureless. As if it were a film, a metal table with two chairs, a security door and a one way mirror. The man who conducted the questioning was the same that appeared along me in the front page of the newspaper I receive when I left prison. But it wasn’t a usual procedure. All I faced then was a brainwashing session. Well, not one but a series of sessions that undermined my confidence and my sense of reality. In less than 72 hours I admitted the crimes and signed a typewritten declaration.

I visited my doctor one more time. During the session I had the opportunity to tell him about those brainwashing sessions. 15 years in prison for a series of crimes I hadn’t been responsible for. My friend and doctor gave me a really useful piece of advice. I had to go on with my life. “Forget the past and try to recover your job.” were his final words.

I went to the hotel and had an interview with the director. A signed report from the doctor and a three-hour long meeting did the trick. I started working in the night shift, this time as a maintenance boy, giving a hand wherever I was needed. Two months later I received a telegram from an unknown source. “Only one more death. You paid for my sins. I’m no longer here.”

The morning newspaper showed a picture of a cordoned area near the police station. “The inspector in charge of the series of murderers that hit the city almost 16 years ago was found dead after committing suicide. Police sources say….”