Kamal Kanta Dhungel
At the end of every academic year, the top five students from BNB University (From the department of biology) of Brazil are selected for academic expedition. It is a fully funded program in which students get an opportunity to explore themselves in a real nature. These students have to spend a month-long trip along with a biology professor. After the completion of their trip they are suppose to submit individual project work and a group report. Antonio, George, Pedro, Lucas and Maria were selected for the academic expedition 2017 under the guidance of eminent botany professor Helena. They were assigned to travel across the Atlantic forest to explore its flora and fauna.
This is a South American forest that extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from Rio Grande Do Norte state in the northeast to Rio Grande Do Sul state in the south. It is very large forest occupying an area of around 1,315,460sq km. The quintet was very much excited to visit the mesmerizing greenery of the pulchritudinous Atlantic forest.
On 18th June 2017, they left off the university to explore the mysteries behind the huge Atlantic forest. They had a caravan with every necessary materials required for them during their voyage. They reached Rio Grande Do Norte to enter the forest. There was a narrow rough road for forest safari. They were very much enthralled by the beauty of the forest. Momentarily they forgot the roller coaster type of jerky road while they were submerged in its beauty. They started taking pictures and recording videos.
“We are just entering the forest. This forest is very humongous and we have a lot of things to explore and take picture of. So, keep your electronic gadgets inside otherwise it is likely to be dead.” professor Helena explained.
“Ok professor.” they nodded.
As they got deep inside the forest Helena introduced the plants and animals appearing en route. They were now acquainted with Ferns, Mosses, Epiphytes such as Lianas, Orchid, Bromeliads and animals such as Golden lion tamarin, Muriquis, Marmosets, Margay, Brown howler, Ocelet, Buffy-tufted marmoset and even the toxic snake Xenodon Merremii. Sometimes, the students were very scared when the professor mentioned some mysterious stories of lost humans, haunted huts, very dangerous carnivorous plants and animals. They clung together to regain courage and to control themselves. They tend to show as if they are brave and they are okay. The professor smiled inside whenever she observed them being scared.
“Real life situation is very different from the theory we learnt in our classrooms.” she mentioned.
They saw her eye to eye in consent.
It was nearly fifteenth day when they reached in the middle of the dense forest. At around 10 pm in the evening, while they were in a deep sleep inside their caravan, suddenly a log and deep howling of a jackal around the caravan disturbed their sleep. Soon they opened their eyes and observed one another. But they noticed that Pedro was missing and Antonio was found outside the caravan.
“What are you doing here, Antonio?” Helena asked.
“I am just peeing” he replied.
“Where is Pedro?” Helena asked being angry.
“You should ask me before moving off the caravan. It is a dangerous forest with homicide plants and animals. I am your professor. What should I do if something untoward happened? Be careful guys.” she added a bit angrily.
“Where is Pedro?” Lucas and Maria asked in fear.
“Let’s search him.” Helena told smelling something unusual.
With torch light in their hands, and a little fear in their mind, they now moved around shouting ‘Pedro!’ in the vast jungle and their sound echoed the whole jungle giving them back a long scary sound ‘Pedrooo, Pedroo’ . But Pedro was not to be heard. They grew more worried and looked at each other in fear.
They scanned the areas around caravan searching for Pedro until midnight.
“Let’s get back to our domicile otherwise we will be in danger of animals.” Helena said.
So they got back towards the caravan and stayed inside until it was a dawn.
Early morning, they set out in different directions to search their lost friend Pedro.
Professor Helena and Maria moved towards East, Antonio towards the West, George towards the north and Lucas to the south.
All of them moved to their direction looking here and there hoping to see Pedro around. It was nearly four hours they were searching Pedro but he was nowhere to be seen. Now, they were praying god for Pedro’s safety.
“I found something hanging afar on a tree. It is not clearly visible though. Approach here immediately.” Lucas shouted to the other four.
All of them gathered together hurriedly. Their heartbeat was still loud and they were sweating heavily.
“See there is something swinging on that tree.” Lucas pointed to a tall Hyperion tree with his index finger.
“Let’s rush.” George shouted.
As soon as they reached the Hyperion tree they found that Pedro was swinging through the rope on a stout branch of the tree. Pedro was dead.
They started sobbing by finding him in this situation.
Immediately Helena surfed through the internet to find the location of nearby police station. She found a police academy fifteen kilometers off and reported them about the incident. A posse of police rushed out to the incident place.
Helena was lamenting and sobbing more than others because they were in her tutelage. She was regretting in her inability to protect him.
Helena shared every details of Pedro to the police. She also explained how they came to know that he is missing and how they found him suspended.
The investigation troop was led by Inspector Joseph.
First of all he split his team into three groups with two constables in each group. The first group was assigned to take video and photograph of the crime scene, the second team was deployed to measure the height of the tree and the third group was deployed to search every minute detail around.
Then the corpse was sent for post-mortem in the police academy.
Preliminary investigation of the incident showed the following facts:
- The height of the branch was 170 feet over the ground. Usually people use some tools such as chairs, wooden log, and ladder to manage the height while attempting suicide however; there were no such things in the crime scene. It means that the murderer must have taken such things with him/her.
- There was a footprint underneath the suspended corpse. However, it resembled with the footprint of Pedro. It denied the presence of any other person. It hinted for suicide.
- There was an academic competition between Pedro and Lucas in university. So, Lucas is likely to be the suspected for the incident as he also found corpse first.
- Moreover, it is not expected a single guy to raise the corpse of such a fat man to that height and get it suspended. It implies that if it is a murder then there must more than one culprit. Again, if it is a murder then it is obvious that the culprit must be from among the leftover five peoples.
The Police then reached out the university and collected every minute detail of Pedro and would-be culprit. However, they couldn’t find any concrete evidence against anyone.
The very next day, Joseph received a post-mortem report which also couldn’t resolve the dilemma of suicide or murder.
Inquiring Pedro’s friends and families it was revealed that he was usually depressed as his beloved girlfriend passed away last year. He had already attempted suicide several times at his home.
Knowing this, the police were concluding the incident as a suicide and trying to close this case. Yet, there is conflict between forensic report and police crime scene investigation. Joseph himself wasn’t happy. He smelled something fishy going on but he didn’t have any proof against anyone to claim it as murder.
Next day Joseph reached the crime scene with his trustworthy constables to find the missing evidences if any. Once again, they search was carried out with scrupulous attention. This time a constable’s eyes fell at two smashed leeches buried in the footprint. While the earlier investigation had ignored such scenes thinking the footprint resembled with of Pedro’s. The constable informed Joseph.
“There is nothing unusual about the dead leeches. “Joseph replied.
The constable expressed his suspicion in this leeches as they were heavily smashed.
“Why a man who’s attempting suicide smash leeches even if they suck him, isn’t it sir?” the constable expressed his doubt.
Joseph understood the logic behind the constable’s statement.
He then sent those leeches to the forensic laboratory to test the blood sample available inside their stomach.
The blood report made a shocking reveal when Joseph read it the next day. The report showed that a human blood with blood group ‘O-’ was inside the leech. As there was no injury or bite marks in the Pedro’s body, Joseph and his team suspected that the blood must match with one among the five.
Immediately Joseph called the quintet in his police academy and checked their body. He found that there was an injury in Antonio’s body. In addition, his footprint was as same as that of Pedro. They caught him and tested his blood sample. This blood sample perfectly matched with the one they found inside leech.
Then Antonio revealed that it was his misdeed including Professor Helena.
During interrogation Helena confessed that Pedro had threatened her to expose her malpractices and corruption to the university authorities.
“He spied against me. He had collected enough evidences against my scam and corruption. I tried to convince him however, he denied so I didn’t have other option then to get him killed.” Helena explained.
She had used Antonio as a crime partner by enticing him with project scores.
Everybody in the varsity got bewildered by the wicked mind of Professor Helena.
Now both of them were sent to prison. The court declared them life time imprisonment. The news spread across the nation and people mourned and are prayed for Pedro’s departed soul.