It's been quiet for a while now, and you have been enjoying your well-earned holiday after multiple exhausting murder cases. Sightseeing, hiking and a few days just doing nothing at the beach is a great preparation for more weeks of crime-solving and criminal-hunting, which you'll undoubtedly be doing as soon as you get back home. Just as you close your eyes and take a sip of your exotic cocktail (with some complicated, Spanish sounding name)...

Your phone rings. You look at the caller ID: X. Sanders, your boss at the Department of Unsolvable and Mysterious Problems, part of the Terrorist Research Agency for Serious Hazards. You consider not picking up, but knowing your boss and his short fuse you decide the wisest option is to just answer the phone.

Daniels, Sanders speaking. Get back ASAP! Big trouble in terrorist town. Expect you here
at 20:00 this evening, you know where.

Before you get the chance to ask any questions, you hear the familiar beeping sound every one of your "conversations" with Sanders prematurely ends with. Wishing you hadn't picked up the phone, you pack your stuff and head towards the airport.

Once you arrive at the TRASH headquarters, your boss is already waiting at the entrance and commands you to follow him to the central DUMP conference room. When you and your boss enter the conference room two people almost bump into you, frantically running around with a phone in one hand and a bunch of paperwork in the other. Around the large, round table people are writing, typing, calling and talking continuously, and you think back to 24 hours ago, when you were still lying in a comfortable hotel bed.

After Sanders shoos away two people sitting at the table, you both sit down. "So, what was so important that I had to come back on such a short notice?", you ask. "Well," Sanders replies, "a few hours after you walked out of the office last Friday we received a box containing two notes and... this." Sanders shows you a jar with a hand, cut off at the wrist. You've seen things like this many times before, but you still don't like the sight of human limbs detached from their body. Sanders continues: "Both notes had a poem written on them, and one had a digit written on the back. Here, read this." He hands you the first note. It reads:

Thinking where I'm going next?
The answer's hidden in rhyming text.
Search for directions that will guide.
Counting heads, the number is applied.
Hurry, for once it is too late.
More of my victims will meet my fate.

"We studied the note for hours, but we didn't understand what this guy means. Directions? Counting heads? Victims?" For the first time in years you notice a hint of hopelessness on Sanders' face. "Can I see the second note?" you ask. "Sure, it's in the same folder as the first note." You take out the second note and start reading.

I am a refugee, longing for the unknown.
Stay under the radar, wind up all alone.
I am an echo, bar the sound.
I bend, I go down the path I've found.
I'm a trail of debris, bane of your sanity.
Keep your temper though, considering your vanity.

On the back of the note a single digit was written:


"Who does this guy think he is?!" Sanders starts to turn red, so you quickly change the subject. "What happened next? What did you do?" you ask. "Well, we put our best analysts on the case, but they weren't able to find any fingerprints or DNA that we could use to track the sender. We looked through our cold cases to see if the DNA of the hand matched a handless body, but it didn't. Since we weren't able to find anything, we decided to wait and hope it was some kind of prank. But it wasn't. It was only the start... Gimme a sec." Sanders grabs his phone, dials a number and you hear him saying to the person on the other side of the line: "Henderson! Get me the files, pronto!" A few seconds later an intern stumbles into the room, carrying four folders filled with police reports, pictures and notes. He drops them next to you on the table and looks at you with an expression that you conclude is a mix of admiration and fear. "What are you waiting for?" Sanders asks him, looking irritated. "Don't you have any work to do?". The poor intern runs off, almost forgetting to open the glass door on his way out.

"This is what we have," Sanders says. "Every week another body was found, and we were always too late. No witnesses, except for one time, but what she saw wasn't very helpful. It's all in the files." You start looking through the folders, but you can't concentrate with all this noise around you. "I need some time." you say to Sanders. "Go ahead, but make sure it doesn't take too long. This guy doesn't mess around, and if we're not quick we're gonna get a call from a Police Department somewhere telling us there's another body. We need to know where he's going to strike next."

You pick up the files, grab a coffee and head down to your office. You clear your desk and drop the files on it. "Hmmm, let's see..." you mumble to yourself, "let's just start with the first one." You read the police report and look at the pictures, but there doesn't seem to be any useful information there. However, there's another note in the file!


Date: August 27th, 2016


A patient killer responding kindly, sometimes cold.
I'll almost often handle, also even hold
people that zone out, very rapidly appearing.
I'm rushing and dashing and reaching, nearing.
An adventure nigh endless, looking extremely insane.
The solution I search and shall attain.

Back of the note:


Interesting... Another note with a 6-line poem, and another digit on the back of the note. Before you draw any conclusions, you take a look at the second file. And once again, there's a note in the folder.


Date: September 3rd, 2016


The light
Terribly bright
a wicked blight

Appreciate this
A happiness, bliss
and defiantly dismiss

Back of the note:


That's weird. This 'poem' doesn't really look like the other two poems. There is another digit written on the back of the note though. You pick up the third file, scan the police report and the story the witness told the police, but she only saw 'a guy of average height wearing a grey hoodie, scribbling something on a piece of paper before he got into a car and drove away'. That's not going to help at all, so you take a look at the interesting part: the note.


Date: September 10th, 2016


Evil liars said: be free!
Tomorrow leaders will still agree.
You fear, sent to war.
Tsunami, tornado, jump, run for
your life and climb away.
Below forever, he can stay.

Back of the note:


Being the rockstar detective you are, you suddenly notice something. You look back at the previous files, and it all becomes clear. You know the next location! You call Sanders: "Boss, I know it. I'll send you the details." Out of curiosity, you decide to open the fourth and last folder.


Date: September 17th, 2016



Hmmm, no poem? Seeing the location and the number, you start to smile. "That makes sense." you say to yourself. You check the time, and luckily you can still catch a flight back to your holiday location.

A few hours later you are back in your hotel room, a glass of whiskey in your hand, thinking: "Nothing beats a Daniels..."

Where will the next murder take place?

Please include the location of the next murder and the location of the previous murders in your answer, with an explanation for each of the locations.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nice story. I especially like that the police were hoping that receiving a severed hand in the mail was "some kind of prank." Ah, those kids! $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2016 at 19:23

1 Answer 1


First by looking at the two notes that came with the jar, we can see that

the second note conceals 6 cities from Australia.

I am a refugee, longing for the unknown. → Geelong
Stay under the radar, wind up all alone. → Darwin
I am an echo, bar the sound. → Hobart
I bend, I go down the path I've found. → Bendigo
I'm a trail of debris, bane of your sanity. → Brisbane
Keep your temper though, considering your vanity. → Perth

Then the first note tells us to search for directions, which could mean

to identify the cities above

and also that "counting heads, the number is applied" which could mean

count how many times a letter is a start of a word in the poem and select the letter whose number of appearences is equal to the number on the back of the note.

So, also in the second note that came with the jar,

the letter G appears only once (1),

thus indicating that the next location (murder #1) is:


The poem in File 1

contains the letter D only once (1),

so the location of murder #2 is


Now here's where I got stuck!

The poem in File 2

contains the letter B as start of a word for three times (3)

which could indicate

either Bendigo or Brisbane

as the location of murder #3.

Also, the poem in File 3

contains the letter H once (1),

indicating that the location of murder #4 would be


However, I don't understand how the detective can understand both murder #4 and murder #5 just by looking at File 3.

Still working on this last part.

  • $\begingroup$ In the second note with the jar, you may have missed the word "path". That gives two candidates for two murders, the first and third, which seems unlikely; that makes the method of identifying location rather suspect. I don't have a better guess for what it is, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Nov 8, 2016 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ Something else that might be helpful. Every line of the File 1 note has 7 words. Every line of the File 3 note has 5 words. The File 2 note doesn't quite fit this pattern, as its lines are are 2-2-3 2-3-3 words long. But maybe the missing File 4 note "makes sense" because it's supposed to be 0, and thus there are no lines. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2016 at 21:57

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