At the time of writing, late February 2004, I have heard no more from Peter Marlin, and the events of last autumn have yet to be satisfactorily explained. Following my discovery of the hidden message in Marlin's notes, I returned to the police with copies of these letters, and, after much deliberation, chose also to hand over John's shirt, which remains in their possession to this day. Whilst unwilling to invest more than the most minimal of resources in the investigation of a case they still believed to be a hoax, the police nonetheless accepted the essential legitimacy of my story, and advised me accordingly.
After careful consideration of the risks involved, I subsequently took the decision to move myself and my family into alternative accommodation. In the previous weeks Marlin had demonstrated an unsettling ability to track my movements at will, and it appeared likely therefore that my home address may be known to him. There remained many uncertainties, yet whilst any possibility existed of a threat to my life, this seemed a precaution worth taking. Naturally this also necessitated a change in my professional life to enable me to continue with my work in a limited capacity from home. I have not so far returned to my organisation since that October.
The question of whether Peter Marlin is, or ever was, a genuine serial killer continues to be a source of much debate. To date the only evidence of a death remains locked in the vaults of my memory, and as real and undeniable as I may feel that evidence to be, it will naturally convince no one but myself.
Ultimately there appear to be three fundamental hypotheses. The first is of course that Peter Marlin's claims are genuine, and that he has indeed killed twenty people in recent years, six of those in the two month period from mid-August to mid-October 2003. There are undoubtedly those who believe this to be the case, most notably among the street community of Ipswich, and to this day I consider it a strong theoretical possibility. Though murder on such a grand scale would ordinarily attract similarly high levels of attention, Marlin's apparent choice of victim neatly sidesteps this issue. By focusing on those individuals who would be missed by none but the smallest of social groups, and whose disappearance would not in all probability be reported, Marlin could ensure that his crimes pass unnoticed in the wider community.
The question here is why Marlin apparently planned to abandon this pattern of behaviour when it came to the final murder. I could not, after all, have represented a more disparate choice of victim.
The second hypothesis deals specifically with this last issue. It contends that the entire Peter Marlin story was no more than an elaborate smokescreen created by an individual who neither planned nor attempted to murder others, and whose sole intention had been to kill me. It is suggested that the Marlin alter ego was invented purely for this purpose, his crimes entirely fabricated, all in an effort to manoeuvre me into position for the ultimate execution of his plan. I did not match the profile of a Marlin victim, therefore, because no other victims, and thus no such profile, had ever existed.
One has to ask, however, why any individual would choose to go to such apparently extraordinary lengths in order to commit a single murder. It appears nonsensical and wholly unnecessary. In addition, these two hypotheses feature a number of shared issues which have yet to be explained. The first, which underpins the entire case, is of course the question of motive. As far as I am aware I do not have any enemies, certainly not to a degree which might warrant a death sentence. Admittedly, having worked as a journalist for some years, it would be bordering on the impossible for me to have avoided the incitement of a certain amount of bad feeling from those my work has touched. Merely reporting the truth can be sufficient to offend a criminal who may be the reluctant subject of that truth. At present, however, no specific motive has been identified.
Secondly there is the issue of Marlin's failure to kill me, or even to attempt such an act, on Friday, 17th October 2003. This is particularly anomalous if one subscribes to the view that I was his sole intended victim. To have worked so conscientiously to draw me into such a position, and to have succeeded in his aim, only to fall so lamely at the final hurdle, seems a missed opportunity of spectacular proportions. My only explanation is to propose that Marlin may have been a killer with a highly specific modus operandi. He may have depended on a precise method of killing, perhaps replacing violence with the element of surprise, or even employing drugs to incapacitate his victims. Having found himself face to face with me that night, unable to carry out his usual procedure, it is possible that he felt compelled to abandon his plan of action, and, unwilling to resort to the risky use of violence, chose instead to flee. This is of course mere speculation, however, and ultimately we may never know the true nature of Marlin's intentions that night.
The final hypothesis, needless to say, is that the entire case was simply a well-planned and successfully executed hoax. Admittedly this theory appears to leave the fewest unanswered questions. It explains the lack of a motive, the absence of hard evidence, and of course Marlin's ultimate failure to do me any real harm. It also provides the explanation for his otherwise inexplicable decision to warn me of his intentions via the hidden message in notes one and four. The overwhelming arrogance of a successful serial killer could, in theory, account for such a move, yet a more likely explanation would surely be that the letters were merely part of a self-amusing game for the perpetrator.
All but the first hypothesis, however, ignore the issue of Vic's body, and much therefore hinges on whether or not one accepts Vic's death as a reality. I can do no more than to refer visitors to my previous statements on this matter. Ultimately it is for each individual to decide.
Whatever the inherent truth of this case, the Peter Marlin story remains one which cannot be ignored. Whether a crime of untold magnitude, an elaborate and manipulative hoax, or a combination of the two, those responsible remain unknown and at large. Under such circumstances, we are each charged with the same sobering responsibility: to consider the facts, draw our own conclusions, and respond accordingly. I ask no more than this.
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