Transcript-Interrogation of Barton Mueller
Interrogating Officers: Sgt. Eric Renfield, Sgt. Adam Dalton
Location: County Sheriff's Office
Dalton: I am going to record our conversation. Is that alright?
Mueller: I'd appreciate that. I don't like repeating myself.
Dalton: Could you state your official title?
Mueller: I'm a homicide pathologist with the FBI.
Dalton: You took a look at Cullen Krast's body, correct?
Mueller: Oh, yes. I love a challenge, although this case was not particularly difficult. It is certainly intriguing though.
Dalton: Our CSI office is currently under the impression that Mr. Krast's death was not caused by a human. Is that your opinion as well?
Mueller: With all due respect, uninformed opinions like that are why my office should just be called first in these cases. That's not my opinion at all.
Dalton: You believe he was murdered?
Mueller: It's certainly possible. I'm not in the habit of drawing conclusions, only deciphering facts.
Dalton: How did he die?
Mueller: Cardiac arrest.
Renfield: That's what our office says.
Mueller: Yes, but your office is saying it for stupid reasons.
Dalton: So, someone gave him a heart attack?
Mueller: That's an overly simplistic explanation, but yes, essentially, that's what happened.
Renfield: Was it caused by his injuries?
Mueller: See? That right there, that is why your department is so confused. If it weren't for me, you'd be running all over town trying to find some sort of superhuman surgeon. You're all so focused on his so-called injuries. Your, what's her name, Kelly Xiong has drawn some extremely stupid conclusions.
Renfield: I know Kelly Xiong personally. She's a fine investigator.
Mueller: Oh, yeah, she's just great. She's perfectly suited to assist Encyclopedia Brown in figuring out who threw gum into Jenny's hair, but I wouldn't trust her skills with anything more important, like oh, I don't know, a murder. It's good that you know her personally. You can advise her to go back to medical school and maybe take a logic class.
Dalton: So what killed Cullen Krast?
Mueller: That's right.
Dalton: Could you explain?
Mueller: Do you know how fear works, Detectives?
Dalton: Enlighten us.
Mueller: Fear comes from here, in the brain, specifically the amygdala. It's part of the reptilian portion of our brain, the part that's hard-wired for survival. Almost every sentient animal has a similar structure. It's deep down in the core and an ancient part of evolution, long pre-dating humans. Fear is a fairly universal response, so we have been able to study its effects extensively. When a fear inducing stimulus is introduced, the amygdala begins to spit out a hormone cocktail into the body resulting in what is commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. Any idiot who has taken a psychology class knows what that is- the impulse to either fight the stimulus or run from it. Now there are a whole mess of hormones and neurotransmitters in this cocktail, but for our purposes, there are really only three important hormones: epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. Epinephrine dilates blood vessels, allowing for increased blood-flow. Norepinephrine increases the heart rate, and cortisol increases blood sugar and metabolism. The more fear a person experiences, the higher the levels of these three hormones will be.
Dalton: Cullen Krast had elevated levels?
Mueller: Elevated is a massive understatement. Krast had enough norepinephrine in his system to kill about four rhinos. In the moments before he died, his heart rate must have been closer to the pace of a hummingbird than it was to a human being. His epinephrine levels were off the charts as well, cortisol, same thing. The dilated blood vessels combined with the massively elevated heart-rate actually caused some of his blood vessels to burst. Of course, they burst in places that your investigators never looked, like his liver and kidneys. There was a small rupture by his heart, but your pathologists never noticed because why would they look closely at his blood vessels when his head is on backwards? Occam's razor doesn't always apply.
Dalton: Occam's razor?
Mueller: Good lord. Occam's razor is the concept that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In this case, Krast's head, hands and feet being fixed backward on his body would appear to be the most logical cause of his death, but that's not the case. While his injuries are admittedly bizarre, they appear to have played little to no part in his death.
Renfield: No part?
Mueller: Yes. The one thing your pathologist seems to have correctly recorded was that Krast appears to have been born with these injuries, as you call them. The nerves aren't damaged. The skin is not twisted or bruised. The wrist bones, ankle bones and vertebrae accommodate the deformities as if they were ordained by nature. There is absolutely no discernible reason they would have played a part in his death. That's why your pathologists are so confused; they're chasing something that doesn't exist. They're too focused on the deformities. I assure you, detectives, fear killed Cullen Krast.
Dalton: What would cause that level of fear?
Mueller: Depends on what Krast was afraid of. It could be snakes, clowns, heights, pick your phobia.
Renfield: But what could cause that tremendous level of fear?
Mueller: Look, if you're afraid of spiders, a large spider will produce a fear response. One hundred large spiders will invoke a greater fear response. One thousand spiders commanded by a ten-foot-tall tarantula spider-king could give you a heart attack. Do you see what I'm saying? Norepinephrine doesn't leave a note saying why it was produced. All I can see is that it's present in the blood stream and how much is present.
Dalton: Is it possible for a human being to cause that level of fear?
Mueller: Are you kidding me? Every Halloween, people get heart attacks from haunted houses. Not only is it possible, it's actually more common than you probably think.
Renfield: What about the injuries?
Mueller: What about them?
Renfield: Can you explain them?
Mueller: I didn't try. You wanted me to explain what killed Cullen Krast. I did that. As I said, his injuries did not play an identifiable role in his death, so I ignored them. If your pathologists were smart enough to do that, maybe you wouldn't have needed my help.
Dalton: So, in the simplest terms, what killed Cullen Krast?
Mueller: In the simplest terms? Something scared him to death. Now, if I'm not mistaken, it's your job to figure out what that something is.
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