Strings that Hold Back
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General information
Season 2
City Gothenburg, Sweden
Region Scandinavia
Case # 18
Initial release date 14th April 2021
Partner(s) Violetta Rose (All Chapters)
Savannah Rodriguez & Lena Petersson (Secrets Surrounded by Mist 5)
Case chronology
← Preceded by Succeeded by →
Message from the Past Riddled with Time
The situation is getting tense as Gothenburg is marked as the next destination, and now the team will need to check out InT's connection with Matrix Alliance alongside Dinamo. There's a flaw in the pattern, and now maybe you have a chance to break down the whole thing and look inside to know what exactly is going on with time travel, but the murder of a real estate agent is going to be time killing unless you act fast. Don't let any strings hold you back, 'cause you don't want to end up like him since someone murdered him using cables, and because you can't afford time to meddle with you.
—Case Teaser

Strings that Hold Back is a case featured in Criminal Case as the eighteenth case of Mysterious Secrets of Europe (Season 2) and the seventy-fourth case overall. It is the fifth case to take place in the Scandinavia region.

Plot

On their way to Gothenburg, members of the EASD got engaged in the works which Chief Salminen had assigned them to complete, and after finishing the previous case's paperwork, Violetta approached Ashley and asked her if she knew how her brother was doing. Smiling a little, she replied that she had talked with him and that he was fine, since he was a kind person who was always willing to let people follow their heart, which was why he was happy to know that Stella Mercury was finally being herself. Anyways, the team arrived in the aforementioned city after nearly ten minutes while Ethan continued driving, only for Kristoff's eyes to catch a middle-aged guy lying dead in a shady, narrow alleyway.

So, Chief Salminen sent Violetta and the player to check out what was wrong with the guy, causing the duo to approach and check his pulse, which led them to the conclusion that he was dead. After they informed it to the rest of the unit, Chief Salminen assigned the pair to investigate the murder before heading towards the headquarter with others. Violetta and the player then searched around the alleyway, soon learning from a patient card that the victim was a real estate agent named Robert Engstrom. However, the same card then led them to therapist Maria Bengtsson, who was dealing with Robert's broken mental health. When questioned, she advised them to search Robert's house for more clues given he had recently taken a break from his job, causing the team to do so as they discovered some more clues which allowed them to flag the victim's son, criminology student Thomas Engstrom and Dinamo employee Elsa Rydberg as suspects since Thomas had returned to his hometown to spend more time with Robert during his vacation, while Elsa had asked the victim to find her a suitable apartment so she would be able to move out from her parents' one. Meanwhile, after handling the autopsy, Nicholas said that the victim was strangled with some sort of cable and that based on the edges of the wounds, he could determine that the murderer used strawberry soap.

Later on, Violetta scanned the internet for more details about Robert, and soon came across an article featuring the victim criticizing a gothic fashioned Carlos Sanchez, the Spanish journalist whom they had met back in Denmark. Wondering what had happened between them, Violetta started reading the article and learnt that the victim had disliked one of the journalist's articles, leading the former to question his method of writing. However, as Carlos had started a debate with him, they had got engaged in a digital argument. However, as the article said that they had met each other at the Avenyn the previous day only to cause a scene, the team decided to check the place out. After going there, they managed to learn that Carlos' article was actually about the victim which said that Robert had charged a lot of people with more money that they could even afford which had angered the journalist, and that lawyer Roger Henriksson had developed a friendship with the victim. Besides, it was also revealed that Maria had accidentally suggested a medicine to Robert which caused his depression to get worse, and that Thomas had kept the information of his getting expelled from his university a secret from his father until the latter had found it out, leading him to threaten Thomas that he'd drive him away from their house.

After a while, Lena called the team, saying Robert had returned to the Avenyn after his fight with Carlos, and that she believed he had gone there to meet someone. Hearing so, the team went back to the Avenyn and soon came to know that Robert had met Elsa there in order to discuss something regarding Dinamo's time travel project and showed interest about investing there like many other people to get a profit. Anyways, it was also revealed that Carlos was literally piling up information to destroy Robert's image given the victim had filed a restriction order against him, while Roger had asked the victim to give him some information about the Mercury household given the latter had gone there a while ago to meet SÄPO director Heather Mercury.

As the team swept the main crime scene once again, they got the final incriminating clues which allowed them to indict Thomas for the real estate agent's murder.

In order to arrest the criminology student, the team went to the Engstrom household where they found Thomas pacing back and forth, muttering something to himself repeatedly. Seeing that, Violetta sneaked from behind and asked him if he was planning how to get away with Robert's murder, and he reflexively answered that he was, causing him to put his hands on his mouth the next second as he could realize what he had done on the heat of the moment. Violetta smirked and said that he had spared them a lot of time and argument before cornering him using the evidences, leaving him no choice but to admit that he had murdered his own father because the latter had deemed his nephew, who had lost his father (Robert's brother) long ago, to be far more trustworthy and loyal than Thomas. Violetta stopped him and guessed if it had something to do with the real estate agent's will, and Thomas sourly nodded, saying that he had decided to give all his money and properties to his nephew which Thomas had found out a while ago. So, the student had immediately confronted Robert, trying to convince him that he had taken the wrong decision, but Thomas' troublesome past had caused Robert to stick to his decision and drive him out, infuriating Thomas in the process. Soon after the confrontation, Thomas had told his girlfriend about the incident and expressed his fear about how he might need to breakup with her given he wouldn't be able to keep up with her at all being totally bankrupted all thanks to Robert, only for her to tell him that he shouldn't give up and that as Robert's son it was his right to inherit his wealth. Hearing so, Thomas had tried to reason with her until she had come up with the idea of taking Robert down and replace the original will with a new one where Thomas would replace his cousin as the inheritor. However, Thomas hadn't liked the idea since he had known how it might ruin his life, but Inger had kept being pushy, causing him to gather the courage to commit the heinous murder as Thomas confronted Robert once again earlier that day, giving him one last chance to change his mind, but as Robert had said he had made up his mind, Thomas had simply started fighting with him which resulting in his strangulating Robert. Violetta asked if he had meddled with the will as well, and he shook his head, saying he had never got enough time to do so with the EASD being hot on his trail, and Violetta seemed lost in her thoughts as she tried to remember something. Anyway, the team then took Thomas to the International Court where Judge Martin sentenced him to 34 years in jail for the murder.

Post-trial, Violetta stood outside the breakroom and suddenly screamed, saying Thomas' girlfriend shared her name with Lena's girlfriend, causing tech expert to say that her girlfriend was loyal and that she had a pretty common name, and Violetta suggested her to check out if her girlfriend was Thomas' accomplice, causing Lena to get angry and say that she was out of her mind. Ellie then stepped in, telling her not to talk with Violetta like that as the situation started getting tensed until Sav approached them and took Lena away who became determined to get to the bottom of the matter, as Ellie pulled Violetta closer, saying the latter's theory seemed logical to her, right when a distressed Heather entered the headquarter, saying that someone had tried to assassinate Stella, and that she believed it was someone from SÄPO.

First off, the team questioned Heather who furiously said that she had gone to the Avenyn with Stella where someone had tried to shoot her, but fortunately she had been able to dodge the bullet at the nick of time. However, Heather had taken a look around the place to find the shooter in question only to find a sniper rifle which had gone missing from the SÄPO headquarter the previous week, convincing Heather that a SÄPO agent had gone rogue and/or there was a mole inside the organization. As Violetta asked if she had any idea as for why'd someone target Stella, Heather replied that she believed it had something to do with the altered timelines counting how time traveller Bianca Newton had revealed previously that Stella didn't exist in her timeline and how she was supposed to build a time machine. Understanding how the facts had made Stella a target, the team decided to check out the aforementioned place after learning the SÄPO director wasn't investigating it any further herself because the assumably rogue agent had most possibly planned things ahead and would specifically follow her moves. Understanding her point, the team went to the Avenyn and a mini-drone along with a flip phone belonging to Roger. Violetta took the phone and checked the messages until she found a message, which she recognized to be written using a code language developed by SÄPO, since it had been one of the most favourite codes of her and her late brother ever since the latter had broken inside a deep secret website containing various code languages. Although it reminded Violetta of Jean, she pushed her feelings aside before decoding the message, and she soon discovered that someone had ordered Roger to murder Stella so she wouldn't be able to build a time machine and that he was actually a SÄPO agent who was acting as a mole, just like Heather had suspected. So, the team quickly confronted the rogue agent who initially denied everything before Violetta pinned him against the wall, demanding to know who he was working for. Being unable to fight back, Roger somehow muttered that he wouldn't tell them anything, only to get pinned even harder which prompted him to admit that he was a member of Matrix Alliance. Violetta smirked and let him go, asking who had sent him and he somehow caught his breath, revealing one of the co-leaders had assigned him to assassinate Stella, which was why he had gone to the Mercury household with Robert knowing the latter was one of Heather's friends in order to know more about Stella's daily life, but that he didn't know who they were. Violetta rolled her eyes and said that they wouldn't get anything else from Roger, and he tried to distract them before pulling out his gun, but Violetta was quick enough to kick his hand before he could shoot, causing him to groan in pain as the duo arrested him before the player put him behind bars while Violetta informed Heather about Roger, who facepalmed and hurriedly left the station in order to initiate a protocol to get rid of the other moles.

Meanwhile, after unlocking the mini-drone, Violetta scratched her head and said that they'd need to send it to Lena, and the player understood her hesitation as they recalled their fight. However, they sent the drone to the techie anyways who after finishing analysis totally ignored Violetta and informed the player that she had extracted all the information from the drone and that she had found out that former EASD chief Davíð Sveinsson had followed Norwegian drink promoter Jackie Carlsen and Finnish actress Anna Martinen for a while. As the player asked why he had done so, Lena smirked and replied that it was because Davíð was the one who had ordered Jackie to send the time travelling tracker to French photographer Julien Carpentier. Violetta, who was leaning against the wall and listening to her words silently, couldn't help interrupting by asking why'd Davíð send it to Julien, and Lena pretended she didn't even hear her, causing Violetta to clench her teeth and check out her phone as it vibrated before she stormed out of the room. Anyway, the techie coldly ignored her before shrugging, revealing she hadn't been able to find out why Davíð was doing all those. The player figured out only Davíð could answer their questions and tried to find Violetta only to realize that both her and Ellie were nowhere to be seen. Being unsure what to do ahead, the player stood there for a few seconds before Lena joined them, asking what was the problem. After they explained how Violetta was missing, Lena rolled her eyes and said that she had most probably gone on a date with Ellie as she offered to go with the player. Nodding and knowing how Davíð was in Gothenburg, the player pushed their concerns about Violetta away and confronted the former EASD chief with Lena, given they didn't have much time, only to discover that he had sent the tracker to Julien but put someone else as the recipient so the photographer would inform the team about it, causing them to follow the fake clues while Matrix Alliance safely continued their project. Shocked to hear Davíð was a member of Matrix Alliance, Lena asked since when he was working for them, and he replied that he had joined the organization a few weeks after getting fired by Director Carter alongside the members of his whole department. He then smirked when asked about his involvement in the death of Jónína, saying Anna had taken something from her father, scientist Toni Martinen's lab which was essential for their works. Knowing that, Davíð had started following her, trying to find an opportunity to get it back which prompted him to hit upon a plan based on Anna's weakness in order to get her away for a few hours. So, he had got Icelandic university student Auður Jóhannesdóttir involved and gave her a little indirect push which caused her to spend the whole night with Anna while he got enough time to search the room and take the said part. He then laughed, saying it was quite easy to mislead the EASD and that they would never be able to stop their project before using a smoke bomb which allowed him to escape. Coughing, the duo looked around for any signs of Davíð but as no one was around, they split up and swept the nearby area until Lena called the player, asking them to meet her at the main crime scene. After a few minutes, they reunited before Lena showed the player a handkerchief which she had noticed peaking out of Davíð's pocket. Being sure he had been there, the team kept their eyes open and soon found a receipt which led them to a secret black market. However, as the receipt showed that Toni had purchased a quantum component, the team wondered what he was doing in Gothenburg but still confronted him inside his hotel room anyway where he got straight to the point just like Davíð, saying he was also a member of Matrix Alliance. Lena rolled her eyes and muttered to herself that it was very bold of them to reveal that they were working for a criminal organization, and Toni laughed, saying when their project would finish, nothing would matter given the EASD, along with every other LEA of the world would crumble in front of their organization. Lena sighed, saying it was quite confident of him and asked him about the component, and he said that he had come to the city with Davíð since he had had to find the correct component and the latter had connection with black market dealers, and that they had gathered enough parts for them to finish their project. However, before Lena could ask him anything else, Toni wore a gas mask as the duo felt that something was odd with the air, only to get unconscious in a few seconds as Toni fled the scene. After a few minutes, the duo woke up and found a journal on the bed which Lena read carefully, soon understanding that the whole journal was about the tunnel that Danish mechanic Alexander Solberg had built a while ago. Anyway, Toni had also written down how it was supposed to just overheat the main machine of Innovative Tech and that Alexander had built it just to distract the team. Lena rolled her eyes and wondered what Davíð, Alexander and Toni were distracting them from as she guessed Toni hadn't left the journal for nothing and that Matrix Alliance wanted to lure them somewhere just like weapon dealer Miles Tyson had done during the Katowice incident after making a plan to put an end to the team.

Meanwhile, Sav decided to check out with the player if Lena's girlfriend was the one who had influenced Thomas to murder his father, prompting the duo to search the Engstrom household where they found a surveillance camera and a high-tech battery. First off, they unlocked the camera and sent it to Lena who after finishing the analysis tearfully showed them the footages which featured her girlfriend enjoying a lot of intimate moments with Thomas which clearly indicated they were a couple. Besides, her good relationship with Robert as seen in the videos simply strengthened the possibility of Inger being a cheater. Trying to stop her tears, Lena said she couldn't believe Inger was cheating on her while playing the perfect girlfriend on internet and that she would confront her personally with the player. Sav nodded as the duo went to the cafe where Inger worked as a part-time waitress, and after a while, they found Inger sitting on a chair, looking outside absent-mindedly. Lena then took the seat in front of her and directly asked if Thomas' arrest was heartbreaking, and Inger got shocked after seeing her girlfriend but she played it off, pretending to be surprised to see Lena. As she avoided the question and proceeded to hug Lena, the techie pushed her away, asking why'd she lie to her. Inger then played innocent, saying she didn't know what Lena was talking about, causing Lena to furiously show her all the evidences which proved she had a relationship with Thomas and was the one who had told him to strangle his father. Inger stood silent, and finally said that she could explain and that she loved Lena only, and Lena almost lost her cool, screaming she had done everything what Inger had told her to do, including doing Inger's notes and stuff before the nights of her own exams while the waitress simply hanged around which caused Lena's grades to fall down gradually, cutting off all the ties with her good friends "for the sake of their relationship", ditching her personal interests to live up with Inger's ones which were outright boring to her and so on. Inger then smirked and said that Lena was very stupid given she had fallen for her words easily. She then continued by saying that she had never loved her and that she had just used her everywhere by forming a fake relationship because she had become jealous of her seeing how Lena had been always the first of the class and how she had attracted a lot of guys and girls with her beauty and personality. Inger groaned, saying she had gotten tired of getting second all the time thanks to Lena, and it had become personal when her crush, Thomas had fallen for Lena. So, in order to get Lena out of the picture, Inger hit upon a different type of plan where she wouldn't need to manipulate Lena, causing her to confess her fake love to her which easily caught a hopeless romantic like Lena off-guard. Since then, she had maintained a relationship with Thomas whose head she had filled up with dark thoughts about Lena while destroying the techie mentally, knowing she would never be able to leave her like Lena herself had said to her before. Lena, who wasn't being able to stop crying, asked her why'd she do all those to her, and she replied that she had already explained it and that having a police "girlfriend" had its advantages, which was why she hadn't ditched her yet. Hearing this, Lena stood in front of her as the player watched her with a sad look, and Inger put a hand on her shoulder, saying she had no choice but to play the perfect girlfriend and that she would get her and Thomas out of the problems, causing Lena to look at her as she smiled. But Lena pushed her hand away and said that her games would stop now as she handcuffed her while Inger giggled, whispering she wouldn't be able to live with her decision. The waitress was then taken in front of Judge Martin who read the files and sentenced her to 45 years in prison for manipulating Thomas into committing the murder.

Again, after examining the battery, Sav said she had never seen anything like that and that she didn't really know what to do with it, right when the player noticed a Dinamo logo imprinted on it. Sav suggested they should talk with Elsa about it, and the player nodded as the duo questioned the employee who asked them back where'd they get it from. After hearing the team's story, Elsa said that it was from Dinamo's secret time travel project and that the battery was one of the only 12 batteries which would be required to power up the tunnel using what one could possibly be able to travel in time. Sav facepalmed, saying she could feel the project would cause a lot of problems as Elsa agreed with her by saying that she had also thought the same seeing how discreet the project was. Sav then asked if she could tell them something else, and she shook her head, saying that only a few people were allowed to get the insider news and that many of them didn't even know such a project existed. But she then rolled her eyes and said that she had done a bit of research and that she had seen how the parts were being sent to different Scandinavian countries, except Finland which was bothering her. Sav thought a bit and asked if she could give her the data, and Elsa winked, saying she would send it to her in a USB in a few minutes.

After all the events, the team, except Ellie, Violetta and Lena gathered inside the breakroom, since a depressed Lena had locked herself inside her room while the other two remained missing. Sav then showed the contents of the USB which Elsa had given her, which allowed the team to see that Dinamo had sent a lot of parts to every single Scandinavian country except Finland just like Elsa had claimed, but it seemed totally random given they were unable to find a pattern of the shipments. However, Ashley then deeply examined the data and found a pattern from the coordinates of a few parts, and all the parts' coordinates which matched the pattern indicated to a single coordinate, which was pointing to a frozen lake in Helsinki. Chief Salminen said that it might be one of the headquarters of Matrix Alliance seeing how the parts matching the pattern seemed to be the most important ones to him, and that the rest of the parts were most probably used in order to distract the team. Hearing the word distraction, Ethan rolled her eyes and said that that was exactly what Davíð and Toni were gloating about, and that the way they had exposed themselves made him think they had almost finished their project although it was still unclear what where they intending to do with time travel but that it was pretty clear they wouldn't be able to do anything without the battery they had found at the Engstrom household if Elsa was correct. Nicholas said it would be something big, counting how Matrix Alliance literally had a media conglomerate as their financial support before Kristoff expressed his concern about the couple. Hearing so, Chief Salminen revealed he hadn't been able to contact either of them right when Carlos stormed inside, saying Julien and internet analyst Jamie Lockhart had also gone missing. Mikhail asked if he was sure, and he nodded, showing a text message which told the journalist to go and get the hostages in Helsinki. Sav wondered if Ellie and Violetta had got kidnapped as well before Carlos asked them what they were going to do, and Chief Salminen's phone buzzed, prompting him to pick it up as Davíð spoke up from the other side, taunting the EASD to come to Helsinki as he asked if Carlos had showed them the message already before saying the message was intended for all of them. However, before Marko could answer, Davíð cut the call after saying he'd make the EASD pay as Sav saved the coordinate of the lake, ordering the team and Carlos to get ready as soon as possible.

Summary

Victim

  • Robert Engstrom (Found in a shady alleyway, got strangulated to death)

Murder Weapon

  • Computer Cable

Killer

  • Thomas Engstrom

Suspects

Quasi-suspect(s)

Killer's Profile

  • The killer eats tofu.
  • The killer uses strawberry soap.
  • The killer plays Weirder Stuff.
  • The killer sports a wooden bowtie.
  • The killer wears black.
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Crime Scenes

Narrow Alleyway Alleyway Entrance Narrow Alleyway Bonus
Victim's House Dining Room Victim's House Bonus
Avenyn Road Crossing Avenyn Bonus

Steps

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Secrets Surrounded by Mist (5/6)

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