Dear Inspector Barnes,
Forgive me if my letter came late. It has been hectic around here since the incident happened; I’m sure you can understand. I also helped in auctioning the man’s possessions, so that took a considerable chunk of my time. The chaos regarding Lee’s case happened more than a year ago, so it has also gradually left my memory until you contacted me. I’m actually very surprised to see that there are people like you who would like to know more about the man. You must understand that I am astonished about the suddenness of this all—not in a pleasant way. I also don’t know how to send a letter in this day and age, but since you only requested me to send my testimony in this way, then I am more than happy to comply.
It has come to my attention that it had been precisely twelve days since you last asked for my statement regarding my friend—though I am unsure if it is fair for me to call that man a friend, he’s still a good neighbor—Justin Harper Lee. I don’t know the man very well; he’s always cooped up in his home—yes, we’re living in an apartment complex, but I would rather call it a ‘home’ than a ‘room’—so the other neighbors don’t really know what kind of man he is.
This then begs the question, do I know the man? I’m not sure, but I know a few things about him, which all came from the man’s lips himself such as how he enjoys traveling once but stopped doing it because of a complication in his foot—he never told me what complication it is, really—and he also expresses that he’s doing some kind of medication, presumably for his complication. Still, he never genuinely elaborated on either of that. He also tells me he likes anime; do whatever you want with that information.
Would I consider myself a close friend to the man? I’m not sure. I guess we are close since I live next to him. I wouldn’t call our friendship ‘close,’ though. But I am the first person who the neighbors and the police called when they found his body. I guess that’s something. I was also the last person who left his funeral, so I guess that shows that I also have a bit of attachment to him, but I am not the first one who came to attend. Justin Harper Lee has a few friends I never knew of, which I am not at all surprised to see since I know virtually nothing about him other than that he’s a man. Well... Actually, even that I am not sure anymore. He’s such an enigma. Who knows if he’s really human?
I remembered that the first people who came to Lee’s funeral are three eccentric people who left right away when I arrived. An old man, a tall man, and a woman. I never saw them again, not even when Lee’s body was lowered to the ground. I guess that’s to be expected. I don’t know why I told this part, to be honest, but I just feel like those people have got to be relevant to this story somehow.
Do I know what happened the night he died? No, I don’t believe I do. I didn’t even remember hearing him leave. I would always notice whenever he would do so because his room is so quiet; and the only noise I would ever hear from him is the soft banging of his door or—if one listens very, very carefully—his timid footsteps.
Other than that, I have very little to say about the man. He seems awfully sad all the time, but you must understand that he’s living in this rundown apartment in Hell’s Kitchen; of course, he’d be sad—we’re all sad! The only difference is those tiny moments when I would see him look up into the sky with a downcast gaze, but I don’t regard him as someone who would be clinically depressed or anything that may relate to him having any mental problems. Besides, I do not, at all, buy the theory that he killed himself—he would never kill himself. I know little about the man, but I know him well enough to say with confidence that he wouldn’t jump off a bridge, only to be found floating with piles of trash in the morning.
Does he involve himself with dangerous people? Well, forget ‘dangerous,’ I don’t even know if he mingles with people at all! Sure, we would talk a bit about the this-and-that of our lives when we would stumble upon each other while throwing our garbage bags in the dump, but he’s just so reserved that his very existence alone feels more like a puzzle! But I doubt I would ever solve it in my lifetime. However, if he does have any dealings with shady sorts of people, then I would not be surprised. Like I said before, he has friends that I don’t know of who would visit his wake and leave in a snap. Am I saying that Lee is murdered? I don’t know, inspector, but that is precisely why I am cooperating with you.
I do know that he’s religious, though—oh, he’s a man of devout faith; more than any of the people I have ever met in my lifetime, and you best believe that I know a whole lot of people. His religiousness is further exemplified when we emptied his room for auctioning. It seems like the man has no family, so we thought it would be great to sell his properties and donate all the earnings we received to the religious foundation he would often speak about when we have a chance to talk to him. Now that I had come to think of it, I never actually knew what Lee’s religion is; I am also unaware what faith is connected to Lee’s favorite religious foundation. If you wish to learn about it, perhaps you should go to their headquarters in Manhattan.
The foundation is called Plural Heights Co. Ltd. They would be quite annoyed if you leave out “Co. Ltd.” while speaking about the name of their foundation.
What I find striking is what’s inside of the man’s room. Aside from the rusted birdcage that Justin loved to play with every morning, the rest of his possessions are interesting, to say the least, some are even borderline worrying. Now, he doesn't own much. In fact, there’s only a bed, a small chair, a table, some kitchen wares, a drawer, and a few trinkets here and there inside of his room. The ‘striking’ thing that I speak of is about Lee’s trinkets. Crosses, pins, brochures, pamphlets, more crosses with a rather bizarre shape, a few notes written in a weird language that I presumed to be Hebrew, and other junk that I could not describe in words other than metallic and macabre. There are even a few pieces of literature here and there about churches, finding your inner soul—whatever that means—and unlocking your untapped potential. It was all too weird to me, but I do not at all desire to defile a dead man’s possession more than this. After all, we are auctioning it; that alone should be messed up enough. If I remember correctly, the only thing consistent about these trinkets and literature is how all of it is plastered with the name ‘Plural Heights’ on it. The cross? It has ‘Plural Heights’ embedded in it. The literature? All of it has ‘Plural Heights’ written all over the cover with big fonts and blinding colors. I do not understand it, and I do not intend to spend more of my time digging into the Justin-Harper-Lee-rabbit-hole. I believe that’s your job.
And I don’t know what it was, but the more I tried to stay inside of his room and stare at that bizarre golden cross that he has plastered all over his room, I just... I’m sure you’ve seen it, inspector. His walls are filled with crosses. Every nook and cranny, every bit of space, and everywhere your eyes would land is filled with this gold and oddly-shaped cross. They’re all over the walls, there’s some standing on the tables, and I could even find some on the floor, settling there in such a random fashion, but a part of me thinks Lee placed it there for a reason. The room is not painted and there are absolutely no luxury items there—not even a phone or a computer! The more I stayed there, the more I feel like my mind was warping into a mess. I feel like the lack of light in the room affects that greatly. The fact that it smells like... death... like corpses even though it’s cleaner than every room I had ever laid my eyes on does not make it any better.
You may infer whatever you want with this knowledge regarding the man’s mental health
Additionally, I will send this letter with two boxes containing the notes that the man has left on his table, a few VHS tapes that he kept around underneath his bed, all the ‘Plural Heights’ related literature he owns, and a plethora of journals he had written. The man is fond of writing about his life, so that should aid you in your investigation. It’s a rather hefty amount of information; he might have written them for a long, long span of time—there must be years of the man’s life written on those pages. I think it’s a gold mine for whatever you’re investigating.
To be honest, I don’t know why the police never took these journals; it feels like that’s one element they didn’t handle well. To be fair, nothing about Justin Harper Lee’s case is ever handled well. The police officers just went here for a day and never spoke about it again. They just concluded that it’s suicide—another one of his kind, one that they’re already sick of seeing. I found it disgusting. No one even dared to check the man’s room. They just let it pass and forget about it entirely after Lee’s funeral. It’s like he never lived at all. Justin Harper Lee does not deserve that.
That’s all I’ll ever say about that, and that’s everything I will ever say about Justin Harper Lee ever again. Any more information other than that is just as unknown to me as it is to you.
I wish you good luck, inspector.