Free the Innocent Man is a puzzle found in Silent Hill 2 nearing the end of the Labyrinth. It is about a "criminal" who was wrongfully executed by hanging for a crime he never committed.
There are two near identical rooms in a hallway; one has six nooses, the other has six corpses. James Sunderland must distinguish which alleged criminal is innocent and pull the noose that belongs to him, setting him free. The Key of the Persecuted will be found in the corpse room. If James fails to choose the right noose, Lying Figures appear in the hall to attack him.
Silent Hill 2 is one of the games that has varying puzzle clues and solutions depending on the difficulty chosen, so there are four different clues and outcomes for the four difficulty settings.
On the corpses of the 6 criminals are inscriptions describing what they have allegedly done, however depending on what difficulty the game is under, the crimes are chosen from the 8 below:
- Kidnapper - One who steals a human being
- Bodily Injurer - One who causes physical harm/hurts another
- Arsonist - One who illegally sets fire to property
- Counterfeiter - One who copies with intent for forgery
- Thief - One who steals, especially by stealth
- Swindler - One who cheats or defrauds money or property
- Embezzler - One who takes money, etc. for own use in violation of trust
- Murderer - One who intentionally kills another
"Pull ye but once on a rope's frayed end.
Go and return and the error be mended.
Beware ye though the punishment sended."
"Only the sinless one can help you here.
Mistakenly pull on a criminal's rope and your reward will be returned to you in a shape most wondrously strange."
"He committed an evil crime.
He turned a happy home into a pile of ash.
For that, he should die.
They also committed crimes.
They tried to fraud and trick others.
So their reward too is natural.
Even he cannot be forgiven,
My friend without his left hand.
And so his death bothers me not.
And what of him?
He also is not sinless.
There is only one here who is innocent.
The missing child was nowhere to be found,
And so there was no proof of his guilt.
His death was a tragedy.
That is all I wish to say.
It was neither justice nor retribution."
The answer is the kidnapper, because "the missing child was nowhere to be found", so he is the innocent man.
"Dead men, dead men, swinging in a tree
How many dead men do you see?
Tongue turned blue and face gone grey
Watch them as they twist and sway
The first one killed the butcher man
Then cooked him in the frying pan
Served him to his hungry guests
And gave them seconds on request
The next one with his smile and sweets
Stole poor children off the streets
To men who dressed unsavory
He sold them into slavery
Breaking into home at night
The thief he had a nasty fright
Filled his foolish head with ale
Woke in the morn in the county jail
The artist with his daunting skill
Tried his hand at painting bills
But caught in rain he was undone
When the ink he’d use did start to run
With promises of great return
Taking gold he did not earn
Bundled it up out of sight
Quietly slipped off into night
Three houses into ashes burned
The sheriff with no place to turn
Did spy a stranger in his town
Locked him up and beat him down
Dead men, dead men, swinging in a tree
How many dead men do you see?
Six feet long and six men wide
Round their necks the noose be tied."
The answer is the arsonist, because the sheriff had no one else to blame but a stranger, so he is the innocent man.
"I do not wish to die.
But tomorrow I will climb the thirteen steps.
Please someone - answer me,
Why must I die come the morning?
The man imprisoned beside me believed me.
“Because they’re all insane, that’s why,” he said
Of course I know his opinion will change nothing.
“Now you know why I struck out at them,” he muttered.
The man who was executed yesterday, the one who had said his job was to sell dreams, said that was not true.
But the man who is to be executed the day after tomorrow for stealing children shouted back that it was true.
The man who was hung today did not answer.
“They’ll kill me either way,” he said.
He was caught embezzling public money, so he hasn’t any hope for mercy.
The man who is always quietly smiling to himself said “I am happy for I will soon be with her.”
I do not wish to die.
I long only to return home.
But I know it is not to be.
Though I have done nothing, this crime has been thrust upon me.
Someone save me.
This is not judgement.
They are bloodthirsty and I am their sacrificial lamb!"
"Selling dreams" describes the swindler (think of a snake oil salesman), "stealing children" describes the kidnapper, "He was caught embezzling public money" describes the embezzler, "I am happy for I will soon be with her" describes the murderer (think about James), "they're all insane; now you know why I struck out at them." describes the bodily injurer. All of these men are guilty.
The writer of the poem is the counterfeiter because he was never mentioned, and he states he was not guilty, so he is the innocent man.
"We may visit death upon the head of the sinner but to what avail?
In the name of retribution,
we took part in a bitter comedy this day.
You, hanging as you do, by your neck,
Unforgiven and cursed by all.
Five of them committed crimes,
six went out for a drink and were captured there.
Only one of them was innocent,
but they knew not that.
The bloodstains remaining are proof of their guilt.
Trodden upon and thus created,
they are paths to Hell or the Void.
The white bandages stained with crimson,
The remains upon the scorched black earth,
The whispered cries of the maiden.
They are but meaningless contract.
They are also signs of guilt.
But one of them was done without reason.
It was done out of fear and a ripe imagination.
Sinning alone at the end of a rope,
it is nothing less than a disgrace to us all."
The answer is the thief because he is never mentioned. Therefore, he is the wrongfully accused man who was captured with the others.
The "bloodstains remaining are proof of their guilt" means that any crime dealing with blood cannot be the answer; the white bandages could signify either the murderer or the bodily injurer, thus both men are guilty. The "scorched black earth" and "whispered cries of the maiden" mean that the arsonist and the kidnapper are both guilty. "They are but meaningless contract" describes the swindler.