Making it look like a natural cause of death or accident
From whatever angle you look at the problem, staging the “natural cause of death” seems like the only true approach to commit the perfect murder. Can it be done or is it just a fiction we are seeing in the movies?
First, let’s address one particular modus operandi, popular at female killers that serves as a great introduction.
The legacy of Catherine de’ Medici
Unlike men, women are perfectly capable of planning the extremely complex intrigues. Their brains are wired differently. Cunning behavior is what’s giving them an edge.
For that reason, women are known to favor one particular modus operandi:
killing with poison.
In other words, if your wife holds serious grudge against you, think twice before you taste the cup of tea she made “specially” for you. Almost every single plant she keeps in your home is highly poisonous and can kill you. She only needs to make the plant’s extract, which is not that difficult to do.
Still, toxicology report will list the plant’s active substance used in your murder and she’ll end up in jail.
ME’s and forensics don’t even need to wait for the report in some cases due to the familiar posture of the body.
The real question is: can she make it look like a natural cause?
ONLY if she has knowledge about a specific poison, nobody else knows about – the substance that, for instance, stops your heart or cause massive brain bleeding and then parishes from your system within an hour. What are the odds for that, right?
For centuries, people had been killed by arsenic because nobody knew how to detect it. But nowadays, tests are so efficient that we were able to detect traces of arsenic in Napoleon’s hair and thus, rewrite the history. Today we know that Napoleon was executed.
In other words, you can’t acquire a substance that causes the death and parishes from the system!
OK, we have eliminated poisoning as a method to commit a perfect murder. Where that leaves us?
Back to self-defense? Deep burial? Accident?
None of the above. You are looking at the entire deal from the wrong angle.
Sure, you can try to make it look like self-defense, but it’s not that simple. Even in an actual event, it’s hard to sell it to the judge and jury. People are having a hard time believing that you were forced to kill someone just to protect yourself.
The thing about burying the body is inevitable Factor X. What was once a dense forest, tends to turn into construction site overnight. Which means heavy machinery that digs deep into the ground. Another problem is marshy land that is sometimes hard to recognize. Gases that build up in dead body will slowly lift the body to the surface so think twice before choosing the swampy area as a burial ground of the choice.
As we said, you are looking at the entire deal from the wrong angle.
What they (prosecution) do to put the killer behind bars?
They use an array of forensic evidences that prove the guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Things that links the perp with the victim, such as:
- murder weapon,
- contact traces,
- eyewitness accounts.
In other words, even if they have a motive (they know WHY you killed that particular person), they still need to physically link the murder to you in more than one way.
So if you waste someone, say with the gun, leave the murder weapon at the sight, eliminate all contact traces and make sure nobody saw you doing it (or heard you thinking about committing the murder), they got nothing against you. You’ll be marked as a suspect, but as long as you keep your mouth shot and lawyer up right from the beginning, you are fine.
Again, much easier said than done, but in reality, that would be the simplest way to commit the Perfect Murder type B.
Because there’s nothing else to search for, that’s why.
The body is there. The gun is there. If you make sure that no gunpowder or blood stains can’t be found on your clothes, body, vehicle or anything else that’s been used by you, they got squat. Of course, under the assumption that nobody saw you doing it.
The actual case: A known criminal was executed at the entrance of his apartment building. 250 yards away, CSU found a semi-automatic military sniper rifle equipped with the powerful silencer and one empty shell. A single shot in the back of his head.
It happened 15 years ago and still no one got charged. The unknown shooter came to the spot under the cover of the night and waited for the target to come home. Nobody heard the shot because of the high-power silencer.
Investigation of the murder weapon yielded nothing at the end because the weapon had been taken from an enemy soldier 25 years earlier and the serial number leads to a deceased soldier who was issued with the rifle.
There are literally tens of thousands of numerous kinds of weapons that cannot be traced easily because they were collected during war engagements from the enemy soldiers and then sold on the black market. Organized criminal groups are paying 10x the market price just to get a hold of such weapons. They keep them stacked.
Even though the investigators of the sniper victim knew pretty well why he was killed and who ordered the hit, they couldn’t make the link. Suspects they brought in for interrogation were found clean of any contact traces and weren’t willing to speak a single word. One of them is most likely the shooter, but nothing was found to link any of them with the shooting itself. They successfully destroyed the evidences and committed the “close to perfect murder”.
However, removing the contact trace elements is not as simple as you think.
Gunpowder residues stick to your skin and clothes for a while. You’ll need to be familiar with the way gunpowder spreads after the shoot from each particular type of weapon and posture. And when you learn “traceology”, you’ll need to keep washing your hands, neck and face relentlessly for two days to eliminate every single trace of residue. Same applies to clothes (even though it’s better to physically destroy the clothes).
Common misconception: You can’t stage a suicide by shooting someone from point blank and then putting the gun in the victim’s hand. Ballistics doesn’t match and there are no traces of gunpowder on expected places. Again, since you’ve never seen how it looks like when someone fires a weapon in own head, you don’t know the exact position of the gun and the ballistics of the bullet. You can only make an educated guess, but that will lead the investigators right to your doorstep.
Blood stains are close to impossible to remove without bleach and if they find out that you’ve bleached something, that’s circumstantial evidence. Enough of those and you’re fried, by the way.
Contacts traces like hair, fibers, footstep prints, tire marks on the ground and similar are all easy to find and they are the primary focus of every crime scene investigation.
To understand how deep the investigation goes, you have to realize that the “crime scene” is every place that can be linked to the act of murder, including but not limited to, every single space or item on this planet and beyond!
And those guys, forensics, are extremely skillful when it comes to finding that single, microscopic trace. It’s a special breed of people who don’t rest until they find what they are looking for. Because, every time you make the physical contact with something, the exchange of elements occurs. It’s a causal relationship of things where every action has its reaction.
One has to be perfectly aware of every single contact he made during the entire event to successfully destroy all evidences. There aren’t many people capable of doing that.
What about staging a suicide in a different way?
Won’t fly and there are several reasons for that.
When a guy hangs himself, the initial examination will show traces of ejaculate because the rope is pressing the arteries, which causes a sudden rise of blood pressure, leading to ejaculating. If death occurred prior to hanging, that won’t happen and it’s a certain indicator of a fault play.
What if you approach him from behind with the rope, strangle him and then hang him?
The rope will leave strict horizontal line on the neck, which is inconsistent with what the strangulation furrow looks like at actual suicide by hanging. And, the neck won’t snap like it happens when you put the rope around your neck and push the chair under your feet to let the gravity do the job.
What about “incomplete hanging”?
It’s the event where the feet of the deceased are still in contact with the ground. Death occurs by suffocation, but the trace line of the rope on the neck of the deceased is still not horizontal because it’s again the act of gravity.
Even if you manage to kill someone by hanging (like pushing the person from the balcony while having a rope around that person’s neck, what would you do afterwards?
Crime scene investigators are not naïve. They will smell the inconsistency without any problem. Call it a hunch if you like, but you won’t be able to fool them just like that. These people saw everything and they know what to expect! You don’t. It’s that simple.
The actual case: In November 2001, a wife called the police after finding her husband hanging from the fence of the gallery above the lobby. At first sight, everything was pointing to a classic case of suicide, but the wife was relentless in her claims that her husband would never do such a thing. And she was right.
After close examination of the rope, forensics found microscopic traces of black leather along one part of the rope. It raised the alarm.
Then they saw the mechanical damage on the rope right under those traces of leather. It appeared like the part of the rope (10 inches in length) was rubbing against the solid surface (an edge) while being under the heavy pressure (load).
Another, closer examination of the scene, found the fibers of the rope along the edge of the gallery, left from where it was tied around the fence. It was inconsistent with what should be expected.
It turned out that two guys committed the murder. They put the rope around his neck and pushed him over the fence, holding the rope. It caused the leather from their gloves to peel and stick between the fibers of the rope. It also caused an unusual movement of the rope to the left and up and down the edge since they were struggling to hold the rope.
And all it took to prove this was a simple microscope and a transparent tape to lift the trace elements from the area around where the rope was tied to the fence. Detectives did the rest with classic investigation methods and two perps ended up in prison.
What if you push person’s head under the water and wait for him/her to drown?
It sounds plausible all right, but haven’t you learned anything from the first aid course? How are you saving the person who’s drowning? By approaching from behind and grabbing the person by the neck to avoid inevitable desperate attempt of the drowning person to use you as the buoy.
Same applies here. The sheer strength of the person who’s facing an imminent death is displayed.
The power of such body can be demonstrated by the simple event.
When a car accident happens, it’s not that uncommon for the driver to “take the boots of” even though boots were tied hard. Muscles contract to such extent that they break small bones in person’s foot.
Now imagine what will happen to your forearms, face, neck and chest if you try to drown someone in the bathtub. You would look like you just survived a fight with a mountain lion.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be that hard to prove your deed.
And yes, even if we are talking about a small, tiny woman whom you approached from behind. Don’t fool yourself. When the brain activates the self-defense system, an 80-pound woman turns into a cougar. It’s not even close similar to what they’re presenting it in the movies.
BREAKING yet another MYTH: You know those scenes from action movies where some member of Special Forces sneaks behind the guard and slit his throat? He just waits for few seconds in total silence and move on after slowly releasing the guard’s body?
Yeah, it’s not like that.
When you slit someone’s throat, it takes more than a minute for the person to die. In that time, the victim can move on its own for more than 30 feet and it definitely won’t be a silent event. Try to cut into the pig’s neck artery and you’ll “hear” what we mean.
When you ultimately sum everything, there isn’t such thing as a perfect murder because you’ve got to get in contact with your target one way or another. When that happens, there’s a link. Investigators only need to find that link.
No matter if you are being extremely patient. Or have an untraceable weapon. Or you managed to bury the body deep into the ground. In any of these scenarios, Factor X (the unknown and unexpected) may (and probably will) occur. You’ll spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder and experience anxiety every time your phone rings or someone knocks on your door.
Unsolved murder cases are few and rare because men and women are not that sophisticated like Agatha Christie presented it in her novels. Murder, in its nature, is a simple event. It has its underlying — very clear — motive in 99% of all cases, the victim and the perp(s). Nothing too complicated about that.
So even if managed to pull something close to perfection, you can rest assured that a team of dedicated investigators is trying to connect the dots that will ultimately lead them to you.
You gotta ask yourself: is it worth it? Is it worth spending the rest of your life in prison just because you are jealous of someone or you holding a grudge against that person?
Trust me, you just think that you can play the system. You can’t. You don’t know how it looks like from any of the perspectives. And if you don’t know how to pilot a plane, the crash is simply inevitable.