No But Seriously, We are Not Recommending Murder

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Raychelle Burks, Mika McKinnon, Leigh Mansfield, and Torrey Stenmark, provided a Q&A geared toward eliminating sloppy mistakes when planning and executing a murder. This panel consisted of a forensic chemist, a disaster expert (“masters in disaster”), a neuro-psychologist, and an organic chemist, respectively.

To set the mood, each of the speakers got to tell the story of their favorite unsolved or almost unsolved murder. The four murders that made the list were the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the disappearances at Mystery Bay, Jack the Ripper, and that of a Dallas County Texas restaurant whose iced tea got laced with sodium azide.

Once the audience was comfortably acclimated to the idea of murder, the floor was open to questions, one of the first of which was how to dispose of a body.  Four answers were proposed (every speaker eagerly employed there specialty). First, if the body is still fresh, all you need is a large scavenger or predator.  If the body is really fresh a bear will graciously devour your corpse for you.  If you did not think though your actions quite so well and you have a body that you cannot get to a predator in time, fish are much less picky eaters. Just weigh your body down and drop it overboard. Note, however, that there are probes that track whales, so be mindful.

Secondly, it was proposed that that a strong acid or base can do the job. The upside to this is that it will annihilate any trace of DNA. However, you must chop the body up finely before the bath; you need an extremely large surface area of contact between the acid (or base) and flesh (for those of you that are mathematically minded, this is known as the square-cube law).

The third option provided avoids the messy nature of the first two solutions but is definitely more risky. Basically the idea is that you want to hide in plain sight and get a separate organization to eliminate the evidence for you. For instance, get a gurney and scrubs and try to get into a morgue without anyone taking note of you. Once you get in, just leave the body with a John Doe toe tag.

The last solution is very specific to your location but probably the safest of all. If you happen to be somewhere where landslides are a feasible natural disaster, it turns out they typically come in clusters. It also turns out that as a society we don’t try to recover bodies from landslides because of logistical reasons. So just place the body and cause a “secondary” landslide over it. No one will suspect foul play because they were watching out for secondary landslides anyway.

If it is not in your playbook to ever actually have possession of the body, you may be thinking of offing someone in a public place using a method that has delayed effects. When asked their thoughts on how to get away with public murder, the panelist’s suggestions were all really simple.  Poisoning was obviously offered up as an idea. However, there was one interesting stipulation; make sure it is very quick-acting so it is unclear as to who could have done it in the chaos of a crowd. Since it is Dragon Con, it was suggested that if they are wearing a corset, stabbing in the ribs might work. Apparently if you use the right object, the tightness of the corset can prevent the person from noticing and keep them alive. They die the second they take it off. Lastly, McKinnon, who did her dissertation on landslides, recommended starting an avalanche.

At the end of the panel it was implied that there are four rules to murdering effectively. Make the murder boring; if you would want to watch a movie about it, there is a reporter or a cop who wants to make a career by solving it. Secondly, be opportunistic; don’t go through the trouble of taking extra steps when the environment can solve logistical problems for you. Thirdly, if you can, contaminate any evidence; if too many people have left DNA behind, it is too difficult for genetic forensics to be done effectively. Lastly, try to make any forensics that can be done be as expensive as possible; remember that municipalities are on a strict budget.

It was made quite clear that murder is not a recommended means of problem solving. The panelists repeatedly expressed the fact that they were not in support of murder for any reason.

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