Ten Ways to Get Away With Murder

For mystery writers.
Ten ways to get away with murder.

  1. The death is never uncovered. “My husband went on a business trip and never returned.”
    (Best case scenario, nobody gets suspicious. Works best when the victim is a loner with no relatives he keeps in touch with and has low Facebook profile. Not ideal if and when the body is accidentally discovered. Down side: You might have difficulty legally inheriting his money.)
  2. It looked like a natural death. “My husband died of a disease.”
    (Use an innocuous poison like a potassium injection. It will resemble a heart attack and nobody will be the wiser. Just don’t do it around doctors. A wife tried to inject potassium into an iv tube at the Mayo Clinic and quick witted doctors uncovered it. Down side: Medical examiners are usually smarter than you.)
  3. It looked like an accident. “My husband drove off a cliff.”
    (Simpler the better. Applicable to almost any kind of victim. Lazy police bureaucrats will prefer accidents over things that need genuine investigation. Down side: Your victim might survive.)
  4. It looked suspicious but nobody looked for the murderer. “My husband shot himself, but it could have been an accident. The insurance investigator went home when he learned that his policy did not cover either case.”
    (When nobody stands to gain from somebody’s death, there is very little incentive to look closely. If they investigated every death in the absence of a motive for murder, the police would be overwhelmed. Down side: You never know who knows about your secret motive. If it is money, you better have it well hidden.)
  5. It was justifiable homicide. “My husband had been habitually violent. I have my history of hospitalizations to prove it. This time I knew he was going to kill me so I shot him.”
    (Works best if the victim actually was a habitual abuser. If not, you have to set him up as such. Juries are sympathetic to abused wives. Down side: Not the best option if you are a husband scheming to kill your wife. Also, you have to hurt yourself frequently and go to the hospital with suspicious injuries multiple times before you have a convincing setup.)
  6. It was self defense. “My husband took two shots at me. I shot back once. I didn’t think I would hit him in the head.”
    (Works best if your victim has a reason to kill you. Some states allow this more than others. Local legal precedents may vary. Down side: Forensic experts can tell if the shootout was poorly staged.)
  7. Temporary insanity. “My husband had a habit of drugging me to have sex. This time I woke up and found him dead. Was it me?”
    (Works best if your intended victim is known to have weird habits. It must not be revealed that you had any prior habit of taking drugs yourself. The “battered victim who temporarily lost her mind” has been proven to work at times as well. Down side: A lot seems to depend on the ability of the lawyer.)
  8. The perfect alibi. “I was at the party all night. I was right next to the hostess all evening. There were numerous witnesses. When I got home with a few of my friends from the party, my husband was dead.”
    (Essentially, you are hiring a professional to kill your victim at the precise moment when you have the perfect alibi. Works best when you have a lot of money to apply. You may have some difficulties in finding a good professional, but rich people will always find a way. Down side: What’s the fun in it?)
  9. The reasonable doubt. “I know it’s possible that I might have done it. But the neighbor had a grudge with him and has no alibi. His business partner will gain from his death and has no alibi. His mistress could have done it and has no alibi. It could have been anybody.”
    (Works best when you are trying to kill off someone with lots of plausible enemies. Down side: Someone else might beat you to it.)
  10. The deal. “If you let me get off with second degree manslaughter, I can lead you to the arrest of a major drug dealer.”
    (Works best when you have something to offer. Down side: Won’t work if you don’t.)


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