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Old 05-15-2016, 07:59 AM
bomberswarm2 bomberswarm2 is offline
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Why do murders always dig only shallow graves?

In every murder case ever the victims are found in shallow graves, so that its obvious their bodies are there. Why don't murders dig deeper graves?
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:01 AM
Chihuahua Chihuahua is offline
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1) Cite please.

2) Have you ever tried digging a six foot hole?
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:03 AM
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Maybe some do dig deeper, but you don't hear about them because they don't get caught.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:15 AM
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It's a lot of work digging a grave. Killers only go deep enough to conceal the body.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:04 AM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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Murder is hard work. They're tired.


Digging a deep hole can be very hard, tight packed soil, clay, rocks, roots, etc can all be factors. Add in the mental/emotional state some people would be in, and it's easy to see how a person could tell themselves it's deep enough. Esp for an unplanned murder.

Wag, ymmv, imho, etc...
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:10 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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It doesn't sound as cool: "Three days of desperate searching for the 56-year-old came to a tragic end on Saturday afternoon when searchers found a perfectly normal depth grave ..."
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:22 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Murderers don't always dig shallow graves.

Cite:
Quote:
Under that plan, he said, he stole four shovels from neighbors in Macclenny, and the four defendants went to the Georgia grave site to dig a 6-foot-deep hole two days before the murders. Cole held the flashlight while the others dug, he said.
http://staugustine.com/stories/05040..._4575213.shtml

As for why it is common to dig only a shallow grave, I had to dig grave for a tiny Shih-tzu dog once in soil that was more clay than dirt, and digging in some types of ground is very hard work. He ended up maybe 2 1/2 feet down. I wasn't going any further, and this was a lot smaller of a hole than what you would need to bury a full-size human.

Covering a body with a couple of feet of dirt is plenty to hide it. The dig site itself though will be fairly obvious for a while, as it will be the only spot in the area with recently disturbed dirt (it doesn't matter so much if it is deep or shallow at that point). Eventually, grass and foliage will grow over the grave site and it won't be obvious.

When you dig a hole and fill it back in, you don't compress the dirt anywhere near as much as it was when it came out of the ground. Over time the dirt will naturally compress, leaving an indentation on the ground. Some victim's grave sites have been found by looking for depressions like this from helicopters.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:39 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down,
And dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down.
Half a mile from Tucson, by the morning light,
One man gone and another to go, my old buddy you're moving much too slow.


-- Bob Weir, Robert Hunter
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:48 AM
Count Blucher Count Blucher is offline
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Originally Posted by bomberswarm2 View Post
In every murder case ever the victims are found in shallow graves, so that its obvious their bodies are there. Why don't murders dig deeper graves?
Because top soil only goes down a foot to 18 inches (YMMV). After that, its hard clay. You can't dig hard clay with a round head shovel for long as you'll get tired & make almost no progress.

Now, if you have a pick axe with you, its doable, but it means:

*Chopping loose the clay at the bottom of the hole.
*Switching tools
*Shoveling out the loosened clay
*shoring up the sides
*Switching tools

*Chopping loose the clay at the bottom of the hole.
*Switching tools
*Shoveling out the loosened clay
*shoring up the sides
*Switching tools

~Repeat for Hours~


This is still a LOT of work, even if you have the endurance.
...of course if you dig the hole ahead of time, all bets are off.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:56 AM
Bill Door Bill Door is online now
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There's a lot more biological activity 2 feet down than there is 6 feet down. Decomposition is faster in a shallow grave. That might be considered a feature, not a bug in certain circumstances.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:59 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Count Blucher View Post
Because top soil only goes down a foot to 18 inches (YMMV). After that, its hard clay.
Depends on where you are.

Where I am you go down past topsoil you're likely to hit sand, sand, and more sand (former lakeshore area). Which, yes, is easier to dig through than clay but is more likely to collapse on the digger which, in our hypothetical, might leave one person in a middle-deep grave and a murder victim still on the surface.

But yeah, digging a hole of any real depth in any soil type is hard work.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:20 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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This illustrates why it's best to commit your murders in coastal communities (especially down south) where the soil is sandy and you can dig a nice deep grave without too much trouble.

In the Midwest, you're much more liable to strike heavy clay a few inches down, and lemme tell you, it's a lot of work digging through that stuff. And when you're nervous and rushed to begin with (and there are other things to do, like disposing of clothes and weapons and establishing an alibi), you don't want to spend hours on gravedigging.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:23 AM
Me_Billy Me_Billy is offline
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As I say, criminals are not very bright. If they were more intelligent, they would have a job and not need to lead a life of crime! (Or would be able to resolve their differences with other people in some manner other than murder.)
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:32 AM
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Aren't some of these shallow graves just loose dirt and debris tossed on top of a dead body?
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:51 AM
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Police Officer: So, what are you doing with that backhoe?
Murderer: Oh, I just like to tow one around. Is there a problem?
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:02 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is online now
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Do you *really* want to spend a lot of time doing something very conspicuous in the middle of nowhere ? Any backpacker, lost kid, trekking couple or wilderness warden and the jig is up. If you dig the grave at night, the light might be seen from miles away whereas if you dig at night in pitch darkness you'll get eaten by a grue.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:15 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Think of how wide a hole a hole is going to have to be which is as deep as you are tall if you're going to be digging by hand and be able to easily climb out. That's a lot of digging.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:25 PM
Indistinguishable Indistinguishable is offline
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Norm MacDonald on the subject

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 05-15-2016 at 12:25 PM. Reason: (Comedy, not a GQ answer, of course, but seems apropos)
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:33 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Between this and the evidence of unreliability of cement overshoes, it's truly a PITA to get rid of a dead body w/o industrial grade machinery.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Me_Billy View Post
As I say, criminals are not very bright. If they were more intelligent, they would have a job and not need to lead a life of crime! (Or would be able to resolve their differences with other people in some manner other than murder.)
Most bodies that are found buried in shallow graves are probably not the work of career criminals, but people who have killed on the spur of the moment and are in a hurry to dispose of the evidence.

The Mafia or other organized criminals will either kill someone and just leave the body there, or if the body is in an inconvenient place just dump it. They depend on not being caught by not leaving evidence by disposing of the gun or other weapon. In many cases they want the body to be found as a warning. In cases where they want to conceal the fact that the killing has been committed at all, they will have some reliable way of disposing of the body.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:59 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Rumor has it that some bodies have been disposed of in the steel mills on the south of Lake Michigan. Tossing someone into molten steel would be an effective means of disposing of a body, but presumably an option only open to organized crime and not a spur of the moment killer.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:17 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Tossing someone into molten steel would be an effective means of disposing of a body, but presumably an option only open to organized crime and not a spur of the moment killer.
Unless the spur of the moment killer worked at the steel mill.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:39 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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I've worked in a steel mill on the south side of lake Michigan. While it is true that tossing a body into the BOF (blast oxygen furnace) probably wouldn't leave much of a trace, I would think that all of the workers in the BOF would probably notice if some outsider just happened to come stumbling in carrying a corpse.

Molten steel is generally carried around the plant in large ladles (each ladle in the plant I worked in carried a bit over half a million pounds of steel). These ladles are carried around by cranes and generally aren't in a place where you can easily toss something into the top of them. Steel is also poured into "pigs" (tank-like rail cars that are lined with ceramic) and carried directly over to the auto manufacturers (it's still molten when it arrives). I can't think of anywhere along the line where someone could easily toss a body into the steel.

Steel making isn't an unattended process. Workers in the BOF add materials into the steel mix, take samples for quality control, and scoop the useless slag out of the steel. Every place where the ladles are used and poured is monitored. The ladles contain slag, and not all of it is removed in the BOF. Let the ladles pour too long and you end up with slag in your production steel, which ruins it.

In one of the plants I worked in, a ladle handle broke (not while I was there - I found out about it afterwards), dumping a few hundred thousand pounds of molten steel onto a worker who happened to be under it at the time. The only good thing about it was that the poor guy probably never knew what hit him. Molten steel will definitely get rid of a body.

That said, I only know of one case where it supposedly actually happened, and it wasn't done by an outsider who came into the plant and dumped a body. It was someone who murdered a co-worker by shoving him into the steel. There was a temperature dip recorded by the control system, which was all the evidence that was left afterwards.

Mostly, I think this is going to be along the lines of the cement shoes myth. Sure it may happen on really rare occasions, but generally no, it doesn't happen.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:41 PM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Do you *really* want to spend a lot of time doing something very conspicuous in the middle of nowhere ? Any backpacker, lost kid, trekking couple or wilderness warden and the jig is up. If you dig the grave at night, the light might be seen from miles away whereas if you dig at night in pitch darkness you'll get eaten by a grue.
Actually even "middle of nowhere" is not far from where human habitation is, of its reachable by using vehicles like automobiles and boats. It means that roads aor shipping routes are relatively nearby and chances are someone will stumble upon the evidence sooner rather than later.

This is why so many small planes are never found, because they are actually crashing in areas far from such infrastructure.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:53 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
I've worked in a steel mill on the south side of lake Michigan. While it is true that tossing a body into the BOF (blast oxygen furnace) probably wouldn't leave much of a trace, I would think that all of the workers in the BOF would probably notice if some outsider just happened to come stumbling in carrying a corpse.

Molten steel is generally carried around the plant in large ladles (each ladle in the plant I worked in carried a bit over half a million pounds of steel). These ladles are carried around by cranes and generally aren't in a place where you can easily toss something into the top of them. Steel is also poured into "pigs" (tank-like rail cars that are lined with ceramic) and carried directly over to the auto manufacturers (it's still molten when it arrives). I can't think of anywhere along the line where someone could easily toss a body into the steel.
Yep. Hence why I said "rumor".

I also heard a second-hand story about a worker doing maintenance on a pig who passed out inside it (I'm not entirely clear on what he was doing - something to do with the pig's lining?) and had molten steel poured over him. Again, if that did happen there wouldn't be a body left behind. So maybe someone could put a body inside an empty pig and hope it isn't noticed, but as noted there's actually quite a few people in a steel mill and somebody certainly might notice.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:59 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Maybe some do dig deeper, but you don't hear about them because they don't get caught.
This.

Two or more girls disappeared in my area, one in my town, back in the 1970s, all thought to be the work of one predator. One was found by accidental excavation on a new home site. The others are probably just as deep... somewhere in the endless forest here.

A premeditated killer would go find natural deep pits, such as from a major rotted stump or the like, and use it a starting point. Or just take the time to dig a deep hole in advance. A crime of passion or accident is going to make most killer panic and try to save time by digging only a foot or two.
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Old 05-15-2016, 02:10 PM
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(I'm not entirely clear on what he was doing - something to do with the pig's lining?)
Probably removing some slag that was stuck to the wall of the pig. They go in with blow torches and cut it out.
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Old 05-15-2016, 03:16 PM
TommySeven TommySeven is offline
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I also heard a second-hand story about a worker doing maintenance on a pig who passed out inside it (I'm not entirely clear on what he was doing - something to do with the pig's lining?) and had molten steel poured over him. Again, if that did happen there wouldn't be a body left behind. So maybe someone could put a body inside an empty pig and hope it isn't noticed, but as noted there's actually quite a few people in a steel mill and somebody certainly might notice.
Wouldn't that splatter terribly? It doesn't usually take much water in your molten metal to cause a serious accident, and a human body is full of the stuff.
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Old 05-15-2016, 03:49 PM
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Time is a major factor. The longer you take to dig a grave, the greater the likelihood that someone will come along and see you.
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:02 PM
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It doesn't sound as cool: "Three days of desperate searching for the 56-year-old came to a tragic end on Saturday afternoon when searchers found a perfectly normal depth grave ..."
Calling it a "shallow grave" adds a cherry on top of the horrific element of the story. It's as if the news reporter is saying "Not only did this fiend murder his victim, he didn't even have the decency to give the victim a proper burial." The rule of thumb is that six feet deep is enough to prevent the body being dug up and eaten by scavengers. We like to think that our dearly departed are "resting in peace" inside their satin-lined mahogany coffins in the cemetery and it would break our hearts to see them picked apart by vultures. But it's perfectly fine for their bodies to be digested by bacteria and worms. Apparently.
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:48 PM
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A friend of mine who lives outside of town in a rural woodsy area has had 2 murdered corpses buried near his property, both in -- you guessed it -- shallow graves. And those are just the ones they've found!
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:53 PM
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You know, the ocean makes a wonderful disposal site. No need to dig, no need to clean up afterwards. I totally recommend the ocean.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:08 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is online now
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Between this and the evidence of unreliability of cement overshoes, it's truly a PITA to get rid of a dead body w/o industrial grade machinery.
That or large quantities of hydrofluoric acid
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:15 PM
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You know, the ocean makes a wonderful disposal site. No need to dig, no need to clean up afterwards. I totally recommend the ocean.
It needs more preparation, though. You have to have a boat available that can get far enough offshore that dumping a body won't be seen. And it's hard to properly weight a body so it or parts of it won't surface when it bloats. And you have to make sure that fishermen don't trawl there.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:23 PM
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That or large quantities of hydrofluoric acid
Only on television. The cartels use lye, cheap, available, and effective.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:35 PM
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As far as I know regular graves are usually dug by a small excavator - that's how much work it is even under favourable circumstances.

Last edited by Mops; 05-15-2016 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 05-15-2016, 05:39 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Wouldn't that splatter terribly? It doesn't usually take much water in your molten metal to cause a serious accident, and a human body is full of the stuff.
These are what the pigs look like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBR37Lw0zEY

There's a small hole at the top that is opened and the molten steel is poured in. If there was a body inside, I seriously doubt that anyone would see the steel splattering around inside the pig.
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Old 05-15-2016, 06:03 PM
TommySeven TommySeven is offline
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There's a small hole at the top that is opened and the molten steel is poured in. If there was a body inside, I seriously doubt that anyone would see the steel splattering around inside the pig.
So how much water does it take to cause a wet charge accident like this one? I've seen some pretty impressive explosions with just a few teaspoons of water in a few pounds of metal (like the guy who decided to add liquid, water-based soldering flux to a pot of molten lead...), but I'm not sure how it scales.
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Old 05-15-2016, 06:57 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is online now
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Rumor has it that some bodies have been disposed of in the steel mills on the south of Lake Michigan. Tossing someone into molten steel would be an effective means of disposing of a body, but presumably an option only open to organized crime and not a spur of the moment killer.
Wouldn't that compromise the integrity of the steel, especially if the person wore glasses or had a belt buckle or some kind of artificial body parts that wouldn't melt at those temperatures?

There's a "Forensic Files" episode where some people got caught for doing this, because the temperature took a steep nosedive. It's also believe that the victim was thrown in alive.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:13 PM
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Poring concrete on them big dam walls, I have herd of people who have fell in don't come back out as the poring concrete can not stop.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:54 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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A premeditated killer would go find natural deep pits, such as from a major rotted stump or the like, and use it a starting point. Or just take the time to dig a deep hole in advance. A crime of passion or accident is going to make most killer panic and try to save time by digging only a foot or two.
How about unused/abandoned mine shafts, wells, and deep caves?

Then there's Jeffery Dahmer who, apparently, ate some of the evidence although I'm not sure that was entirely a way to hide it as part of whatever sick defect he possessed.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:11 PM
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Dahmer is an illustrative example of something, but not of stealthy body disposal. His neighbors all complained of the horrible smell BEFORE he was caught--including the guy who occasionally had a beer with him.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:22 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Wouldn't that splatter terribly? It doesn't usually take much water in your molten metal to cause a serious accident, and a human body is full of the stuff.
Yep, but as noted the opening in a pig isn't very big and would limit any "splashing" that occurred (actually, it's more like a steam explosion from what I've been told).

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Originally Posted by Morgenstern View Post
You know, the ocean makes a wonderful disposal site. No need to dig, no need to clean up afterwards. I totally recommend the ocean.
Hey, Dexter Morgan! I was wondering how you've been doing since leaving Miami! Sorry about your sister, though...

Actually, Dexter did bring up the drawbacks of that - in the series Dexter gets the title "Bay Harbor Butcher" after some divers discover his disposal site. After that, he switches to the Gulf Stream but in that case we're talking about a very much OCD killer being very methodical. Who also owns a boat. And doesn't seem to require sleep.

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Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
Wouldn't that compromise the integrity of the steel, especially if the person wore glasses or had a belt buckle or some kind of artificial body parts that wouldn't melt at those temperatures?

There's a "Forensic Files" episode where some people got caught for doing this, because the temperature took a steep nosedive. It's also believe that the victim was thrown in alive.
Not a heck of a lot that doesn't either melt or burn in molten steel... But yeah, apparently it does cause a temperature drop. Modern steels often have some fairly precise chemistry and maybe a human body can throw those off, too.

Heiress Helen Brach was allegedly killed in the 1970's on orders from organized crime and her body disposed of in an Indiana steel furnace. That should give you enough to google more details if you're interested. Apparently there is evidence, but I'm not sure it would constitute legal proof, that that actually happened.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:23 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Dahmer is an illustrative example of something, but not of stealthy body disposal. His neighbors all complained of the horrible smell BEFORE he was caught--including the guy who occasionally had a beer with him.
Obviously, he either needed to eat faster, get a bigger freezer, or throw out rotten meat quicker.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:34 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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Between this and the evidence of unreliability of cement overshoes, it's truly a PITA to get rid of a dead body w/o industrial grade machinery.
You might think that, but it's actually fairly easy.

I won't say anything more.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:07 PM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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A phaser type 1 on full power
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:25 PM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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Actually even "middle of nowhere" is not far from where human habitation is, of its reachable by using vehicles like automobiles and boats. It means that roads aor shipping routes are relatively nearby and chances are someone will stumble upon the evidence sooner rather than later.

This is why so many small planes are never found, because they are actually crashing in areas far from such infrastructure.
Which implies a really good way of getting rid of a body if you have a private pilot's licence and a buddy, is to fly out over the middle of a forest and drop the body out the door. Of course it's going to be slightly random, but as long as you live somewhere like Australia or the US where there are massive areas without much infrastructure, and the body lands in an area no hiker etc has any reason to go, the body might never be seen again.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:58 PM
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Between this and the evidence of unreliability of cement overshoes, it's truly a PITA to get rid of a dead body w/o industrial grade machinery.
Bodies can get pretty buoyant after a few days in the water. This case for example - a murdered woman was weighted down with 28kg (about 60lbs) of concrete and six days later was found floating on the surface of the lake (in my job at the time I had data on the lake-bed contours, depth, water flow direction and speed which I provided to the AFP so I had a chance to talk to some of the investigating officers).

Another factor if you go into remote areas or farmland is that the locals all seem to know what cars their neighbours drive and what 'normal' traffic in their areas is (ask my grandmother ) - if something out of the ordinary happens or police start asking eventually someone will remember an unfamiliar car driving around.
  #49  
Old 05-15-2016, 11:07 PM
obbn obbn is offline
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Last year one of our mini donkeys died. We had to dig a grave, we dug one about six for deep in Florida sand. It took a couple of hours and it was exhausting.
  #50  
Old 05-15-2016, 11:13 PM
spamforbrains spamforbrains is offline
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I'm opting for renting a wood chipper if I ever kill someone. None of that nasty time-consuming digging and wood chipping is common enough no one will ever notice.
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