the perfect murder

this is inspired by Joe_Cool’s question about where to first strike the US for invasion…
and please everyone critique everyone’s answer with all their legal knowledge… it’s a legitimate mental exersize… with all the given forensic data, how do you make sure you don’t get caught???

maybe the Straight Dope will help forward forensic science.

I’m not sure that everyone completely agrees on what a “perfect” murder is. Is it a murder you commit where you are not convicted of murder? Is it a murder that you commit where you are not caught? It is a murder you commit where you are not even a suspect? Is it a murder you commit where nobody even realizes that it’s really a murder? It is a murder you commit where nobody even realizes the victim is dead?

I think the following general rules (while very obvious) would make sense for any “perfect” murder:

  1. Make sure nobody knows the victim is even dead.
  2. If not 1, then make sure it does not look like a murder.
  3. If not 1 or 2, then make sure you don’t become a suspect.
  4. If not 1, 2 or 3, then make sure you are not caught.
  5. If not 1, 2, 3, or 4, then make sure you are not convicted.


 B.K. pointed out a flaw in my question... I worded it poorly... my question was more about not being suspected. Everyone knows that the person was killed, but nothing points at YOU.

thanks for pointing out the error B.K.

Even if you are not convicted, having people think you did it can have serious consequences. So a perfect murder would have to be one where you are never seriously investigated as a suspect.

As for how to do it, I don’t know exactly how, but I do know:

[li]If other people knew that I had any motive for killing whoever it is, I would be extremely careful in making sure it didn’t look like murder.[/li][li]I would be very careful not to make it look like the victim did something he/she would normally not do(making it seem as if a member of MADD swerved off a cliff after having a few too many drinks, for example)[/li][li]If the victim displayed suicidal tendencies, I would take the opprotunity to make his/her death look like suicide.[/li][li]I would do everything possible to create a plausible alibi.[/li][li]I would not do anything that would involve bringing the body in or near where I live.[/li][li]If I could do so without attracting attention, I would wear a clean room or hazmat suit to avoid contaminating the crime scene with my DNA or fingerprints.[/li][li]Anything used in the killing, as well as whatever clothing I was wearing, would be completely destroyed afterward, taking care not to let anyone see what is going on. I would dispose of the remains as far away as possible, somewhere where I was certain nobody would accidentally discover them.[/li][/ul]

If the body is found, and is plainly a murder victim, I’d say it’s not a perfect murder.

I think a near perfect murder is one where no one realizes that it WAS murder; the person is believed to have perished by accident or through natural causes. The really perfect murder is one where no one is sure the victim is dead. He’s not around any more; he gets reported as a missing person, but his death is never established.

That’s no fun. You’d have to kill someone you had almost no connection with in life. It’d have to be a stranger or someone you hardly knew.


Like MGibson pointed out it all depends if you are just interested in the act of murder or if you’re willing do it for an especific reason.

Two words: Fall guy! Pin in on someone who has no alibi and no resources to fight a murder charge.

I can’t claim credit for this - I heard it on the radio a while ago. I think that it was suggested by PD James. It’s almost perfect, except that you need an accomplice. It’s also rather UK-specific.

Suppose you want to kill your wife.

You suggest that she takes a trip to France. A booze cruise for instance.* She tells all her friends. You tell all yours. Everybody knows that she is going.

Meanwhile secretly recruit an accomplice that looks enough like your wife to fool a casual observer.

The night before your wife is due to leave, fouly MURDER her. Dispose of the body. Apparently there are always ways to do this - building sites, forests etc. I’m sure that an enterprising murderer could manager it.

Here’s the clever bit: you give your wife’s passport to the accomplice. She then goes to France in your wife’s place! She then comes back with her OWN passport.

Wait a day or two. Report that your wife hasn’t contacted you. Act upset. Cry.

The whole missing persons investigation will then be conducted in France. Records will show that she went but never returned. You were in England the whole time and as such have the perfect alibi.

The accomplice is, however, a problem. You could murder her too (murdering strangers is, I suspect, a lot easier to get away with. OTOH maybe she would be tied to you in some way, so that she would never tell (lover?) Or if she is remote enough a stranger from somewhere far enough away she may never piece together the crime. I leave this bit as an exercise for the reader.

There. What do you think?


*Note for Merkin readers: alcohol is much cheaper in France than England. This has lead to lots of people in the South-East of England buying ferry trips to France with the sole intent of hopping over the Channel, buying up lots of beer and wine and then driving back again. You can bring back truckloads, as long as you persuade the authorities that it is all for private consumption. This practice has become known as a “booze cruise”

Though definitely not foolproof, shooting them from a stolen car with a shotgun works for me.

kabbes, I don’t think that will work. Everytime I go to another country, they stamp my passport when I arrive and when I depart.

So, when the accomplice leaves the country, her passport will not have an arrival stamp. It’s always the little shit like this that gets you in the movies. Plus, I don’t like the whole idea of an accomplice.

Somewhere in the dregs of my memory I recall a serial murder or asprin-tampering job being a way for the man to kill his wife without being a suspect. Can’t remember if it was fact or fiction. Cool idea, though.

I would imagine the closer you are to the victim, the closer an investigation would look at you as the suspect.

I agree that if people know the victim was killed, it’s not a perfect murder. A perfect murder has to be where no one thinks the person was killed, whether that means natural causes, suicide, or disappearance is another question.

Also, posting a question like “How do I commit the perfect murder” on a message board and then having your wife mysteriously disappear two weeks later may raise a few eyebrows.

I’ve actually thought of this question before (as a mental exercise) and the conclusion I’ve reached is that an “accidental” death with no witnesses but the killer is nearly foolproof. For instance, take the unsuspecting victim (assuming they are someone who you know well and not a total stranger) on a hiking trip down the Grand Canyon wall, then shove tham off. You can claim they fell accidentally. Since the fall is really what killed them and there were no witnesses, you’re scot free. Even if you have a motive, there’s no witnesses or evidence of any kind.

Nah Astroglide - like all members of the EU I have an EU passport (actually a British EU passport, but you get the idea). When people from member states visit other member states no stamps are involved.


But if the accomplice(preferably a lover, with some patience) returns to have the passport stamped at a time when the hubby can have an airtight alibi, say an out of the country business trip? He calls his house from a hotel room, many times for two days(and calls the cruise line), then calls the police. ‘She was supposed to arrive 2 days ago, but she’s not home.’

The police would think(after they verify that hubby was elsewhere) that she was abducted on her way home from the cruise ship.

I like spooje’s suggestion - it makes it work better for you Merkins. As I mentioned though, the stamping won’t be a problem for us Eurotrash :smiley:

Something tells me bobo doesn’t like his wife :wink:

But one trick would be to exploit a little known forensic trick thusly. If you wear and leave them at the scene of the crime then you will be caught because surgeons gloves are so tight that they actually trap your fingerprints on the inside of the glove. If you somehow get someone else to wear the gloves and then leave them at the scene then it will lead the investigation away from you because the police will have what they believe to be a copy of the perps fingerprints, prints which don’t match yours. They would probably believe this unquestioningly because not many people know that surgical gloves actually trap your fingerprints on the inside.
BTW - Lizard, the only flaw in your plan is that they can tell if it was likely that someone was pushed off by measuring how far away from the rock face they were when they landed. If you were to push someone hard enough to fall off then they would probably land too far away from the rock face for it to have been an accidental fall.


Should be

2 words … “hunting accident” … it’s amazing how often that may have been used to commit murder. I know of a guy who took over the family farm operation (large and very profitable) after his brother died in a “hunting accident” on a trip with him. Of course, both had been hunting/practicing gun safety since boyhood but no one thought to question that!

originally posted by Hazel –
“I think a near perfect murder is one where no one realizes that it WAS murder; the person is believed to have perished by accident or through natural causes. The really perfect murder is one where no one is sure the victim is dead. He’s not around any more; he gets reported as a missing person, but his death is never established.”

There was a case in Idaho where a man dissapeared after a camping trip in the desert and was assumed dead. More than 10 years later his body was found by hikers (a bone was sticking out of the ground), identified, and later his sons were tried and prosecuted for his murder.

So, I guess you would need to make sure the body was destroyed beyond recognition.

that should be tried and convicted, not tried and prosecuted. Aaargh!

Help stamp out and abolish redundancy!

This reminds me…

I once worked with this very strange guy. Anyway, one day we had a fight over a girl. He like her, but I asked her out. All fair in love and war. Well the guy goes around the office telling everyone how he hates me for this and what a bastard I am etc… Then one day out of the blue he walks up to me and starts being friendly, then he says, “hey deer season opens tommrow, and I have a lease. Ya wanna go with me?” I declined!!