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How To Get Away With Murder
Transcript of How To Get Away With Murder
"Murder: one of the worst crimes. Most of us wouldn’t dare it but is it only because we are good people? We believe that the fear of being caught is a deterrence. How to accomplish ‘the perfect crime’; choice of the victim, of the location and of the alibi have to be thought of. This project will focus on the use of evidence in murder investigation and what should be done to cover your tracks (knowing what investigation tools the police would normally use)."
As a group we decided to look at how you could get away with murder, looking at the alibi, the victim, the weapon, the crime's location and how to dispose of evidence. We also discussed the ethics of telling people how to get away with murder.
Disposal of Evidence
Disposal of Body
Disposal of Equipment
According to BBC news in the year 2011/12 there were 550 homicides in England and Wales, a record 30 year low1. However this figure represents the murders that were discovered by the police and according to Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Martin Richards, when asked if he believed there was such a thing as the perfect murder, he replied “Absolutely,". "It's the one we never hear about."2 In decade up to 2007 there were 564 unsolved murders which equates to 1 murder a week going unsolved.3
As a group we decided to look at how you could get away with murder, looking at the alibi, the victim, the weapon and how to dispose of evidence. We will also discuss the ethics of telling people how to get away with murder
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of crime dramas on television, showing some of the techniques the police use to solve murders and catch their culprits.
Obviously in these famous TV dramas such as Hannibal, CSI and Sherlock the murderer is always caught because it makes for gripping TV but in real life, the detective can be outsmarted and with recent statistics, this happens more often than we think.
According to BBC news in the year 2011/12 there were 500 homicides in England and Wales, a record 30 year low (BBC, 2012). However, this figure represents the murders that were discovered by the police and according to Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Martin Richards, when asked if he believed there was such a thing as the perfect murder, he replied "Absolutely, it's the one we never hear about." (James, P. 2014).
Weapon Study: Icicle
Biological Weapons: Smallpox
One historical example is the use of smallpox blankets by British forces to kill off Native American tribes but the last naturally occurring case was in 1977 as most of the human population have been vaccinated they are now immune.
A sudden outbreak of smallpox nowadays would cause suspicion.
The icicle is perceived to be the best murder weapon due to the fact it will melt soon after the murder and leave no trace.
But thinner icicles which deliver more of a sharp-edged blow would shatter on impact and not serve much purpose as a murder weapon.
Heavier, larger icicles would do the trick but this is heavily reliant in your victim being situated in the right place at the right time but isn't every murder dependent on this?
Weapon Study: Allergies
The use of allergies as a murder weapon seems trivial but is in fact very well thought out as this method makes it very hard for the prosecutor to prove that the death wasn't a freak accident.
This method does involve knowing the victim well enough to be aware of their allergies.
There must also be special thought as to rendering the EpiPen useless so that the victim is unable to recover.
Methods of delivering the allergen to the victim could be adding nut extract to shampoo (Horrible Bosses, 2011), tampering with the water supply or fixing a bee stinger to an object the victim will come into contact with (car keys, phone, toilet seat).
Weapon Study: Blunt Objects
From our research blunt objects appear to be very effective murder weapons.
The weapon itself can be a bat, mechanical tool or axe but most efficiently used with a single blow.
The choice of object is crucial as you don't want there to be a link between you and your weapon; for example Tiger Woods should stay clear from golf club murder sprees.
Ted Bundy, one of America's most prolific serial killers was famous for killing his thought-to-be 100 female victims by bludgeoning them with a baseball bat.
Disposal of Body 1
Disposal of Equipment
As much as the body is vital to evidence, in many murder cases the body is found but the case remains unsolved.
It is the murder weapon and associated equipment involved in the killing which has had direct contact with the murderer and thus makes a major link between the killer and the crime.
Clothes worn by the murderer should be burnt or sterilized and then donated to various charity shops.
Firearms are often beaten down with a sledge hammer to make serial codes and trace marks unrecognisable and this process renders ballistic testing by damaging the barrel.
Weapons can also be destroyed by strong acid (e.g HCl) or for more damage, liquid Nitrogen which results in the object shattering and the shards can then be placed sparsely as if they were horcruxes .
Hiding weapons leaves some sort of path to the murderer i.e if you throw the weapon into a lake then you risk being seen and possibly caught.
Cyanide in its form as potassium cyanide has been used as a poison throughout history.
Cyanide was famously used by Adolf Hitler to commit suicide.
It was also used it the Chicago Tylenol Murders - where tablets laced with potassium cyanide were placed in shelved bottles of Tylenol to kill the customer who would unfortunately buy the product - 7 murder victims and 33 years later these murders remain unsolved (Markel, 2014).
After group discussion, we have compiled all aspects which make up the perfect murder and have decided how they would get away with this murder.
The murderer will be a farmer, living in the Highlands of Scotland who has access to slurry tanks, incinerators or pig livestock. They will kill a lone walker passing by their land, away from any civilisation via blunt object (crow bar, spade, plank of wood) to the head. Their alibi will be associated with working with the animals on the farm, early in the morning (this will only be used if interrogated). The murderer will tell no one.
We believe this is the best scenario as a farmer has access to all equipment necessary, often works alone at odd times, and has means of disposing of the body which all seem to be part of their everyday life.
Biography.com, (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/ted-bundy-9231165#final-crimes [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Brandreth, G. (2001). How to commit the perfect murder - Telegraph. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4727066/How-to-commit-the-perfect-murder.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Fletcher, D. (2009). Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.com. [online] TIME.com. Available at: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1878063,00.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Flight, C. (2011). BBC - History - World Wars: Silent Weapon: Smallpox and Biological Warfare. [online] Bbc.co.uk. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/pox_weapon_01.shtml [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Harper, T. (2007). Rate of unsolved murders doubles in decade - Telegraph. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1561945/Rate-of-unsolved-murders-doubles-in-decade.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Hawkins, A. (2013). FBI: More People Killed with Hammers, Clubs Each Year than Rifles - Breitbart. [online] Breitbart. Available at: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/01/03/fbi-more-people-killed-with-hammers-and-clubs-each-year-than-with-rifles/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Hawkins, K. (2014). Considering an icicle as a weapon? Read this first.. [online] Crimelibrary.com. Available at: http://www.crimelibrary.com/blog/2014/02/13/considering-the-icicle-as-a-weapon-please-read-this-first/index.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
James, P. (2014). How you could get away with murder. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/451752/How-you-could-get-away-with-murder [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Lamb, R. (2013). 10 Scariest Bioweapons. [online] Stufftoblowyourmind.com. Available at: http://www.stufftoblowyourmind.com/blog/list/10-scariest-bioweapons/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Sample, I. and Harding, L. (2013). Polonium-210: the hard-to-detect poison that killed Alexander Litvinenko. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/06/polonium-210-poison-alexander-litvinenko [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Shaw, D. (2012). Homicide rate down to 30-year low. [online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18900384 [Accessed 18 Jan. 2015].
Batty, D. (2005). Q&A: Harold Shipman. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/aug/25/health.shipman [Accessed 26 Jan. 2015].
Herring, J. (2007). Criminal law. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.
. FBI, (2015). Expanded Homicide Data. [online] Available at: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expanded-homicide-data [Accessed 2 Jan. 2015].
Thought Catalog, (2013). 16 Steps To Kill Someone And Not Get Caught. [online] Available at: http://thoughtcatalog.com/juliet-escoria/2013/12/16-steps-to-kill-someone-and-not-get-caught/ [Accessed 29 Dec. 2014].
Adultswithallergies.com, (2014). Film and Allergies | Adults with Allergies Blog. [online] Available at: http://adultswithallergies.com/tag/film-and-allergies/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2015].
Wrap the body in chicken wire and add weights ('cement shoes'), throw into a body of water, the body will sink and decay/be eaten by marine life.
Check obituaries in the local paper, identify funeral scheduled soon, go to grave night before the funeral, dig under the already dug grave, place body under grave, incoming body of the funeral is oblivious to their new grave mate.
Locate a building site where concrete is being used, lay the body in the concrete mix for it to then be covered over and forgotten about, this technique is used by the Mafia.
Finding the correct location for your murder can be crucial to getting away with the murder.
If you choose a public place it means that there will be lots of DNA and fingerprints, meaning that it will be harder for the police to isolate ‘the murderers’ fingerprints.
However most public places nowadays have lots of CCTV cameras, which could place you at the scene and help identify you.
In the decade up to 2007 there were 564 unsolved murders in the UK, which equated to 1 murder a week going unsolved (Harper, T. 2007).
FBI statistics show that somewhere between 35%-40% of homicides in the US go unsolved (Epigone, 2013).
More people in the US are killed by hammers and clubs each year than by rifles (Hawkins, 2013).
Britain's most prolific serial killer Harold Shipman managed to discreetly kill 250+ individuals over a 25 year span without getting caught during that time (The Gaurdian, 2005).
The most famous unsolved murder case in history is believed to be the Jack The Ripper murders of London, which still remain unsolved 127 years later.
Another famous use of biological weapons was the anthrax attacks on American Senate members and news offices.
Anthrax powder containing spores from the deadly bacterium
were sent to individuals; killing 5 and infecting 17.
Biological Weapons: Anthrax
Another infamous poisoning closer to home was that of Russian spy and former KGB member, Alexander Litvinenko.
He was victim to the first ever case of radioactive polonium-210 poisoning which was conspicuously placed in his tea.
Polonium only radiates alpha-radiation which is unable to penetrate skin, thus meaning the hospital equipment used to detect radiation poisoning was unable to help with the diagnosis of Litvinenko (BBC News, 2014).
Disposal of Weapons
According to The Godfather and almost all Hollywood Mafia films, it's best to leave the murder weapon at the scene so that the killer does not retain possession of the weapon and thus linking them directly to the murder.
In leaving the weapon at the scene, the murderer must make sure that no incriminating evidence remains (DNA and fingerprints) on the weapon which in modern times is almost impossible to carry out.
So nowadays the weapon is destroyed and disposed off outwith the murder scene to prevent tracing back to the killer via DNA analysis or serial code recovery from the weapon.
Dissolving the body with the use of Sodium Hydroxide in an area such as a bath, it will break the body down into water-soluble salts which are easily washed down the drain. (Chemistry beta, 2013).
Dump the body in a slurry pit to then let the bacteria in the manure breakdown the flesh and bones of the corpse, it will take months to years for the corpse to fully disappear but the skeleton will fall to the bottom and these waste vats aren't regularly emptied.
Disposing of the body in an incinerator is also a very effective method of removing all the evidence as well as leaving no DNA trace behind (ash does not contain DNA).
Finally, chop the body into pieces and feed to pigs which will digest the entire corpse.
The previous methods of disposing a body are all effective but all share the same downfall, that is transport of the body from the site of murder to the site of disposal and in this most important time frame, is where the murderer is most vulnerable to witnesses.
It is said that between 3-5am is the best time to dispose of a body (don't ask me who came up with this).
Another critically important factor in reducing witnesses between this so called 'twilight zone' is being part of the profession where using these methods is the norm (farmer, undertaker, medical clinician).
Disposal of Body 2
Disposal of Body 3
Location - Away From Home
The first requirement for the location is that you are not associated with it; be it your place of work or somewhere you walk past everyday.
If having to walk past the murder scene everyday, this may intensify guilt in you, making you restless and uneasy whenever you are near the murder scene - identifying you as a prime target for suspicion by the police.
Also if you are traveling away from your local area to commit murder do not take your phone with you, as GPS in modern phones can be used to trace back the whereabouts of people.
Location- The Highlands
If you want to totally avoid CCTV cameras a good location would be somewhere remote away from where you live such as the Highlands. Some of the most famous murders in the UK have occured in the countryside (Moors Murderers, Renee MacRae, Cumbria Shootings).
Here you can find a lone walker in a remote area with no witnesses, commit your crime and be back at home, miles away, before anyone even realises that anything is wrong/the victim is even missing.
However if you are using your car to travel between your house and the scene then you risk your car being picked up by cameras which would again put you in the area.
Traveling to kill is very risky as murder is a huge emotional strain and will most likely cause paranoia, making driving erratic and hence likely to attract attention.
Location - Hospital
A hospital is an ideal location to kill someone because if you pick your victim well, ie someone who is very ill anyway, then their death may not seem suspicious.
Furthermore if you choose your weapon well, ie an undetectable injectable poison, then even if the death does seem suspicious they will not be able to find a cause of death at post-mortem.
One example of hospital murders is the Stepping Hill (Manchester) nurse who poisoned 21 patients completely undetected between 2011/12 until he was charged with the murders of 3 of them.
Another example of this killing method is the most famous serial killer ever in the UK, Dr Harold Shipman (Dr Death) who killed an estimated 250 mostly elderly patients who visited his GP practice between 1975 and 1998.
The only reason that Shipman was caught was due to the fact that the coroner had noted an increase in the amount of death certificates she had to counter sign for Dr Shipman (The Gaurdian, 2005).
In the UK, the police have the right to arrest anyone under the suspicion of murder and hold them for 24 hours for interviewing (gov.uk, 2014).
If you are being interviewed by the police it is clear there has been flaws somewhere in the murder cover up but the police can't make an arrest unless enough evidence has been filed against you.
It is at this point that a sound and sensible alibi has to be produced from the murder suspect to prove they had nothing to do with the murder.
A true alibi is one which proves the suspect was in a location other than the murder scene at the time of the crime, this kind of alibi is exceedingly difficult to produce as you will require alibi witnesses to testify about your whereabouts.
Affirmative and Necessity of defense can also be sought after as an alibi.
Alibi - Affirmative Defense
Affirmative defense is where the accused accepts responsibility of the murder but is not wholly or partially criminally responsible for the crime (Herring, 2007).
By seeking affirmative defense, the murderer will have the chance to reduce their sentence, trial hearing or even be acquitted fully depending on what the judge decides.
Claiming insanity can be used meaning that due to mental illness, the accused was not able to distinguish between right and wrong and therefore can't be fully accountable.
It could be claimed that the victim gave consent to be killed due to them being severely depressed.
Self-defense can be claimed but has a strict set of criteria that must be met in order for this to be accepted (especially in the UK).
Accidental defense can be claimed where the accused was intoxicated or experienced amnesia during the crime.
Alibi - Necessity of Defense
In UK law, Defense of Necessity exists where the accused can claim that the murder was carried out to prevent something more serious from taking place.
Defense of Necessity is closely linked with self-defense and is used where self-defense can't cover the case as defense (Herring, 2007). For example if you were to kill a man who had a gun at a group of people; so you are not protecting yourself but are preventing a more serious incident from taking place.
Defense of Necessity also takes into account Duress which defines the situation where the person carries out the murder due to a threat and before the actual violence is committed.
So, how is all this related to getting away with murder?
All these cases can be used as part of your alibi, for example a murder can be committed through a staged self-defense situation or where the victim can be seen to make a threat against the murderer (Duress).
Never kill anyone you're in a relationship or sleeping with as you immediately become the primary target once the murder investigation begins.
According to the expanded homicide figures for 2011 in the US, 54.3% of murder victims were killed by someone they knew, with 24.8% being killed by a family member and 36.5% of female victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends (FB1, 2015).
To maximise your chance of not being caught your victim needs to be a total stranger picked at random and not somebody you know even in passing (ThoughtCatalog, 2013).
However, killing a stranger has no real motive to it and resembles more the killing style of a serial killer.
Victim selection is entwined with location as it is difficult to control a victim's whereabouts, thus you must travel to where they go.
If killing your victim at their home, you must make sure they live alone or will at least be alone at the time of murder.
To ensure this, there will have to be prior stalking of your victim in order to suss out their daily regime, this process will leave you vulnerable to them noticing you so caution is advised.
To then gain access to the person's home, a level of trust must be gained and the best way to do this is to pretend you have a position of authority (dress as a police man, gas/electric man with suitable ID).
If killing in a public place, you can kill the victim at random once they become isolated but it is vital you are not seen by CCTV or onlookers and a quick get away is a must.
How Ethical is it to Study this Topic?
Some people may question how ethical it is for us to produce a guide telling people how to get away with murder, however we would argue that the majority of the topic was produced through brain storming and reasoning, something everyone is capable of doing.
All of the information we have presented here is readily available on the internet, in books or on TV crime dramas.
In fact when you type the question ‘How to get away with murder?’ into a search engine you get hundreds of thousands of results stating 'don't google how to get away with murder' making it clear that the act of committing murder should involve more subtle methods.
Some websites even tell you that looking at the information on them may be breaching the law.
We believe that most people cannot get away with murder because they have a conscience and cannot live with the guilt of their crime or are too scared of getting caught to try.
Therefore, answering the question 'How do you get away with murder? and knowing how to succeed with the crime will not provoke someone to callously murder, instead good motives and mental instability will.
Is this the perfect murder?