“Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick?”
The perfect crime, is the one that you never find out. But that’s not how it ever works out in real life. It’s the reason you have true crime shows. Because the devious ways people find to cover their tracks, never work. Like the movie Fargo, criminal incompetence can be entertaining. That, coupled with the amazing means afforded by modern forensics to detect crime, that no one saw coming.
The recent interest in getting your ancestry checked via DNA has been a boon for police. It means that police can recheck DNA evidence from cold case crimes, and try to come up with a match. If they can’t find the killer, they can at least track down the killer’s cousin, or half brother, chances being narrowed down within the billionth degree that they might be wrong. Faced with that kind of evidence in court, you are screwed if you think you got away with it for good.
Sometimes police gather clues from your internet searches, since we all know that cell phone records and internet searches are forever, as the saying goes. They will want to know why you searched the topic “dissolving dead bodies” before buying the plastic tub and acid like you saw on Breaking Bad.
Of course the first murder in the Bible has all the makings of every murder which came after it. It involved human jealousy coupled with the nonchalant sloughing off of responsibility. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is the famous response from Cain when God asked him…“Where is your brother?” Cain of course, had slain Abel because he was jealous. The seeds of murder had been lying in his heart for a while. It wasn’t quality of sacrifice that got him into trouble, as much as the insincere effort it revealed. God had reprimand Cain early on with this curious observation.
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
In ancient times, the remedy for a crime was some form of revenge. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Still, even God seems to have thought this a bit austere. After Cain kills his brother, God sets a protective mark on his forehead… the mark of Cain that forever marks him as a murderer while at the same time stopping others from doing him harm. It seems that God already knew where cycles of revenge would lead.
The modern day judicial system seems more focused on rehabilitation since the cost of incarceration can be onerous. They would prefer you to live out your golden years in society, preferably on your own dime. Agencies like the John Howard society will mediate with possible employers who might be willing to take on someone who has just come out of jail and wants to get their life back on the right track.
Murder is also good for entertainment value, because there is always a trail of breadcrumbs that leads back to the crime. Though some crimes are totally random and based on opportunity, the fact is that most crimes are perpetrated by someone you know. More likely, someone who knows your patterns and habits well enough to use them against you. Murdering your marriage partner for example, is a classic.
Last year there was a South Carolina woman who ALMOST got away with it. She used a poison that is not common, one that is not tested for in forensics. She knew about toxicology because she was a nurse. She had somehow figured out that the unique properties of eye drops are toxic in ways that are hard to track down.
Tetrahydrozoline is the active chemical agent which relieves your teary eyes. It is almost indiscernible by taste in a glass of water, and what it does to your insides if ingested is something entirely different. It can produce a comatose state, and it can shut down your cardiovascular and other sympathetic systems. It’s also a nasty and prolonged way to die. She poisoned her husband by spiking his drinking water, and took the precaution of hiding his phone so that he would not be able to call for help. She also destroyed his will so that lacking any progeny, the man’s estate would pass solely to her. It took him three days of agony to kick the bucket.
Of course, police always find other clues which add to the comedy. This particular woman “accidentally” shot her husband in the head with a crossbow bolt a few years earlier, while out hunting together. It was dismissed at the time by the police as an unfortunate accident. I wonder what must have been going on inside her head when she failed. “Damn, this guy has got nine lives, that’s for sure. What’s a more tricky way I can come up with to do away with him?” It meant that she spent another two years with this guy, sleeping in the same bead and sharing the same table, while looking across at him and wondering how she could kill him. That’s cold blooded enough to send chills down your spine.
Murder is about the same for the dead person no matter what. But courts care whether or not you meant it, and how deliberately you planned it. That is why we have first and second degree murder, and manslaughter. The state wants to rehabilitate you. Still, from what I have seen, people are mostly sorry that they got caught.
In the end, the perfect crime is the one you and I don’t know about, but that seems less and less likely given the preponderance of close circuit cameras, cell phones, web surfing and electronic banking. You will be traced somewhere along the path and found out. We live increasingly in a surveillance society. Be sure your sins will find you out, the Good Book says. There is no time in the history of man when it is more true, than today.