Have you ever wondered what it takes to commit a perfect, untraceable murder which would confound today’s advanced forensic science and technology? If you answered ‘no’, that’s because you don’t feel comfortable admitting such a morbid curiosity, you liar. It’s actually somewhat of a scientific question, and an important one which, if studied closely, may actually be able to help law enforcement and forensic scientists to close gaps presented in real criminal investigations. Unlike Leopold and Loeb, who managed to do the exact opposite of what they had set out to, there are many murderers who have discovered the formula for the perfect crime — and therefore remain anonymous and free today. This is not to say that there’s a guy out there who has repeatedly killed and never once made a mistake (although it’s possible), but instead that there are certain rules which should always be followed when committing bloody crimes, if the criminal wishes to remain undetected. With a billion different ways to trace even the smallest piece of evidence back to the culprit, how does one fool forensic science?
Body of Evidence
No body, no evidence, right? Not exactly. Forensic science has other ways of detecting whether or not a body was ever present at a certain scene. Casey Anthony’s trial was a perfect example of this, except for the small detail that the woman was exonerated, set free despite generous amounts of evidence pointing to her as the murderer of her own child. Forensic science experts testified that a corpse had been present in the trunk of Anthony’s car — all without having seen blood or body parts in the trunk. Regardless, the smell of death was the first tip. Forensic scientists and detectives recognize the smell of death easily. Secondly, there were maggots present in the trunk — bugs which forensic science experts state are only present after a person has been dead for a few days. Lastly, there were strands of hair found in the trunk, which is especially significant because the roots of the hair showed signs that the hair had been shed postmortem. This shows that forensic science is advanced enough to make a pretty solid case against you based on a few fibers, some tiny bugs, and an odor. As seen in Anthony’s case, being a white woman with enough money to hire a decent lawyer can really take forensic science down a notch, but you’ll still look pretty guilty.
The body is the most important thing to get rid of, because forensic science has a lot of fancy tricks it can pull while inspecting a corpse. That evidence is best if it’s never found. Blood tests to determine drugs, poisons, or alcohol in the victim’s system can tell the authorities a lot about your methods. Ballistics or weapons testing, dactyloscopy (fingerprinting), botany (pieces of grass on the corpse which only come from a certain park in town), entomology (more insects), odontology (don’t bite the victim), and serology (sperms and stuff) are just some of the methods forensic science is used to solve crimes when studying the body.
The next step would be to get rid of the trace evidence. Those maggots and corpse-hair in Casey Anthony’s trunk are what you want to get rid of from your crime scene. Making sure there’s no trace evidence can be exceedingly difficult unless you Dexter-ize the crime scene beforehand, and even then it’s hard to tell if no microscopic particles made their way into your carpet or from your clothes and onto the body. Destroying the entire crime scene can be one way to avoid leaving trace evidence behind. If you get rid of your victim on a boat, burning the boat would probably do the trick. Crimes committed in areas where harsh weather conditions were likely to wash or blow away small particles also prevent a problem for forensic science. Not leaving body parts in an area where it’s going to leave a distinctive odor, where the dog can dig it up, or in garbage cans is probably a bright idea.
Blaming the Other Guy
If you do leave a crime scene from which evidence can be collected, you can always trick the legal system into punishing someone else for your heinous acts. It isn’t that hard and actually happens all the time. Leaving a cigarette butt smoked by your unlucky suspect-to-be, a cup they drank out of, or an article of their clothing can all condemn that person to guilt in the court’s eyes. This, too, can be tricky, because if the only evidence pointing to that person’s guilt is what you’ve left for the police to find, they’ll probably know something’s up. It would be smart to make sure that person has a shady alibi (i.e. a loner who stays home by himself without contacting others for long periods of time).
Not only can forensic science trace gun ownership, but bullets can be traced to a gun as well. Gunpowder residue found on or around a victim’s body can provide the forensic scientist with clues about how the shooting happened and the type of gun used to commit the crime.
The best way to thwart forensic science would, at this point in time, be to prevent it from even begin studying and deciphering evidence. It’s extremely hard to clean an object or crime scene of all evidence, so making sure those things are never found is to the advantage of the criminal. This is undoubtedly the unfortunate fate of thousands of missing persons across America and in the entire world; no body and no crime scene typically means no evidence and no crime. There have certainly been a good number of murderers convicted using mere circumstantial evidence, but this is significantly less common (and slower) than trials using solid forensic evidence against the suspect.