Murder 101

Thursday, February 21, 2019
When my critique group read the only murder scene I've ever written, they were surprised by the creepiness. You see, I've never been one to watch violent movies or read violent books, much less murder a character. Many years ago, I had to watch "A Clockwork Orange" for a college literature class, and found it incredibly disturbing. That movie turned me off violence as entertainment for a long time. Until now, that is. I have a confession. I have recently begun watching a variety of true crime stories on the Justice Network.

During my recent crime-watching spree, I've picked up a few techniques and themes for killing/solving a murder. I'm not quite sure how I'll incorporate this into my writing, but I may be able to develop some plot twists that will keep the reader wondering "whodunnit."

Here's what I've learned so far:

If the female victim is married, the husband probably did it.

If the male victim is married, the wife probably did it.

Don’t pay a hit man in full until after the act is completed. One husband (see, I told you it was always the husband) paid a hit man $30,000 up front to kill his wife. He drove her to a predetermined spot on a deserted highway, and the gunman was supposed to pull alongside the car and shoot the woman to make it look like a random drive-by.

Due to the fact that the husband was an accomplice/witness, the hit man also needed to eliminate the husband, and because he already had his money, that "random drive-by" was now a double murder.

If you are going to murder someone, remove every hair from your body, and don’t eat or drink anything from a dish, glass, or silverware that can be collected and tested for DNA. One suspect used only one set of silverware that he carried with him at all times. He slipped up by smoking a cigarette and tossing it into a trash can, which was immediately picked up by law enforcement and taken to a lab for a DNA sample. That's how he was caught.

Hefty is in the crime-solving business. It’s true. If you kill someone (in your book, of course) don't go to the kitchen and pull a garbage bag off the roll in order to wrap the body, and then put the rest of the bags back in the cabinet. Get rid of all the bags. Forensic experts can match the plastic in the bag to the roll in your kitchen. Who knew?

If you take video of yourself to prove your whereabouts during a crime, don't doctor the date/time stamp, and don't edit pieces of the video together to make it look like one cohesive scene. If you video yourself before and after the crime, the sun will have travelled across the sky so that the light and shadows change. This will be obvious to anyone who is looking to see if the video has been doctored.

Finally, don't take out a life-insurance policy within a few months of murdering someone. It won't prove that you did it, but it begins to point a finger in that direction.

So, there you have it, everything I've learned about murder in the last couple of months. This information is to be used only in the realm of make-believe, and not in the real world. If you actually murder someone, I'm not going to bail you out.

Mary Horner teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges, and has never committed a murder outside the pages of a book.


Pamela Kenney said...

Thanks Mary!
I loved your humorous spin on murder.
Like you, I find it hard to read violence (or watch it on tv). And when I try to write violent scenes, all I can think is "What will people say about me that I can write stuff like this?"

Mary Horner said...

Thank you, Pamela! My husband is worried about my sudden fascination with murders, he thinks I'm plotting something. I tried to reassure him that I wouldn't be able to get away with it because everyone would know I did it, and I am also claustrophobic, and will never do anything to land in jail! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Nila said...

Oh my gosh, I didn't know they could match your garbage bags to the roll! This was such a unique and interesting blog post- I have never heard most of these things before! I find that I can't watch those justice shows late at night when I'm feeling a little more suspicious of my surroundings! Great post, and glad you're getting some new material!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--This made me think about a middle school creative writing student I worked with years ago. She was such a gifted writer, she could write from the perspective of a cutter, or other troubled teens... and yet she had the perfect family and she was the most well-adjusted kid around.

Your post scared me. Perhaps I should keep a close eye on you the next time we meet at a gathering? ;) And how is your husband these days? Still alive and breathing? ;)

Mary Horner said...

Thanks, Sioux, my husband is scared, too. Maybe because I wouldn't hurt a fly that this is interesting to me. And Nila, thank you for your comment. Forensic evidence has come a long way.

Renee Roberson said...


I could have written this post word for word! People say the same thing about me. I write a lot of thriller/suspense, but on the outside I look like the quintessential suburban wife and mother. Nope, LOL! My poor husband has to go to bed every night with "Forensic Files" playing in the background. But, I will say he encouraged me to register for MurderCon (, a writer's conference where you get to go through the same forensic training as law enforcement officers. I guess he figured I might as well get paid to write about my crazy fascination with crimes!

Mary Horner said...

I'm so glad I'm in good company! And what is this MurderCon of which you speak? I must check it out. I love the forensics, and I guess I feel a sense of justice when a cold case (or any case) is solved due to new DNA or other technology.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top