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  1. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    Disposing of a body

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MarmaladeQueen, Sep 12, 2011.

    My protagonist has just killed someone in a knife fight - it started out as self-defence but any jury would reckon it was murder - and he needs to dispose of the body. Has anyone got any good ideas of how one man on his own would dispose of a body? If it helps, she's quite a petite woman.
    I didn't really set out ot write a murder story - it's funny how your protagonist can start calling the shots.
     
  2. Baba Yaga
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    Baba Yaga Member

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    If there's a body of water like the sea or a lake that's deep enough, she could weigh the body down with something and heave it in, leaving it to sink to the bottom. Otherwise, a shallow grave, hungry pigs or a friend with access to an industrial furnace? If she's not a violent woman by nature, she'll probably opt for something that will give her minimal time and contact with the body- like dumping it in water or far away from where she lives.
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I don't know much on the subject, but if she's a petite woman, she'll probably need help or a wacky pulley system. Dead weight is heavy.
     
  4. Baba Yaga
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    Baba Yaga Member

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    hmmm. Good point. Maybe she could do it in like, 13 trips? ;)
     
  5. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    A curse on my ambiguous English! It's the corpse that was a petite woman. The murderer is a man, of short stature as it happens, but plenty strong enough to carry the corpse.
     
  6. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    I have watched my fair share of mystery movies, to have a fairly extensive knowledge on the matter. As lostinwebspace said, if the woman was petite, she would need a good pully, or a very trustworthy friend. Or, going with the water dump method, she could take it to a deserted bridge, put car next to the edge of bridge, push body of it to fall. May take a little strength, but the car rooftop should carry most of the weight.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  7. Cain
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    Cain Member

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    Is the man an idiot, or someone who can get away with murder?

    If he's going to get away with it, then that's probably fairly tough, although readers probably won't nit-pick too much and the less detail the better. Maybe not even describe the mechanics and let the reader imagine it was a perfect disposal.

    If he's going to get caught, then it's easiest just to let him drive out into the country, dig a shallow grave, and hope that it's not a regular dog walker's route. Or dump the body in next door neighbour's bin (not his own bin obviously - duh!). I should imagine chopping up a body is a horrific task (I can't gut a fish!), so that could either be something for him to face, or avoid, depending on his constitution.

    Anything more complicated than that (baths of acid, pig mincers etc), are probably a bit contrived if he's a regular person?

    ps. I knew you meant the victim was petite ;)
     
  8. Croga
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    Croga Member

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    You could seal the body in a steel drum full of sulphuric acid then dump the contents in a body of water minus the drum.
    Bleach will remove the blood and the smell will dissipate within 3 days after cleaning.
    False teeth will not dissolve how-ever so any will remain as evidence, but finding a tooth or to in a body of water is so unlikely.
     
  9. Baba Yaga
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    Baba Yaga Member

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    Ok, well that does make life easier. Yeah, I guess it depends on whether he's going to get away with it or not and what he does for a living- if he's a statistician he's unlikely to have many contacts in the criminal underworld (or maybe he is and he does- I don't know your story that well) so he would have to find a way to do it within his means...
     
  10. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    He's just a regular guy who got himself into a difficult situation. It's manslaughter rather than murder, but he's pretty sure most juries won't see it that way. He doesn't have to get caught, but my gut feeling is that given he's not a habitual murderer he wouldn't have access to acid baths or the skill/knowledge to cover his tracks really well, so I reckon he would get caught. He's no different to the situation you or I would be in if we accidentally killed someone and thought we were going to have murder pinned on us. One option would be for the guy to go straight to the police station and give himself up, but I don't want him doing that because the ending would be too lame.

    Looking back at my original post, I did make it clear that the protagonist was male. Therefore "she" could only refer to the corpse. I wonder why so many people misread what I wrote.
     
  11. Cain
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    Cain Member

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    Does he have to hide the body? Can he arrange the scene so it's a bizarre but possible kitchen accident? (leave some haphazardly chopped onions near by)

    If it happened in his home I guess he has no choice. Garden, attic, freezer or cellar? Drive & dump is probably the simplest.
     
  12. Mifio
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    Mifio Member

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    If you've seen the movie Snatch you know that a pig farm could be a great way to dispose of a body.
    "[Pigs] will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, 'as greedy as a pig'."

    Or obviously, you can go with the typical bury in a shallow grave. Which could really be interesting, especially if the body was discovered some time later in the novel! You also have things like furnaces (if he has access to them), large bodies of water (be sure to weigh the body down!), quarries (toss the body down there and let it rot (only if it's abandoned)), acid (might be difficult to get his hands on though, and if the police find the remnants, all they'd have to do is find out who has ordered enough gallons of whatever acid you choose, (the typical one is sulphuric acid or hydrochloric acid, and I have no idea how much those cost nor where to get them in bulk. Liquid laundry detergent is APPARENTLY more effective at disposing of a body than acid), a drop off point in an abandoned building, if he works in some sort of construction, or has a friend that does you can have him attempt to stow the body in the wall or under concrete, he could burn the body WITHOUT a furnace (it would need to be in a remote location though, away from everyone, a body can take up to 8 hours to burn, depending on what you're using as fuel. Cremations are usually anywhere from 1800-2100 degrees Fahrenheit, and those normally take 2ish hours just so's yah know), he could quite literally dig up a grave at a graveyard and stow the body in the coffin and just bury it again (although a groundskeeper might stumble across him or the freshly disturbed dirt will be seen), he could dump the body in a dump, literally.

    There's probably more ways, but those are the ones off the top of my head. I'd need more specifics if you want more ways.
     
  13. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    Thanks Mifio. That gives me lots of options. I'm now torn between a shallow grave in woodland and tossing the body into the nearby sea, suitably weighted down. I wonder though, would you need to go out in a boat and through the body overboard to that it goes straight into deep sea?
     
  14. Mifio
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    Mifio Member

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    Depends on where you chuck the body. For instance, a smart thing to do would to try and get access to sea maps showing oceanic currents or fissures. These maps can be found online, or nautical maps can be purchased at stores. You then go out on a boat and toss a body into one of those currents/fissures. The current will sweep the corpse out to sea or send it up/down the coast, well away from where your character is, and a fissure will obviously be incredibly hard to find, let alone retrieve a body from some.

    However, if you were to just, say, dump a body off of a bridge tied to a cinderblock, there's a greater chance for the deed being discovered.

    And PLUS! If you take the body out to sea, Coast Guard could show up for a little more tension in the story.
    In the end, it's all up to you. :D!
     
  15. A J Jaafari
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    A J Jaafari Member

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    Is it necessary to dispose of it? I only ask because I just finished a book where the main character got rid of assassins sent to kill him, then left the bodies to be discovered in the street. The thought process there was that the only people who would know he had anything to do with killing them were the ones who hired them to try to kill him, so they wouldn't talk.

    Is it just that there are witnesses that could put the two together, or is there some other reason to expect your protagonist would be suspected?

    If he does have to get rid of this woman's body, I suppose it matters what sort of police force you're dealing with. If it's like the U.S. where there's no statute of limitations on murder, then the body has to go away and never be found. Bodies dumped at sea sometimes come in with the tide (or only pieces, but that could still be matched to missing person lists) so if it needs to sink to the bottom, I think I'd recommend a strong and heavy container. The body will bloat with gasses as it rots, so the container needs to make sure it stays down until all of that is over.

    BTW I had the same impression from your first post that it was the woman that killed the man, but looking back over it, I'm not sure why. You're right: your description was pretty clear. Maybe I just saw that the problem of disposing of the body would be compounded by being a petite woman, and leapt to that idea without reading very carefully. Or, perhaps, I shrank from the idea of a petite woman being killed. Petite women are such sympathetic victims, no matter who they really are. If someone killed the Bad Seed in self-defense, I think I'd still just see "Young Girl Slain." :)

    A J
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If there is an obvious connection between the man and his victim, he will need to dispose of the body or make it difficult to identify. However, transporting the body is risky as well. He will be nervous, and that will stand out to any cop he passes (especially if he sees the cop). So disposal will probably be a matter of proximnity rather than ideal disposal without a trace.

    Under a few feet of fresh concrete at a construction site would be effective, but harder to manage than you might think unless your killer is managing the pour for a site. Bodies of warter might work, but decomp causes gas production the makes bodies or parts rise awkwardly to the surface.

    Alligators and sharks can be fussy eaters and leave identifiable pieces in inconvenient places. An auto salvage yard works unless someone decides to loot the car for any forgotten saleable goods before it is crushed. Amd sulfuric acid? If you think you can get hold of a 55 gallon drum of H2SO4 in these days of DEA and terrorism watches on chemicals without leaving a trail, good luck!

    Arson? Not sufficientlt complete in its disposal, and a felony in its own right.

    Nope, it ain't gonna be easy-peasy.
     
  17. Croga
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    Croga Member

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    I google'd 55 gallon drum of sulphuric acid and found a company that will sell it, but if this may be suspect perhaps tracking back in your story and including a friend in the Metal plating industry would help as they would have drums of it sitting around.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Have you ever worked with con sulfuric acid? I have. It's dangerous to work with, and yet it won't do a clean job of eliminating everything.

    And it wouldn't be in steel drums. Sulfuric eats through steel quickly.
     
  19. MarmaladeQueen
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    MarmaladeQueen Senior Member

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    Exactly the situation he's in - leaving to body where it is just insn't an option (it's in his home).

    That was exactly my thinking.

    And we don't have either in the UK.

    I went for burial in a shallow grave in woodland. That's where most murder victims get discovered. Of course, some bodies are never found...
     

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