DISCLAIMER: This post is for entertainment purposes only. The author in no way recommends that any reader murder his wife, and reminds all readers that murder is illegal and should never be contemplated. By reading this you agree to absolve the author of any liability for any actions or failures to act on your part, and release and forever discharge the author from any legal responsibility for those actions or failures to act, and will not pursue any legal remedy of any kind under any theory of law with respect to anything the reader did or didn’t do, as a result of reading this blog post. You also agree that the actions or failures to act of any person who does not read this post, but is informed by you of its contents, is fully your responsibility, and you will indemnify and hold harmless the author against any legal remedy sought against the author by any such person under any theory of law. This disclaimer applies irrespective of gender, or who is meant to be harmed, and is not limited to the circumstance of murdering a spouse. You also agree that I didn’t write this post, and you didn’t read it.
This blog post was my wife’s idea.
Kathy and I are absolutely addicted to the NBC true crime series, Dateline, which is on the air in new and repeat showings about fifty times a week. We watch them all. Twice. In fact, we’ve watched so many episodes of Dateline (or “Kill Your Spouse” as we call it) that we’ve developed a joint mental checklist of the telltale signs that a given suspect is the real killer, the investigative techniques that will reveal this, the likely motives for the killings, and the patterns of behaviour the real killers will have exhibited, as well as the mistakes that will probably have been made which will allow the police to crack the case. It’s like a “how to” show, you get right down to it. We are thus now fully briefed in the ways and means by which you can or cannot get away with murdering your wife, and the pitfalls to avoid along the way, as well as the factors that should dissuade you from even trying. Just for giggles, you understand, I set this knowledge out below in handy point form.
This post is gender specific because on Dateline it’s virtually always husbands killing their wives, with a wife deep-sixing hubby about one time in a hundred. Same-sex couples never even come up.
The following lists are not exhaustive.
DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT KILLING YOUR WIFE IF:
- you have a wife. Seriously, don’t do it. Just don’t. Morality aside, you will always be the prime suspect, and the cops will fixate on you as the likely perp no matter how many other possible suspects there are, or how careful you’ve been. They’ll prove you did it even if you didn’t do it. Really, tough luck for you if you honestly didn’t do it, or for that matter if she dies for any reason, even of natural causes or in a motor vehicle accident, and regardless of any rock solid alibi. They will prove to the satisfaction of a jury that you did it. That’s what they do.
IF YOU IGNORE THE PRIME DIRECTIVE, STILL DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT IF:
- you have a mistress or a habit of cheating. They always find out. Once they find out, they’ll be certain you did it, regardless. Plus, if your mistress knows anything about it, she’ll flip like a flapjack as soon as they put the screws to her.
- you’re known to complain about your wife to others, or others know your marriage is on the rocks. Dead giveaway. If that’s your story, you’re a no-go, full stop. Plus, if your marriage is in trouble, it’s almost certain that half the world already knows about it, even if you’ve always kept it quiet and let on nothing to nobody. Your wife will have told her friends and family all about it. In fact, everything you do to make your wife upset, anything at all for the entire length of your marriage, may as well, for all practical purposes, have been dictated to every woman she knows for record keeping purposes, and will be used against you in a court of law.
- you’ve ever hit, choked, or otherwise manhandled your wife, or any woman, any time in your life. Not only are you a pig and a despicable SOB, you’re never going to get away with murder, and not just if your abusive ways are already known to police or the courts. Your wife will have told one or another of her close friends all about it – odds are excellent, in fact, that she’s told them “if anything happens to me, it’s hubby that did it” – and any former wife or girlfriend you’ve ever roughed up will be found in short order. Actually, she’ll probably visit the local precinct on her own initiative the minute she finds out your wife is dead or missing. And that’ll be all they need to hear.
- you just took out a big insurance policy on her life. If you’ve decided to lard up the insurance coverage in anticipation of turning wifey’s death into a two-fer, that was a big mistake, and you gotta forget about it. Abort. The second they find out you’ve got a brand new policy with a great big payout, they’ll stop investigating and clap you in irons. It’ll take the jury 45 minutes to convict, 30 of which will be lunch break.
- you’re in the middle of a divorce or custody battle. They won’t even bother to investigate, or ask you any questions. They’ll just arrest you on general principles, and the jury will take 45 minutes to convict, 40 of which will be lunch break.
- you’ve ever even joked in passing that sometimes you’d like to kill her. It’s amazing how many dummies actually talk about doing it to friends and family before they go and do it.
IF YOU REMAIN DETERMINED TO KILL YOUR WIFE DESPITE THIS ADVICE, DO NOT:
- tell anybody about it, ever. It’s amazing how many people let it slip to friends, lovers, and even buddy next to you at the bar. Shut the fuck up. Forever. This goes especially for any cellmates you might have if you’re taken into custody. Everybody in the slam is a jailhouse informant. Your cellmate will rat you out. Hell, you’re lucky if the jailbird doesn’t make something up to trade for a lighter sentence.
- use your own gun. If you do, you can’t keep it, obviously, but if you dispose of it they’ll take note that your gun is missing, and then you’re off to the races. You’re screwed either way. If you’re a gun owner, maybe don’t use a gun at all.
- have an accomplice. Any accomplice or co-conspirator will either flip on you, or spill the beans to somebody else. Just like your mistress would. So if you have a mistress, and you’re dumb enough to kill your wife anyway, at least keep her out of the loop. Nobody can help you commit the crime. Nobody but you can know anything about it. No exceptions. If, despite this advice, you do have an accomplice, don’t be texting and phoning each other in the run-up to the murder. Don’t use your own phones to communicate at all. Use burners. Better yet, develop some trade craft and communicate only in person, in secret, and whenever possible use signals that require no direct communication (e.g., if the potted plant on your stoop moves from the left side to the right side of your front door, it’s on for tonight). And nobody should be calling anybody just after the murder to tell him it’s a done deal.
- hire a hit man. A hit man is an accomplice. I just told you, no accomplices. Anyway, you don’t know how to hire a hit man. You’ll almost certainly approach somebody who’ll just disappear after taking your money, or go straight to the cops. In fact, you’ll be lucky you don’t hire a cop in a sting operation. Besides, you likely can’t afford a good, clean, mob-style hit. The guy who’ll do it for 500 bucks is not the guy you want. And for chrissakes, don’t compound your idiocy by trying to hire a hit man through an intermediary, or by asking multiple people if you keep getting rebuffed. If, despite this advice, you do hire a hit man, pay cash only. No cheques. No records. And no lump sum withdrawals just before the hit. Build up a fund with small withdrawals over a period of months before you go looking to hire somebody. Expect to pay many thousands for competent work.
- collect on existing life insurance. Even if you’re not dumb enough to have just bought a juicy policy, your wife might already be insured, maybe through work, or maybe you both bought insurance years ago when things weren’t so rocky. Whatever. Do not collect on it. Do not make any inquiries about it to the insurance company. If the insurance company approaches you, tell them you forgot about it ages ago, and designate a charity or relative as beneficiary. Putting it in trust for the kids is a good move. If you profit one dime from the death, that’s it. You’re pre-cooked and ready to eat.
- try to fake an accident. If she just happens to fall off a cliff while you’re out hiking, or drown by falling off a boat, or slip and fall down the stairs, etc., the cops will immediately assume you killed her, and nothing will persuade them you didn’t.
- try to make it look like a home invasion gone bad. You don’t know how to break into your own house and toss the joint like it’s been ransacked by thieves. You don’t have the stomach for it anyway, because it means destroying your own place. Your efforts won’t be convincing. The cops will see right through your sham of a missing jewelry box or an emptied set of drawers. That broken window in the bedroom won’t fool them. Property you want to disappear as if it was stolen is awfully hard to get rid of without them finding out, and if you think you can hide the flatscreen and the laptop somewhere they won’t find them, you can’t.
- try to stage a suicide. You don’t know how to stage a suicide. Getting the details just right – angle of bullet entry, depth and direction of knife wounds, gunpowder residue, length of rope, etc. – is very difficult, and undoubtedly beyond you. You’ll never fool the cops, and if you do fool the cops you’ll never fool the M.E.
- carry your goddam cell phone to the crime scene. Obviously, the best idea is not to kill your wife at any time when you’re known be in the same place at the same time. You get that. Fine. But then don’t be a frickin’ idiot and take a phoney business trip, only to carry your phone and have it ping off every cell tower along the way as you sneak back to the house from your motel at three in the morning. Don’t turn it off, either. Leave it on, and leave it behind, right where you’re going to claim you were. Same thing when you’re touring around in the planning phase, looking for a good place to dump the body, and of course after, when you’re disposing of evidence and the corpse.
- go to Walmart the day before the murder and use your credit or debit card to buy a machete, a shovel, some rope, industrial strength garbage bags, and a 50 pound bag of lime. If you’re planning to pull off the old “I don’t know officer, she just left and never came back” gambit, you must buy such things well in advance (think months, not weeks), each at a different place, and cash only. If possible stick to things that you actually have a use for around the home. Disguising your identity as you shop is an idea, but it’ll make you look guilty if they can somehow prove that’s you on camera buying that hacksaw, so think about it. Don’t make yourself memorable in any way – don’t wear a Hawaiian shirt, or ask a staffer where they keep the hatchets and axes. NEVER KEEP THE RECEIPTS.
- research or plan anything using your own computer. You may think you can scrub or lock down your computer. You can’t. No matter what you do, they’ll crack the encryption, find it buried on your hard drive, and there it’ll be, the Google search you did for “what household chemicals lethal”, or “what poisons undetectable in autopsy”, as well as that Google maps search you did trying to find a remote location to dump the body. In fact, don’t use a computer at all, even at the library, and especially not at work.
- take a cab or use a rented car as any part of your plan. If your scheme involves clandestine travel, buddy, that ain’t clandestine.
- dispose of the body on your own property. Do I have to tell you this? The cops will immediately investigate any scorch marks, fire pits, recent digging, freshly-laid slabs of concrete, false walls, and whatever else you think will work.
- use toll roads. If your plan involves an alibi of you being in a different place when the murder went down, don’t try to sneak to and fro by driving on a toll road, or crossing a toll bridge. That’s obvious, right?
- Stop for gas. If your plan involves clandestine travel, don’t stop at a gas station along the way, or drop into Micky D’s to get a burger. It doesn’t matter if you pay cash. Those places have cameras. They’ll find the video in short order. They always find the video. You’ll claim you were asleep in your hotel room, and there you’ll be, filling up on premium unleaded 50 miles down the road, heading in the direction of home. Fill your tank first and carry a gas can if you’re going to need more than a tank.
- indulge yourself and get carried away. Get a grip on yourself. Inflicting 57 stab wounds, or 40 blows to the head with a blunt instrument, tips the cops off that it was personal, and not the act of a stranger. Strangling someone is personal. Doing it in a way that the victim suffers for any length of time is personal. Make it quick, clean, and efficient. Like the killer didn’t feel anything at all.
- do it after blogging a post like this one. ‘Nuff said.
OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER AS YOU PLAN THE CRIME:
- You’re not as smart as you think you are. Not by a damn sight. Look buddy, you may fancy yourself a mental wizard, but you’re not, and even if you are you’re nobody’s idea of a savvy criminal who knows exactly how to get away with murder. It’s a special skill. You have no idea.
- The cops aren’t as dumb as you think they are. Well, some are, but you can’t count on it. With your luck your case is going to land on the desk of a clever-as-hell detective who’s seen it all a million times, knows the ropes, sees through all the tricks and lies, and won’t ever give up ’til he’s got you dead to rights. Plan for the worst.
- There are cameras everywhere. Almost literally everywhere. At every fast food joint, gas station, convenience store, Walmart, school, church, above your neighbours’ garages, out on the street on telephone poles, in hallways and stairwells in hotels and hospitals, everywhere. Carefully case them out weeks or months before the murder, and do what you can to avoid them, but remember, you’ll never avoid them all. You’ll dodge the one on top of City Hall but get caught on the one in the bank machine you happened to pass. If you need to use a car, try not to use your own. Don’t rent one, for chrissakes (see above) but if you can steal one, do it. Public transit might be an option, but usually not a great one, as the bus or subway will have all sorts of people who might remember you, and they all have cameras too. If you must use your own car, at least use stolen licence plates (don’t just remove your own, that’s a reason to pull you over) and plan to do it at night, avoiding as many cameras as you can, having cased them out. In any case, even if you’re on foot, these days it’s very very hard to move about without being seen and recorded by a camera. Disguise yourself.
- Guns and other implements can be found at the bottoms of lakes and rivers. Thoroughly – thoroughly, mind you – file off all serial numbers and dispose of any gun in pieces, at widely separated spots, preferably bogs, bayous, over the side of a ferry etc. Somewhere people can’t easily go, or find things just by eyeballing. Melting it in an industrial furnace would work, if you can swing it.
- The best way to destroy evidence is to burn it. Just don’t burn it in plain sight of anybody, or on your own property. Go somewhere remote and improbable. Make sure it burns in its entirety. Bodies are hard to incinerate completely, so use a lot of accelerant, and stick around to make sure. Take any remaining teeth with you and dump them somewhere off the beaten track, or bury them far away. Dig a hole in which to burn anything and then bury the scene.
- Forensics are a bitch. It’s amazing what they can do these days with minute DNA samples, the merest wisp of fingerprints, hair, saliva, and so on. If any trace of your body doesn’t belong at the site of the hit, wear a hazmat suit. Seriously. Even if you do it in your own house, where there’s a good explanation for why your traces would be there, wear a hazmat suit. Then burn it as per protocol (see above).
- You can never clean up all the blood. You just can’t. They’ll bring in the Luminol, and the slightest bit of spatter, the merest drop inside your car, or on the garage floor, will be detected. If you want to do wet work in a given place, and not make that place a verifiable murder scene, you’ve got to do it on a big sheet of plastic. Or inside a nylon tent, if you can swing it. This goes double if you plan to cut up the corpse. Remember, blood spatter goes everywhere, walls, ceilings, open cabinets, everywhere. On you and your clothes too – another reason for the hazmat suit.
- Openly flaunting a relationship with a new woman always gets you in hot water. Don’t have your mistress move in two weeks after the murder, or marry anybody for a while, maybe a couple of years or more.
- You will be watched closely in the aftermath. Did you cry real tears? Did you participate in the search? Is your affect right when talking to the local news? Did you ask the cops if they were sure she’s dead, and how they were sure, and if they were sure, how she died? Did you deliver a nice eulogy, looking and sounding suitably bereft? You can be both too sanguine and too distressed. It’s hard to set the tone perfectly.
- It’s risky to lawyer up immediately, but when interrogated, don’t babble, watch what you say, don’t volunteer theories of the crime, and don’t let them draw you into hypotheticals. Do lawyer up the second you know they’re really looking at you, rather than merely suspecting you on general principles. Don’t lie about details they can check. Say “I don’t remember”, or clam up.
- Cops believe in lie detectors. The results can’t be used as evidence in court, but the cops will definitely look hard at anybody who fails one. If you don’t think you can beat it (some can, but likely you can’t), it’s a judgment call, as refusing to take one looks bad too, but think hard about your own emotional state, and how badly you might fail it, before you take one. If you can, it’s a good idea to get verifiable legal advice not to take one, so it doesn’t look like you’re scared, you’re just following the lawyer’s instructions.
- Cops will lie to you. They’ll lie through their teeth. No they don’t have your DNA. That’s why you wore the hazmat suit. Tire tracks are not like fingerprints. No, they don’t have a witness. No, they can’t be absolutely sure those are your footprints. Never tell them anything just because they say they already have you dead to rights. If they did, the interrogation would already be over. They’re going for a confession because they have nothing without one.
- Best to build up a legal defence fund in advance. If you need a lawyer, you need a good one. A real good one. Good lawyers cost enough to buy a private island with a villa and a yacht. Think about that before you do anything.
- There’s no such thing as the perfect crime. Maybe – maybe – you can pull it off with such skill that there’s a chance that really lacklustre cops who happen to catch your case can’t figure it out. I doubt it, but let’s just say. Don’t count on that. The right cop can figure it out, and prove it. You always make some mistake. Little things like odometers, or Fitbits, or inconvenient details (if you never left your room, why were there muddy footprints in the bathroom?) can screw you up royally. You can never eliminate the possibility that somebody saw you at a crucial moment. You can’t completely eliminate all forensics, even if you do wear a hazmat suit. There’s always something.
- Neighbours are snoopy. They’re always watching. Even if they don’t have a camera trained on your house, they’re watching everything you do. They’ll know if there’s a strange car in the driveway, or if you came and went within 45 minutes starting at three in the morning.
- Poison is tricky. The right dose is difficult, and substances that will elude the M.E. can be tricky too. Odds are good that your first attempt will only make her ill, and then she’ll go to the hospital, and there’ll be a record that she was inexplicably ill, and maybe they even detect the toxin at that point.
- Beware of alcohol. You’re likely a booze hound, or will be as you begin to think about what you’ve done. Think about where you’re getting drunk, and how drunk you’re getting. You might find yourself shooting your mouth off about the crime. Don’t get gabby and confess to friends or buddy at the end of the bar (see shut the fuck up, above).
- Assume everybody is wearing a wire. Your mistress, your best friend, the guy at work, everybody.
- They listen to and record everything on calls to and from prison phones. The payphone in the joint isn’t safe. Never. Not one of them. It’s a phone in a prison, right? Don’t talk on it as if you aren’t being monitored. Dummies make this mistake again and again.
- Aborting the op is always an option.The minute you get a bad feeling – like maybe you crossed paths with some stranger who might remember you, or realize there’s a camera where you didn’t think one was – just call it off. Try again later.
- Whatever your motive is, it’s probably obvious. The cops will pick apart the details of your life like paleontologists looking for dinosaur teeth. They’ll soon find out anything about her, or you, that might be a reason to off her. They just will.
- Don’t count on winning at trial. Juries are usually in the thrall of prosecutors, and assume you wouldn’t have been charged if you weren’t guilty. In one of the Dateline episodes, the jury actually convicted a guy who had an alibi supplied by five upstanding citizens who were with him at the time of the murder, and in another one, they never found the knife used as the murder weapon, and had no other forensics, but sent the guy away for life without parole because the prosecutor got him to admit on the stand that he knew what a knife was and owned knives of his own. Those guys were innocent, and got convicted. Why do you like your chances when you’re really guilty?
- It’s not true that they can’t charge you if they never find a body. Oh yes they can. It’s harder for them, but with enough circumstantial evidence, they can indict you and convict you. Think about it: the mere fact that she’s vanished into thin air looks very bad for you. Women in stable relationships with jobs and commitments – and especially with kids – hardly ever just disappear, particularly if they have no mental health history or ever ran away before. If your wife suddenly vanishes, and it’s completely out of character, the obvious answer is that you did her in and threw her body to the alligators or something. Plus, if she was alive, she’d probably show up somewhere. You can claim she left you, but c’mon, she changed identities and went on the lam like a pro? Never once took money out of the bank or used her credit card? What, she’s in witness protection, is that your story?
- A woman never goes anywhere without her purse. You can’t pull off the “she just went to buy groceries and I never saw her again, I guess she decided to leave me” schtick if her purse is still in the house, or sitting there on the floor of her abandoned car. Woman missing without purse = woman abducted or murdered. If it looks like she was abducted from her car, the cops will assume you did it (see above).
OK! So, having said all this, don’t do it. Suck it up, budget for the alimony or support payments, and get a frigging divorce. It’s always, always, always the only good choice. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about. I watch Dateline.