How To Get Away With Murder

Are you planning on murdering someone, but your only stop is the fear of getting caught? Or are you plotting a thriller where your serial-slayer stays steps ahead of that dogged detective who’s also top-tier in her trade? Maybe both? Well, I’ll give you a cake and let you eat it, too…if you’ll follow me on how homicide cops investigate murders.

Think about it. There are only four ways you can get caught. Or get away with it. All seasoned sleuths intrinsically know this, and they build their case on these four simple pillars.

Let’s look at them.

What Not To Do

#1 — Don’t leave evidence behind that can identify you to the scene.

Such as fingerprints, footwear or tire impressions, DNA profiles like spit, semen, and blood, ballistic imprints, gunshot residue, toolmarks, bitemarks, handwritten or printed documents, hair, fiber, chemical signatures, organic compounds, cigarette butts, spat chewing gum, toothpicks, a bloody glove that doesn’t fit, or your wallet with ID (seriously, that’s happened).

#2 — Don’t take anything with you that can be linked.

Including all of the above, as well as the victim’s DNA, her car, jewelry, money, bank cards, any cell phone and computer records, that repeated modus operandi of your serial kills, no cut-hair trophies, no underwear souvenirs, and especially don’t keep that dripping blade, the coiled rope, or some smoking gun.

#3 — Don’t let anyone see you.

No accomplices, no witnesses, and no video surveillance. Camera-catching is a huge police tool these days. Your face is captured many times daily—on the street, at service stations, banks, supermarkets, pizza joints, government buildings, libraries, transit rides, private driveways, and in the liquor store.

#4 — Never confess.

Never, ever, tell anyone. That includes your best drinking buddy, your future ex-lover, the police interrogator, or the undercover agent. Loose lips sink ships, and there’ve been more crimes solved through slips of the tongue than any fancy forensic technique.

So, if you don’t do any of these four things, you can’t possibly get caught.


What To Do

Humans are generally messy and hard creatures to kill—even harder to get rid of—so murder victims tend to leave a pool of evidence. Therefore, it’s best not to let it look like a murder.

Writers have come up with some fascinating and creative ways to hide the cause of death. Problem is—most don’t work. Here’s two sure-fire ways to do the deed and leave little left.

#1 — Cause a Cerebral Arterial Gas Embolism (CAGE)

This one’s pretty easy, terribly deadly, and really difficult to call foul. A CAGE is a bubble in the bloodstream, much like a vapor lock in an engine’s fuel system. People die when their central nervous system gets unplugged and a quick, hard lapse in the carotid arteries located on both sides of the neck can send an CAGE into cerebral circulation. The brain stops, the heart quits, and they drop dead.

Strangulation is an inefficient way to create a CAGE, and it leaves huge tell-tale marks. You’re far better off giving a fast blast of compressed air to the carotid…maybe from something like that thing you clean your keyboard with…just sayin’.

#2 — Good Ole Poison

Ah, the weapon of women. Man, have there been a lot of poisonings over the centuries and there’ve been some pretty, bloody, diabolical stories on how they’re done. Problem again—today there’s all that cool science. The usual suspects of potassium cyanide, arsenic, strychnine, and atropine still work well but they’ll jump out like a snake-in-the-box during a routine toxicology screen.

You need something that’s lethal, yet a witch to detect.

I know of two brews—one is a neurotoxin made from fermented plant alkaloid and the other is a simple mix of fungi & citrus. This stuff will kill you dead and leave no discernable toxicological trace—however, I think it’s quite irresponsible to post these formulas on the net.

What about you Kill Zoners? If you wanted to kill someone, preferably a fictional character, how would you get away with it?

Oh, and watch out for what’s in that cake you’re eating.


Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective with a second career as a coroner. Now, Garry reincarnated as a crime writer with a popular blog at He’s also on Twitter @GarryRodgers1, gave up on Facebook, and has an Amazon profile.


32 thoughts on “How To Get Away With Murder

  1. Hey Garry, I was surprised not to see a mention of Locard’s exchange principle. Anyway, I wonder about a quick application of chloroform, then the administration of air from an empty hyperdermic to the carotid

    • You’re right about Locard’s, Harvey. Every contact leaves a trace. The problem is recognizing it. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

  2. Thanks so much for this, Jim, but…where were you when I really needed you? Just sayin’.

    Hope you are having a great week! Stay sneaky!

  3. Interesting post, Garry. Thanks for the information.

    In an unpublished thriller set in the years before cameras were everywhere, my villain infects a victim with Salmonella and Shigella (that the villain is growing in a secret lab, and where he is selecting the most rapidly growing colonies). When the victim is hospitalized with severe diarrhea, dehydration, and renal failure (which can cause high potassium levels), the villain slips into the hospital at night and administers a bolus of concentrated potassium chloride through the already-placed IV, causing arrhythmia and cardiac arrest.

    I was surprised to see that the instructions for making the potassium chloride solution were available on the net under “euthanasia for animals.”

    Have a safe remainder of the week, and don’t let your wife start that hobby microbiology lab.

    • My wife does have a hobby microbiology lab, Steve. It’s called our fridge. JK – Rita is a clean freak. You’re right about what’s available on the net which makes me wonder if I Googled “potassium chloride” five times how long it would be before I got a knock on the door.

  4. Garry, you’re a born teacher. You have a great way of breaking down a complex subject into small, easily understood points.

    Bookmarking this…just in case I ever need it.

    • Thanks, Debbie. I think it was Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it to a 10-tear-old, you don’t know your subject well enough.” Wait – does that mean we’re all 10-year-olds in this place? 🙂

  5. Garry, I like you . . . but you’re kind of a scary guy. 🙂

    I don’t want to kill anyone. Unless they’re going to kill me or mine. Then I’ll just utilize my range training with my 9mm. No need to hide anything, as long as I play by WA State rules.

    If I was going to kill off a character, and have the MC get away with it, I think I’d go for the can of air. Everyone’s got one these days, and as long as I . . . I mean, she . . . doesn’t leave it at the crime scene, she’d be okay, right? Just leave it by her computer where it always is and don’t worry about her fingerprints on it.

    But . . . in the ear, or up a nostril, or what?

    • Thanks for the “scary” compliment, Deb. And please keep the nine mil holstered if I’m around.

      Just blowing compressed air against the skin over an artery can cause a CAGE. My coroner cross-shift had a sudden death case where a guy in a tire shop used compressed air to clean himself off and it killed him dead on the spot.

    • My dad, a gun safety instructor and known marksman, gave me this little piece of advice. Wait until they are over halfway through the window or through the outside door before you kill them. No jury in the land would convict you.

  6. You missed don’t Google “How to ….” Police are pretty good at getting your internet history. From there you looked up tide tables? gun shops? poison methods? In fact, reading this blog might lead to how exactly did your ex die?

  7. You are on more cameras than you think. Killers have been IDed by buying their tools at a big box store by the video from the register. If you are in a major or not so major city, there are traffic cameras. I happened to be in the Department of Transportation offices when someone drove off the road, through a fence, got out, pushed his car back out of the fence, and drove back on the highway. All on video.

    Today in St. Louis History – May 5, 2009 – Christopher Coleman murdered his wife Sheri, and their two young sons, Garett and Gavin in their Columbia, Illinois home. The story emerged that Coleman had a mistress and wanted to leave his wife but also wanted to keep his $100,000 dollar per year job as a bodyguard for Joyce Meyer, the television evangelist. He was sentenced to life without parole.

    He wore his workout gloves while committing the murder. Then threw them out of the window of his car along the highway. Cell phone and road cameras drew his exact route. Guess what officers found when they walked that route?

    • Ring cameras are the current nemesis for neighborhood crime, and traffic accidents in suburbs. The local news did a feature about a man so sick of the drive-by shootings, etc., in his area that he spent thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art cameras to provide evidence. Smartly, the man’s identity and location were not mentioned.

  8. Years ago, before the Internet was what it is today, I bought a book about poisons aimed at mystery writers. I showed it to my mom, and she said, “You’d better pray I die of obvious natural causes, or you are in deep poo.”

    Toxicology is great these days, but you have to have a doctor or medical examiner smart enough to recognize the possibility of poison. Local serial killer, Blanche Taylor Moore, was happily murdering family, lovers, and friends until one of her victims didn’t die, and doctors finally became suspicious. She is the reason Anti-Ant changed its ingredients to not include arsenic. A man from a very good and rich family murdered his young wife for insurance. He almost got away with it because everyone, including her doctors, believed his facade. The locals dubbed him the Country Club Killer.

  9. Great tips, Garry, for murder mystery author as well as murderers, Garry. Sure-fire method #1 was used by Dorothy Sayers in her Lord Peter Whimsy novel, Unnatural Death, and, AHEM, by a certain KZB regular is using it in his current mystery novel, connecting to knowledge of Sayers’ novel (and a clue or two not to be mentioned in public).

    As for camera footage, you are so right, these days it’s everywhere. I spent some quality time the last few years I worked in library land reviewing camera recordings from our underground parking garage, to deal with various minor crimes, vandalism, low speed hit-and-run, theft, etc. Nothing like scanning grainy footage in black and white to find a culprit.

    Thanks for serving up another informative and fun post! I’ll be bookmarking this one for sure. Have a great rest of your week!

  10. I think a sniper shot from a few hundred yards is pretty cool. Reading Billy Summers by Stephen King, (just started), and can’t wait to see how things go sidesways.

    Have a great day, eh.

  11. I’d like to add a tip: wear gloves two sizes too small when committing a double murder. Seems to get you out of jail and back on the golf course in no time at all.

  12. If I told you I’d be violating rule # 4. So, ya know, I’ll keep you guessing. 😉

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