Dear would-be spouse murderers:Oh my - what fascinating stories those must be. If you're allowed to share more, please do!
1. If you're staging a scene to look like a suicide or accidental death, an expensive cigar is NOT an artistic touch if your spouse has never smoked and is in fact allergic to tobacco.
2. If you plan to make it look like suicide by gunshot to head, you really should know your spouse's dominant hand. Especially if your now-defunct spouse is, in fact, in a line of work requiring the carrying of a weapon and is known to be proficient on the range with that dominant hand.
Respectfully submitted, with extra eyerolls,
Oh yes. This is a delicious story, I can just feel it.
Well, several, actually. Some professional colleagues and I are putting together an after-hours presentation for an upcoming professional conference - the after-hours ones are where we exercise our black humor, juvenile antics, awful puns and you-won't-believe-this-no-really photos, appropriately anonymized.
Ours is titled "How Not to Murder Your Spouse" and is based upon a number of real-life cases we have investigated. (Some day I would like to make this an e-book, available for download only to those I have personally vetted - no point in helping the opposition.) Thus, the one with the tobacco is based upon a true-life case in which the wife decided to unload her inconvenient husband using a surgical anesthetic (supposedly undetectable) to make it look as though he had expired from natural causes during an, um, supreme mome)nnt of triple-points scrabble ecstasy, complete with tastefully arranged magazines and a partially-smoked vintage cigar.
Except ... the victim had never been known to look at pictured of nekkid people, had never smoked any substance in his life, and was highly allergic to tobacco. Besides which the clerk in the fancy tobacco store remembered selling the cigars to the wife, and the drug she used is no longer undetectable...
As for the gunshot cases, the first two proceed something like this (play along with me here, it makes more sense and it's a lot more fun):
Turn your dominant hand into a pistol - you know, point your index finger, stick your thumb up for the hammer, and curl the remaining fingers into the butt/magazine. Now put your "gun barrel" in contact with your head as though you were going to shoot yourself (most people choose the temple, although the area immediately above the ear is actually more efficient). Now move the end of the "gun barrel" away from your head as far as you can without actually dislocating your shoulder.
Now, using the same hand, put your "gun" in position to shoot yourself in the same place, but on the OPPOSITE side of your head. Uh-huh.
In the first case, the husband was a law enforcement officer, right-hand dominant, who'd won shooting prizes for his proficiency with both revolver and automatic. So when he was found dead in his bed from a gunshot wound to the left side of his head, with the pistol lying by his left hand, both loose on the pillow, eyebrows went up. Once the bullet track was determined, the ME stated the gun had been at least 8" away from the head, and his hands tested negative for GSR ... the BS meter soared into the red zone.
In the second case, the husband was a law enforcement officer and the wife was a corrections officer. The scene was meant to look as though the wife had gone to bed and, in despair after a recent argument, shot herself in the head with her service weapon. However ... livor indicated she had been dead some time, not minutes as the husband had said in the 911 call, there was no GSR on either hand, and the wound was a direct contact to the right parietal region. And she was exclusively left-handed; once, when she'd sprained three fingers on her left hand and tried to sign the work log with her right, she joked that her right hand always behaved like it belonged to somebody else. First prize in the category of "You Should Have Known Better" goes to ...
And the third case is one of my cold cases. The husband claimed he found his wife dead, an apparent suicide, from a gunshot wound to the chest. He knew she was depressed but didn't know she had a gun, didn't know where she'd got it, blah blah blah fishcakes. The fact that he was having multiple affairs and could be proven to have forged her signature on the credit card receipt for the gun purchase, well, those things had just slipped his mind in the trauma and anguish of the event.
It took us 25 years to prove him for the cheap rug liar he is. The wife was a tiny little thing with very little upper body strength, right-hand dominant. The weapon was an enormous .45 Dirty Harry type thing, with an extremely heavy double-action trigger (I couldn't fire the thing using both hands, and I am considered an extremely strong shooter for my size and gender). The fatal wound was in her left upper chest (if you picture her left breast as a clock, with you looking straight at it, the wound was about at 3 o'clock). The weapon was lying on the floor next to the right side of the bed, and her right arm was trailing over the edge of the bed, so that it was supposed to look like she'd fired and then her hand and arm were pulled down by gravity.
When we re-opened the case, we noted: there were NO prints on the gun. There was no GSR on her hands. The bullet had been fired at least 12" away from her chest. Perform the above exercise again: Make your right hand into a gun. Point it straight at the 3 o'clock point on your left breast, not deviating up, down, left or right - it was a straight through-and-through. Now move your hand back so that the muzzle is at least 12" away from that point. Don't dislocate your elbow in the process.
He (and, in fairness, the original investigators) overlooked one other very important fact - a partial print on one of the rounds remaining in the magazine ...
I'll be happy to post other pro tips here, if y'all want, as we proceed with assembling the presentation.