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This is a hypothetical exploration into the possibility or impossibility of getting away with murder, which over four episodes covers motivation, methods, surveillance, research, eacape and clear-up, as well as the legal ramifications of planning a murder of a victim called Bob... who is fictional.
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER - PART ONE: UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT
Let’s pretend that I’m going to commit a pre-meditated murder; the target is my good friend Bob, the reason is profit, the location in his home and the time scale is the next four weeks. Do you need to call the Police? No, as the murder is hypothetical, the victim is fictional and none of this will ever exist.
But could I kill him? Well, yes, of course. We are all very capable of taking another person’s life. I could easily end Bob’s life in a jiffy by lacing his Pot Noodle with lashings of arsenic, bashing his brain-in with a common house brick, plunging his annoying face into an icy lake, or by stuffing his lazy sweaty bulk in a mincing machine and hitting ‘turbo’ so his bloody chunks spatter up the kitchen wall. Oh joy!
It seems so simple and physically it is, we are all animals after all, but the hard part is to not get caught.
Across this four-part series I shall be carefully planning the hypothetical murder of a fictional character called Bob; in three week’s time he will die and in four week’s time I shall be free and never convicted.
My name is Michael, I am a murderer, and this is How To Get Away With Murder.
Part One: Motivation & Realism.
Murder is moral quandary, simply getting over the emotional hurdle and psychological trauma of even contemplating another person’s death is harder than the physical act of murder itself… but that is the very first step any potential killer needs to consider in order to get away with murder.
In episode two of this four-part series, we shall explore the research phase of a pre-meditated murder, part three explores the best techniques to limit the evidence, in part four we shall dip into the clean-up and escape from the crime-scene to evade capture, but this first part is about the most important but least understood aspect of getting away with a pre-meditated murder – motivation.
Before we begin, what does the average murder look like? Well, I can tell you what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like the majority of cases that any true-crime fan has absorbed before. Such as in:
Sadly, there’s a big discrepancy between reality and fiction, even if the murder case itself is real. What you see on the telly and hear about in podcasts isn’t typical of most murder cases. They are just a very small selection of the most engaging, compelling and sensational cases deliberately chosen to draw you in. Even the cases you hear about in the news are selectively chosen, as the role of the media is to inform but also to entertain you. They are there to tell you a story, but if the story is dull and mundane, they know they’ve lost you as a viewer or a listener, which they can’t afford to do.
In all honesty, most murder cases are barely - if at all - covered by the press. Why? Because they’re not interesting, yes there’s a murder in them, but there’s no intrigue, no mystery and no angle. A story about an evil doctor murdering a patient for money will have coverage for months and years, where-as a young lad stabbed to death by a rival gang over a pair of trainers will be forgotten about in a day.
Think about it; when was the last time you saw a drama entirely based around the investigation into why two homeless drug addicts stabbed each other to death over a £5 bag of skag, why a drunken yob beat a rival footie fan into a coma having knocked-over his kebab, or why a depressed single-mother with post-natal depression drowned her baby? When? Never. Why? Because they know that most people wouldn’t tune in. What we are consuming isn’t fact, it’s entertainment.
So, what does the average murder look like?
According to the Office of National Statistics, during 2019, in England & Wales (as that is where I live) there were 662 homicides in a population of 56.1 million people, which was broken down like this:
Unlike in TV shows or on podcasts, real murders are rarely premeditated or planned to the extent that the assailant even considers the ramifications of their crime or how they will get away with it. These are crimes of passion, they’re primal, they’re irrational and fuelled by raw uncontrolled emotion.
Emotion is a key part of our personality, it’s what makes us who we are, it defines our character, and every moment of every day we wrestle with a myriad of emotions as that’s how a human being copes with the dilemmas, crises and incidents that life throws at us. Every day our emotions swing from anger to jealousy to lust to rage to greed to pride to hatred to pain to joy to boredom. We cope with issues, we learn from our mistakes and we move on to the next problem. But for some people, something tips them over the edge from being a normal rational person… to being a murderer.
So, even before we discuss the who, the how and where of Bob’s impending but entirely fictional murder, we have to consider the most important detail – why. Why do I want to murder Bob?
It’s a detail that most murderers fail to consider fully, as their actions are clouded by emotion, so as the red mist kicks in, their fists clench and their eyes widen, before they even know what they’ve done, someone is dead. But let’s explore some bizarre but common motivations for murder.
These may seem extreme, but they’re no more extreme than the very ordinary and everyday cases we’ve covered in Murder Mile. So, if we set aside the serial-killers for a second, consider this:
We hear about it in the newspapers all the time, that someone was murdered because of a misheard word, an unappreciated look, a perceived slight or unwanted attention. It could occur over something so insignificant, most of us wouldn’t consider it reason to kill, let alone a reason to argue or tut.
Of course, there can be good reasons to kill; whether fighting for your country, serving in the line of duty, or protecting a loved one, yourself or others from danger? The vast majority of people don’t kill for the sake of killing, in truth, most people who become murderers just snap. Like that! And, let’s not forget that mental health problems can also play a big part.
So, why should I kill Bob?
I mean the reasons are limitless; he’s rude, he’s smelly, he never says “please”, he thinks his jokes are funny, he borrows money but never repays, he dashes out the second the bill arrives, he clips his toe-nails while watching TV, he flicks his bogies, he leaves his dirty dishes next to an open dishwasher, he buys himself a cakey-treat but not me, and cleans out the filthy from between of his toes with his sock.
Yuck! Surely that’s motivation enough? If I was the judge? Yes, but not in this case, as this isn’t a crime-of-passion, this is a premeditated murder for profit, which I intend to get away with.
So, here’s some possible motives for a premeditated murder for profit:
These are the top five motivations for a pre-meditated murder with a few others notable reasons close behind; such as status, territory, legal issues, personal disputes, a rite of passage and the erasing of a mistake, to name but a few. But my reason to kill Bob is a lot more personal, as is what I shall gain.
Bob’s most prized possession – which I want – is a signed portrait of my beloved (if fictional) girlfriend Eva Green holding a Belgian Bun and eating a Battenberg Cake. And although he constantly taunts me with it, every day and in my dreams, he rightfully covets it with his life. To you, this may seem like a bit of meaningless tatt hardly worth killing over, but to me, I see nothing else but this. And in every murder, even those which are well-planned, the prospective killer’s judgement, morals and ethics are clouded by a single-minded need to attain what they cherish the most… and this is mine.
So, if this cakey-photo of beautiful Eva is my goal, why kill Bob? Why not negotiate with him first?
This is the first stumbling block in many situations, including murder, as an amicable solution could be achieved by talking, listening, asking, understanding and (as galling as it may be) by apologising. These are very simple steps which all of us could take, but again, our needs and emotions gets in the way.
So, for sake of this fictitious beef with my imaginary chum over a cakey doodle of a Hollywood goddess (drool, drool, swoon), let’s assume I’ve tried every option… but Bob said “no”. Ooh what a git. Can you feel my anger rising? I’m shaking my fist and cursing the day he was born (which was a Tuesday). And I’m so furious, I’ve even used some blue words like ‘rogue’, ‘scallywag’ and ‘c**t’. Sorry, I’ve no middle ground when it comes to curse-words. You should hear me order a cup of tea? Filthy boy.
Right! I have a good reason to kill Bob, but how easy will it be to actually kill him? In truth, it’s going to somewhere between very difficult and almost impossible. Why? Because I’m not a killer. I’ve seen it depicted in films, I’ve heard about in on podcasts and I’ve read about it in books, but I have never ended another person’s life and – like almost all of us - I probably never will. My experience is zero.
Am I up to it? Probably not. Murder is not easy.
Luckily Bob isn’t real, he’s a fictional character created for a hypothetical scenario which results in his bloody and hopefully amusing death. Besides, even if he was alive, I don’t think anyone could logically consider him as a human, as Bob doesn’t like strawberry Angel Delight, he prefers butterscotch. Yuck!
The physical act of murder isn’t the hardest part, and neither is the planning, it’s the psychological trauma which comes with it… not just before and during, but days, months and even years afterwards.
Killing is next-to-impossible to do in a calm and rational way. Serial killers are uniquely able to do this as they have a distinct lack of empathy for their victims. Killing isn’t an emotional experience for them, it’s about a different type of need or loss; for Dennis Nilsen it was rejection, Harold Shipman had a misguided God complex, for Ian Brady it was about control, for Reg Christie it was to be desired, for Gordon Cummins he had sadistic urges to quell and for John George Haigh it was always about money.
Serial-killers are selfish, arrogant and obsessive, they have an ability to be calm and calculating in a way that no-one else can and that is why they often (but not always) get away with murder. So, in order to achieve my goal, I need to become unemotional, calculated, calm and callous. But can I?
Can I deal with the emotional and psychological trauma with comes with murder? The second I murder, or attempt to murder Bob, even if I go get away with it and am rewarded with this thing that I cherish the most; his life, my life and the lives of everyone we both know will be changed forever.
To get away with murder, I need to be cold and callous, which isn’t easy as our emotional responses to stress are hard-wired into our brains. And even if I could cope, I’m already screwed by the many interactions I’ve already had with Bob in the days, months and years before my hatred had formed.
In almost every premeditated murder, the victim and perpetrator will have a long-established history together which leaves a detailed trail charting the highs and lows of their connection. For example:
What if things have already got heated? There may be legal letters, police reports, secret diaries, lists of abuse, documented sightings and worst of all death threats. My trail will be extensive, as will Bob’s.
I could try to delete it all, but it would be futile, it would take a lifetime and everyone – from friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, police detectives and even Bob himself – would want to know why?
Admit it! I am the worst person to even attempt to try and get away with Bob’s murder. I’m neither physically, mentally or psychological capable; my motive is weak, my experience is zero, my planning hasn’t begun, I left a trail charting the decline in our relationship (from years before the murder has taken place) and – even worse than that – I am a true-crime podcaster who has recorded a four-part series called How To Get Away With Murder in which I explain how I’m going to kill Bob. I am an idiot.
And let’s not forget, simply by planning and rehearsing Bob’s murder, I won’t just be breaking one law, there are loads of smaller crimes I will have to commit in order to get that far: Such as:
So, before I’ve taken a single step to even plan Bob’s murder – way before I’ve casually flicked through a catalogue of industrial mincers, cherry-picked a strong enough acid to dissolve his flabby butt, or chosen a spot in my love-shrine for that much-coveted portrait of Eva munching on fistfuls of cakey-goodness (mmm) - the chance of me actually getting away with murder… is slim… very slim… which is why I need understand my target, his life and his routines. Find out how in Part Two.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Part One of How To get Away With Murder. This continues for the next three weeks, when your regular Murder Mile episodes will return, once I’ve finished the research.
A big thank you to my new Patreon Supporters who are Anne-Marie Montgomery, Penny Richardson, Campbell Welsh and Sarah Cameron. As there’s no regular episodes this week, I’ll be posting you some interesting videos to keep you entertained. Up next is Extra Mile and a very special announcement.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards", one of The Telegraph's top five true-crime podcasts and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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