If you were a criminal....

Parson

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@Margaret Note Spelling .... If you are still looking for ideas here's one. Since we are assuming that this is 1800-50 technology forensics is not or is almost not on the table. If I had some friends at the party I might suggest that several of us confess to being the only one involved in the murder leaving everyone a defense against the charge because multiple people have confessed. (Of course I'm making some assumptions about the legal process in this setting.)
 

Cathbad

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Seriously though, I'd just assume it was a bluff and do nothing out of the ordinary.

(Of course, that wouldn't do anything for the story!)
 

Dave

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Could I just add that 50 people is an awfully large guest list for a meal?

I think with so many strangers in the house, the opportunity to avoid detection by bluffing sitting it out would actually be quite high, especially if the detective/sheriff was bluffing himself.
 

The Crawling Chaos

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But police were not considered "authority figures" by the upper classes at that period.
Well, we know nothing (unless I missed it) about the location of the story. I come from a country where public servants were always highly respected figures of authority. What you say is true for, I assume, England where the class system is predominant and dictates the way you speak, the jobs you can hold, who you can talk to, mingle with and who can talk to you, etc. but it's important to remember that the situation was (and still is) different in much of the rest of the world. I also would assume that a policeman bold enough to interrupt a house party filled with rich people felt confident in doing it, therefore carried some weight in this social circle, perhaps even belonged to it.

Margaret Note Spelling said:
I think that, fortunately, people's reactions to a given situation (and the conclusions you can therefore draw from them) are not as straightforward as all that, actually!

If the detective had any other reason for impressively announcing his intentions than A or B, then the murderer would be at a huge potential disdvantage for not considering it, right? It might even be what loses him the game, especially if he assumes, "They've got nothing on me."
Sorry, I don't see it. Knowing a modicum about police work, there is no valid reason to involve 'innocent bystanders' in a case at the risk of creating unrest (the main job of the police is to avoid social unrest, not trigger it), potentially even a panic causing injury to others. And there is nothing more dangerous than a cornered man, so what those officers/bounty hunters, etc. are effectively doing is backing a criminal in a desperate situation, in a room/house full of innocent people just for the sake of putting on a good show. What if the criminal starts shooting in the crowd? Takes people hostages? It's a high risk situation. And again, why involve people who presumably know nothing about the case for the sake of catching one person? This is not what the police does (in the real world). Officers are especially wary of involving people not directly linked to a case, because false testimonies always abound, even from actual witnesses who misremember details or make up stuff to appear more useful than they can be.

It's one thing for a police officer to be present at a party when a murder occurs and to prevent guests from leaving until the scene has been thoroughly searched, it's another to actively seek out a murderer at a party that has nothing to do with the case when they could discreetly set up an observation post to monitor who comes and goes in order to summon them to the station and interrogate them later (what they would actually do in this case if this were a real-world situation). Or, if they had anything more to go on, wait until sufficient evidence is gathered and pluck the suspect from the crowd quietly and suddenly to avoid a more explosive situation.

In my opinion it's pretty clear that this detective has no idea who the criminal is and is desperate.
 

Mouse

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He announces that he knows the criminal he is tracking is here, and if everyone just keeps on as they were he will know who it is by the end.
He'll know who it is by the end, presumably by the guilty party freaking out, right? So I'd act normally and pretend I had no idea what was going on.
 

Dave

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Not really, if it were Columbo then everyone would already know which guest was the murderer, and it would only be left for us to find the clues that showed how the detective comes to that conclusion.
 

dannymcg

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Not really, if it were Columbo then everyone would already know which guest was the murderer, and it would only be left for us to find the clues that showed how the detective comes to that conclusion.
Yeah, I suppose so, thinking about it.

That used to rile me where it always showed the murderer at the start, just once I'd have liked to follow the clues and hints that Columbo picked up, to try and work it out myself
 

Parson

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Walking through the clues with the detective was the premise of an underappreciated detective show: "Burke's Law." In our early teenage years my sister and I would try to beat him to the perpetrator.
 

Margaret Note Spelling

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Well, we know nothing (unless I missed it) about the location of the story. I come from a country where public servants were always highly respected figures of authority. What you say is true for, I assume, England where the class system is predominant and dictates the way you speak, the jobs you can hold, who you can talk to, mingle with and who can talk to you, etc. but it's important to remember that the situation was (and still is) different in much of the rest of the world. I also would assume that a policeman bold enough to interrupt a house party filled with rich people felt confident in doing it, therefore carried some weight in this social circle, perhaps even belonged to it.



Sorry, I don't see it. Knowing a modicum about police work, there is no valid reason to involve 'innocent bystanders' in a case at the risk of creating unrest (the main job of the police is to avoid social unrest, not trigger it), potentially even a panic causing injury to others. And there is nothing more dangerous than a cornered man, so what those officers/bounty hunters, etc. are effectively doing is backing a criminal in a desperate situation, in a room/house full of innocent people just for the sake of putting on a good show. What if the criminal starts shooting in the crowd? Takes people hostages? It's a high risk situation. And again, why involve people who presumably know nothing about the case for the sake of catching one person? This is not what the police does (in the real world). Officers are especially wary of involving people not directly linked to a case, because false testimonies always abound, even from actual witnesses who misremember details or make up stuff to appear more useful than they can be.

It's one thing for a police officer to be present at a party when a murder occurs and to prevent guests from leaving until the scene has been thoroughly searched, it's another to actively seek out a murderer at a party that has nothing to do with the case when they could discreetly set up an observation post to monitor who comes and goes in order to summon them to the station and interrogate them later (what they would actually do in this case if this were a real-world situation). Or, if they had anything more to go on, wait until sufficient evidence is gathered and pluck the suspect from the crowd quietly and suddenly to avoid a more explosive situation.

In my opinion it's pretty clear that this detective has no idea who the criminal is and is desperate.
Thanks. I see where you're coming from. And I do agree--the whole act of interrupting this party seems to smack of last-chance desparation on the detective's part, practically a declaration that if you aren't caught now, you never will be. I just think that to assume from that that he is completely bluffing about having something to catch you with by the end of the evening, and that his only chance is interrogation of the guests, could be a little premature. It's probably one of the best assumptions, though.

I think my own instinct would be to sit tight and bluff it out, although if I had more confidence in my own strategic subtlety I might test the possibility of different escape plans in case I assumed wrong.
 

Karn's Return

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It's a thought experiment (and I've already worried all my immediate family members by asking them what they would do in this scenario! But I did get some good ideas for what people would normally think of, and I'm wondering if we missed any obvious solutions.)

Anyway, the situation is this. You have murdered someone recently--say, within the last two days. Not on impulse; it doesn't matter why you did it, except that you don't (yet) regret it. Now you're some distance away from the scene of the crime, at a rich house party with over fifty people in it.

Unexpectedly, the sheriff/policeman/resident-detective of the area you committed murder enters the room. He announces that he knows the criminal he is tracking is here, and if everyone just keeps on as they were he will know who it is by the end. Meanwhile, it is necessary that nobody leave the party, and they have instituted measures such as guards on all the doors, and outside patrols, and all people confined to the lower floor of the house.

What kind of ingenious tactics for tricking the detective and escaping this situation with minimum risk would you first think of employing? What resources would you start looking around for first?

The technology level could be considered roughly 1800-1850.

(If some aspects of this situation are too vague, as my sister complained...I'm around to clarify.)


Okay, so you have a sort of Holmes situation.

Considering that two hundred years ago, there would have not been DNA technology, and most investigation was really still pretty basic. The best way, I feel, to escape the sort of situation you would find yourself in, would not be in this party itself, as improvisation increases risk of getting caught, but to set things up right before or after the act itself. Assuming the body is found and hasn't been destroyed by applying some kind of base solution or some dumping off somewhere that would never be discovered, the best bet is to remain calm, not stand out, and if cornered, try to get your story straight before authorities even begin to talk with you. But if you are caught off guard and have to improvise, I would first say that you should have to be sure that absolutely nothing you are wearing has any connection to the crime-even make sure you change your shoes, one thing that criminals often seem to overlook in media, perhaps even wear shoes of a different size if possible. Don't try looking for escape routes while authorities are there-if you know of any, try to meld into the crowd and disappear your own way if possible, and through a way that's not suspicious. No jumping out windows, no running about, try to keep spacial awareness at all times. And most of all, confidence without arrogance is key. Don't get cocky or try to jump ahead if you do get questioned by authorities-claiming an alibi for someone you believe would back your story up would be a good bet, if a bit risky, and try to make everything you say sound easily plausible, even probable. A story of how you and a friend went fishing at the time they suspect the victim in question to have been killed, for instance, in such a time would not seem out of place. Claiming to have been in New York, for example, if the murder had taken place in say, San Fransisco, would be a bit more fishy, if you pardon the expression. Cool, confident, plausibility, and most of all, do not act out of the ordinary. That should at least buy you some time to get more things set up or to even potentially flee, though that, too, is often where people could slip up. Also remember that depending on where you are in such a time, the wilderness can be your friend to this too. Scavenging predators can help tear the body up beyond recognition and even potentially provide alibi against intent, if not act itself. Could claim a hunting accident, for instance, if it was discovered that the said victim had been shot.


Now, in today's time, the best bet you have is complete annihilation of the body-soaking is base or acidic solutions, strong enough to even dissolve bone and marrow tissue, or to have it be dumped somewhere that nobody would ever think to find it, would have to happen. But even then, that is in no way a guarantee of escape.
 

Margaret Note Spelling

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Okay, so you have a sort of Holmes situation.

Considering that two hundred years ago, there would have not been DNA technology, and most investigation was really still pretty basic. The best way, I feel, to escape the sort of situation you would find yourself in, would not be in this party itself, as improvisation increases risk of getting caught, but to set things up right before or after the act itself. Assuming the body is found and hasn't been destroyed by applying some kind of base solution or some dumping off somewhere that would never be discovered, the best bet is to remain calm, not stand out, and if cornered, try to get your story straight before authorities even begin to talk with you. But if you are caught off guard and have to improvise, I would first say that you should have to be sure that absolutely nothing you are wearing has any connection to the crime-even make sure you change your shoes, one thing that criminals often seem to overlook in media, perhaps even wear shoes of a different size if possible. Don't try looking for escape routes while authorities are there-if you know of any, try to meld into the crowd and disappear your own way if possible, and through a way that's not suspicious. No jumping out windows, no running about, try to keep spacial awareness at all times. And most of all, confidence without arrogance is key. Don't get cocky or try to jump ahead if you do get questioned by authorities-claiming an alibi for someone you believe would back your story up would be a good bet, if a bit risky, and try to make everything you say sound easily plausible, even probable. A story of how you and a friend went fishing at the time they suspect the victim in question to have been killed, for instance, in such a time would not seem out of place. Claiming to have been in New York, for example, if the murder had taken place in say, San Fransisco, would be a bit more fishy, if you pardon the expression. Cool, confident, plausibility, and most of all, do not act out of the ordinary. That should at least buy you some time to get more things set up or to even potentially flee, though that, too, is often where people could slip up. Also remember that depending on where you are in such a time, the wilderness can be your friend to this too. Scavenging predators can help tear the body up beyond recognition and even potentially provide alibi against intent, if not act itself. Could claim a hunting accident, for instance, if it was discovered that the said victim had been shot.


Now, in today's time, the best bet you have is complete annihilation of the body-soaking is base or acidic solutions, strong enough to even dissolve bone and marrow tissue, or to have it be dumped somewhere that nobody would ever think to find it, would have to happen. But even then, that is in no way a guarantee of escape.
I am in awe. You sound like you've been...thinking about this sort of thing for a long time already.

People who can think things out in such precise detail like you (and like many of the other people here who've taken the time to consider this problem) are exactly the reason it's dangerous to say anything specific about your location in a place like Chrons. I say this with the highest admiration.
 

Karn's Return

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I have a pretty deep interest in psychology and especially human behavior, but I am in no way or by no means an expert in the field. Just rather a thoughtful, imaginative person and as a writer of any sort, psychology to some level of understanding goes hand in hand. The only way to make realistic characters is to understand what humans are capable of under what circumstances they find themselves in. Knowledge in the existence of mental illnesses, for example, can go a long way into building a unique character with a condition not typically experienced by members of society in general. Cotard's Syndrome, for example, is a strange condition where the sufferer actually believe themselves to be dead.
 

Vladd67

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Yeah, I suppose so, thinking about it.

That used to rile me where it always showed the murderer at the start, just once I'd have liked to follow the clues and hints that Columbo picked up, to try and work it out myself
Maybe Ellery Queen is more your thing than Columbo?
 
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