Saturday

Kate and Gerry McCann: Hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is....


How to Hide A Body and Avoid Embarassment Until the Authorities Arrive, and What to Do When They Get There

This entry strives to be helpful in the manner described in the title. It assumes 3 things: that there is a body; that you are alone (or there are very few of you) and you need to hide the body in order to avoid embarrassment; and that the authorities are going to arrive and will then need to recover the body and take it away. The origin of the body, including its species, is not addressed. Nor is the guilt or innocence of the person wishing to hide the body. If you have done something wrong, the entry you should be reading is “How to Avoid Capture by the Authorities” or possibly “How to Give Yourself Up to the Authorities,” depending on how badly you feel about what you’ve done. Remember, just by hiding or moving the body, you are violating a cardinal rule issued by crime scene investigators, which is “touch nothing.”

First, don’t panic. You need to assess the situation. Does the body need to be hidden, or is it already well enough out of view? Can the body actually be moved? Do you have to touch it, and what is the safest way to do so? How long until it starts to smell? How long until the authorities arrive? What are the extenuating circumstances?

Does the Body Need To Be Hidden
It may not. For example, if the unfortunate deceased person has landed in a position in which they appear simply to be sleeping, and the authorities will be there shortly, simply drape a blanket over them up to their neck (note that draping it over their head is, pardon the expression, a “dead giveaway”) and shush passersby if they are speaking loudly, then point at the body meaningfully. They will assume you don’t want to awaken the body. This will not work if it is in some way obvious that the body is, in fact, a body; it will most likely, in that case, be perceived as a threat.

This might also work if the body has expired in a seated position that resembles sleep. The blanket will, if draped lightly enough, disguise the lack of respiration.

The body may also have ended up in a location that is out of the way and unlikely to be seen. If that is the case, just leave it there and phone the authorities. If possible, lock the door to the room in which the body lies. This might become difficult if the body is in a high-traffic area, such as a public toilet. But there’s a simple answer for that as well; simply seat the body in a stall, lock the door so that the “occupied” notice is displayed, and crawl under. Stand outside the stall, and occasionally look at your watch and mutter under your breath things like “hurry up!”

However, the cards may have been dealt against you, and you may need to move the body. It is time for action!

Can the Body Actually Be Moved
This is straightforward. It will be immediately obvious if the body can be moved, in most cases. Situations where it cannot will require disguising the body, or covering it from view in some way. REMEMBER: WHEN MOVING A BODY, YOU MAY BE VIOLATING THE LAW. Don’t panic.
You may need to obtain assistance. Be certain you can trust the person assisting you. Remember: friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.


Do You Need To Touch It, and Is It Safe to Do So
Times when it is not safe will not always be obvious. If the victim died from electrocution, and they are still in contact with the electrocuting element, you will need to stop the electrical flow before attempting to move the body. If there is a great deal of bodily fluids surrounding the body, you should wear protective clothing. Latex gloves, breathing filters, and a rain poncho will protect you from the worst of these problems.

The body may also rest in an area that is dangerous for other reasons. If you attempt to move the body of a person that is in an area filled with, say, radiation or toxic gas, and you yourself succumb to the effects of that hazard, the body will become someone else’s problem, and so will yours. Be aware of the environment, and don’t panic. You may be fortunate, however, and you may be able to move a carpet, or plank, or other such thing, upon which the body has landed. Simply grasp one end of the carpet or whatever, and drag it along the ground, making sure the body stays on top of it. Failing that, grasp the clothing of the body, and use that to pull it out of view. If the body is nude, you have worse problems than simply needing to hide a body. Seek professional help.

How Long Until It Starts To Smell
This will be modified by the ambient temperature, by the relative humidity, and by how recently the fallen victim has eaten. When possible, cool the room to slow the rate of decay, and help dull olfactory senses. It may be necessary to hide the body in a refrigerated area, or possibly a freezer. You have about two hours to six hours, depending on the variables, until an odor above the normal human scent is noticeable. Every twenty minutes, stop what you’re doing, and ask yourself “can I smell the body?” Don’t let the slowly building odor cause you to get used to it, or someone that isn’t used to it will remind you of the body’s smell in an unpleasant manner. For more information, see “Life / The Natural World / Natural Phenomena / The Processes of Death and Decomposition.”

How Long Until the Authorities Arrive
What you need to do varies with your wait time.
Authorities are present:
Make sure they know where the body is, cooperate with them, and then go have a drink.
1 to 10 minutes:
Consider giving CPR. It will show concern and hopefulness, and may actually do the victim some good. This will not work in some cases, depending on how obviously dead the body is. Failing that, just stand there and act concerned, saying “When will those blasted authorities arrive?”
11 to 30 minutes:
This is the window in which it may become necessary to actually move the body. However, the first preference is to simply cover it. For example: if you are in a restaurant, and wish to avoid disturbing the other guests, you may be able to place a table or two over the body, drape a cloth over the table that goes nearly to the floor, and place a “reserved” sign on it. Settings will reinforce the charade. If someone blusters in and says “Ah! I see my table is ready!” in an effort to get seated right away, let them. The shock they receive will be well deserved, and you may be able to blame it on them.
30 minutes to 2 hours:
If the body is in an obvious location (your back-yard pool, your driveway, hanging outside your door, on top of your automobile, the middle of a dance floor, the aquarium), it is almost definitely going to need to be moved. The trick is in doing so without arousing suspicion. If you wait too long, rigor mortis will set in, and the result will be a double-edged sword: it will become easier to manipulate, but harder to get around corners. If you know early enough that it will be necessary to move the body, then do it as soon as possible. If there are witnesses, as is likely if the body needs to be moved, consider the tried-and-true method of pretending the body is actually not dead, but drunk. If there are no witnesses, but people are going to arrive shortly, simply move the body in the most safely rapid manner possible.
More than 2 hours:
Evaluate if you really need to be there. Does anyone know you were there? Can you make an anonymous tip? Is your presence actually necessary? If it isn’t, go have a drink.
If, however, it is necessary that you remain in the area, get used to the idea you’re going to have a body lying around for a bit. Hide it, if necessary, in accordance with the 30 minutes to 2 hours time window, but if not necessary, don’t open yourself up to prosecution by needlessly disturbing the corpse. Do not play games with the body, nor should you take humorous photographs of people with the body, no matter how strong the temptation to do so gets. Remember, it may be a body now, but it was once someone’s child. Be dignified and respectful.

Extenuating Circumstances: Dos and Don’ts
Do:
-Reassure any witnesses of your innocence, and that the authorities are on their way.
-If possible, photograph the body in situ, before moving it or anything around it, from various angles. If it is not possible, write down very careful and detailed notes before moving anything. A quick sketch is helpful.
-Take the names and addresses of all persons witnessing the event. At best, this will help authorities with investigations. At worst, it gives you something to do that looks constructive and reassuring, while simultaneously providing you with blackmail.
-Make sure the authorities can find and recover it again later, if the body must and can be hidden. Cooperate with the authorities as much as possible.
-Seek counseling afterward, if needed. If not, perhaps you are qualified to give counseling.

Don’t:
-Panic.
-Alter any composition of the body. Dismemberment, incineration, or any other action that will stymie the coroner’s art should not be done under any circumstances. At best, it makes it harder to determine the cause of death. At worst, it is like holding up a large sign to the authorities in flashing red neon that says “I done it.”
-Rifle through the deceased’s pockets or belongings, even if they owed you money. The debt may still be paid later, if it was significantly large enough, by the deceased’s survivors, and if the debt was small, it’s not worth going through a dead person’s pockets for it (unless you know right where it is, and it was a lot of money).
-Brag about it later.
-Blame others for it. There will be sufficient time for finger-pointing and buck-passing later.

-----
Source: BBC
Books found in McCanns apartment