How To Write a Bloodless Death Scene

The storyline for the novel I’m currently writing calls for one of the characters to be murdered. Simple enough!

dreamstime_xs_18033974Shoot or stab the person, or use a dozen other ways to kill off the character. But that didn’t fit with the storyline. It was important that the killer not leave ANY blood at the crime scene, ESPECIALLY the victim’s! So what method would I use to accomplish that?

My research led to some interesting ideas on how to construct a bloodless murder scene, and I’d like to share a few of those with you. The following is a list of the more interesting and believable ways to accomplish this task:

The Temple Blow – The skull is thin there and the temple bone shatters easily. MoreMH900442299 importantly, the middle meningeal artery is located there. Rupture that and it causes a build-up of blood and brain compression. That’s called an epidural hemorrhage. Death will follow if the pressure from the blood is not relieved in a relatively short amount of time.

The Russian Omelet – Cross the legs of the victim and pin him or her to the ground chest down. Then push the legs up toward the person’s back and sit on them to fold and break the base of the spine. It’s usually fatal. The killer, however, should be of “substantial” weight to make this a believable kill method.

An Airborne Toxin Release – There are any number of good choices, from a viral toxin to a lethal poison. A simple Internet search can fuel the imagination and I’ve written numerous blogs that you can refer to on those subjects.

An Insulin Overdose – Insulin is the hormone secreted from the pancreas whenever MH900308894sugary or starchy foods are consumed. Insulin transports blood glucose into the body’s cells so that they can use it as fuel. Too much insulin causes low blood sugar and this leads to a variety of symptoms (shaking, sweating, blurred vision, seizures and coma) before death. Describe the symptoms properly and you’ve got a great murder scene.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning – It’s a simple way to kill, but not very imaginative. Lock someone in a garage with a car running and soon the carbon monoxide build-up will kill because it replaces the oxygen in blood.

Toxins That React With Blood To Replace Oxygen – There are also products on the market that kill in the same way as CO, and these are much more entertaining for the reader. In a murder scene I wrote recently, I used the strong fumes of an organic solvent (a paint remover) that preferentially binds to hemoglobin instead of oxygen as a murder weapon. It proved to me once again that there’s no substitute for good research when writing creative, interesting murder scenes.

Ethylene Glycol – This is the main component of antifreeze. It’s colorless, odorless, sweet tasting and it’s easy to add to most any food or drink. It rapidly absorbs into the GI tract and distributes throughout the body, creating a variety of toxic effects. The initial symptoms mimic a drunken state, but kidney failure usually causes death. Interestingly, alcohol is the antidote of choice. Maybe the KILLER should down a shot INSTEAD to celebrate a good kill!

Strangulation – A dramatic death for sure, but it’s been used A LOT. It causes death in one of two ways: compression of the carotid arteries and/or the jugular veins, and the act deprives the brain of oxygen. It can also fatally compress the larynx and/or trachea to prevent further air intake.

A Fatal Drug Dose – Any number of drugs (both legal and illegal) could be used, but the most rapid effects are gained if the drug is injected. I recently blogged about what drug makes the perfect murder weapon, and I’ve blogged on a number of other potentially lethal drugs. You can be sure that I’ll blog about more lethal drugs in future blogs.

The Adam’s Apple Crush – This is a hit to the larynx and a prime strike point to causeMH900443021 death if the attacker connects dead center and with substantial force. It makes a great kill scene for those Special Forces type characters. The knuckle punch or a strategic kick closes the airway and denies the ability to draw in air. Oxygen deprivation results in death.

These are just a few of the more interesting bloodless murder methods to add to your crime research. I’m sure you’ve come across others. Want to share them with us?

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Writing, Accuracy in Writing, All About Murder, All About Writing, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, Characteristics of Murder, Defining Murder, Developing Better Writing Skills, Drugs For Murder Plots, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Instruments of Death, Interesting Murder Weapons, Learning the Art of Writing, Murder Weapons, Murder With Drugs, Plot Development, Plotting Murder Scenes, The Psychology of Murder, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Ways To Kill, Ways to Murder, Writing Death Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How To Write a Bloodless Death Scene

  1. wrLapinsky says:

    Murder methods seem to fit into two piles: those with the killer there for the event, and those where the killer does not need to be present to win. The former may give the killer personal satisfaction and surety. The later probably makes the alibi easier. However, how many times did James Bond show up after the killer had set up a sure death? Murderers must be able to not act surprised when the victim shows up quite alive many pages later.

  2. Suzy Lapinsky says:

    You, Sir, are of a fiendish turn of mind. I enjoy how your imagination, backed by all your research, takes flight.

  3. Another one of your great ‘how-to’ pieces that all writers of mystery, crime, suspense stories and novels need to store in their research folders. Thank you. And remind me to always keep on your good side! 🙂

  4. Thanks for your kind comments, Walt, Suzy and James!
    My mind sort of works on overtime a lot to think up interesting murder scenes. Fortunately, they don’t play out in real life, at least not yet! 🙂

  5. Allan says:

    Well I was wondering about strangulation. What kind of signs does that leave on victim’s body?. And what about a fatal dose of potassium chloride?. I guess it can do better than insulin overdose.

    • Hmmm – Strangulation: Well, the obvious signs include bruise marks on the neck and also latent fingerprints from the killer that technology can now detect on skin (sometimes), but gloves can take care of that issue.
      Regarding a lethal dose of potassium chloride, I consider that drug one of the top “perfect murder weapons” and I wrote a blog about that in the past. Here’s the link to that blog:
      Thanks for your comments. All the best in your writing!

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