Perfect murders are more common in actual life than in crime fiction—and also more highly approved, suggests this forensic study:
“How to Commit a Perfect Murder,” Mark Cooney, International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, vol. 43, 2015, pp. 295-309. The author, at the University of Georgia, explains:
Curiously, social science has ignored the problem of the perfect murder…. Whatever the reason, the neglect is not justified as the topic harbors an important scientific question: when will people get away with murder? Moreover, the data for answering the question already exist. A large body of research conducted by criminologists, anthropologists, historians, sociologists, human rights activists and others provides a wealth of detail about the handling of real-life homicide cases across a broad range of human societies….
Fact… deviates sharply from fiction. In the real world, the perfect murder is not committed by an evil genius but by a moral agent acting in the name of the common good—fighting crime, restoring honor, eliminating enemies, protecting communities. Nor is it a mystery: the killer’s identity is publicly known, and the killing is tolerated, even applauded, by legal officials and by fellow civilians. The killer may even wear the badge of the law. In short, while the perfect murder remains a source of aesthetic fascination, it is no longer a scientific puzzle. To commit a perfect murder, the killer should:
- Be of as high status as possible.
- Select a low status victim who is, ideally, socially close as well.
- Have extensive strong partisanship and the victim none at all.
- Be significantly closer, socially, than the victim to those making the crucial decisions in the case.