The Questions I Get Asked

I occasionally get unusual questions.  Most of the time, I answer them without really thinking about it.  Only after I’ve sent the reply, do I wonder if I just made myself an accessory to a crime.  Here’s a few I’ve gotten over the years, that I probably shouldn’t have immediately answered without investigating first (I did ask, eventually and was given plausible reasons for them). So question, who from, my response, and then the reason why they wanted to know…

  • Is cannibalism an effective way to dispose of a body? (From a reader) – Not really.  Yes, you get rid of the flesh and things, but you still have bones left.  Then there’s the pesky problem of bacteria and viruses that the human body carries and are usually harmless, but can become a problem when the flesh is undercooked or even during the butchering process.  Plus, there are parts you just don’t want to eat.  I don’t remember how long a human intestine is, but it’s really really really really long.  Even if you empty it out (gross), you aren’t going to throw all of it in a frying pan.  Same for the appendix, most people have to have emergency surgery when it ruptures because it contains toxins, do you really want to test your luck eating it?  I’ve heard lungs get spongy, like tough mushrooms, not a texture most people enjoy. (book plot question – not mine – in which the killer was disposing of entire bodies using cannibalism)
  • How many days will it take a dead body to start to smell if I stick it in my closet? (from a nephew) – Usually only 2 or 3 days, if you clean up the initial mess of all the body’s sphincters opening up… (turned out to be a gimmick in a movie)
  • How many times should someone shoot someone else in the head to make sure they’re dead?  (from a nephew) – More than once.  It isn’t entirely uncommon to survive gunshot wounds to the head.  It depends on placement, caliber, distance, any objects it might pass through on the way, etc.  (watched a news report about a guy being shot in the head twice and surviving, wanted to double check in case of the zombie apocalypse how many times to shoot a zombie in the head)
  • How long will it take for a body to decompose in a basement? (from a reader) – That depends on several factors.  Decomp requires light, air, and moisture.  Insect activity speeds it up.  Embalming slows it down.  Burying it slows it down.  Putting it on a concrete floor would speed it up.  (in reference to the skeletal remains of victims found in John Wayne Gacy’s crawlspace)
  • Is it better to stab someone in the head or the chest? (from a friend) – How strong are your hands?  It’s really hard to stab someone in the head.  The skull only has a few week spots (under the chin, the eye sockets, the nasal cavity, and the ear canals) and you’d be hard pressed to stab them in the top of their head and not hurt yourself.  However, stab wounds to the gut, lungs, and heart are much easier.  (movie plot included a guy stabbing another guy in the top of the head with a butcher knife, she found it unbelievable because the stabber’s hand didn’t slide down onto the blade… I agree with her, it should have).
  • If you flush body parts down the toilet, is Drano going to get rid of the body parts if it gets clogged? (from a niece) – Probably not.  However, you can buy sulfuric acid based drain cleaner that will do the job.  It smells, makes weird noises, and puts off a noxious smoke, but it will dissolve flesh and even bone.  (had just watched Red 2 with Helen Mirren pouring acid over the bodies in the bathtub, wanted to know if it would be difficult to clean up after)
  • And then today, the inspiration for this post, this text from a niece:  If you killed someone and then right after pushed them into a body of water, would they float or sink? – My response: Float unless weighted.  However, even weighted, it isn’t uncommon for them to begin floating in a few days.  It depends on the weights, how they are attached, and the size of the person.  Intestinal issues also play a factor on how fast they become floaters after weighted down.  My follow-up:  Should I have asked why before answering the question?  Her response:  Haha!  I haven’t killed anyone yet and so far don’t plan on it.  I was watching Road House the other night and the part where Dalton rips out the guy’s throat and then pushes him into the lake to float across to the rich evil guy.  I was wondering if he would really float or not.  My response:  He would really float like that.  It is less plausible to rip someone’s throat out with your hands.  Thanks for today’s blog post!
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