Counter Measures


I read a lot of true crime books.  Occasionally, I come across a handful of true crimes that seem really weird, but make me wonder if it’s a countermeasure.

Take the case of Rack Man.  Rack Man was pulled up from a river in Australia in the 1990s.  He’d been submerged for sometime, however dumping bodies in rivers isn’t new, novel, or weird.  Rack Man earned the nickname because he was attached to a large steel crucifix.  His body had been wrapped to the post in plastic and then wrapped in wire and rope before throwing him and the crucifix into the water.

Even as someone who spends a great deal of time trying to figure out symbolic ways to dispose of bodies, I can’t think of a reason to weld together a crucifix, attach someone to it, and then dump them both in the water.  At least, not one that has meaning…

Plus, the crucifix was almost 6 feet tall and made of a steel center post with two arms welded onto it, also made of steel.  This was not a light contraption.  It does solve two problems though:

  1.  Dead bodies tend to break free of their weights when they are submerged in water during decomposition because of gasses that accumulate in the torso.  Using plastic sheeting to attach the body to the crucifix greatly reduces the risk that it’s breaking free of the weight that holds it.
  2. That’s one hell of a weight.  Bodies in plastic sheeting have been known to pull their weights with them to the top when decomposition sits in because the gasses are more buoyant than the weight.

In this case, neither of those things happened even though the body was in the water for at least a year when some poor fisherman snagged it in his net.

It is very odd to find a body attached to a steel crucifix in a river, I can’t help but think the reason for the crucifix was not as special as it seems.  The weight of the steel and the plastic sheeting keep the body submerged.  The rope and wire keep the plastic from unwrapping and releasing the body.  The arms of the crucifix keep all of it from slipping up the pole and being discovered that way.

But it is actually a terribly logical and effective way to dispose of a body in a river.  It also makes me think about the crime in a completely different light.

A person does not accidentally kill someone, panic, build a steel crucifix, wrap the body around it with plastic sheeting, then wrap wire and rope around it, before throwing it in a river.  Nor does a person do this alone.  It makes me think that more than one person was involved and that it was premeditated.

Eventually it was classified as a gangland hit and the identity of the victim hasn’t been figured out.  This disposal method seems a little extreme for a hit.  Yes, organized crime has been known to make bodies completely disappear, but normally they don’t go to such extremes to hide a body unless it’s someone important (a la Jimmy Hoffa).  Yet this guy isn’t recognizable in Australia by the general public so taking such measures to hide his body seems like a waste of time, energy, and effort for organized crime.

The only reason to make sure the body was never found then is because it directly links back to its murderers.  Meaning if they ever identify Rack Man, it might be easy to find his killers.

So sometimes I do believe a weird crime is just weird as a countermeasure to solving it.

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