A note from Opal: Hi. I’d like to thank Madelle Morgan for filling in for me again this month. Madelle is also Canadian and writes Hot Romantic Suspense.
Be warned: I started to write a light post on how mystery writers draw from real life for ideas on where to hide a body, but quickly realized that I’d stumbled upon quite a dark topic.
Police detectives have a real life mystery on their hands when people go missing. Adults disappear either voluntarily or involuntarily. Detectives check internet and credit card usage and medical history. They question family, colleagues, friends and acquaintances. They publish photos in the media and ask the public to report any sightings. Unobtrusive video cameras are everywhere these days, and internet users can be traced. It’s very difficult to hide a living person’s existence in this electronic age, even if he or she does not want to be found. The evidence accumulates. Most cases are solved quickly, thank goodness.
But what if there is no evidence, no body, no suspects and no trail to follow? Months or years pass. It becomes a cold case. A missing person mystery. Then one day, perhaps decades later, a lucky break occurs….
Truth can be infinitely sadder than fiction. A very sad case in Canada involved a man who murdered his young wife and buried her in the backyard. He hired a woman to write letters to his wife’s family, even inventing the births of children over the years. Since the family was not close, they never missed visits or speaking to her on the phone. They never reported her missing.
The killer eventually moved out of the home he’d shared with the victim. Then one day the new occupants decided to dig in the backyard… After the gruesome discovery of a skeleton (no one will ever eat vegetables from that garden), the police became involved.
It emerged that the killer had subsequently preyed upon an older woman without local family. When she disappeared and he moved into her apartment, he told inquirers she’d moved to Florida. No one investigated her sudden disappearance. This serial killer escaped detection for decades. Did he murder other women? Unfortunately, I doubt he will volunteer the information.
We live in an age when the internet often replaces personal contact, say with a bank or utility. While service providers, neighbors or acquaintances may suspect something is amiss, many “do not want to become involved” or tell themselves “it’s the family’s responsibility”. Isolated persons can become victims.
As a mystery and suspense writer, one aspect pops out: if a person is not well connected to others socially, he or she is vulnerable. A sitting duck. A target for con artists, thieves and even murderers.
Do you know of any socially-isolated persons who have been victimized? How can we protect them?
Bio:When Madelle Morgan wrote her debut romantic suspense, Diamond Lust, she had to dispose of a murder victim at an isolated Arctic mine site with 400 employees working 24/7 where the flat treeless ground was permanently frozen, there was no road access, and worst of all there was no dark of night in which to sneak a body away from the murder location. She drew on her engineering education to figure out a place to hide a body. Find Madelle at www.madellemorgan.com and on Goodreads.