And Now For Something Mindblowing: Argh Ink Commenters

Wow.
I had no idea. But if I ever kill Bob, his body will never be found.

Sorry to be a tease. Here’s the full story of the story:

My editor e-mailed me and said, “We’d like to put a short story or two on the website as a teaser for when Agnes comes out. Do you and Bob have any ideas?” (You can ask Bob about his on his blog: www.bobmayer.org.)

And there’s a place in the book where Shane asks Agnes what happened to the father of Maria (Lisa Livia’s daughter, the girl who’s getting married that weekend) and she says that he disappeared. Which is why the body can’t be found, the book says he disappeared. And Shane asks if anybody looked, and Agnes says, “He was a missing person that nobody missed at all.” And Shane says something along the lines of “Huh,” because he’s not a Chicks fan, but I figured any Chicks fan would get the reference. And I planned to leave it at that. Subtle.

But when Jen said, “Any story ideas?” I said, “I can go back twenty years and tell the story of what happened to Johnny.” And she said, “Oooh, do that.”

So I started to write the short story and came up against some problems immediately, the first one being that since it starts out with Johnny in the trunk of Lisa Livia’s car, he’s not the antagonist. And since it’s a short story, I’m not going to have a lot of characters, in fact, it’s pretty much Agnes and LL, told from Agnes’s POV (so far) so that means LL is her antagonist. So I’m struggling with the plot lines of the central conflict, but I’m distracted by this body they have to get rid of while they’re arguing because how? Lisa Livia is pregnant and getting ready to go live with her mother, Agnes has the car packed to leave town the next morning for Ohio University, there’s a body in the trunk, but since I’m having enough trouble figuring out the conflict as I write the story, I do not have the spare brain cells to figure out how to get rid of that body forever. However, I do have a blog with some whacked-out commenters, so what the hell.

You guys are kind of scary. In a good way, of course.

I can now see Lisa Livia and Agnes having this conversation about pigs and acid and blue crabs. . .

98 thoughts on “And Now For Something Mindblowing: Argh Ink Commenters

  1. Well, you don’t want any bones or teeth left so that rules out a body dump, even in concrete. I’ve seen “cold case” type things about people being mulched in a chopper and the bone bits were later identified, so that won’t work. I’m thinking some sort of illegal cremation, but do cremations leave bits and pieces that need to be crushed?

  2. Yeah, I’m pretty sure the, um, cremains, need to be crushed. Coffee grinder?

    The timing is a problem. A lot of these solutions not only take set-up time but also come-back time. Which is very risky. I like the acid or quicklime suggestions, and really, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to get hold of them – it’s amazing what is available at the hardware store.

    And really, you wouldn’t, 20 years ago, have expected the kind of CSI stuff that goes on here, now. I think it hadn’t gone much further than finger prints and dental records at that point. DNA? Certainly not. There might have been a few people doing forensic archaeology, but not much. So, people looking to dispose of a body wouldn’t think that catastrophically about it.

    Do busy police departments spend a lot of time on John Does? That’s not my understanding. If there’s nothing to link them to anything high-profile, I’d think they’d just sink to the bottom of the priority list.

    But a lot of scary, creative thinking going on out there. I do NOT want to think about the pigs.

  3. Hey Jenny, I’ve been rereading your books over my spring break and finished DLD again yesterday. Then I tried to find “Us Amazonians”–it was a pain; I finally had to download Rhapsody to listen to it. It’s fantastic! Now that you’ve given me a new song to love, I feel like I should reciprocate. I was wondering–have you ever listened to Neko Case?

  4. Neko Case was exactly who I thought of when I Finally heard that song!

    Jenny, as a misplaced Ohioan, I love that Agnes attended OU.

  5. I spent a lot of time watching Forensic Files and Cold Case Files and American Justice this past year while I knit(if it was on Discovery or TLC, I watched it) because I didn’t need to watch, I could mostly listen. There was one case I remember where these people needed to go into the crawl space under the house and they found a barrel that they opened and when they saw what was in there, they called the police.

    Turns out the people who had lived there 15 or 20 years ago reported their teenager missing (the stepfather said the kid got mad and stormed out). The stepfather had actually killed the kid, put him in a barrel, and then stored him under the house in the crawl space. They lived there for a number of years before they sold the place. I think the barrel, or whatever he was wrapped in, prevented much smell — or maybe the smell was attributed to a dead animal under the house — and because they thought he was a runaway, no one looked for him in the crawl space.

  6. I think even if someone stumbled across the remains in 2007 it would be very hard to identify them. Most police departments don’t have a 10th of the forensic equipment we see on the crime dramas (some of it doesn’t even exist) nor do they have the time. No one in Ohio is going to think to connect a skeleton or partial skeleton to some missing guy in Jersey, especially if there’s no ID on the body. If it were a child it would be different but an adult isn’t going to get the same attention, especially if someone says the body has been out there for twenty years and no one local disappeared at that time.

    Sally J – I’m more squicked about the idea of my porkchop eating someone than I am a body in the lake. Between the dead fish and dead animals there’s a lot of decomp in the water already.

    As a side note, pigs don’t eat everything and not everything they eat gets digested. There’s a man on trial in southern British Columbia for killing several prostitutes and feeding the body parts to his hogs. It took work and knowing what to look for but the cops found evidence of several women.

    Sorry to inject a dose of horrid reality into our fictional conversation.

  7. Office Wench Cherry … I heard about that case. They had to pull bacon, etc off shelves at local groceries didn’t they? That case freaked me out. I didn’t know Canadians committed crimes!

  8. Check the paper for funeral notices with closed caskets. Sneak in to funeral home (ah, think of the comic possibilities!) Do a two for the price of one in an already closed casket. Make sure to take a screwdriver along though…

  9. How do you fit all your college supplies AND a dead body in the trunk of a car? If she’s driving to college, I imagine she’ll be taking more than two suitcases. Unless she’s made other shipping arrangement for her goods, or is unlike me in every way, that trunk is already full.

  10. I hadn’t considered the fact that the crime happened twenty years ago. No DNA testing back then. Dnetal records have always been around, however, so have to make sure the body isn’t found.

    If you are going to dump the body in water: DON’T wrap it in plastic tarping. That traps the gases and the body will eventually float. DO wrap it in heavy fishnet with large weights. I liked the blue crab idea. Wrap the body in fish net, toss it into the swamp with the crabs, weighted down with some cinder blocks. The netting allows the little critters to get to the flesh and it (the body) won’t float…

    Or, you could have them stuff him into a sleeping bag, no jewelry, and dump him out in the woods along the way to college. If he was ever found, the authorities will just think he was a lost hiker who died of exposure.

    Leaving the body on Skid Row without ID isn’t a bad thought either, but it has been used before. However, the scene would play great–two teen age girls trying to manhandle this dead guy into a dark alley without causing a scene. Fighting off the drunks and addicts while they are at it.

    And whoever said that cops don’t get too involved in John Doe deaths is probably right. There is usually a picture or description in the local paper, however, so don’t think that would work too well if they don’t want him found…

  11. I was going to also ask how you pack for college and don’t need the trunk space, but I see that’s been covered.
    Pigs do eat everything, don’t they? That seems both efficient and geographically convenient.

  12. Well there was DNA testing 20 years ago but it was a very young science, not the household phrase it is now. In any case, DNA doesn’t do any good unless you have DNA to compare it with. So even if the body was discovered, if there were no identifying features they’d still have a hard time figuring out who it was. Especially since in Agnes’ words โ€œHe was a missing person that nobody missed at all.โ€ If nobody missed him they probably weren’t looking for him, and wouldn’t have bothered collecting DNA evidence for possible later comparison.

    So even if remains are discovered 10 or 20 years later, as long as he can’t be identified Agnes and LL are still okay.

  13. My idea is similar to the body in the deer, but I was thinking of an animal costume. It would be easy to get a costume at the beginning of the school year because they put Halloween costumes out really early. Put the body in a big dog costume and it would look just like a dead dog. Some cities have a deserted area for disposal of road kill. The city would pick up the body from the side of the road and carry it to the area to decompose with all of the other dead bodies. I doubt anyone would ever try to look through all of the bones to discover that human bones were mixed in with all of the other animals.

  14. Huh. This is what I get for reading the end first, and then going back. Apologies.

    There was a murder here that was almost successfully hidden. The guy was shot in head with a cross bow, and then I think whacked over the head. The couple who killed him stashed the body in the garage for a couple of years, then dragged his body up to the national forest in the mountains west of here, where nature did its thing. His skull only was found, prompting a team of university anthropologists to survey the site for clues, but they were unsuccessful.
    Eventually the couple confessed. No one knew he had been missing for eight years, and he had not been well-liked.
    Here’s the key: When contacted, his mother said: “We weren’t that close.”

  15. yep, trunk space is full when going to college.

    i think caves or water work the best. after all, how are they supposed to get this guy onto the farm for the pigs without anybody seeing them? you need something easily accessible without being watched, and since they seem to have ick factors…cut his fingers off and get rid of his teeth; back then that’s basically enough.

    “friends help you move. good friends help you move a body”

  16. Zelda doesn’t have that much stuff. She was an orphan at boarding school and she doesn’t have much money. Lisa Livia put all Zelda’s stuff in the back seat before she tipped the body in.

    Already got the “friends help you move the body” line in there. Great minds think in catchy sayings.

    This is good stuff. I’d NEVER have thought of this on my own.

  17. Jenny, now you tell us Agnes went to OU. THAT explains everything. My DS1 spent 2 years there in Grad School.
    A- It is the most rural area in America I swear, so there are plenty of trails and hills and crevices in which to hide a body.

    AND OU has the nation’s biggest and wildest Halloween parties. Can the body not smell in the trunk–stabbing to release gasses and then be put in a Halloween costume? I mean there are THOUSANDS of kids from all over Ohio there. Wouldn’t Agnes have been a chemistry major before she became a cook and had access to ACID?
    Put it in some other kids’ car.

    And the housing is so dilapidated that you could hide a body under a house, and they wouldn’t find it forever. Just don’t double park, or expire a meter…Agnes would get towed and THAT would be a problem.

    You wouldn’t have gone there while you were in school at our alma mater right? Like I didn’t either…

  18. Regarding the central conflict and plot lines, is the body dump a small part of the overall story, or the main action? If it’s the main action, then the conflict can be slightly more “literary” in that Agnes is the protag and whatever security measures (whether they be guards on rounds or intricate laser beams) are the antag. Though that could be less “literary” and more of the dreaded “man v nature” type of conflict, particularly depending on how they dump the body.

  19. This is absolutely gross, but August in the midwest — you are talking prime combine season for wheat harvest or corn harvest. Ick. Good reason to stay away from the WonderBread for a year or so.

    The first thought I had was something involving the interstate rest stops. Magnificent part of American history there — maybe the Miracle of the Rest Stop, where they find a handy garbage truck, or fellow murder-victim disposer who doesn’t mind taking one more on? Not great.

    (-: But boy, for the first time in my life I’m tempted to write a murder mystery. Great ideas here.

  20. Speaking as a former art major, would the college have a kiln perhaps? Either of the girls into ceramics? Perhaps they indulge in a late night firing–except they forget the pottery. Or if they are really brazen, they make sure they do fire some pots–wonder how human ash would work as a glaze….hmmmmm….

  21. What about dumping the body in a septic tank? With all the chemicals used to deal with what goes into the tank normally there would be little or nothing left to give the police any way to identify, especially after 20 years. Of course that becomes a problem if the septic tank is due to be emptied the next day.

  22. Stuff him in locker number 13, which is never used?

    There’s the smell, though.

    If only there were some way to brick him up in a wall of the precinct courthouse. No one would look there, or a police station for that matter. Hey! What about those vaults of old evidence they’re not allowed to get rid of? Box him up, label it with a backdate to a fictional old but open case, stick him on a shelf. Or if the courthouse is a converted house, what about an old bricked-up fireplace? Chop him up, climb onto the roof, pass up the pieces, haul off the chimney cover, drop him in, replace cover.
    Heh, none of this would work but it puts off the moment I have to give up and start cleaning my room…

  23. I mean this in all seriousness (and I will look stupid asking), but I gotta know: can’t a dead guy be an antagonist? The same way a passive-aggressive, bump-on-a-log person can be an antagonist? Johnny’s in the trunk. He’s a royal (dead) pain. He’s keeping them from getting where they need to go.

  24. If you’re looking for obnoxious there’s always the hottub method. Someone who’s put in a hottub after they’re dead will eventually end up as only bones. Takes about a week. Of course the bones would still have to be destroyed and the hottub would be gross… Too bad we can’t just bring in Moot but weighed down at the bottom of a lake/bay is helpful too. Lets nature do its thing.

    Can the dead guy still be shown as an antagonist through dialogue?

  25. Now you tell us! The body’s in the trunk. Back to the cemetery thingie. Drive by a few until they see a new burial at the stage where it’s a heap of soil. Burrow down below the heap, put the body in, and heap it back up. Best do something to remove evidence of having been there. Tugging, digging, owls hooting; lotsa laughs.

  26. I think burning the body is still the best way to go. Cremation usually lasts about 2 hours, although a fresh body might take a bit longer. There is a residue of course, but the fragments of teeth and bone left are very small. Much easier to dispose of.
    I have seen a kiln big enough to hold a man; in fact, I’m going back tomorrow and can give you the specs then. If they use the Kiln, then LL or Agnes can take the bits, pour them into some other cast, and keep them in a lawn ornament in her yard. ;)I think the key is that no one will really be looking too hard anyway.
    Now, if they did not kill they guy, could the antagonist be the guy who did?

  27. Just saw the end of the comments from yesterday — outhouses — what a full circle idea. Could they remember some sleep-away camp they went to in the Poconos? It’s on the way. . .

  28. These are young girls, right? And he is an old guy and probably out weighs them by double, so I’m seeing a plastic picnic table cloth, being dragged, dropped, cursed, and dragged some more across a concrete parking lot, in the dead of night, at some random rest stop towards a really deep dumpster. Just a visual. Maybe add some duck tape.

  29. Whatever you do , DON’T put the body in a bog…yes a bog, the nitrates are so high they preserve everything perfectly….fyi…..

  30. JulieB: A lawn ornament? Like a flamingo, perhaps? Or maybe one of those sad-eyed beagles holding a bone in its mouth. That would be funny.

  31. Dead people can’t be antagonists unless they’re ghosts because antagonists have to push back so that the plot escalates. You can’t have a fight with a dead guy unless he’s come back as ectoplasm and is actively doing things.

    The truly dead are complications, not antagonists.

    Why, yes, I have had this conversation before.

    Much good info here. Worrisome, of course, but GOOD info.

  32. As a former biology major (and former lab assistant), I know that animal carcasses from the biology/medical departments are generally cremated (at least at the institutions I attended). OU is big enough to have its own furnace and established procedures used to dispose of remains from teaching labs and ongoing faculty research. Unlike the art department’s kilns, leftover bits of bone in the furnace used to dispose of animal carcasses would not be remarkable, and wouldn’t therefore require cleaning in order to prevent some intense excitement on the part of the next user. You don’t say if this is Agnes’ first year, or if she would know someone (maybe a senior grad student?) who might have told her where the furnace is and how to get to it; an important point since it will undoubtedly be in some sort of locked facility and its existence will not have been advertised by the university.

    Most biology departments also have some carts used to haul equipment around, if carrying the body is an issue. You might be able to find one in an unlocked room, or out in the hall, somewhere. A body wouldn’t fit on one of them very well, though, unless rigor mortis had passed and you could bend him. Although if she had him in the trunk, I guess he’d be curled up already anyway. You didn’t say how long he’d been dead?

    I sure wouldn’t want to try to trundle a body through a campus in the middle of night, though. Students are night owls. Me, I’d vote for the woods.

  33. Leaving the body on Skid Row without ID…Fighting off the drunks and addicts while they are at it.

    Ooh, good place for Agnes to have one of her rage attacks…leaving them with two dead bodies.

    but the fragments of teeth and bone left are very small
    Don’t really know anything about this, but unless the teeth are intact for ID, wouldn’t any DNA in the bones be destroyed in the fire??? Is there DNA in bones at that point? Also, if he’s an old guy, the teeth thing might just be a matter of removing his choppers beforehand. Those could be tossed anywhere or left on his nightstand. /;+)

    As for hauling the body around, it would be visually a hoot if the place they’re disposing of him were near a shopping center. The possibilities of using a shopping cart to move him from the car to his final destination would be hilarious…although moreso on film and maybe difficult to describe adequately in a story.

  34. re: REALLY dead people as antagonists. I was thinking, “Would the plot collapse without Johnny’s torso?” It makes me laugh just imagining asking that in a workshop!! But “complication” makes sense. Thanks for explaining the difference.

  35. put him in a wheelchair. people work overtime to avoid looking at people in chairs. don’t want to be thought rude. (did a small study on this) make him look drunk.

    make a pit stop at some cliffs.

  36. heat is heck on DNA. Most of the recoverable stuff out of a fire has been protected in some way, or the strands break down into unusable pieces.
    Unless they’ve made some advances since I last read up on this (for a class! Yeesh!), which is entirely possible.

  37. Oh. Forgot. Pre-DNA testing.

    But what’s wrong with burying him and sticking a homemade ‘He was such a good boy’ sign over it so people think it’s a dog?

  38. You know, I can’t believe none of the CBs suggested Agnes and LL drop the body off for them to bury. We have the shovels. But I guess that would make the story pretty boring.

  39. The pig thing is out-aside from that canadian case,there was also one here more recently. Fire has to get REALLY hot to destroy all DNA,and even then they can often get mitochondrial DNA,which can be used for ID if they have access to any relatives on the maternal side.

  40. Hi Me,
    I was thinking along the lines of a lawn jockey, but the dog with bone idea is fantastic!

  41. ZaZa – *snort* I can see the dialogue now …

    “I know some people, they could get rid of the body for us,” suggested LL.

    “What kind of people,” asked Agnes, “or don’t I want to know?”

    “Shadowy people who exist just outside the boundaries, waiting and watching to see what happens next. And they have shovels.”

    “I think this falls under the ‘I don’t want to know’ category,” mumbled Agnes. “Listen, LL, these don’t sound like the kind of people you want to know.”

    “On the contrary, I wouldn’t be here without them.”

  42. You said acid. It’s really probably the one surefire way to dispose of a body that can’t be identified 20 years later. You’d need to dispose of the soupy remains–probably in the ocean, where they’d dissipate, but they’d be dangerous to handle.

    You could cremate the body and spread the ashes someplace. Like the ocean, a beach, a lake, the desert. There may be remains where you burned the body, but if it’s in a place that has a lot of incineration going on, I doubt anyone would investigate. Or maybe LL can keep the jar on her mantle and have a story about what’s in there.

    Whoops, just reading over the comments and see that Julie beat me to cremation. Good idea, Julie!

    Maybe they can just have a campfire in the middle of the wilderness.

  43. Julie B–that is brilliant! I love the idea of taking his ashes and stuff and mixing them into the clay… And there he sits in the front yard all these years and no one is the wiser. Agnes won’t have to worry about him being found because he is hidden in plain site and she knows EXACTLY hwere he is all the time. *snort* Fire up that kiln, baby! (Yes, the kiln at my college was as big as a small room–you could easily walk around in it.)

  44. Lawn jockey *snort* That’s priceless. I love the Cherries. As for the residue–there wouldn’t be any if they swept it up and used it in the clay. Make a slurry and put it into a mold if you want the lawn jockey dude. And you could have Agnes gazing out the front window as she finishes telling the story and staring at the little man in her yard, without really saying who he is….

  45. One CSI episode I saw had the body cremated in a barrel using gasoline as an igniter. The only reason the killer got caught was because a woman came in saying she had clues to the cold case. That one fascinated me. ๐Ÿ˜€
    (Turned out she was the killer and was trying to frame the former BIL.)
    In that movie …forgot the name of it… an indie with Sissy Spacek & Marisa Tomei, anyway, the dad buries the body in the woods. Of course we don’t know if they ever get caught. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Then there’s Fried Green Tomatoes where we are lead to believe the guy is chopped up, sausaged and BBQ’d, then fed to the Sheriff. That’s a good one!

  46. Don’t dump the body in the woods. Hunters w/ dogs ALWAYS finding bodies.
    It seems completely remote but it’s not.
    How about a flower bed? Freshly turned. Haul away excess dirt.
    And isn’t there some kind of … maybe potassium that you can buy by the fifty pound bag at Earl Mays that eats stuff, so find a flower bed, dig a hole, pour in the body, then to pot ash? Potassium…
    fill a trash bag or two with extra dirt, cover the body, replace the flowers, hope a neighboring dog doesn’t start digging.

  47. Help help, I’m being usurped! I’ll have to go back to being the Other. Why does McB never have this problem? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  48. *snort* I am unique. Just ask my mother. And you can’t go back to being “the Other”; that book’s already been written.

  49. you have to remember that most forensic labs are not that good or state of the art. very few are like TV. and some are backed up by four or more years of cases.

    so even if the body is discovered, finding out who a dead john doe of 20 yrs probably won’t ring that many bells.

    of course, if i was the killer, my luck would have it they have some free time on their hands. use the acid.

  50. You can thank Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel for this one: Turns out all international airports have furnaces where they burn all the trash from overseas flights (to prevent spread of bugs/disease/etc). If a deer ends up going splat on the runway, in it goes, and all is reduced to ashes. Would be great for a body….

  51. Having to have researched cremation after the death of my father, I swear they should have just said the date cremated was a typo, dated 4 days after we buried his ashes. sorta made us wonder who we got At least thru Neptune Society, 23 years ago in sf bay area, they didn’t do “burns” daily. only once they got a full load. and there is a cool down period before ashes can be released to cemetery/mortuary family.

    You cannot try to sift ashes for gold to weight from dentist office to verify cremains.

    I was advised not to accept their invitation to visit the crematorium, by the coroner’s office. They said it was a bad idea. I could only agree.

  52. I don’t know much about the area; is there an old mine? Old mining tunnels sound like something that ought to be easy to collapse; you could haul in the body and then cave it in. Maybe.

    All right, I really don’t know much about this. Bah.

  53. Old mining tunnel sounds pretty good to me. They could drop the body down a mine shaft, pour dirt on top, then drop some poor (large) unsuspecting road kill on top. That’d explain the smell if anyone wondered.

    Collapsing a tunnel would need dynamite or (and!) be real dangerous. And a few people suggested a cave but I don’t think that’d work. If it’s easy to get into, people visit. Here in NZ, it has to be REALLY inaccessible to be sure people will stay out. And anyway, dragging a body deep into a cave would be near impossible. Dragging yourself in is bad enough!

    If you’re putting the body in the lake, my other half pointed out that you need enough netting round it to stop loose bits floating off when it decays. Yurk!!

    It struck me, too, that you don’t need to make it so the body couldn’t possibly be found, just so that it’s reasonable that it wasn’t. That widens the approach a lot. But the pottery is hilarious, if you could pull it off. I love the thought of her looking out the window at it.

  54. You know, there’s information here for about five different books.

    If anybody asks you why my writing took a turn for the morbid, take the blame.

  55. OK — The guy I talked to told me about how people have put dead dogs in kilns for glazes. This guy was a wealth of info, but I don’t want to belabor this point. Anyhow, most colleges and even community colleges will have kilns large enough. According to Ron Mazanowski, faculty at NIU’s Art Dept., a 30 cu. ft. has inside dimantions of 43″X38″X58″h and “in a 36 cubic foot kiln you could get a couple of people in there.” He suggested that they might want to stick the stiff in a container to catch the fat, but he was pretty enthusiastic in his advice on the topic. He also mentioned that bones are used for glaze, and that kilns generally get hotter than crematoriums. Anyway, I’ll stop now, but if you want a picture I can send one.

  56. How about he was dumped there after a hit, and the hitman comes back and takes the body, thus making the body dissapear.

  57. Maybe the ashes can be mixed into a stoneware clay that is used to make bakeware. Agnes can have her favorite stoneware baking dishes. Personalized.

  58. What surprises me yet shouldn’t is how many different ways people can come up with to kill. It is impressive (in a strange morbid way.) Strange so many answers and no legitimate reason (beside writing) to use them.
    Though with research like this my plot to get my best friend addicted to Jenny’s books wil go very smoothly. I gave her Bet Me for Christmas two weeks ago (we are poor college students so we celebrate later than the rest of the world.) and she read it in one night and quite enjoyed it which I knew she would. I love it when I am right. Any way back to the original subject I need to ask are you keeping these in a file. You now it will come in handy one day. Somehow. Probably having a discussion with a writer friend who doesn’t have a way to kill someone and you will be able to just pull out the file and give her (or him) one. It will be a fulfilling feeling.
    Also I will not be able to buy pottery from college art shows for years.

  59. I’ve read some of the responses on this and the previous post.

    My personal opinion is that, in general, bodies like to be found, no matter how “foolproof” your methods.

    With the story set 20 years ago, involving an apparent spur of the moment situation and a couple of frazzled 18 year olds with no internet access and assuming no “specialized” knowledge …

    Go with what an 18 year old would THINK is a fool proof method and then let them get lucky.

    Dump in the river, perhaps during storms & some flooding. That way it’s reasonable for the body to get tangled in debris and remain underwater for the long term, until it just goes away through damage from the flood, residual scavenger activity (fish, bugs, etc.), and general decomposition.

  60. About 20 years ago, the Jersey coast was slimed with a mixed-bag trash frappe of stunning proportions. Somehow, wink wink, many tons of human/medical/household waste was hauled out to sea (illegal) with barges full of muck dredged up from slips at North Shore marine transfer station at Flushing Bay (legal).

    The contractor was a Jersey company. Maybe Lisa Livia’s father knew him. Maybe Lisa Livia knew where to find a loaded barge headed for a moonlight tour of the Atlantic.

    I like the idea of using a sleeping bag. A kid headed to college would have a sleeping bag. It reminds me of the Apollo 13 movie, when they dump a pile of odds and ends on a table in front of the engineers and tell them, “Here, take this duck tape and figure out how to save the mission!” I can picture Agnes snarling about wasting school supplies as she’s stapling the sleeping bag closed, wearing neon toe socks on her hands so she won’t leave prints.

  61. It was so much easier in medieval times; all you had to do was dress up like a colour-blind jackdaw (shinies!) and start hacking, and when someone asked you just said you were a harper and your last instrument broke…

  62. well, actually, some glass lampworkers who make focal beads for jewelry, have been using bits of ashes from customers donations, think most want to think it is fido’s, but it does add depth to the beads.

    Then, there is the idea that the ashes can be compressed to make diamonds, and you could make a heck of an engagement ring for your second wife, from…um…never mind.

  63. I like Shawn Reed’s idea. A flood — hurricane? — that sweeps through the area and sweeps the body away just at the point of discovery? Wonderful. There would be mangling that would disguise the COD and if other people were tragically killed, who would pay attention to one more corpse?

    I am enormously creeped out by the ashes in the bakeware.

    My father was cremated and for years I never picked up anything in my mother’s house that looked like it might contain ashes. Fortunately, I finally asked her where his cremains were and they are — thanks be to God — being stored at the funeral home down the street.

  64. I might be too late to chip in, but if they bury the body with lime it should eat away the flesh and make it hard to identify. I think a very strong fertilizer will do the trick. It will most likely take all night to dig the hole, though, and they’ll want to put the most fertilizer on his face and hands to disfigure them the most. Can’t do anything about matching dental records, but if they bury him far enough away from his hometown, they may never check against the right set of dental records. And if one of them, I assume Lisa Livia from the name, is the daughter of a mafia boss, she’ll know about the lime trick.

  65. Muriatic acid is odorless, colourless,will dissolve flesh from bone and virtually untraceable. It is also conveniently sold at any local hardware store.

    Not that I’ve ever used it for anything like that. It was research. For a book. Honestly, officer.

  66. Back to ashes, in mixing with different things, I think one or two items of consideration could be a toilet, jon’s suggestion, said he could feel right at home there, or my idea, with glazes and clays, think some outside giant ash trays, interesting shapes, but the sturdy ones that are by doorways so people can bury their butts… in um, well anyway, before they come into a house or building.

    We did bury Dad’s ashes or who ever we got’s ashes at the cemetery plot, we always refer to it as the place we leave flowers for granpa. mandy was 3 when he died, she has very few memories, he would untie the bows on the backs of her dresses, she would giggle get them retied, then back up and take baby steps backward to him. over and over. We lost mom Dec, 2006, even with the horror of the switched ashes and all she went thru Neptune, she ad he paid at the same time. my bro did say mom apparently upgraded the container, and didn’t tell whoever she was suppoed to have, so he and the cemeetery guy were pouring them from one thing to the other, just before all of us arrived.

    somehow that didn’t surprise us at all.

  67. Bonnie: and remember these are just ways to get rid of a body without getting “bloddy” or “grossed out”.

    any hardware store, eh? i can’t wait to warn some people…huh? i didn’t say anything.

  68. ok, bloody, not bloddy. (and i was so pleased with myself for making sure i didn’t add an extra letter in body)

  69. Hi
    I’d find a freshly dug gravesite in a cemetary. Scrape away some of the soil in the bottom, put the body there, and then cover it over with a little soil. The cemetary would then put a coffin on top and fill the rest of the hole for you (odds are it would happen within the week as I don’t think they dig the holes too far in advance – laws of supply and demand). The teens could attend the funeral (for some hilariously innapropriate stranger, like a vicar), knowing that their body is beneath the coffin. And nobody will ever be able to dig it up!!! Not that I’ve given this a great deal of thought. Ever. Never. No Sirrreeee.

  70. Okay – I’ve been resisting chiming in on this for days but…If you’re thinking acid…anyone aware that the pH of Coke is somewhere around 2.5? That’s pretty acidic, and very easy to get a hold of. Of course, I’m not convinced that they’ll have access to a vat, and a way to dispose of the sludge but it’s a thought…

  71. Susanna: oh yeah. coke. the soda that cleans off rust (i’ve seen it happen). and they have access to coke, that’s for sure.

  72. The coke suggestion is wonderful! I’ve heard of people soaking meat in Coke to tenderise it. But Jenny might have a lawsuit on her hands if she tries to dissolve a ficntional body in it.

  73. Try a test: A spoonful of hamburger or a chunk of meat, cover with Coke, leave out overnight at room temperature. I don’t think much will disappear. Leave it longer and you’ll have to leave home because of the smell.

    I think the acid in the Coke reacts with the ligament tissue, not with the protein. Cover a chicken wishbone with vinegar (an acid), and it’ll become bendable. It dissolves the calcium in the bone. Inquiring minds want to know. Or not.

  74. On “Crossing Jordan” (3/21/07 – #609 – Seven Feet Under) they discovered a body in an open grave. Two teenage girls dumped their dead friend there hoping that she’d be hidden under the coffin during the burial. Unfortunately, her hand got uncovered somehow and she was discovered. The cop commented that if the burial had occurred earlier in the day, it would have never been found.

  75. Love the cola idea. Lisa Livias mob family has just contracted a deal to ship big barrels of counterfeit coke to Cambodia or Guatemala or whereever, and the girls manage to slip the body into one of the barrels. By the time the ship reaches its destination, the body is unidentifyable (is that a word?) and because it’s an illegal deal, no police will ever be involved.

  76. I like it, CG. Diana Gabaldon did something similar in Voyager, but it being the 1700’s it was wine or brandy. Would sure put some drinking person off his drink! I think this one is failsafe if they can get it to The Family. My other favorite is cremating and then turning the remaining remains into lawn art.

    Oh, the bit I know about soft drinks, the syrup gets transported from the source (say COKE in Atlanta, maybe), and the fizzy part gets bought locally and all combined at the bottlers.

  77. Would the syrup do the trick by itself?
    And would Agnes ever touch a glass of Coke again?

  78. I don’t think the syrup would disintigrate anything. It’s basically sugar and flavors. Maybe adding some mold would help the process. The dissolving would occur with the carbonic acid in the carbonated water, probably. Gabaldon’s character chose an unpopular wine/brandy thinking it would take that much longer for the body to be discovered.

    I think Agnes would turn the body over to The Family and not be aware of the specifics.

  79. *remembering those terrible stories about people finding a tooth in their coke-a-cola*

    Eeek!

    Pickled human remains, anyone?

  80. GatorPerson- Actually, there’s a lot of phosphoric acid in Coke, which doesn’t come from the carbonated water, so it must be in the syrup. Coke the company actually had to lobby to get the regulations about marking something as hazardous to a slightly higher pH so they wouldn’t have to ship their product with warning labels on it : ) I’m sorry I’m geeking out here – the chemistry degree I haven’t used in 10 years is rearing its ugly head…

  81. In cases of having to let a body disappear, I wish I had a chemistry degree. And I like the Coke Idea so if Jenny won’t use it, maybe I’ll think of something in that area… It’s much more interesting than just dumping a corpse into a lake. I might even make it cherry coke in the beloved memory of where this concept came from.

  82. I’m never drinking ANY cola from a can EVER again. A human tooth?! *gag* Are you sure? Sounds like a case for the MythBusters…

    CG–“cherrycoke”–*snort* Love that!

    I just read over this whole list. We are a scary lot. WAY too much time on our collective hands, also. Jenny, you have created a monster! *wink*

  83. CG, about the phosphoric acid in the syrup and what would happen to a body in syrup only. Fountain drinks are always combined from the syrup and the fizzy water right at the fountain. Maybe you could buy just the syrup part of the drink and then do the test I recommended much higher up. That is, put a piece of meat in it at least overnight at room temperature and see what happens. If it works, let Jenny know.

    SG, goodness knows, my degree was decades ago. Geeks rule! I’d forgotten about the phosphoric acid, and now question if the concentration is high enough to damage tissue. In my youth people would order a “phosphate,” in the drugstore, meaning a carbonated drink. I loved cherry phosphates, probably comparable to Cheerwine.

  84. Chop up the body in rather small pieces (say 6 lbs each). Sneak in the zoo at night, and throw the pieces around to the wild beasts (e.g. bears, big cats, wolves, etc…). That leaves no trace whatsoever. You could do that with half of the body. The other half may be burned in one of these old fashioned fire-heaters (I don’t know how they’re called in English. Made out of thick metal, fire fed with small wood. You can cook on the top. These are still found in log cabins up North). In these heaters, there’s no traces. After a few days of intense fire, only very small cremains are left. Those may be scattered around in the forest, in the river, etc…
    I’ve never tried any of the above techniques, but I would imagine they could work…

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