Okay. I'm writing a fantasy novel about bad faeries (very simplified summary.)
Protagonist is a 24yo who lives with her mother. Her father was murdered a few months before start of book - so she thinks.
For several reasons that connect to the protagonist that I won't get into here, dad was actually kidnapped by the faeries. Mom saw this happen. Dad was injured when he was taken and left a pool of blood in the living room. (or somewhere in the house. Maybe it'll be outside.) Some physical sign that something bad happened.
Mom is having a metal breakdown because faeries took her freaking husband. Faeries. She can't process this. She obviously doesn't want to tell anyone that faeries took her husband because that will make her sound crazy.
So I'm playing with the idea of her passing it off as he was murdered, so the protagonist goes the whole book thinking that her dad is dead, killed by some thug who broke into the house.
What are the logistics of this? Is it possible to pass someone off as murdered instead of kidnapped without a body? Doesn't necessarily have to be a legal route to achieving this, but it does have to be believable - or at least capable of suspending disbelief if done well ;)
To narrow this down a bit, I'm talking the practical stuff: police involvement, death certificate, coroner, whatever else. I've never personally handled the death of someone so I don't even know exactly what happens, legally speaking, after someone dies. Is it possible to pretend someone was murdered when you don't have a body?
I tried to google the answers to this and I must not be googling the right question because I haven't found much that's helpful.
Hopefully this makes sense. My brain is going in ten million different directions right now.

  • Welcome to writers SE! Unfortunately, this is a bit of a "How/what to write" question, which is unfortunately off topic for our site. We focus on the actual writing process which can be used to help the broad spectrum of writers and not specific content that can only help individuals :) Please check out our Site Tour for more details. – ggiaquin16 Jul 30 '17 at 17:56
  • as far as your actual question... there are many times where people disappear out of murder. Usually in those situations, someone was killed in the heat of the moment so they try to hide the body somewhere. So bodies do disappear when murdered. I would try reading through murder cases/cold cases or watch CSI shows (though CSI isn't exactly accurate with some things either but at least it gives an idea). Since this part seems pretty key to the plot, it's important to learn the ins and outs of murders and criminal investigations that follow. – ggiaquin16 Jul 30 '17 at 18:01
  • watch Sherlock season 2. – Aspen the Artist and Author Aug 1 '17 at 9:01

There are two general avenues to achieve what you want:

1) Declare the missing person dead. That would normally take years, and family members would keep wondering if their relative is truly dead.

2) A coroner would conclude that the amount of blood loss is not allowing a victim to survive. In this case, incident would be qualified and investigated as a murder almost from the very beginning, even if the body is never to be found.

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  • 2
    And in this case, the wife would most likely be the prime suspect – user18397 Aug 1 '17 at 3:20
  • @Thomo that would add some interesting drama on top of it all! – storbror Aug 1 '17 at 11:09

Yeah, the mom advocating for murder is never a good sign in the eyes of the investigation. Especially if there is evidence that she was in the room when the blood was spilt. Putting on my detective deer stalker hat, she'd be obvious (signs of a struggle, she's freaking out, and... I'm presuming she's not lawyering up right away? If you're ever involved with a crime, even if you did nothing at all, always best to have a lawyer to assist you. That said, she's freaking out, so a lawyer wouldn't be the first thing to her mind. If that's the case, she could easily say the wrong thing. And I'm no lawyer, but I know enough about the law to know never lie to the cops like that.). In a domestic setting, the one who reported the incident is usually the first suspect. Spouses have plenty of motive, means, and opportunity to murder. None of these are enough to convict. Just because I hated the guy, had access to the murder weapon, and was the last person to see him alive doesn't meant I killed him... but I'm sure going to have a fun time explaining all of that to a degree of reasonable doubt.

How do the fairies get in? The nature of who done it, with relation to the victim, is quick to determine by figuring out if there was forced entry (windows are broken, door is busted, ect.). If that exists, then the guilty party was not trusted by the victim (they were either known, but he wanted them out of his life or they were unknown to him completely). No forced entry means that the victim trusted the guilty party enough to give them unrestricted access to his personal house... usually it would be residents.

Mitigating this would be again, lack of murder weapon (which can't exist since he is most certainly going to be found alive), the lack of evidence of his death (which would turn this into a missing persons case, not a murder investigation), and the lack of anything showing ties to the wife beyond she reported the whole incident. By the stage that the police are requesting help, the family usually has a lawyer (in the United States, there are a lot of lawyers and a case like this will be publicity generating, which can potetntially be more valuable than anything the family could pay... presuming they are of little means to pay... so the family would have a pick of lawyers to defend their interest). The family lawyer would have no interested in promoting the murder... because the police cannot rule out the father's death at this stage... Why continue to bring up a crime that the police aren't looking at charging anyone with, without offering evidence that a crime exists? The only reason a defense attorney would not offer evidence of a murder would be if it violated Attorney Client privilige... which means that the evidence exists, but his client (i.e. the mom) is the guilty party (and he can't reveal that). Even if his client was to say "I murdered the bastard and I'd do it again" to the lawyer, he's not getting paid to figure out whodunnit... he's getting paid to keep his client out of jail. It serves no interest of his to turn over the evidence that would get his client charged and in fact, if the lawyer specifically did it, the Bar association would kick have a field day with that lawyer for the violation of Attorney-Client Privilege, have him disbarred, and some new lawyer would likely come in to get the evidence thrown out on grounds that it was illegally obtained because the lawyer was not acting in his clients best interest AND the police would never have found the evidence if the lawyer was acting properly (conversely, the prosectuion has no such rule. Because innocence is presumed until guilt is proven, the Prosecuter must turn over all evidence to the defense, even if doing so would injure his own case. Not doing this will get the prosecuter in a lot of trouble with the Bar). Fruit of the Poison Tree is a legal concept that not only is illegally obtained evidence inadmissible at trial, but any evidence that was obtained that would not have been obtained had that evidence comes into play is now illegally obtained evidence as well and thus, unusable to build a case. For an example of this in real life, check out "Making A Murderer" on Netflix, where one of the accused recently (after the making of the documentary) had his conviction overturned because (among other things) his appointed lawyer was shown to believe the guy was guilty (despite his plea of not guilty) and was working with the prosecution to provide evidence against his client.

As for the wait period, it depends... Unless the victim is missing in some kind of reasonable event that would lead to death (explosion, fire, flood) the search will still be in rescue mode for some time, though it will eventually get called off. Cops do not give up easily (there's a recent case that's local to me where a three year old girl was killed after she was caught in the crossfire of a gang drive by shooting... it took three years to find her killer and the case never went cold, according to the police).

Without evidence of the missing father, after a certain number of years, the person can be declared legally dead... This varies in jurisdiction. In the United States, it's typically 7 years without meeting the criteria. A few states have lowered this to 5 years and Georgia and Minnesota have it set to 4 years (can be further decreased if the missing person was in imminent danger... i.e. the evidence points to a situation where his life was on the line and his body was not found, such as a plane crash at sea or disaster). Estate will be dealt with as if the person is dead and deceased will have the right to reclaim his property should he show up alive and well. Beneficiaries of any Life Insurance are also supposed to return the money if such an event occurs and it can be proven that it was Fraudulent (a hostage or POW declared dead this way would probably not have to pay, as they were not in control of their disappearnece). This is very very rare in the modern setting (the last known return to life in this fashion was in 1982, and was ruled fraudulent.). Not sure how "Faeries held me captive" would hold up in a court of law. Presuming the man's death, the case would be closed and the wife could be free to insist her husband was murdered and they never caught the guy... it has no more legal standing than "OJ Simpson did it" at this stage, but there will likely always be rumor and speculation about to what happened and what the woman did.

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