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A Writer’s Search for a Body Dump Site

A fellow author in one of the FB writing groups I belong to made a post asking for advice on where one could dump a body so that no one would find it for twenty years. Of course, I waded right into the discussion. I’d had the same dilemma when I wrote the romantic suspense novel Injury.

Since an author is a god in his or her little literary world, one could argue that wherever they choose to dump the body, it can remain hidden for twenty years if they wish it so. But it’s not that simple. You must pick a realistic place, a reasonably secluded place, that still allows someone to go there after twenty years and find the body. If you’re a fan of the show Forensic Files, you’re also familiar with body-dump sites that worked long term and those that didn’t in the real world.

Photo by Ellie Burgin on Pexels.com

My solution came through a stroke of luck. In 2005, we moved from the home in which we’d lived for almost twenty years to another home in a different town. The house we moved to was new to us, but it had been built in 1937. We didn’t know this at the time — the real estate agents and the sellers guessed it might have been built in the 1950s. That made no sense to me for reasons I won’t go into, so when my husband and I stumbled across the local historical society’s booth at the farmers’ market, we asked them to investigate. They looked at the home from the outside, determined it fit their criteria for investigating the history and, after some digging, learned that a local businessman built it, and the homes on either side of it, in 1937.

The age of the house is important because it’s the only reason my eventual solution to the body dump problem works. When we had the home inspected before we purchased it, the inspector mentioned that the property contained a capped well. Anyone who knows me can now see where I’m going with this. Naturally, my first thought was A capped well? I bet those make great body-dump sites.

So when I was writing Injury and needed somewhere to dump a body, I leaped on that solution immediately. But that didn’t mean it would work. My criteria, like the aforementioned author’s, required the body to lie undiscovered for twenty years. I had to investigate if this was possible. I consulted with a friend who is a retired funeral director. He verified for me that the smell wouldn’t leak out as the body decayed as long as the killer tossed some dirt down there to cover it. Also, it had to be a type of well where the cap wouldn’t prevent someone from opening it and accessing the well, so it can’t be permanently sealed. This brings us to the well’s age.

The age is important because modern wells look nothing like the wells of yore. A few years ago, we had a well drilled at our family cottage, and let me tell you, Lassie is out of a job. Timmy can never fall down that well. A cylindrical thingamabob sticks out of the ground a bit, but nothing’s going down it — certainly not a body. You couldn’t fit a squirrel down it. Probably. I haven’t verified. But when I saw it, I thought, There’s one avenue of body disposal I can’t use anymore. Unless, of course, the well was dug during a time when they were large holes in the ground.

The final problem I faced was how someone finally discovers the body. At first, I thought I’d hidden it too well (hahaha). The well was at the back of a large property. The killer dumped the body in, covered it with dirt, and put the cover back on. No one had reason to go there and tamper with it. Since the killer was the victim’s wife, she never reported his disappearance. Since, as is typical of abusers, she’d cut him off from all his family and friends during their married years, no one else reported his absence. Whenever any of her friends inquired, she told them he’d run off with another woman, something she told her daughter, the story’s main character, as well.

I resolved the problem of discovery by having the killer rent the house, and after twenty years, forcing her to move out because the landlord sold the property to a developer. Since farmland surrounds the home, a developer buys it up intending to build multiple residences on the properties. They of course open up the well and discover the remains, and this is where my story opens and how the main character finally learns that everything she believed about her father was built on a lie.

If you’re a writer, how have you solved the body dump problem? Did your body require years of lying undiscovered? Let me know in the comments how you handled this issue.