Contrary to physically-locked rooms, psychologically-locked rooms refer to cases that are “thought to be happened in a locked-room“. In other words, although the room itself might not be locked indeed, the murderer uses certain tricks to fool the witness into making the wrong judgement.
Of course, the difference in goals will lead to different focuses. This time, the key question is: how to fool the witness?
Based on actual practice, I’ll divide this type into three categories: timing tricks, acting tricks and location tricks. Let’s look into them below.
1. Timing Tricks
1. Timing tricks
The murderer, through proper arrangements, creates a difference between the actual time and the inferred time of the crime. Therefore, if the murderer holds an alibi during the inferred time, he will not be suspected easily. During the actual time, however, the room may not be locked at all.
1.1 The actual time is prior to the inferred
On this occasion, the murderer must ensure that the victim is thought to be alive after his death. For example, placing a pillow under the quilt…
Well, that might seem like a child’s play. Our brilliant murderer deserves better tricks, such as:
- Pruducing sound in the room (playing music or knocking things down), making witnesses believe that the victim is still active.
- Placing the body in certain postures (such as, sitting in front of the desk, with back to the window), and making someone witness it.
- Cooling down the body, making death features slower to appear.
- Wondering around, dressed like the victim.
1.2 The actual time is later to the inferred
As you may tell, this time the goal is to make others believe that the victim is dead when he is still active.
First, comparatively, the murderer may heat up the body, making death features faster to appear.
Or…Maybe we don’t really need a dead body. The murderer secretly entered the room, drugging or hitting the victim to make him faint. Again, the murderer placed the body in certain postures, but this time making him seemingly dead (Wanna know how? Use your imagination! Anyway, tomato juice would be useful). Then, making others witness it and breaking the door with them. Now is the point: the murderer rushed first, and quickly killed the victim before others reaching; or, if the murderer was a doctor or a nurse, things would be much easier, under which he can kill the victim while “diagnosing”.
Now I really know why we should preserve the crime scene–in case the murderer does something really bad.
2. Acting Tricks
The murderer fool the witness by making confusing actions.
2.1 Suggestions by words or actions
After the murder, the murderer closed the door (but not locked). Then, pretending to be a witness, he shouted for help. After others arrived, the murderer, while shouting “the door is locked”, pretended to rotate the doorknob, but indeed controlled himself not to open the door. The other people were then convinced that the door was really locked, and broke into it following the murderer–of course, they would not find anything suspicious. To make it more convincing, the murderer may secretly stretch the lock tongueafterwards.
2.2 The murderer locks the door and hides inside, then takes an oppotunity to run away
The logic inside is: when the witness find the door locked, they would go finding tools to break the door, making room for the murderer’s escape. However, as you may tell, this kind of actions would be rather courageous, for if after finding the door locked, instead of all running away searching for tools, one or two of the witnesses stayed to keep watch on the room, it would be very difficult for the murderer to get away. So, for the murderer, it is more like an instant action than a prior plan.
(Though the room is indeed locked, but the key thing here is the illusion made by locking the door, so I consider it as a psychologically-locked room.)
3. Location Tricks
So what is “location tricks”? That is, the murderer fools the witnesses into mistaking a wrong location for the crime scene, which, as a matter of fact, will be not only in just one room, but on the building-level. Er…Maybe we should expect a rich criminal?
3.1 Creating visual illusions
Speaking of “visual”, we may at once think of a key item–the mirror. Let us have a classic example: suppose there’s a corridor shaped like “T“, on two ends of which there’re two rooms which looked exactly the same; the murderer placed a mirror at the cross, and the witnesses were looking from the other end of the corridor. Just as illustrated below:
When a murder was committed in Room 2, due to the mirror’s reflection, witnesses would believe that the murder was committed in Room 1. Now, the murderer just needed to remove the mirror before witnesses arrived (in the picture, it seems that witnesses are pretty close, but in real cases they may be quite far away), and the job would be over.
3.2 Creating directional illusions
This time, the witnesses, fooled by the murderer, lose their way and make wrong judgements about their location.
For example, let us suppose there was a strange building, with tons of complicated corridors and stairs. A crime was witnessed in Room 1, but when witnesses arrived, they found door locked, with nothing particular inside. What had happened? Well, the truth is, while rushing to Room 1, the witnesses lost their sense of direction because of those corridors and stairs, and arrived at Room 2 instead. No wander they’ll find nothing.
4. To Our Detectives
1. Is there anything vague on the witnesses’ words about the victim? Did they merely hear the victim, or see his back? Is there anyone who is guiding the testimony?
2. Pay attention to the first witness of the body!
3. Is there anyone who was acting strange upon seeing the dead body? Is there anyone who once had chance to get close to the “body” alone?
4. Try it by yourself before convinced that the door is locked.
5. Leave someone (better if a strong guy) to keep sight of the door if you have to leave for a moment.
6. Are there two places in the house that looked completely the same? Is the design of the house odd?
Well, the part of “psychologically-locked rooms” is over, what do you say? If you have any words, please feel free to leave a comment!
To be continued.