In the previous articles, we discussed about “physically-locked rooms” and “psychologically-locked rooms”. Now, let’s have a review:

  • Physically-locked rooms: Cases that happened in a room that is truly locked. Main focus: tricks to lock the room, commit the murder and dispose of the weapon.
  • Psychologically-locked rooms: Cases that are thought to be happened in a locked room. Main focus: tricks to fool the witness.

Here’s the question: is there anything improper in the way I did the classification?

You may have noticed. No matter talking about tricks to lock the door, or to fool the witness, the focus is always on the objective “tricks“. However, as it usually happens to be, a murder is not just a pile of objective factors, but the combination between the objective and the subjective–as for the so-called “subjective”, I mean, the “motive“.

So, how do motives make their parts in the Locked-room Mystery?

To get the answer, think about it: why is the crime scene a locked room after all? Surely, it is understandable that the murderer, in order to confuse the police, managed to lock the room, but is that the only reason? Or, to speak broadly, does the room have to be locked by the murderer himself? If not, what is he or she’s motive?

1. The murderer has other intent

We often say that the Locked-room Mystery is a type of “impossible crimes”. In other words, it leaves to others such impression: this room is sealed from the outside. But what about inside? You know the answer–let’s say that someone was found together with the body, then he or she would soon be considered as “Suspect 1”. This kind of automatic assumption, of course, would be great for the murderer, who only needs to leave some “clues” intentionally to draw the suspicion to someone else.

Things usually go like this:

  1. The target X was fooled into the room by the murderer, then made into sleep (you may reverse the procedure, but dragging a body around is tiring).
  2. While X was sleeping, the crime scene was built, and “evidence” was created (fingerprints, for example).
  3. After that, just leave and wait until the body was found. Or, to make sure it is settled, the murderer can be the “discoverer” himself.

However, as the murderer, you’d better pray: the one you chose is not a detective, nor does he have one as a friend.

Is that all?

No, not yet. There’s still one possibility: the murderer is the decedent. Or, it’s a suicide.

Of course, this is rare, and we could imagine, that how strong will the decedent held when he made the decision. But, comparatively, the gains are rich:

  • A suicide means the decedent doesn’t need to think about how to leave the room. Just locking the door from the inside will do the job.
  • At the same time, to make it more convincing, the decedent may intentionally create sounds in the room to make it seems like a fight. When others arrived, what they will find would be a body and a man.
  • The decedent might first make the man have a strong impression on certian things or objects, then manage to get rid of them, so that his testimony would sounds like a lie.

As for tricks to kill oneself, they are: weapons made by ice; using gravity to create the false impression of being murdered.

2. Someone Else Locked the Room

As I said, I’ve assumed that there’s only one murderer. So there’re only two possibilities:

2.1 The victim locked the door

It may goes against our intuition. Instead of seeking for help, the victim chose to lock himself inside, why? Two reasons: 

(1) To survive

Of course! What else could it be! If the victim thinks that locking the door is more important than seeking for help, he might consider locking the door as a better protection. For example, think of these two situations:

  • The victim was attacked outside. He fled into the room and locked the door.
  • The murderer committed the crime and went away. The victim, worrying that the murderer would come back, locked the door to protect himself. 

(2) A cover-up

Now that’s really uncommon. Maybe the victim did something bad to the murderer long ago, or just for goodwill, anyway, although he was attacked, he felt sorry for the criminal, so he, in order to protect the murderer, locked the door to make it seems like a suicide or accident.

2.2 A third party “X” bulit the crime scene

How puzzling! Why did X, who didn’t commit the crime, take the risk of building the crime scene?

Still, a cover-up? Very likely. So the story was: X, who is very familiar with the murderer (probably a servant, or a friend of him), caught sight of the crime, and then locked the door in order to help the murderer escape.

Or, X may had evil within his mind: he didn’t care about the victim, nor about the murderer. He just wanted to puzzle the detectives. He just wanted to watch the forest burn……

……OK, let us be more realistic. If it wasn’t a cover-up, then X must have his own interest. The question is, what kind of interest? Apparently, X wanted the murderer not to be caught, or at least the case to reach a deadlock. Further, we may get a deduction: X wanted to take the chance to commit a crime by himself, for if dealt properly, he would impute the crime to the murderer of the previous case.

Or X is just a madman.

3. To those who fall into the trap

1. Do not go with a stranger, especially if he promised to tell you a “secret”.

2. If you find yourself in a locked room, with a dead body aside, do not touch the body, and touching the weapon would be worse.

3. And the best solution is shouting for help at once.

4. However, sometimes this makes your place worse.

5. So the real solution is: ask for your detective-friend for help.

6. You say you don’t have one? Pray for yourself then!

That’s all for this section. This time I didn’t add pictures, but I think it’s not hard to understand the content, what do you think? Please leave your comment!

To be continued.


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