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schadeaux

Ronald Opus: Murder or Suicide

Is it Murder or Suicide?   12 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it Murder or Suicide?

    • Murder. Most Foul. Call Sherlock.
      4
    • Suicide. The painful kind. Call Dr Kevorkian.
      3
    • Accidental/Misadventure. Call Darwin.
      3
    • What was the question?
      2

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11 posts in this topic

NOTE: The question is NOT "real or hoax."

A very interesting problem I have seen around for a while. The following text borrowed from our good friends at Snopes.com. Vote your decision after reading and tell us why, then check out the deconstruction site linked at the bottom.

For those of you who were unable to attend the awards dinner during the annual [American Academy of Forensic Sciences] meeting in San Diego, you missed a tall tale on complex forensics presented by AAFS President Don Harper Mills in his opening remarks. The following is a recount of Dr. Mills' story:

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this.

Ordinarily, a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands.

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident. That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her son's financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.

Remember, vote first!

Breakdown

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Thanks schadeaux, that was so much fun (like watching an

episode of CSI) w00t.gif

I voted for murder, as someone did die. dontgetit.gif

But as the judge, I would have to throw it out. laugh.gif

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i voted misadventure/accidental. Gosh, what are the odds of something like that happening anyway?

dontgetit.gif

that's quite amazing...

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I voted suicide. Wow, that was a really cool story! While reading it all I could think was how ironic everything was. Then when I went to read the 'breakdown' it all made sense. Thank Schadeaux! That was quite entertainig! original.gif

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I voted murder too, as he was shot and killed.

Nice find Schadeaux. thumbsup.gif

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I voted murder ... You never aim a gun at something unless you intend on using it . And firing one in a populated area wether you believe it is loaded or not is just stupid ... Definately murder .. but I knew it was an Urban legend , good one Shadeaux . What would you have called it muder or suicide ?

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I voted accident, give Mr. Opus a Darwin Award, and it all rests on two words: “intent,” and “attempt.” Taken in order of occurrence, it would read with these facts:

Murder:

1. Mom and dad have a history of arguing, often accompanied by dad waving around an unloaded shotgun to make his point. This may seem extreme to an observer, but the observer’s opinion on the use of the weapon is irrelevant. To the subject it may as well have been nothing more than a loaf of French bread. It was nothing more than an object he had used frequently in the past. A prop, nothing more than an actor using a pop-gun on a stage. He had never loaded it himself, never directed anyone to load it, and most likely would never have it loaded. As the story says: “When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B.” “He had no intent to murder her.” Dad did not intend to kill mom, or anyone else. Negligent homicide of Ronnie, maybe. But not murder.

2. Ronnie is upset because mom has cut off the cash flow. He loaded dad’s gun with the intent of dad killing mom during one of the arguments. This event never occurred. He had given up on the plan as proved by his suicide attempt. He just forgot to unload the gun. In any case, the intended victim was not injured. Attempted murder (of his mother), at best. Reckless endangerment is more likely. Again, no murder.

Suicide:

Ronald intended to kill himself by jumping off the building. That act itself is proven by the note he left; that is, he did not fall off the roof accidentally. He intended to jump. Had this effort not been interrupted by the gun shot, he still would not have succeeded in his attempt as he would have fallen into the net at the 8th floor. His intended method of death was blunt force injury, not gunshot. He never had a chance to fulfill his intent. So, attempted suicide.

Accident/Misadventure:

Ronnie intended to kill mom. Didn’t happen. Ronnie intended to kill himself. Didn’t happen. Death by proxy is also out because dad was not aware he was in the game, and Ronnie didn’t even invite him to play anyway.

So. Accidental Death.

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So if my small brain can comprehend this – he jumped, and was shot on the way past? So what are the chances of the fact that the person was stood besides the window with the gun, unless they knew he was jumping, or had someone push him…

To many consciences.

I say that one coincidence is coincidence. Two coincidences are pushing it (no pun intended). And any more it’s not a coincidence it’s manmade. It’s murder most horrid!

eek7.gif

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This story actually appeared on the tv show "Homicide: Life On The Street" a few years ago, but I can't seem to remember whether they ended up ruling it a homicide or not.

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Thanks for the tip, RACZILLA. The story was, indeed, included in in Episode 88, "Shaggy Dog, City Goat."

At dinner, Julianna and her colleagues swap stories about how they've cracked cases. Julianna relates a story that happened a few weeks earlier, a suicide might actually be turn out to be murder, when it is determined that the victim was shot in mid-jump. A bickering elderly couple proves to be the key to the crime.

Herman H. passed on this information to me. The real origin of the story comes from a speech made in 1987 by a past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Don Harper Mills. It was a story he made up for the academy's 1987 banquet, purely for entertainment.

This particular synopsis does not say what the final verdict was, though from the quote it appears the story was more of a flashback of the investigation, not the actual judicial decision.

TV Tome

By the way, Welcome to the Circus, RAZCILLA!

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Thanks for the warm welcome. grin2.gif

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