Updated 26 October 2013

What to do with a body

A good friend will help you move. A really good friend will help you move a body. Tell this to the Montecasino woman, says Susan Erasmus.

A good friend will help you move.  A really good friend will help you move a body. Tell this to the Montecasino woman, says Susan Erasmus.

I have been fascinated by the story of the body found in the parking lot at Montecasino.  In SA, alas, bodies  are frequently found in cars. The grim trio of hijacking, robbery and murder sees to this. Right, so why did this story grab me?

From what we know by now, it was the owner of the car found inside the boot. Followed shortly by the arrest of a former stripper who has now appeared in court in connection with the murder.

Here’s what fascinates me about this choice of dumping ground:
• The car still had its real registration plates, so could be traced easily.
• In this parking lot, there is video surveillance 24 hours a day. Smile you’re on camera.
• In a packed parking lot in summer, a decomposing body will soon attract attention.

Right, we still don’t know  exactly what happened, but nobody gets into his own boot and then manages to lock it from the inside, so it is reasonable to suspect foul play.

The swift arrest of the woman must mean that she was easily traceable once the identity of the man was known. Maybe she left her card on the front seat? Clearly no effort was made to flee, or hide herself.

The truth will still come out on what happened, but the thought that anyone could think a packed parking lot in 30 degree summer heat would be a good hiding place for a body in a boot floors me completely. It was the smell that attracted the attention of passersby.

For the sake of the man’s family, I am glad that he has been found.  But wouldn’t you expect an ex-stripper to be a little more streetwise?

Half a morning watching one of the crime channels on DStv would have given a few pointers:
•  Parking lots are under surveillance
•  Bodies decompose
•  Robbers are more likely to be caught if they also kill
•  Cars parked for days in one place eventually attract attention, even at casinos

I really hope I never find myself in such a situation, but if you want to hide a body, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that you need to find an isolated place, one not directly connected to you (so your backyard is out) and which is out of the public eye. Cars attract attention, especially when they stay put somewhere, so it is best not to use a car for a burial ground. Forensic science can identify even a burnt body, but a buried one often can’t be found without the help of the murderer.

Don’t say I never teach you anything.

And before you accuse me of being macabre, think about how often you watch crime programmes on TV. They also seem to be getting more and more graphic: forensic scientists are the heroes of the new millennium. OK, they piece together what happened after someone has died, which is really important, but wouldn’t you prefer to get help before things get to that point? I certainly would.

Back to whoever is found guilty of killing this guy:  you must really have thought the police extremely stupid  to think you had covered your tracks by deactivating the tracking device and switching off the cellphone, BUT LEAVING THE NUMBERPLATES. It still leaves me gasping. Next time, phone a friend, or ask the audience, for heaven’s sake.

Susan Erasmus is a freelance writer for Health24.




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