The Killer Pathologist


No, this is not about Jack Kevorkian. This is about reasons for hiring a pathologist to kill someone, on the premise that a pathologist might be able to commit the perfect murder in which there would be no trace of any usable forensic evidence.

NCIS fans will remember Abby threatening to kill McGee (or was it Tony?) without leaving any forensic evidence. Someone like Abby might just be able to pull that off. A pathologist, however…I don’t know. It would have to be someone intimately involved with crime scenes, which a generalist like me would not be.

After all the CSI and similar shows on TV, anybody should be smart enough to wear gloves, shoe covers, a hair cover, disposable clothing, throw the murder weapon into the river, and not leave a cigarette butt lying around. Anybody should be smart enough not to come to the funeral, or return to the crime scene, or brag about it to someone else. Obviously there should not be any accomplices, or any witnesses. There should have been no talk about being so mad at the victim you’d like to kill him, or even wish him dead. It would be even better if the murderer lived alone and didn’t have to account for his whereabouts to family members or anyone else.

(I’m using he and him in the generic sense here, not implying that only a male would either commit a murder or be a physician.)

None of this is specific to a pathologist, however. A pathologist, just by virtue of working in a hospital, would have access to much more subtle ways of killing someone. Although anybody can buy latex gloves in the paint department of Home Depot, where would one dispose of them safely? Fingerprints can be gotten off the insides of gloves these days. One might even be able to buy shoe covers and hair covers, and maybe even surgical scrubs, but again, safe disposal is a problem.

But one could dispose of bloody disposable protective gear in a red biohazard bag in a hospital, and nobody would ever open that bag once Housekeeping had taken it away to the incinerator. Even before that, nobody in his right mind would go rummaging around in a bag full of contaminated medical waste. It’s against all hospital policy dealing with biohazards. Likewise, one could buy needles and syringes in the drugstore, but how would one dispose of them after use? Only people who inject themselves regularly, like diabetics, have proper sharps containers in their homes. In the hospital, there are sharps containers everywhere, and nobody is allowed to go rummaging around in them. Once they’re full, off they go to the incinerator. The incinerator, by the way, is at a disposal center that contracts with hospitals to destroy medical waste, and picks it up on a regular basis. 

Practically any hospital employee would have that kind of access.

A pathologist, or indeed any physician, could obtain drugs to use as a murder weapon. Like potassium chloride or insulin. Or succinylcholine, which was used in Murder under the Microscope. If said pathologist ended up doing the autopsy, he could conceal any incriminating findings. The problem for a pathologist would be that they aren’t normally seen around places where drugs are kept, and hospitals being what they are, somebody would be sure to see him and remark upon it. In that scenario, perhaps a surgeon or anesthesiologist might be a better candidate for a murderer. Or a nurse. Or a pharmacist.

The point being, I guess, that maybe a pathologist isn’t necessarily the best candidate to do murder for hire. A pathologist could, however, manipulate the autopsy findings.

The biggest problem would be finding a pathologist that would do it in the first place. He’d have to be awfully desperate for money.

Like, for example, he’d just lost everything in a Ponzi scheme.

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