5 Strange Ways Murderers Ensured They Got Caught

These weren't dumb criminals. This was weirder than that.
5 Strange Ways Murderers Ensured They Got Caught

The surest way to catch a murderer is to assemble all suspects in the manor and allow an eccentric private investigator free rein of the estate. Sometimes, though, that investigator is on holiday, stumbling on a totally unrelated murder. In such cases, all you can do with your own mystery is lean back and wait for your murderer to dump the solution right at your feet. 

Teen Confesses To Poisoning Her Father After A Scene In Hamlet

Hamlet famously features a play-in-a-play that gets Claudius to reveal he murdered the previous king. An actor in the metaplay (cameo by Matt Damon) pours poison into another actor’s ear, and Claudius visibly recoils with guilt. This leads Hamlet to ... well, to not do much of anything immediately, but we now know the killer's a killer, that’s what matters. 

Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet: King Claudius and the theater.

Achille Devéria

This was how 90% of crimes were solved, pre-fingerprinting 

In 1994, two high schoolers in Texas were reading over their Hamlet notes while studying. One girl, Stacey High, read out some lines of Claudius and asked the other, Marie Robards, what she thought of them. Claudius prays and repents while saying these lines, and Marie started crying. Stacey speculated about what the problem could be. Was Marie pregnant? Had she wrecked her grandpa’s car?

No, said Marie. She’d murdered her father. She’d stolen barium acetate from the school’s chemistry lab and poured it into the man’s refried beans 11 months previously. He'd gone stiff, a neighbor had phoned an ambulance, and he’d died in front of her. 

Refried beans

Karyn Christner

Official cause of death: “Wasn’t man enough for Texas beans”

Stacey went home and told this information to her mother, leading Mrs. High to ... well, to not do much of anything, as she figured this was the girls’ business, not hers. Stacey later went to the authorities, who tested blood from the man’s body and found he had in fact died from poison. In 1995, a jury would end up finding Marie guilty of murder and sentencing her to 28 years in prison, though she'd wind up paroled in 2003. 

When police first discovered there was truth to Stacey’s story, they interviewed Marie, asking if her father had abused her, which was the only explanation that made any sense to them. Her father had not. Instead, she’d murdered the man simply because she wanted to go live with her mother instead. 

Marie’s parents had divorced when she was four, for unremarkable reasons, and she’d lived with her mother till catching her stepfather cheating. Then she moved in with her grandparents, and when she tried to move back, her stepfather refused to let her. So she moved in with her father ... then murdered him. At the funeral, she learned her mother had been just weeks away from splitting with the stepdad and letting her daughter move back in with her. Had Marie let her dad live, she’d have moved back in with her mom anyway.

Not that she ended up being satisfied with living with mom. Well before that Shakespearean confession, she grew tired of that life and asked to live with her grandparents. Her other grandparents this time—the parents of the man she’d killed. Listen, kids: Life as a teen sucks no matter who you’re living with. Murder improves things only temporarily, at best. 

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A Hunk Of Bubble Gum Tied Aaron Hernandez To His Victim

You’re probably aware of the basics of the Hernandez case, so we’re not going to narrate the whole thing for you. But in case you missed it: Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez murdered Odin Lloyd in June 2013, a couple nights after they were out clubbing together. The two had been arguing over something (possibly over a different pair of murders Hernandez was alleged to have committed the year before), and the whole escapade was deemed one of the more interesting things to come out Boston’s Rumor nightclub that week. 

Red lights during a DJ set

Antoine J./Unsplash

Rumor! Come for Hush Fridays, stay for celeb murder.

Investigators first became suspicious of Hernandez when they realized he and Lloyd had been in contact just hours before the man’s death. Hernandez was a suspicious guy to be around any murder victim: Besides the 2012 double murder (for which he’d be indicted the following year), the man had apparently shot another guy in the head that February, a guy who was now suing him. Though police knew Hernandez lived just two minutes away from where they found Lloyd’s body, they didn’t find proof putting Hernandez at the scene. But they did find some Bubblicious blue cotton candy chewing gum. 

Hernandez had bought that type of gum at a gas station hours before the murder; police discovered that while tracing his movements that night. He also rented a car, the car rental place cleared bunch of trash from the car, and then police found some shell casings in a dumpster ... with one casing embedded in Bubblicious blue cotton candy chewing gum. 

Bubblicious blue cotton candy chewing gum

Candy Warehouse

Cotton candy is a flavor, it’s not just sugar. Specifically, it’s “blue” flavor. 

You might think the casings themselves would be damning enough, but a defense lawyer would argue that police found the casings in the dumpster, not on Hernandez, leaving them too many steps removed from him to prove anything. Throw the gum into the picture, however, and suddenly they had something attaching the evidence to him, putting him in a sticky situation. 

A jury convicted Hernandez of the murder in April 2015. He hanged himself two years later, leading his lawyers to argue that he died an innocent man since he still had appeals available to him. The court considered this and ruled that this argument (“abatement ab initio”) made no sense in this situation, or indeed in any situation. So Aaron Hernandez saw no posthumous redemption. But Boston’s Rumor nightclub did: It reopened under a new name. Check out Icon, Boston’s best nightclub and event space! $30 cover charge, no sandals or athleticwear allowed. 

Criminal Turns Himself In For The Health Care, Gets Tied To Other Murders

Speaking of gum, you heard the one about the sick guy, who steals a pack of gum just because he wants to go to prison and get free medical care? Here’s the dark real version of that. 

In 2014, Arthur Martinez decided prison was his best bet for getting treatment for his cancer. Only, getting arrested didn’t mean he had to commit any new offenses, minor or otherwise. He was already a wanted man, having been convicted in 1978 for robberies and rapes. And that was after he’d been convicted and subsequently paroled for a different rape in 1967 and for shooting two women. He went to prison in ’78, escaped in ’94, lived off the grid for 20 years, then turned himself back in

Arthur Rudy Martinez

SLO County

Maybe after learning fugitives living under fake names don’t get Medicare.

This gave the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office a chance to think again about Arthur Martinez, a man they’d otherwise completely forgotten about (police can’t keep bothering with every fugitive who escapes a life sentence, you see). Martinez had also been a person of interest in two murders from 1977. These were different crimes from all the ones we just mentioned in the last paragraph. Someone had stabbed one woman and raped and shot another, and police had suspected Martinez, since he’d been in the area and because of his history of doing this kind of thing. 

At the time, they’d had no real evidence tying him to those deaths. Since then, though, we’d developed a little something called DNA testing. And with some new funding in their hands for cold cases, detectives stuck old blood samples from the 1977 murders into their science machines, and the samples turned up as familial matches to a relative of Arthur’s in the database. Next step would be to test the samples against DNA from Arthur himself. But where would they get this DNA?

The answer came from someplace you would not expect. They found a girlfriend with whom he’d been living while a fugitive, and discovered that she still had an old razor of his rusting away in her bathroom. By this point, he hadn’t touched the razor in four years, but when investigators took a close look at it, they found Arthur’s DNA remained there. Then when they chucked it into the other chamber of the ol’ science machine, it matched the 1977 blood. Arthur Martinez was the killer. 

Sweeney Todd razor

Paramount Pictures

Artist's impression of Arthur's razor

Many of you paying attention are confused right now. Why would they need to hunt down smelly bathroom implements? Why couldn’t they just get a fresh sample from the man, now in custody? The answer: They didn’t have the man anymore. They reopened the cold case in 2018, but Martinez died in 2014. He died just two months after returning to prison. Despite his free health care, turning himself in hadn’t extended his life at all. 

Rapper Confesses 17 Years Later, Didn’t Realize The Guy Died

Now for another tale of a man who turned himself in to the police and then got more than he bargained for. 

Who here remembers G. Dep, who released albums in 2001 and 2010? His highest-profile release might have been this remix of a Jennifer Lopez song (the original song was famous, if not the remix):

He also rapped with P. Diddy on around a dozen other tracks, spread across various albums:

But through it all, a secret weighed down on G. Dep. Back in 1993, when he was 18, he mugged some guy in New York. He fired three times in the victim’s general direction then took off. It wasn’t nearly cool enough a story to earn him any kind of cred, it just was just something bad he did one time. Years later, in 2010, he went to a police station and confessed.

The police didn’t take him seriously. This guy had come off the street and was talking about a crime that had happened more than a decade and a half earlier, and he was unable to say whom he’d robbed, or exactly when. Probably, he was just on drugs, both at the time of the alleged crime and right now. They asked him to leave his info with them so they could contact him later. They never followed through on that. 

So G. Dep returned, this time with some more detailed recollections, enough to get the police going through old files to figure out what he was talking about. Yes, someone had been mugged on October 19, 1993, at that Harlem corner G. Dep described. In fact, someone had been mugged and murdered. G. Dep hadn’t known that part. Back in 1993, he’d heard a cop refer to the incident as a “shooting,” and he’d taken that to mean a non-fatal shooting, since if it had been fatal, they’d have called it a murder, right?

Bad Boy Records

Agree or not, we believe he believed this.

And so, despite working so hard to confess to this crime, G. Dep pleaded not guilty when they put him on trial for it. He’d wanted absolution; he didn’t want life in prison. But 15-to-life was what he got—he went behind bars in 2011, he’s still there now, and it’ll be a few more years before he’s eligible for parole. 

Don’t ever talk to the cops. Not if you’re innocent, and super not if you’re guilty. As a wise man once said, if you want forgiveness, get religion. 

Serial Killer Of 37 Gets Caught Because Of The Examiner’s Cyanide Mutation

Up next is one last murderer on our list of murderers. Just another murderer, nothing too special here. Except for the small fact that this guy is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.

Men like Harold Shipman, Niels Högel, and Donald Harvey may not get as much publicity as the ones who lure victims to their homes and torture them, but they still kill an absurd number of people, through a particularly stealthy method: medicine. These are doctors and nurses who murder their patients—not accidental medical deaths, no, these are full-fledged homicides, which the killers carry out year after year. Donald Harvey was convicted of killing 37 people. He himself claimed to have murdered 87 people, and police had evidence for around 57, but when you get a guy 28 life sentences, any further charges seem like a waste of everyone’s time. 

Donald Harvey mugshot

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

The families of those other 50 dead people could not be reached for comment.

Like so many nurses who kill patients, Donald got the nickname “the angel of death” in the press because his lawyer said he killed out of mercy. The prosecution questioned this characterization, pointing out that he also killed a couple people outside the hospital who weren’t suffering from anything, and in court, when he saw the names of all his victims, he started laughing. He’d later admit he enjoyed the feeling of control, and of deceiving doctors who were always acting like they were better than him

At Cincinnati’s Daniel Drake Memorial Hospital where he worked, Donald had a different but similar nickname: “the Kiss of Death.” That’s because patients kept dying under his watch. Everyone knew it, but no one did anything about it. “Whoops, I got another one today,” he’d say, and then his coworkers would all laugh. 

Doug Scrubs


Like that incompetent doctor in Scrubs, except Scrubs treated this MORE seriously. 

Sometimes, Donald suffocated patients with pillows. Sometimes, he emptied their oxygen tanks. Usually, he poisoned them by putting cyanide or arsenic in their meals; this is the true origin of all those jokes about terrible hospital food. These murders went undetected because no one has to do a post-mortem when a patient dies in a hospital. Not in Ohio anyway, not unless anyone has a special reason to suspect foul play. Then Donald made a mistake. He murdered a motorcyclist. 

When someone dies following a motorcycle crash, Ohio law says the coroner’s office must perform an autopsy—not out of some pro-bike/anti-bike bias but because any motor vehicle fatality potentially means liability on someone’s part. When the medical examiner sliced open the stomach, he smelled cyanide. 

As any good fan of mysteries knows, cyanide smells like bitter almonds. But some people are genetically incapable of smelling it, and to smell it at this level of concentration apparently required a special mutation from the medical examiner. This biker having fresh poison in his stomach months after being admitted to the hospital made zero sense without a killer on the premises, so this discovery launched an investigation, one that quickly fixated on the Kiss of Death. 


“Anything unusual you can tell me about this biker death?”
“Nothing at all. He died under Don’s watch. Happens to someone every day.” 

A court found Harvey guilty in 1987. Twenty years later—before he had completed serving even one of his many consecutive life sentences—another inmate beat him to death. Apparently, this inmate (his name was James Elliot) grew jealous because Donald got all those tasty kosher meals

Elliot otherwise said he killed Harvey as a punishment, claiming to have lived near some relatives of Harvey’s victims, but no one was able to confirm those details. Elliot’s own mother insisted that he acted out of a sense of justice. But then, even Harvey’s mother said “he's still a good boy” after her son was convicted of murdering dozens. That’s moms for you. Always maintaining faith in their children and always, always being proven wrong. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see. 

Top image: Jeffrey Beall, qimono/Pixabay

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