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3\. False Hypotheses

  • Another entirely false notion is that "Murder will out." As to the real fact
  • of this matter, Arthur C. Train, in his admirable work, "Courts, Criminals and
  • the Camorra," asserts that the prisoners tried for murder are only a mere
  • fraction of those who commit the crime.
  • In the stories of Luther Trant, we are informed "that for ninety-three out of
  • every one hundred homicides no one is ever punished," and in "The Scales of
  • Justice," George L. Knapp tells us, "If you'd cut out the proverbs and stick
  • to the evidence, you'd find out that about one murder in six comes to light
  • enough to get the murderer convicted." Then too, Samuel N. Gardenhire asserts
  • that "thousands of murders are never found out. Given a doctor, a lack of
  • motive and a good chance, and detection may be laughed at."
  • But though the authors quoted understand this, scores of other Detective Story
  • writers persist in standing by the old adage.
  • Again the beliefs that "a murderer is involuntarily drawn back to the scene of
  • his crime," and that "a murderer can't help talking of his crime to somebody,"
  • are the basis of many false situations. These hypotheses may be used as
  • working arguments, if desired, but should not be quoted as universal laws.
  • Another false notion inherent in the average citizen is, that a bystander is
  • forbidden by law to touch the body of a murdered man before the arrival of the
  • coroner. There never was any such law, is not now, and probably never will be.
  • The citizen who is of an inquiring turn of mind has a perfect right to examine
  • dead bodies he runs across in the course of his travels, to move the remains
  • and even search the pockets of the deceased, provided, of course, that his
  • motives are honest. That is all that is necessary.