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Rhoda Nightingale
01-11-2010, 02:19 AM
I have several character deaths that I'm working on the details for (I hadn't originally intended this WIP to be a murder mystery, but it seems to be moving in that direction, at least one subplot is) and the first involves poison.

I need to kill off a 150 pound, eighteen-year-old, 5'4" Hispanic girl in such a way that the other characters think she's OD'ed, but actually she's been poisoned. I need something that will register as heroin at the hospital, and if possible it should be something that can be drunk/dissolved in liquid. (My murderer put it in her drink.) Also, I'd love to get some detail on the symptoms of an overdose in the moments before it kills her.

Thanks in advance!

ColoradoGuy
01-11-2010, 02:43 AM
Drug screens (such as done in a hospital) detect all opiates, narcotics, not heroin per se. An overdoes of narcotics generally causes death by respiratory failure -- the part of the brain that drives the breathing reflex quits. Another common mechanism is for the deeply-drugged person to vomit and get some of the vomitus in the lungs.

Heroin is not a legal drug and only works IV. There are several oral narcotics that would work. Oral morphine, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, methadone, for example. If you take the usual dose and then multiply by 10 or so you would have a good chance of getting a lethal dose, especially if the person has an empty stomach.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-11-2010, 03:43 AM
Heroin can be taken orally ... works much like morphine even to the overdose.

Would chloral hydrate work?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloral_hydrate

Rhoda Nightingale
01-11-2010, 07:31 AM
Okay, choral hydrate looks good, with the symptoms and simiarities, except it doesn't seem to be lethal on its own.

Looking up variations on morphine and methadone now. . .

And actually if it's possible to take heroin orally, I could just leave it at that.

My only other question is how much time it would take to work itself through her system.

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 07:47 AM
I had my pain patches stolen at work and learned that people eat these things or make them into tea.

http://www.ebasedprevention.org/files/oewn/Fentanyl_Patch_Abuse.pdf

Fentanyl is very much like heroin, but stronger.

Opioids can kick in quickly, like alcohol perhaps, if the dose is very strong. So much depends on the exact med and the dose.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-11-2010, 07:56 AM
^^Oooh, I like that one! Does "circulatory depression" mean that her fingers might go numb/tingly at the onset of symptons? Because I've kinda got my heart set on that, if I can work it in.

(And good LORD people are crazy!)

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 08:03 AM
I really don't know.

Yeah, I didn't tell you the other way people get high from those! Your MC would surely notice it, let's just say...

Fokker Aeroplanbau
01-11-2010, 08:13 AM
May I interject a few loose comments...

You can smoke and ingest heroin, but it could only take a large dose IV to kill yourself. Indeed, so large that it would strain the bounds of realism. "Functioning," heroin users (e.g. addicts, no one can just "use," heroin without forming a dependency but there is still a difference between a functioning addict and not functioning addict) usually A: know better than to take a certain amount or B: pass out before injecting enough heroin to kill. Smoking it, obviously, is right out.

Heroin stays in the system for a suprisingly long time, and like all drugs, can be found in hair samples for a large time after usuage.

Certainly, at some point, addicts need the drug so much they gain enough tolerance to push enough of the drug that they kill themselves. But at that point it should be very, very obvious that the person is a drug user. For heroin, usually, involves a lot of scratching.

I believe a good alternative would be meth. While it would never show up as an opiate (though it would show up on any drug panel); it makes it much more believable that she ODed. She decided she could fly off a building... Great visuals and is very common for casual/first time users who aren't used to (or illogically comfortable with) the effects. Of course, not everyone flies off buildings when they're on meth so it would make credible sense if whomever your main character is decided to poke around some more.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-11-2010, 08:48 AM
Hm. Okay, great info, but I think the symptoms associated with heroin are better suited to this particular scene. I'm liking that fentanyl idea, though, since it's similar except much stronger.

Also, my murderer isn't exactly a criminal master mind--her death is actually an accident. He meant to kill someone else, and she just grabbed the wrong drink. So, I guess the rest of my characters should figure out pretty quickly that she's not a user, but the folks at the hospital aren't convinced. If that makes more sense.

ColoradoGuy
01-11-2010, 09:56 AM
Oral heroin has quite unpredictable absorption and bioavailability, so it would be tough to estimate doses. I give fentanyl to patients every working day; its potency is also quite unpredictable if not given IV (i.e., by patch or oral losange). It is absorbed through the lining of the mouth (with the losange) or through the skin (by patch), but not through the stomach.

waylander
01-11-2010, 02:18 PM
Chloral hydrate is very bitter - difficult to disguise in a drink

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 07:30 PM
Oral heroin has quite unpredictable absorption and bioavailability, so it would be tough to estimate doses. I give fentanyl to patients every working day; its potency is also quite unpredictable if not given IV (i.e., by patch or oral losange). It is absorbed through the lining of the mouth (with the losange) or through the skin (by patch), but not through the stomach.

Are the lozenges those lollipops? I wonder how they taste? Or do they have medical info too visible on them anyway?

Hmmm... easiest would be Oxycontin or similar, then, imho. I don't know how they actually taste. Can they be disguised in a drink?

Rhoda Nightingale
01-11-2010, 07:35 PM
@waylander: Ah--so that's out then. Good to know.

@ColoradoGuy: So, if I go with fentanyl, could I have him spread it around the rim of her glass, rather than in the actual liquid? Would that work?

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-11-2010, 09:11 PM
Okay, choral hydrate looks good, with the symptoms and simiarities, except it doesn't seem to be lethal on its own.


It can be, but it's erratic: The usual lethal dose is 10 g; however, fatalities have occurred with as little as 4 g and survival has been documented after the ingestion of 30 g of chloral hydrate.

Pharmacokinetics: Chloral hydrate is rapidly absorbed following oral or rectal administration. Following a hypnotic dose, drowsiness occurs within 10 to 15 minutes and sleep usually occurs within 30 to 60 minutes, which lasts about 4 to 8 hours.

So they could see her going under, maybe extremely deeply, and getting chilly (it lowers the body temp) and they leave her for dead.

BigWords
01-12-2010, 06:50 AM
Would Anthrax (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tayside_and_central/8453174.stm) work for your story?

Rhoda Nightingale
01-12-2010, 08:47 AM
@BigWords: Eh, don't think so. But I appreciate you looking.

Okay, let me give y'all a little more detail on the situation here:

My characters are all in the midst of a celebration. I haven't decided exactly what, yet--they've just had some kind of victory over the antagonist, and decide to grab some beers for a toast. My murderer (who is also a mole, secretly working for the antagonist--let's call him M) is the only one of them legally old enough to buy alcohol, so he springs for the drinks, contaminating one of the plastic cups while the others hang out and talk in another room.

The intended victim--let's call him A--is, unbeknownst to M, allergic to barley* and can't have beer, legally or otherwise, so one of the other characters--call her V--offers to drink his, too. M doesn't see this exchange, having gone back to the kitchen to grab more drinks, because he's only got the two hands after all.

So, a few euphoric, oblivious minutes later, the gang departs to go . . . somewhere, I haven't quite decided that either. (I'm thinking movie, or rock show--one of those. Doesn't matter much yet.) And then V starts crashing. Everyone is in shock, "What the hell just happened? What's wrong with her?!" etc, etc, including M because he was expecting A to crash, not V, and they rush her to the hospital.

At said hospital, V flatlines, and the diagnosis is a drug overdose--which drug depends on what I decide on ultimately as my weapon of choice. All her friends say that's impossible, she wasn't an addict, we would have known, but the folks at the hospital give them some spiel about how addicts are really good at lying and hiding what they're up to, etc, etc, we're sorry for your loss, and then they have to leave.

However, another of my characters (we'll call him R, for Rehab) is a former addict, and isn't buying that story. And that's when they start digging into the murder mystery part of my plot--someone must have drugged her.

If any of that makes any difference.

*Barley, or whatever it is that people can be allergic to in beer, because I had a friend in college who had that problem.

backslashbaby
01-13-2010, 12:25 AM
Very cool!

IMHO, it'd have to be something the hospital could check for on the spot, because autopsy-related tox screens take a while. Unless you don't mind that they find out it's a different substance weeks later -- then it just needs to mimic something they know doesn't show up in urine, etc.

If it helps any, drinking it very fast can help with the taste problem, right? I'm a big fan of Sake Bombs, where sake is dropped into a pint of beer and you chug it. Particularly if someone didn't know what sake was like, the taste problem might be explained.

Just some thoughts...

Stacia Kane
01-13-2010, 02:16 AM
Heroin can also be snorted, just FYI, and I think the only kind of beer with a chance at hiding the taste would be a very dark bitter.

SarahMacManus
01-13-2010, 09:21 PM
My characters are all in the midst of a celebration. I haven't decided exactly what, yet--they've just had some kind of victory over the antagonist, and decide to grab some beers for a toast. My murderer (who is also a mole, secretly working for the antagonist--let's call him M) is the only one of them legally old enough to buy alcohol, so he springs for the drinks, contaminating one of the plastic cups while the others hang out and talk in another room.



If they're that young and inexperienced, they might not notice something tasting stange in their beer. You may, however, want "M" to purchase a 'special alcoholic drink for a special occasion' - something with a strong flavor, absinthe or sambucca some other anise or licorice flavored liquor that would be appropriate for a celebration.

I don't think arsenic is fast enough, but I believe it tastes like one of those, doesn't it?

Rhoda Nightingale
01-13-2010, 10:11 PM
Hm, I guess it doesn't have to be beer, apart from the allergy thing--I need some way for my intended victim to not be able to drink it, and have her take it instead. Although I could just make him straight-edge or something....

I don't know what arsenic tastes like, but if you're right, something licorice-tinged might work. How fast does arsenic work? It doesn't have to be mere minutes, like half an hour could work. She could crash en route to wherever they wind up going.