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Ambitious
03-18-2012, 03:07 AM
In my latest Crime Thriller story, I've come to a bit where a character wants to kill somebody by spiking a bottle of wine they're going to give to them. I'm trying to make this story realistic and so I want the following:
1) Whatever is added to the wine has to be almost impossible for the person to smell/taste or detect in virtually any way.
2) A small amount has to be able to kill. Not make ill, not wound, kill.
3) The stuff that's added to the drink has to be something which anybody could easily get their hands on. Something which anybody can purchase, not complicated or the sort of thing you'd have to mix or go out of your way to find.

Any ideas? Can be anything as long as it can be added to wine and fulfils the three aims stated above. If such a thing doesn't exist then please let me know.

mirandashell
03-18-2012, 03:13 AM
Ermmmm... insulin? I don't think that has a taste.

Dissolved paracetomal? A big dose of that would kill your liver.

Nymtoc
03-18-2012, 04:38 AM
Cyanide?

It has been used to spike someone's drink fairly recently, with deadly results. Here's what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said about it:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Cyanide poison hard to detect - CNN (http://articles.cnn.com/2003-01-10/us/otsc.gupta.cyanide_1_potassium-cyanide-benjamin-vassiliev-ryan-furlough?_s=PM:US)

Your murderer might have to go to a little trouble to get it, but you're unlikely to find the kind of poison you want around the house. Sure, there are plenty of dangerous substances in the home, but they either taste weird or are slow-acting and wouldn't fulfill your requirements.

You didn't say anything about ease of detectability. Most poisons can be detected after death if enough tests are done, but fortunately for the mystery writer, the proper tests often are not done if the victim is thought to have died from another cause--the victim is known to have had a bad heart, or something. Also, autopsies may be poorly performed in a small town or rural area.

Why do I care about all this? I kill people, too (in my writing!). :evil

cbenoi1
03-18-2012, 04:44 AM
There are lots of poisonous plants people grow in their gardens. Ricin, strychnine, belladonna and oleander come to mind. Cynanide is also a nice one.

When in doubt, C4.

-cb

triceretops
03-18-2012, 04:44 AM
Is it Ethelyn glycol that's used in anti-freeze, or the older version of antifreeze? Very easy to get. Don't know about its instant lethality, though.

tri

heyjude
03-18-2012, 04:51 AM
Ambitious, probably the best place for this thread is Story Research and Experts. I'll port you there. Much luck in your murder! :)

Ambitious
03-18-2012, 05:20 AM
Cyanide?

It has been used to spike someone's drink fairly recently, with deadly results. Here's what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said about it:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Cyanide poison hard to detect - CNN (http://articles.cnn.com/2003-01-10/us/otsc.gupta.cyanide_1_potassium-cyanide-benjamin-vassiliev-ryan-furlough?_s=PM:US)

Your murderer might have to go to a little trouble to get it, but you're unlikely to find the kind of poison you want around the house. Sure, there are plenty of dangerous substances in the home, but they either taste weird or are slow-acting and wouldn't fulfill your requirements.

You didn't say anything about ease of detectability. Most poisons can be detected after death if enough tests are done, but fortunately for the mystery writer, the proper tests often are not done if the victim is thought to have died from another cause--the victim is known to have had a bad heart, or something. Also, autopsies may be poorly performed in a small town or rural area.

Why do I care about all this? I kill people, too (in my writing!). :evil

What I meant about detectability is a substance the victim wouldn't be able to detect, not the forensics. Very good suggestions so far from you and everyone else.

Drachen Jager
03-18-2012, 07:06 AM
If your murderer has access to medical pharmaceuticals, botulism is the most potent toxin known to man. Of course commonly used for treatment of wrinkles, even in a very small dose it's super-deadly and undetectable.

Here is a list of historic poisonings to give you further ideas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_poisonings

muse
03-18-2012, 03:22 PM
Just a thought. Could your character have a severe allergy to something?

For example peanuts or fish, something which could be found easily and added to a drink. I know these examples aren't great for adding to liquid, although peanut dust might work. Maybe something simple like cherries or stawberries?

Ok, shutting up now.:D

MKrys
03-18-2012, 03:52 PM
I'd think you'd need to inject insulin for it to be deadly, no? Not sure the effect would be the same injested orally. I'd have to check to be sure though, and unfortunately I'm at work and googling that would just be bad as I work in a hospital...

I'm liking cyanide, personally.

Snick
03-18-2012, 04:06 PM
Cyanide would be fine, but it has a noticeable odor and flavor, do you will have to choose the wine carefully to cover it.

GeorgeK
03-19-2012, 05:50 PM
A big problem will be resealing the bottle such that it will not appear to have been tampered with.

BTW, when the waiter pulls and hands you the cork, the reason is not to have you smell it, but so that you can inspect the seal on the cork and compare it to the label, and to feel the sponginess and depth of penetration of the wine into the cork to be sure that there has been no tampering. Most cork extraction methods mar the cork, so you need a fresh cork from the same vintner, and they don't sell those because it would reduce their marketing.

If your target is a lusch, or simply doesn't make a point of inspecting the cork, or if the killer can pull a slight of hand and show a cork from a different bottle it won't matter

Maryn
03-19-2012, 06:08 PM
I have friends who make their own wine. They cork it with a simple machine called a floor corker (http://coursonswinery.com/images/4042_Port_Floor_Corker.jpg). IIRC, it cost them about $60 - $70. They chose to spend more because it's forceful enough to insert corks of a density to keep wines more than 18 months, which you need if you make reds. It also takes much less physical strength than other corking methods.

One could certainly buy two bottles of identical wine, shatter one to get its cork unscathed, open the other the usual way, marring the cork, put a poison in it, then use one's handy floor corker to insert the perfect cork.

Of course, that leaves you with the problem of the absent sleeve covering the cork and the topmost part of the bottle, traditionally metal but of late, sometimes plastic. Will your character notice its absence?

In terms of what poison to use, our area had an antifreeze poisoning last year. It won't be a sure thing, and it takes days, during which your character could seek medical help, so I'd rule that one out.

Your killer got basic kitchen or chemistry skills? He or she could make ricin from castor beans, which grow easily.

Maryn, who reads a lot of mystery and thrillers

GeorgeK
03-19-2012, 06:57 PM
They chose to spend more because it's forceful enough to insert corks of a density to keep wines more than 18 months, which you need if you make reds.

Why reds? Do you mean effervescent or sweet wines? The more residual unfermented sugars in the bottled product increases the reactivation of the yeasts into a secondary fermentation (or tertiary depending upon your technique). The resultant accumulation of CO2 can force out the corks if you don't use the type of corks and corker that you mentioned.

When my nerve damage made it impossible for me to lift the carbouy, I gave my 12 gallon fermenter to one of my sisters along with about fifty pounds of pears from our trees and a case of old bottles. She gave me half her batch of pear wine. She doesn't have a floor corker and poor me had to drink the wine as the corks were being forced out. Had they been champagne type bottles, I could have wired the corks in place and let them carbonate and age better.

JDKinman
03-22-2012, 08:42 AM
Syringe and long, thin-gauged needle could be used to inject/deliver the poison into the wine without damaging the cork.

The Japanese consider the Puffer Fish to be a delicacy even though it's deadly--the venom is tetrodotoxin and it will do the job on you, and pretty quick. It's not a pleasant death.

Same with the toxins found in certain South American frogs.

There are exotic animal brokers in North America, both legal and illegal, that deal in these things. . .

horrorshowjack
03-22-2012, 09:24 AM
Is it Ethelyn glycol that's used in anti-freeze, or the older version of antifreeze? Very easy to get. Don't know about its instant lethality, though.

tri

Ethylene glycol's not instantly lethal, and actually takes the better part of a day to be fatal in humans. Has a sweet taste, so probably detectable in wine. Although a victim might just think it was a bad bottle.

Also alcohol is the treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning, so it might not be the best choice for a poisonous mixer.

Maryn
03-22-2012, 05:57 PM
Why reds? Do you mean effervescent or sweet wines? The more residual unfermented sugars in the bottled product increases the reactivation of the yeasts into a secondary fermentation (or tertiary depending upon your technique). The resultant accumulation of CO2 can force out the corks if you don't use the type of corks and corker that you mentioned.I specified reds because they tend to be raw, almost chewy, when they're still young, so if the winemaker is going to let them age, they need the denser cork. And because the stronger flavor of a red might better disguise any faint taste of poison.


When my nerve damage made it impossible for me to lift the carbouy, I gave my 12 gallon fermenter to one of my sisters along with about fifty pounds of pears from our trees and a case of old bottles. She gave me half her batch of pear wine. She doesn't have a floor corker and poor me had to drink the wine as the corks were being forced out. Had they been champagne type bottles, I could have wired the corks in place and let them carbonate and age better.Poor you! I've never had pear wine, although I like the taste of pear in my whites.

I've read of the needle-through-the-cork thing before, but I have grave doubts it would really be invisible. I attempted a craft involving saved corks speared on sewing pins, and the holes were obvious. Granted, a needle is finer, but not all that much.

Yesterday I saw my friend whose husband makes wine. The home bottlers, and most commercial bottlers, now use PVC over the bottle's neck and cork. It's just big enough to fit, and you can use either a machine designed to heat-shrink it, or upend each bottle and dip it in boiling water for a few seconds. Either one causes the PVC to shrink to a tight fit with professional-looking results. So that aspect of poisoned wine, in addition to the cork issue, can be easily solved.

Maryn, who suddenly wants wine at ten in the morning

BillPatt
03-22-2012, 07:15 PM
Reds are almost undrinkable when first made (said the owner of 500 bottles of homemade wine from the past six years). They can taste green and viney, or be so hammered with tannins that they need bottle time. Many people may not want to drink a red immediately, but will drink a white immediately, particularly in the summer

So, OP, do you want the victim to drink the wine immediately, or eventually? Is this person going to drink the entire bottle themselves, or will it be likely that another will share? Or is this wine that will be drunk during a meal that the vic and perp will share?

The best solution I can think of is a large overdose of acetominophen (Tylenol) It kills somewhat slowly, though, over a period of days. An alternative is soaking a sprig of yew in the wine - releasing taxane into the wine. I have no idea what dosage is necessary or even if it has a taste or not.

So, if the vic is taking the bottle home to drink alone, spike it with Tylenol. If you're going to have to share it, Tylenol will still work, but make sure the vic drinks eight times as much as you.

mirandashell
03-22-2012, 08:00 PM
How about if it's a cheaper bottle with a screw top instead of a cork? Or if it's been opened and left to breathe?

Bufty
03-22-2012, 08:58 PM
I'm sure you have, but have you thought this thing through -beyond the spiking of a bottle of wine?

It has to be opened and drunk -presumably when the victim is by themselves - and getting away with the murder is the thing the killer should be concentrating upon.


In my latest Crime Thriller story, I've come to a bit where a character wants to kill somebody by spiking a bottle of wine they're going to give to them. I'm trying to make this story realistic and so I want the following:
1) Whatever is added to the wine has to be almost impossible for the person to smell/taste or detect in virtually any way.
2) A small amount has to be able to kill. Not make ill, not wound, kill.
3) The stuff that's added to the drink has to be something which anybody could easily get their hands on. Something which anybody can purchase, not complicated or the sort of thing you'd have to mix or go out of your way to find.

Any ideas? Can be anything as long as it can be added to wine and fulfils the three aims stated above. If such a thing doesn't exist then please let me know.

Justin SR
04-12-2012, 04:36 AM
Pure nicotine is a good one. I think an eye dropper's worth will kill anybody. White oleander is a good story about a lady killing someone by poison.

jeseymour
04-12-2012, 06:07 AM
A big problem will be resealing the bottle such that it will not appear to have been tampered with.


One of my favorite quotes from "Justified" = it's not in the bottle, it's in the glass. That way your killer can drink from the same bottle and thus not raise any suspicions.