Mechanics of Murder Writer’s Conference

My family was super impressed with this photo….

THE MECHANICS of Murder Writer’s Conference by Wordcrafters was cool! We attended three days of lectures given by a forensic MD, a forensic psychologist, a violent crimes sergeant, a representative from a local press, and a forensic analyst. It was pretty much my high school wet dream of a conference, and I found I still have a taste for the science and intrigue.

Our first class was with D. P. Lyle, MD, a charming and hilarious instructor, who taught us how to commit the perfect murder. He shared many such gems of the trade:

“You can’t kill a drunk. You shoot them nine times and they’ll spit on you.”

“Everything is a poison. It’s the dose that matters.”

-D. P. Lyle, MD

We also heard from Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist. She discussed the signatures between homicides and suicides, and tutored us on the terrifying psyche of serial killers. Quite a bit of both lectures was devoted to the study of pathological dissociation.

One serial killer was given a local paper in jail, where his daughter talked of the horrors of living with him before he was caught. His response to Dr. Ramsland? “Look, I’m in the paper again!” Disturbing and fascinating.

“Why do people do this kind of stuff? People are weird.”

-Katherine Ramsland, Ph. D.

Ex Violent Crimes Sergeant, Kathy Flynn, ran us through violent crimes procedure using several case studies. If I don’t take anything away from this conference, I’ll take away the fact that TV often gets everything wrong (and it drives those in the field crazy). I also learned some entertaining lingo, such as DRT, or dead right there.

“Assume the worst until proven otherwise.”

-Kathy Flynn

I was impressed with our speakers’ tenacity and ability to see through the fog of lies to get to the truth. Humans are complicated and misleading creatures. (I pity the aliens who stumble upon us first.)

We visited with forensic analyst, Rhi Daniels. She demonstrated forensic procedures and used visual aids of blood spatter and knife wounds. A lightning-fast fingerprint analysis was performed with household chemicals stored in Tupperware. All our speakers liked to teach through case studies, which I found illuminating, but I really enjoyed watching Analyst Daniels lick her hand to leave a more vivid print for forensic  inspection. For those who are curious, these days prints can even be taken off the inside of gloves!

“There isn’t something so horrifying to imagine, that someone won’t do it to themselves or someone else.”

-Rhi Daniels

The drawback to all the fun? After this conference I definitely feel less safe, but I’m also heartened there are people out there who know what they are doing. I’d like to thank our speakers and Wordcrafters in Eugene. They are my go-to for local writing classes and conferences.

Ten out of ten–would do again!

Reading List (recommended by the speakers):
Shutter Island
True Detectives (Season One)
Practical Homicide
Born to Raise Hell

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