Murder for Drugs

When planning your murder mystery, motive is one of the most important factors. I’m in chapter four of the book Murder one: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide by Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino, and it’s all about narcotics murders. Narcotics users span a huge age and socio-economic range, so it’s just as easy to create a believable millionaire junkie as it is to create a believable homeless addict. Drug dealing is a way to earn fast money with little or no education, so it’s prevalent in low-income areas. Drug use also provides a release (false, of course) or escape from environment, so it’s easy to see why someone in a high-stress, high-income environment might choose to sample drugs. Regardless of the socio-economic, educational, or environmental background of your drug-dealing or drug-using antagonist, he’s got a motive for doing what he does. Today I’ll deal with junkies, and in my next post I’ll discuss dealers.

The drug user’s circumstances play a huge role in why and how they kill. Prostitutes who sell their bodies for drug money often place themselves in situations where killing might be the only way out, usually in self-defense. But junkies also kill when they are denied their drugs. They will do what’s necessary to feed their habit. They may kill because [copied word-for-word from the book]:

  • Someone tries to steal their stash of drugs
  • Someone tries to cut off their supply of drugs
  • Someone tries to steal the money with which they plan to buy their drugs
  • Someone refuses to sell them drugs, perhaps dealers to whom the junkies are in debt for previous deals
  • Someone sells them bad drugs

“In a moment of intense need, the junkie’s addiction overrides any sense of morality or fear of getting caught,” the author’s say. “Getting and taking the drug is the one clear goal, and nothing will get in the way.” 

Keep in mind that the junkie is not thinking clearly when he gets to this point, and premeditation is pretty much beyond his ability. He’ll use a weapon of opportunity: a chair leg, a loose brick, his own two hands. The authors also bring up this tidbit: most social service agencies send out checks on the first of the month, so that’s when low-income folks might have cash, either to purchase drugs or pay for the services of a prostitute.

That’s all that needs to be said about junkies. Come back next time for the discussion on dealers.


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