1. It has to be a stranger. It has to be. This is no time for settling old scores. This cannot be traced back to you in any way. You can’t see them during your daily routine; you can’t have mutual friends; you can’t live in the same county. You cannot research them online before you do it. Do you know how many killers get convicted who might have otherwise walked free because their goddamn browser history is full of “how to dispose of body” and “hire someone kill wife”? Don’t be one of them.
2. You have, roughly, a twelve-hour window to dispose of the body before the smells and sounds associated with decomposition and dismemberment start to give you away. Do you keep a small skin trophy? Do you carefully arrange the torso in a grassy meadow? These are deeply personal questions. For my money, you’re best off with a bone saw, a tarp, a lot of quicklime and twice as much bleach as you think you’ll need, as well as access to an empty house or warehouse with a large, preferably industrial-sized drain.
3. Pay for your materials in cash. Do not get a receipt. Do not buy them within a fifty-mile radius of your home or office. Use common sense. Have an alibi, but don’t go overboard. An overly elaborate lie has too many details you could potentially foul up. Keep it simple.
4. Alternately — if you want to make a bigger first impression or don’t think you can pull off disposing of a body in enough time — walk in, shoot twice, and walk out. Don’t move the body. Don’t touch anything. Even if you’re completely sure they’re dead, shoot them in between the eyes one more time, just in case.
5. Wash your clothes, then throw them away. Don’t throw them all away at once.
6. Resist the urge to write taunting letters to the police. That’s asking for trouble. Don’t send them cute little puzzles, don’t arrange the bodies of your victims in an interesting pattern, don’t write to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle asking if he’s guessed your name yet.
7. Repeat this at least three more times, with a month-long “cooling off” period in between, in order to qualify in all fifty states.
8. Never, ever get drunk again. You will want to tell someone for the rest of your life — this is a completely natural response to having godlike power over the lives and deaths of others — and it will take much less alcohol than you think to lower your inhibitions long enough to answer the probing questions of that mysterious stranger sitting next to you at the bar in damning detail.
9. Don’t keep to yourself. Make sure you’re not the kind of person your neighbors would describe as “quiet” or “keeps to herself, mostly.” Don’t draw undue attention to yourself, obviously, but attend a neighborhood party or two. Remember your coworker’s birthdays. That sort of thing.
10a. If you must marry, keep your spouse in the dark. Do not attempt to recreate, on a non-fatal scale, the psychosexual games you play with your victims with your husband or wife, no matter how into it you think they’d be.
10b. Avoid bigamy. Many a serial killer has been brought low by the desire to maintain multiple spouses in various parts of the country. This is like sending Al Capone to prison for tax evasion: a sheer waste.
11. Don’t bring your serial killing into the house. No murder basements, no secret murder castles, no murder foyers. Keep your home a murder-free zone.
12. Never talk to any of your friends about current events. They will bring up the rash of disappearances that have plagued your corner of the state lo these several years, and you will start smiling into your drink and asking them leading questions until one of them says What are you trying to say exactly and you say Nothing, nothing and then one of them who’s never really liked you calls it in and everything falls apart and you might have well just murdered everyone you knew and sent a pictogram signed in your own blood to the local sheriff’s department. This is a long game. It’s not over until you die peacefully in your own bed, never breathing a word about your crimes to the family that loves and doesn’t know you.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.