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The Perfect Crime

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"There is no one in the world who can be somewhere and leave without a trace. Any man who could isn't human."
Inspector Lunge, Monster (1994)

Murder, Robbery, Blackmail, Kidnapping. Some criminals don't leave confusing riddles and clues for detectives to find. Some criminals leave nothing.

This is the perfect crime plot, a Diabolical Mastermind seeks to do the crime and not the time, covering his tracks in the most intricate and thorough of ways. The audience looks on in amazement as the criminal's plan unfolds (or as the police unfold it for them), and right until the last minute, it looks like he will actually get away with it all.

Alternatively, he might be brazen about his crime but will have found a loophole in the law to get away with it.

Of course, he rarely will, for one reason or another. Maybe he isn't so smart as he thinks he is. Maybe his daughter feels guilty. Maybe he slips up in some seemingly insignificant way. Or a Spanner in the Works messes up the plan in a way he could never expect. But Aesop aside, you almost want to see him get away with it. Another major flipside of a Perfect Crime and the bane of all would-be (and some actual, as shown in examples) perpetrators is that if the criminal is never identified, they cannot become famous for it.

Compare Make It Look Like an Accident. If someone suspects something, the criminal may taunt them with a Proof Dare.

May contain unmarked spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In-universe example in Bakuman。: The latest of Ashirogi Muto's manga is about kids who pull off perfect crimes, though they're mostly anonymous pranks.
  • A number of murderers in Case Closed intentionally arrange to have detective Mouri Kogoro witness their crime, so confident are they that they can have the "Great Detective" himself provide them with a foolproof alibi. (Usually, they would be right too, even with Conan on the job, save for some completely coincidental bit of bad luck that provides the crucial evidence necessary to link them to it.)
  • Death Note could probably be seen as deconstruction: when it comes to committing crimes without leaving evidence, it doesn't get much better than giving people fatal heart attacks by writing their names in a magical notebook, right? Well, enter "L", the world's greatest detective, who in one bold maneuver narrows the field of search from the entire world to a small part of Japan and comes up with some pretty good insights into the background and character of Kira based on who died when and how. Light even had the ability to go completely undetected by using the Death Note to make his victims die in ways that could never be traced to a supernatural serial killer but chose not to because he wanted people to know that Kira was out there passing judgment on those he deemed evil.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Second Gig, Gouda thought he'd figured out a loophole that would make him immune to prosecution for his crimes. He was correct, but what he didn't anticipate was the Prime Minister declaring his genius a national asset, authorizing Section Nine to kill him when he tried to defect.
  • Kurokochi involves the famous 300-million-yen robbery case, during which the eponymous sum of money was stolen by an unknown young man in a police uniform. In real life, it has yet to be solved, but in the manga, Kurokochi and Seike discover that the culprit Hideto Kiritani was rapidly caught by the Public Security Investigation Agency. However, they kept silent about it because Kiritani was the son of a police commissioner, threatening to cause a scandal that would destroy the organization. Moreover, the Agency also wanted to keep the money to themselves.
  • Every episode of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is about some killer who pulls off either a ridiculously intricate murder or a ridiculously intricate alibi. Or both, or both at once. Neuro only manages to solve the cases because of his "777 Underworld Tools."
  • Monster (1994): Johan Liebert is pretty good at this. It takes around half of the series for Tenma to prove that Johan even exists, and even then, the police still don't believe him.
  • Happens in pretty much every case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2007). Every single chapter has the prosecution present a case that generally seems absolutely watertight, but Phoenix always manages to turn the case on its head. One example happens in "Turnabout Gallows". A murder occurs on an estate (where the victim was "struck with lethal force") and everyone but the defendant has a completely, 100% airtight alibi for the moment of the murder that even Phoenix himself can confirm, seeing as how he was there at the time — i.e., there was no one who was away from Phoenix's line of sight during the time of the victim's death apart from the defendant. The real killer actually set up a "timed murder"... and was able to kill the victim without actually having to be anywhere near him at the time, or without having to instate the killing blow. In reality, he set up a complex murder plot that made it so that, when the main breaker was shut off and the electricity went out, it would kill the victim.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Astro City stars a mostly-retired villain who is seen as Laughably Evil by the hero community. He ends up committing a series of bank robberies and gets away with it, baffling the city's heroes. No one suspected him so he got away with it completely. The only way he gets caught is when he gets frustrated at not having proper credit so he tries to commit the crime a second time and purposefully gets captured so he could explain how he did it in court and rub it in the faces of the heroes and legal system. He also had pre-planned his escape from the courthouse... and possibly the country.
  • In Bookhunter, when agents Bay, Walker, and Finch figure out how "Kettle Stitch" stole a valuable book, Bay states that it would have been the perfect crime... if the M.O. didn't result in a missing library circulation card, which they were able to track down to discover Kettle Stitch's true identity.
  • In X-Men Noir, Jean Grey kills Anne-Marie Rankin with Wolverine Claws to frame her old pal Captain Logan. She then cuts up all distinguishing facial features and dyes both her and the body's hair, assuming Rankin's identity. The police decide to not investigate the murder when they see an X-Man tattoo on the body, thinking it's not worth taxpayer money to figure out which of "Jean"'s gangland boyfriends got tired of her first. This leaves Jean to wait out the years until "Rankin" turns 21 so she can collect on her trust fund. Oh, and one last thing — Rankin had the unique talent to absorb the personality traits of whoever was around her at the time, meaning Jean was now impersonating someone with no fixed personality; she's just that good of an actress. Robert Halloway figures it for the perfect crime... at least until he and his brother got involved and screwed it all up for her. One detail of such is that the body has apparently shrunk since it died, exposing the roots of its hair. That, or the cops didn't look closely at the body.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Dick Tracy Crimestopper panel simply states: 'When a crime is not reported, and no arrests are made, a "perfect crime" has been committed.'

    Fan Works 
  • Lampshaded in Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv):
    Light: Well would you look at that, Kira just killed all those people while I just sat here doing nothing. Ha! Weird, huh? Well, I guess L was wrong about me being Kira, isn't that right guys?
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: As considering the standard proverb "there's no such thing as a perfect crime", Harry comes up with a disturbing thought:
    If you did commit the perfect crime, nobody would ever find out — so how could anyone possibly know that there weren't perfect crimes?
    And as soon as you looked at it that way, you realized that perfect crimes probably got committed all the time, and the coroner marked it down as death by natural causes, or the newspaper reported that the shop had never been very profitable and had finally gone out of business...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When the title character of Arthur (1981) sees a woman shoplift a tie from a store he is in, he says that it's the perfect crime, since "girls don't wear ties". He then says some do, so it's not a perfect crime but a really good one. His man-servant deadpans, "If she murdered the tie, it would be a perfect crime."
  • In Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld kidnaps and replaces reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte. Bond admits that it's a brilliant plan: how does one detect and report the kidnapping of a man who nobody's seen for five years? If Blofeld had been content to retire with his stolen billions instead of starting up a diamond smuggling ring to get the raw materials for a Kill Sat so he could blackmail the world, nobody would have even thought to investigate "Whyte" at all and discover he'd been replaced.
  • In Double Indemnity, insurance agent Walter Neff helps the wife of one of his customers murder him for his life insurance. Because Neff is friends with his company's investigator, he thinks he can pull this off flawlessly, as he is already aware, and plans around, potential mistakes that might get him caught. He even arranges for the man's death to look like an accident involving a train, because the man's policy pays double in that case (hence, the title). What Neff doesn't take into consideration is that the woman his is doing this for is a Femme Fatale, so of course he ends up not getting away with it.
  • Double Jeopardy: The husband manages to successfully fake his own murder and frame his wife, making it the perfect crime... until she gets out of prison. When she does, sets out to murder her husband, safe in the knowledge that a loophole protects her from prosecution: She was tried and convicted of his murder before he turned up alive with a new identity, and therefore the Bill of Rights prevents her from being tried again. Note that this wouldn't work in real life. She'd just be tried for a second murder.note 
  • Fracture (2007): Getting away with murder. Almost. The reason the bad guy doesn't get away is that he makes the mistake of having his comatose wife taken off life support. When new evidence comes to light, he assumes that double jeopardy will make it impossible to re-try him, only for the prosecutor to point out that, since his wife was alive during the original trial, he was technically being accused of attempted murder. She's dead now, so he can be accused of murder without violating the double jeopardy rule.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie Guilty Conscience, starring Anthony Hopkins and Blythe Danner, has Hopkins as a defense attorney daydreaming various murder schemes to kill Danner to avoid a messy divorce. The twist is that, because he's a skilled lawyer, he pokes holes into his own proposed alibis — imagining himself on the docket — to the point of convincing himself that he can never pull off "the perfect murder". Subverted in that Danner was plotting to kill him (with the help of his unhappy mistress!) and she simply shoots him, not burdening herself with any doubt of if she could pull it off.
  • Inside Man is the story of "The Perfect Bank Robbery." They take hostages, but don't hurt any of them (though they pretend to kill one, purely to scare the police). They continually switch around robbers and planted hostages, keeping everyone confused as to who is who. Instead of stealing money from the bank, they steal a drawer full of ill-gotten (and therefore undocumented) diamonds — so to the police, it looks like nothing was stolen. Then they evade capture by hiding among the hostages.
  • Kelly's Heroes: The robbery of a bank that's 30 miles behind German lines and loaded with stolen Nazi Gold. If they can get in, loot the gold, and make it to Switzerland before their own side catches up with them, they're home free. Nobody but the Germans knows about the gold, after all...
  • The League of Gentlemen's heist would have gone off flawlessly if a random little boy hadn't been collecting license plate numbers outside the bank. This, coupled with the fact that they rendezvous at Hyde's house afterwards, allows the police to catch them all cash in hand.
  • In The Life of David Gale, an anti-death penalty activist is found dead, and the eponymous character, a fellow activist, is convicted and executed due to an abundance of evidence, despite claiming his innocence. Doesn't sound like the perfect crime, you say? Well, the actual crime was the "victim" and the "murderer" conspiring to be respectively "murdered" and executed for the murder. Evidence would then be released that the "murder" was really a suicide, which would in turn show that an innocent man was executed and hopefully gain sympathy for their anti-death penalty views.
  • In The Master of Disguise, the Big Bad Devlin Bowman claims that the perfect crime is this: force-disguise a Master of Disguise as him, then push that Master of Disguise over a cliff, making everyone think he's dead. Or something. It isn't really clear of what this accomplishes.
  • Although not the main point of the movie, Match Point features a perfect crime, albeit one achieved only thanks to a lot of luck.
  • Mr. Brooks: The eponymous character's serial murders are exhaustively careful.
  • Pathology: Dr. Jake Gallo brings Ted to a secluded wing of the hospital, where he and four other indulge in their after-hours, extra-curricular activities...finding ways to commit the perfect murder.
  • The Perfect Crime is a Spanish film about a meticulous mall employee who tries to off his Abhorrent Admirer with the perfect crime. He rents a bunch of crime films as research and is alarmed that one of them is mislabeled El Crimen Ferpecto — "The Ferpect Crime" (this was the original Spanish title of the film).
  • Parodied in Quick Change, in which the highly complex robbery the characters plan and execute in the movie really is perfect, and goes off flawlessly. The relatively simple matter of the getaway, on the other hand, becomes a complicated and mishap-strewn nightmare, until the characters are reduced to wandering around the streets of Queens in the middle of the night with millions of dollars taped to their skin under their clothes trying desperately to hail a taxi or catch a bus.
  • Ocean's Eleven: As Reuben puts it, "With [Terry] Benedict... at the end of this, he'd better not know you're involved, not know your names or think you're dead, because he'll kill ya, and then he'll go to work on ya." At the end, the crew pull off the caper and rob a 9-figure sum from three of Benedict's casinos without Benedict having any clue who did it. He's suspicious of Danny, but lets him go at the end since as far as he knows Danny was accounted for the entire time The Caper was going down. He only finds out in the sequel due to an outside party giving him a tip.
  • Rampage (2009) shows how to pull of the ultimate murder spree/robbery in small-town hell.
  • In A Shock to the System, Michael Caine discovers just how easy to get away with murder and decides to test the limits of his ingenuity and the cops' credulity.
  • In Sorry, Wrong Number, Henry concocts a plan to steal from Leona's father, but it fails miserably. However, it seems that his plan to murder Leona came off without a hitch.
  • Strangers on a Train: Two men trade murders so that the police cannot determine a motive. Recycled so many times that it's a crime trope.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968): An Eccentric Millionaire directs a bank robbery, keeping his identity hidden from the people he hires to carry it out.
  • The Usual Suspects: Keyser Söze is a mysterious crime boss that scares even other criminals. No one interacts with him directly, no one knows who he is or what he looks like, and any knowledge about him is questionable because of how Shrouded in Myth he is. He masterminds the destruction of a ship and the deaths of 27 people, just to kill one of the only people who can positively identify him. Söze ends up getting away scot-free, and no one even suspects his real identity until he's long gone.
  • Vertigo: Scottie is fooled into thinking the wife of his friend is possessed by a ghost and driven to suicide, when in fact it is a look-alike (he'd never met her, so he only assumed this was the true identity of the woman), and her 'suicide' was faked by dumping the real wife's already-dead body off the tower of a mission. They nearly get away with it, though he finds the girl again and falls in love with her...only to realize that it is the same woman he knew.
  • The Whole Nine Yards: A slight subversion, as the murderer makes the police think that he is the dead man.
  • In Wild Things, Suzie's Gambit Roulette plan works out flawlessly and she retires to the Caribbean with $8.5 million dollars.

Examples by author:
  • Agatha Christie:
    • And Then There Were None has one of the rare cases in which the criminal actually gets away with their crime in the end — they execute it so perfectly, in fact, that the policemen themselves can't deduce how anyone could even have got away with murdering 10 people on an island and then apparently committing suicide or vanishing into thin air. Fortunately for readers, the criminal was considerate enough to set a Message in a Bottle afloat detailing their perfect crime.
    • The villain of Curtain, Hercule Poirot's last novel, tops them all, as he could never be tried, couldn't even be connected to the crimes, and gets away with over 6 murders. In fact, the only way to stop him was to kill him.
    • Honorable mention to Death on the Nile, in which the most likely suspects have medically watertight alibis, and not faked, but real.
    • This was the plan in Murder on the Orient Express, with the twelve suspects providing each other with an interlocking net of alibis and trying to pin the murder on an unidentified outside party. Unfortunately for the killers, the titular train gets stuck in a snowdrift, creating a Closed Circle they couldn't plan for and cutting off the hypothetical outside murderer's escape. However, as the victim was an Asshole Victim of the highest order, Poirot lets them off.
    • In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the killer uses a very convoluted method and an obvious one for which he has an unbreakable alibi. He intends to be tried for the obvious method and produce his alibi, so Double Jeopardy laws would prevent him from being tried again. Unfortunately for him, he blabs too much, and Poirot sees through his ruse.
    • In The Sittaford Mystery, the people who might have committed the crime had no way of getting to the victim in time to murder him, so they're innocent. No one thought of the killer skiing there in a few minutes, and likely wouldn't have if the killer hadn't hidden the ski-boots.
  • Edgar Allan Poe did this on occasion.
    • In The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor lures his friend Fortunato into the catacombs under his castle during a festival and buries him alive there. At the end of the story, he notes that it's been 50 years, and no one has yet found the body.
    • It's subverted in The Imp of the Perverse; the narrator commits a murder no one could possibly trace back to him unless he confesses everything... and as soon as he realizes that, it's all over, as the Imp of the Perverse (described as being an impulse to do things that you know are harmful to you) torments him until he confesses to the crime.
Examples by work:
  • Bony: Arthur Upfield and several friends developed a way to completely dispose of a corpse for one of his detective novels. One of the friends went and tried it — and would have gotten away with it had he followed all the steps correctly.
  • In Sergey Sukhinov's Castle on Venus, the titular Death World allows for perfect murders. There is only a single Domed Hometown on the planet and several distant outposts. It's mentioned that as soon as people discovered that someone could kill a person (when outside the city) and get away with it since the harsh Venusian environment would quickly dispose of evidence (not to mention that the killer would be wearing a spacesuit), everyone panicked at first, and then realized it's the perfect location for settling scores or getting rid of someone. The Venusian cops haven't been able to solve a single murder committed outside the dome. Many times, there isn't even a body to be found, so people are simply declared missing and presumed dead. The protagonist has a unique ability to see past events that took place at a location, thanks to a Martian artifact he touched in a previous novel. Even if he was a cop, he still wouldn't be able to find enough evidence to charge murderers. It's mentioned that a good percentage of tourists to Venus aren't there for sightseeing.
  • In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov thinks that his research into why criminals are caught, and his own ubermensch-iness, will give him the edge to murder and get away with it. He panics and very nearly gets caught during the crime, and gets stuck in playing cat-and-mouse with Inspector Porfiry Petrovich.
  • In The Cuckoo's Calling, the killer actually pulled this off but sabotaged themselves due to their Complexity Addiction. John Bristow's murder of his brother Charlie as a child was considered an accident. His sister Lula's murder was deemed a suicide. His informant Rochelle Onifade's murder considered an accidental overdose by a long-term drug addict. It all would have stayed that way if John Bristow hadn't hired Cormoran to track down John's rival for Lula's inheritance.
  • The Dalziel and Pascoe novel Deadheads has a chilling example of this; the detectives rule the murder as suicide, with the murderer going on to live his own life, quite peaceably, and even becoming a neighbour of one of the detectives.
  • Gives Light: Paul Looks Over gets away with murder by exploiting a loophole in the US Constitution.
  • Harry Potter: In the backstory, Voldemort murdered his muggle family with the Killing Curse. The (muggle) police coroner couldn't determine the cause of death. Magical law enforcement also investigated and knew perfectly well what had happened, but arrested the wrong man: muggles blamed the incident on the housekeeper Frank Bryce, who became Convicted by Public Opinion, while the wizards arrested and imprisoned Voldemort's uncle Morfin Gaunt, a known muggle-hater who lived in the area and had been arrested for violating the Statute of Secrecy once before. Dumbledore and Harry only knew that Voldemort had done it thanks to a memory extracted from Morfin before he died and putting the pieces together in their proper context.
  • In Cold Blood: Smith and Hickock enter the isolated house of the Clutters in the middle of the night, murder all four of them with a shotgun, and leave without attracting attention; the most significant clue they leave is a single bootprint. They only get caught because Wells, Hickock's former cellmate, realizes what happened after hearing it on the news and tells a cop.
  • Exaggerated in Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story when the criminal ends up helping the detective solve it (though he ignored the truth because of his pride).
  • In The Lovely Bones, one of the games played in Heaven is "perfect murder", in which the dead try to come up with exactly that. Susie always picks an icicle, because it melts after it's used to kill the victim. Becomes Foreshadowing to Mr. Harvey's own death.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey:
    • In "Absolutely Elsewhere", two suspects have a joint alibi; they were both on the phone and established as being miles away at the time. Lord Wimsey is suspicious of just how elsewhere they were; although he claims you can't be "absolutely elsewhere" unless getting to the scene of the crime would violate general relativity. It turns out to be simpler than that: one of them made the call to set up the alibi; the other was in the house ... which has more than one phone.
    • Ultimately, committing the perfect murder was the real motive of the murderer in the novel Whose Body?.
    • At the start of Unnatural Death, Wimsey opines that to be successful, a crime mustn't even be suspected. The moment a crime is suspected, it's a failure.
  • According to The Munchkin's Guide to Power Gaming, for Munchkins, the Perfect Crime is not one that is pulled off with no evidence or witnesses, which you can live the rest of your life off the proceeds of, but rather "one which involves plenty of gun battles, hopefully a car chase, and some hostage-taking. One that provides enough money to get more and better guns for the next job and to pay off the extravagant drug habit they've taken among their flaws. Their perfect crime has no witnesses because they've killed them all."
  • In Nano Machine, the protagonist Chun Yeowun killed 4 cadets who ambushed him. In Demonic Academy, it's forbidden to kill the other cadets outside official battles, so he made it as if the cadets were killed while fighting each other. Moreover, he left traces on two of the cadets the martial arts used to kill them, which should be exclusively mastered by the elder and the prince of Wise clan. Since the Academy forbade any outsider, the instructors concluded the only suspect possible to commit the crime was the prince of Wise clan, Chun Muyeon (who was responsible for the scheme involving those 4 cadets ambushing Yeowun to begin with).
  • In the Nightmares & Dreamscapes short story "Dolan's Cadillac", a teacher named Robinson wants revenge on a mobster, Dolan, who murdered his wife because she informed on the mobster in court. Basically, Robinson stalks Dolan until he gets a good idea of the mobster's habits and finds out that Dolan regularly drives back and forth between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Robinson joins a road work crew for the summer and busts his ass learning how to work the construction equipment, then sets up a Road-Sign Reversal to direct Dolan and his driver onto an unfinished road, where the titular Cadillac falls into a pit, and its occupants Buried Alive by Robinson. Robinson speculates that one day the road will collapse on top of the Cadillac because of the open space inside it and the pressure of heavy vehicles driving over it, but as far as the reader knows, Robinson gets his revenge and gets away scot-free.
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice: A woman and her lover kill her husband and get away with it. Played With in that they still receive their comeuppance.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • Professor Moriarty is especially good at doing this. Made all the more intriguing because it's implied that he and Holmes have a history before The Final Problem, and several fans have decided to start looking for the other cases he's been the cause of. The police won't even believe he's a criminal.
    • Holmes himself has described the perfect crime as a "routine" mugging or murder in the streets, with nothing grotesque or outre about it.
  • The Thinking Machine: As the title implies, "His Perfect Alibi" involves a murder where the murderer has constructed what seems to be an airtight alibi making it impossible for him to have committed the crime, despite all of the other evidence pointing to him. It falls to Van Dusen to work out how he did it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Banacek is about a freelance insurance investigator who specializes in impossible thefts. For example, one episode involves the theft of a 1970s room-sized supercomputer.
  • Averted in Bones. Finn Abernathy is an intern who escaped from an abusive family, at around the same time his father disappeared mysteriously. Everyone is convinced that he killed his father and that he studied forensic pathology in order to see how he could get away with it. When Dr. Brennan confronts him directly on this, Finn states that he seriously thought about murdering his father, but his studies showed that Dr. Brennan was so expert at her job that she would find a way to prove that he did it, and so he never went through with it. Therefore, he didn't commit the perfect crime because he knew there was no such thing.
  • The Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "The Box" has Jake trying to crack a doctor who murdered his partner. The man is a genius and flaunts it, easily evading the questions in interrogation and basically mocking Jake and Holt on how they'll never be able to prove anything. Jake finally brings up the murder scene and how an award was smashed. He thus theorizes the man killed his partner in a fit of rage and managed to catch a break by the death taking place in a sterile room and further breaks to cover it up. Just as Jake figured, the idea that his brilliantly planned murder will be written off as nothing but dumb luck so outrages the Smug Snake that he confesses to how he planned out every detail and even how he got rid of the murder weapon. He's arrested as Jake tells Holt he knew there was no way an egotist like this could pull off the perfect murder and not brag about it.
  • Serial Killer George Marks from Cold Case perpetrates an example of the second variety. He works filing the case reports, so his knowledge of the murders doesn't give him away, his home is totally clean of all evidence, and he says just enough that the detectives know it was him, but can't prove a thing.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: In "The Stolen Crime", a man claims to have devised the perfect method of murdering his wife and begs Ames to lock him up for three days so that he doesn't put it into action. Ames refuses, as no crime has actually been committed. Then the man's wife dies under mysterious circumstances, and March and Ames' suspicions are aroused. In reality, the man's mistress stole the method and murdered the wife. She figured that even if the death was detected as murder, the husband would be the logical suspect and take the fall.
  • This is a staple of Columbo. Episodes start off with the viewer already seeing the murderer commit a perfect crime that usually obscures any evidence or diverts any attention away from themselves as a suspect. Or, at least, that's what they think, until a crusty old detective comes knocking at the door with just a few more questions... Note that some of the crimes are, indeed, perfect enough that Columbo just cannot gather enough evidence for a trial, despite being quite sure of who's done it. That generally means the Lieutenant will instead spring a trap, either by manipulating the culprit into another crime to hide some new fake "evidence", or to put him or her in a position where confessing becomes the preferred option (when the alternative is, for example, mob justice). Columbo himself sums it up in "Now You See Him...":
    Columbo: Perfect murder, sir? Oh, I'm sorry, there's no such thing as a perfect murder. That's just an illusion.
  • The eponymous character from Dexter is quite proficient at this: tranquilizing his victims and binding them in a room completely covered in plastic sheeting. He then kills them with an edged weapon to avoid ballistic evidence, often while wearing a face shield, rubber gloves, and an apron, and saws them into pieces which he disposes of in biodegradable trash bags and dumps into a strong ocean current. The victims then all appear to be missing persons cases and are rarely ever mentioned again. It helps that he's a blood-spatter analyst; it's his job to figure out other people's crimes, and he got training in the matter from his cop foster father.
    • Subverted in Season 2 when divers stumble upon one of his dump sites, leading to an investigation that comes uncomfortably close to exposing him and forces him to improve his method.
    • In later seasons, Dexter regularly screws up. He only gets away because he is good at covering up his screw-ups. If the cops and/or FBI start investigating the disappearances seriously, he would be exposed. A number of people could have exposed him already, but they consider the people he killed to be far worse and will not turn him in.
  • The first half of one episode of Diagnosis: Murder has the criminal explaining his plan for the perfect murder, followed by the actual murder wherein nothing went to plan. Despite this, the reason Sloan catches onto him isn't because of the numerous mistakes but because of the "mountain of evidence" he had planted to frame someone else. It's the first case Sloan has in which the suspect is so obvious that he thinks it's suspicious.
  • The Ariel raid in Firefly would have been this except for Jayne. The Bellerophon raid would have been as well, except for Durran.
  • Jonathan Creek revolves around this, with Creek using his stage-magician knowledge to help suss out many a Perfect Crime or Locked Room Mystery.
  • One episode of Law & Order has a woman who gets her husband's money by manipulating him into thinking she's having an affair, provoking him into murdering her supposed lover and getting him sent to prison while she gets the money. She confesses this to the detectives knowing there's nothing they can do because she hasn't done anything illegal.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent has a registered nurse who killed his boss by stirring up a bunch of Paranoia Fuel among the guy's relatives and getting them to do the killing for him. It was the perfect murder because he didn't technically do anything that was against the law. Or so he thought. Turned out, since he was the guy's personal nurse, New York state law required him to make his best effort to save the guy's life. The fact that he knew the guy's life was in danger and didn't do anything about it, and that he walked away while the guy was dying, means that he committed manslaughter.
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the detectives find a twin brother and sister who turn out to both be biologically male. It seems that there was a problem with "her" circumcision as an infant, so instead of living as a castrated male, the parents decided to give him a sex change and female hormone supplements so that "she" could live a normal life as a woman. However, "she" has been having gender dysphoria and identity issues anyway, and when the detectives tell the "girl" the truth, she starts to identify as male and stops taking estrogen. Then the twins' therapist, who recommended the procedure to the parents, is murdered. There is DNA left at the scene (the perpetrator took the time to spit on the corpse), but the twins have identical DNA, and the "girl" has been off estrogen just long enough for it to get out of "her" system. Any prosecution against one twin would automatically be invalidated by the fact that the other twin could have done it. Truth in Television. Twins are the nightmare of forensics. The twins in the episode are based on a pair of real-life twins, at that (though the real guys didn't kill anybody, of course).
  • Some of the capers in Leverage get close to this.
    • Quoth one detective:
      "Someone tricked you into bringing a briefcase of your own crimes straight to the police? Come on, Mr. Leary, nobody's that smart."
    • However, Nate is quick to point out that no plan is truly perfect, and trying to plan for everything is folly so it's best to have backup plans in case.
      Nate: The perfect plan, it's got too many moving parts to it. You have to expect the perfect plan to fail, that's what I do.
  • Many episodes of Monk have the killer construct a seemingly perfect alibi for themselves, only for Monk to gradually unravel it. Several killers appear to have perfect alibis (one was in a coma during the murder, another one was in space, and a third was on TV running a marathon). How they did it:
    • The man in a coma glued packages with bombs to the top of the mailbox so they would drop and be delivered sometime later, before ending up in a coma (he was only planning to get arrested).
    • The runner attached his tracker to the camera, then slipped out to kill his ex, returning just before crossing the finish line.
    • The astronaut knocked out his ex and tied her around the neck to a garage door opener, having the clicker mailed to the area hidden in a doll to activate the door during his mission.
    • Also discussed in the episode with the astronaut when Monk explains his job to a class of kids: he says that the police can make numerous mistakes and still catch the criminal. The only way for a criminal to get away with a crime is for them to not make a single mistake. Because no human being is perfect, the odds are heavily in favor of the police.
  • In the Moonlighting episode "Perfetc" (sic), Dave and Maddie are hired by a man who committed the perfect crime and is now dying. He wants them to prove that he did it so he'll be remembered for the accomplishment.
  • Played with in the Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Murdoch Appreciation Society", in which the murderer is framing his professor, but has to make it look like a "perfect" murder so it isn't obviously a frame-up, while at the same time making it imperfect enough to work as one. He comes up with a murder that would have been perfect if not for outside interference, which he provides. Unfortunately for him, that's enough for Murdoch to tie him to it.
  • In New Tricks, the team tracks a series of dog murders, which happened thirty years prior and then started again. It turned out that it was a cover for the murderer to obtain dog liver, to extract poison in the form of a "beef" tea. When they eventually catch him, after he has killed one wife, terminally injured his latest, and almost poisoned Jack, he declares it to have been a perfect crime due to it taking over thirty years to catch him.
  • One episode of Psych involves a thief who never leaves any trace and manages to steal things out of sealed buildings. The "victims" just gave him the stuff so that they could collect insurance.
  • Sherlock, not unexpectedly, attempts a few of these to varying degrees of success. The two best examples (so far) are probably in the episodes "A Study in Pink", in which a serial killer makes all his murders look like suicides, and "The Sign of Three", in which the murderer figures out how to fatally stab someone in a way they wouldn't even notice and won't cause them to bleed out until hours later.
  • The Two Twisted episode "Finding Frank" has a security guard's colleague disappearing and calling out desperately over his walkie-talkie. When the guard goes to find him, it turns out to be a surprise retirement party but goes terribly wrong when the nervous guard overreacts, firing his gun when the lights come on, killing his wife. However, as the guard is being led away, he drops a bit of paper that his colleague picks up. It's an invitation to the party with the exact time, location, and everything, showing that the guard knew all along and used the party to kill his wife, framing it as an accident. It's even better when you know the actor who plays the guard played a put-upon Extreme Doormat in his most famous role.

  • Apollo 440 made an instrumental track titled "The Perfect Crime" for their album Gettin' High on Your Own Supply.
  • The Decemberists' "The Perfect Crime #1" and "The Perfect Crime #2", of course. #2 in particular is essentially a sophisticated heist story in the form of a five-minute song.

  • The entire first act of Charles Marowitz's Sherlock's Last Case involves Watson constructing an elaborate and seemingly airtight plot to murder Sherlock Holmes. Of course, it's Holmes, so the second act reveals that the plan didn't work out as well as Watson thought.

    Video Games 
  • In Heavy Rain, one of the game's hardest trophies to get is called Perfect Crime. Scott Shelby, the Origami Killer, goes loose, whereas Lauren, Hassan, Kramer, Madison, Norman, Ethan, and Shaun all die (though the last two are optional).
  • The Hitman games reward you for achieving the "Silent Assassin" rating by getting in, killing your target, and getting out without anyone realizing you were there. Unlike the Thief example below, SA rank only disqualifies you if you're spotted doing anything illegal or any bodies are found, you're allowed to knock out (but not kill) people and destroy security cameras all you want.
  • The Invisible Hours has one character ask a detective the question, which has a pretty simple answer (given that this is set in Christie Time).
    Gustaf Gustav: Two men are on a roof. One falls to his death. Did he jump, or was he pushed?
  • Lost Judgment: A police officer by the name of Akihiro Ehara is arrested and convicted for groping a woman on a train, but after he's convicted, he announces the location of a murder victim by the name of Hiro Mikoshiba. Evidence turns up later that Ehara killed Mikoshiba, but he has the perfect alibi in that he was committing the sexual assault around the same time, and the police can't pursue the murder charge without embarrassing themselves with giving a false verdict, essentially making Ehara untouchable in that case. It takes a lot of work and effort, but Yagami is able to get Ehara to confess to the murder and overturns the sexual assault charge.
  • In Papers, Please, you are tasked by a resistance organization at one point with killing a specific entrant by applying poison to their passport. Do this and depending on actions throughout the game, you eventually get arrested for aiding the organization. However, if you apply the poison on any other entrant, you are never suspected of it. Ever. Even though the incident causes the checkpoint to be shut down early due to a "security incident", which can subsequently cause you to lose potential earnings from processing entrants, there are no long-term or later consequences, unless your money is very tight. You can make it to the ending where you pass the government audit; you are never reprimanded for lethally poisoning an innocent person.
  • A minor version in Persona 3; you can intentionally not catch the Junpei peeping at the girls at the hot springs as the female Main Character. The boys will be quite happy to see the girls bathe and not get in trouble for once.
  • In Thief, this is a common Self-Imposed Challenge for the players known as the "Ghost Run": rob the place blind, but leave no trace that you were there. Don't knock anyone out. Re-lock all the doors, safes, and other unlockable things. Don't break anything. Don't let anyone get even the slightest hint that there's a thief about. It's possible but extremely difficult.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nearly happens a lot of times in Ace Attorney. The killer always loses in the end, but for a really slim margin. Notably magnificent cases include:
    • The DL-6 incident, perpetrated by the Big Bad of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Three people are locked in an elevator, and one is killed. All three were suffering from oxygen deprivation at the time of the murder and were unconscious or have hazy memories of the moment. It's mentioned that the police were so desperate they resorted to using a spirit medium, but it didn't work and remains unsolved to the present. Not even the victim knew who killed him, because he was unconscious at the time, and the real killer, Manfred von Karma, was outside the elevator and only entered after everyone inside was out cold. Nobody ever knew he was there, and they never would if Phoenix hadn't intervened.
    • The second case of Justice For All is a murder in which only two people are in a locked room that had witnesses standing in front of it. One of those people is murdered and the witnesses break into the room seconds later to find one of the people dead and the other wielding a pistol. The plan only failed because the victim, unbeknownst to Mimi, had a gun with him and shot back in self-defense. This created the crucial piece of evidence which let Phoenix prove that someone else was in the room at the time of the killing.
    • In the second case of Trials and Tribulations, Luke Atmey's plan to murder Kane Bullard used the Double Jeopardy law to get him convicted for being Mask☆DeMasque because since the theft and murder occurred at the same time, being declared guilty of one legally makes him innocent of the other.
    • The third case of Trials and Tribulations: Kill someone. Plant evidence. Re-enact crime to manipulate witness testimony. Impersonate lawyer, represent accused, do intentionally poor job. The only reasons it fails are because a guilty verdict can in rare instances be overturned, and Furio decided to impersonate someone with quite a reputation.
    • For a first trial, the murder of Shadi Smith in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is a really good one: emerge from a secret passage while the victim is alone in the room, kill the victim, remove evidence that suggests you were present, leave and invoke The Perry Mason Method to frame one of the witnesses while defending the other in court. The only reason the culprit gets caught at all is their tendency to wax poetic about information they really shouldn't have known and Phoenix forging a copy of the removed evidence.
    • The murder of Drew Misham in Apollo Justice, despite being delayed, also works like a charm — Kristoph made sure the victim himself got rid of the murder weapon.
    • The UR-1 incident in Dual Destinies. The true culprit tries to hide the evidence that they were at the crime scene by blowing it up in space. While blowing up the evidence failed, it was still in an interplanetary probe for seven years. In the meantime, the phantom kills and impersonates Detective Bobby Fulbright so that he can interfere in the investigation. When the evidence comes back down to Earth, he kills the person unwittingly carrying it so it's used as evidence during the trial for his murder. Then he blows up the courtroom. The phantom also frames Simon and later Athena. The only reason his attempts to hide the evidence failed was that Athena's mother gave her an earring made out of the same moon rock, which could be used to show that the debris with his blood on it was from the crime scene.
    • Manov Mistree's murder in Spirit of Justice. Even with Apollo's efforts, Mr. Reus would've gone scot-free because he had destroyed the evidence implicating him of having committed remote murder. They were only brought down because Bonny De Famme made a mistake during the murder that forced the perp to manipulate the evidence in a completely nonsensical way that discredits the claim that Trucy Wright did it.
    • Also in Spirit of Justice, the incident where previous queen Amara Sigatar Khura'in's house was burned. All evidence was burned to a crisp, leaving no clues to the real arsonist. A lighter with Dhurke Sahdmadhi's fingerprints was left in the scene to frame him, and the kingdom believed for 23 years that he was the arsonist... until Apollo Justice came to the land, bringing a crucial piece of evidence to reevaluate the incident, eventually bringing to light the real culprit. The evidence? The last sights of Apollo's deceased father, which show that the one who planted the lighter in the scene was the current queen, Ga'ran.
  • This is a goal of all killers in Danganronpa, as the only way to escape wherever the characters are trapped is to commit a murder and then get away with it by having other characters vote someone else as guilty in a trial. Most attempts fail (these are high schoolers, not hardened criminals), but occasionally someone has a really good plan that is only barely solved.
    • The third murder in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a good example of how not to do this; the killer planned an airtight murder that gave them a frame target with an Orgy of Evidence against them and an alibi of having been part of the investigation the whole time. The only thing they forgot was the plausibility of their scenario; none of the evidence left behind directly implicated them, but they became suspicious because they were the one to gather almost all the evidence involved in the frame job (so once that fell apart, they became a primary suspect), and implicated themselves further by stubbornly sticking to their story even as holes were poked into it.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has two that were only solved due to circumstances completely outside the murderer's control.
      • The culprit of chapter 4, Gundham Tanaka, sets up a Time-Delayed Death for his victim that would have left him with an absolutely perfect alibi had Fuyuhiko not just happened to be at the lounge in the early morning instead of in his room.
      • Nagito Komaeda occasionally brags that he would be able to set up an unsolvable murder, and offers to use his plan for anyone who'd like to kill him (yes, he's kinda crazy). In chapter 5, he delivers on his boast in order to make his target the culprit for his own murder, without him knowing the person's specific identity or the culprit even realizing they'd killed him. He mutilates himself and sets up a trap so that opening the door to the room he was in would cause a fire. There were fire extinguisher grenades nearby, which the remaining students used to put out the fire. However, Nagito had poisoned one grenade, and died from the poison after it was thrown, relying on his Ultimate Good Luck to make sure his target (the traitor, who was actually the only student not an amnesiac former Ultimate Despair member) picked up the poisoned grenade. Since all the remaining students threw grenades and it's impossible to tell which grenade was the poisoned one, even if the students do figure out the poison thing, they'd have to guess who picked up the poison grenade. The only reason the remaining students survive the chapter is because Chiaki was able to put together that they would likely be Nagito's target (using information the others didn't have) and confess to save the others.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • Chapter 3's murder would've been one if the culprit hadn't got cocky. Korekiyo Shinguji had two decent murders under his belt — he killed Angie alone at night and left virtually no evidence, and he killed Tenko in a deathtrap that left him with no direct connection to the victim. However, since Angie was found first and the rules of the game state that only the first victim's murder is relevant to the Class Trial, he thought it was okay to confess to Tenko's murder, since they couldn't convict him for it without letting Angie's hypothetical killer graduate. Problem is, while there wasn't enough evidence to link him to each individual death, there was evidence to connect the two murders, so the class knew that whoever killed Tenko probably also killed Angie. And there was Korekiyo outright admitting to killing Tenko...
      • Chapter 4's murder is a variation. By the rules of the game, they Found the Killer, Lost the Murderer. Kokichi masterminded Miu's murder, but Gonta was the one who actually carried it out. Since Gonta was the one who did the dirty work, he was considered the Blackened while Kokichi is unable to be tried despite everyone knowing it was ultimately his fault.
      • Kokichi Oma does it again in Chapter 5, attempting to create a murder so perfect even Monokuma can't solve it, by working with Kaito so Kokichi, dressed in Kaito's jacket, was the victim and crushed into unrecognizability by a hydraulic press, and Kaito hid in a hijacked Exisal mech and acted as Kokichi using a script Kokichi wrote beforehand. It almost works, but a few minor errors, Shuichi's deductive skills, and Kaito's fatal illness get in the way.
    • Despite being a Fan Game, Case 3 of Super Danganronpa Another 2 is a solid contender for the most convoluted murder in the entire franchise. Teen Genius Serial Killer Kanade Otonokoji used her twin sister as a Manchurian Agent to pull off a Crazy-Prepared plan requiring Twin Telepathy, Improbable Aiming Skills, and a Memory Gambit, resulting in the first crime in the series where two people were the killer meaning that no matter which twin the others voted for, she would win. The only reason it fails is due to a Deus ex Machina.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • This is a big plot point in the third arc. Keiichi tries to figure out how to commit one by talking to his mom with whose help he decides that the perfect crime is one that was never committed (or leaves no trace of being committed). He then attempts to do this and murders Satoko's uncle, although the method he actually uses — burying the body in the woods — is pretty shoddy. It winds up working anyway, but only because of Sonozaki intervention that really only winds up screwing him up even worse than he already was.
    • In a broader sense, every single arc ends in a perfect crime except the last one. It turns out that military Special Forces, with the full backing of the government, are even better at covering up crimes than Yakuza are. It isn't until Rika remembers the face of her killer in the final arc that the 'chain of mysterious deaths' is finally solved.

    Web Animation 


    Western Animation 
  • In one of the shorts that The Simpsons originated from, Bart claims that stealing freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and blaming it on Maggie, who is pre-verbal and can't defend herself, is the perfect crime. After eating an entire sheet of cookies, getting chocolate smeared all over his face, he is caught red-handed (or rather, brown-faced) and his attempt to scapegoat his sister understandably fail. As Bart gets taken away by Homer for punishment (lamenting that there is no such thing as a perfect crime), Maggie steals one cookie — whose theft will be blamed on Bart if it's noticed at all.

    Real Life 
  • The perfect crime? We'll never know, will we?
    • There was the Zodiac and Jack the Ripper Murders. No one ever knew who the killer in each case was.
      • Both the Zodiac and Ripper cases had suspects, some of them very solid, but due to a lack of evidence — and in the Ripper case, a severe case of Jurisdiction Friction — none of the suspects could be charged.
    • Followed by Bike Theft, no one investigates it, ever, almost no one is ever arrested, almost no bikes are ever recovered, and it pays better than drug dealing.
      • This led to the formation of vigilante groups in some cities, who plant bikes with GPS trackers hidden into them as baits, then follow the thieves and beat the crap out of them to deter further thefts.
  • The TV show Masterminds re-enacts real-life cases, some of which might be considered the perfect crime. One episode was even titled "The Perfect Score" and had an FBI agent admitting that the crime was perfect. There were only a few clues that went straight to dead ends. The only reason the criminal was caught was that he tried to pull it off again, and the FBI noticed how similar the second (failed) crime was.
  • It was Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb's goal to commit the perfect crime when they murdered fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks. They were bright young things who thought they might be Ubermenschen. They made about a frillion mistakes. Just to demonstrate how far from perfect this attempt was, some of the more notable ones are: Leaving the body right by railroad tracks, where it was quickly discovered. Leaving a pair of eyeglasses belonging to one of them with an unusual hinge mechanism that had been bought by three people in the area. And on questioning, claiming that they had been out in their car, even though their chauffeur was repairing the car that night. One of them even tried cracking a joke about, if he were to murder someone, it would be some self-important little twat like Bobby Franks. Being seen together in their rented car at the time and place the kidnapping had occurred. Yeah, Moriarty, these guys were not.
  • Two Malaysian men escaped hanging for drug trafficking because they were twin brothers, and the courts couldn't distinguish between the guilty brother and the innocent brother.
  • At least one conjoined twin once got away with murder because he couldn't be imprisoned without also imprisoning his innocent brother.
  • Averted in Real Life according to David Simon's book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Rule #10 in Homicide: There is such a thing as a perfect murder. Always has been, and anyone who tries to prove otherwise merely proves himself naive, romantic, and a fool who is ignorant of the first nine rules.
    • A definite example from said book is the killing of John Randolph Scott. An unarmed man was shot to death while running from police, likely by one of the officers involved. However, only one bullet had been fired by any of the officers and this was later found embedded in the tarmac. To this day it's still not known what happened.
  • Just look at Wikipedia's list of unsolved deaths, which includes a huge amount of murders where the perpetrator was never found or even identified.
  • There's actually a very popular argument that the perfect crime is one where nobody ever realizes a crime was committed. Take murder for example. If everyone (police, M.E., relatives, everyone) believes the victim died of natural causes, or in a tragic accident, then there is no murder to be investigated. The perfect crime. Thus, by definition, we will never know if the perfect crime has been committed because we never know that it occurred in the first place. To put it in perspective, there were 126,438 deaths in 2010 in the USA that were the result of accidental injury. If 1% of them were murders that were never recognized, that would be 1264 murders that were never identified as such or an 8.5% increase in the listed number of murders for that year.
  • Laws that are struck down by courts remain on the books because legislators generally don't bother repealing them, so in a sense breaking them is the perfect crime. The law is unenforceable, so if caught you can never be convicted.
  • The "Unabomber" was notorious partly because his attacks, successful or not, were practically devoid of useful clues. The bombs were made of atypical scrap parts and hand-carved wood, never contained any fingerprints (though one contained someone else's fingerprint), and were sent to a nearly random series of people. The FBI didn't get much farther than "he's probably an academic who's obsessed with wood." He was only caught because he published a "manifesto" and his brother and sister-in-law recognized his writing style.
  • Either played straight or subverted by legendary airline hijacker D.B. Cooper, depending on who you ask. On the one hand, he's the only person who ever successfully hijacked an airplane and escaped custody. On the other hand, many experts believe that this is because he died after jumping out of the plane in the dark over a remote stretch of Washington wilderness while wearing shoes and clothing that weren't suitable for the terrain or weather, which indicates a lack of skydiving and wilderness survival experience.
  • It's been speculated that the small section of Yellowstone National Park that lies in the state of Idahonote  might be the perfect place to commit a murder. The theory is that it will be impossible to impanel a qualified jury because there are no persons who reside within both the State of Idaho and the judicial district that contains the park. The Other Wiki has details. Even beyond legal quibbles, the area is a wilderness with no paved roads, meaning few people go there and it's likely that a body (or evidence for whatever crime you're thinking of committing there) would never be found. Jurisdiction Friction is also quite possible.
  • Joseph Deangelo almost got away with the perfect crime for 44 years. He had raped 50 women, robbed over 100 homes, and killed 12 people as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer. No one saw his face, he wore gloves to deny police his fingerprints, he would call from phone booths or stay on the line for a short time so no one could trace his location. But there was one misstep in his crime spree, his DNA was found everywhere. At first, this evidence was of little value because there wasn't a profile in the system to match it to — that is, until the technology was developed that allowed relatives to be identified through partial DNA matches (rather than just identifying individuals through exact matching), at which point police were able to piece his identity together through partial matches by using the DNA submitted to genealogy sites by members of his family.
  • British serial killer Ian Brady allegedly had a dream to commit the perfect murder, which his killings were meant to be; as such, he would have his accomplice, Myra Hindley, lure victims to a remote moor where he would then kill and bury them, knowing that no one would be around to witness his crimes. He actually might have pulled it off if he hadn't decided to bring a witness to the scene to witness his final crime. The witness in question was a young man Brady had been mentoring and he seemingly believed that he could turn the man into a second accomplice by having him witness the killing; instead, the man promptly called the police and reported what he'd seen, leading to the arrests and eventual convictions of Brady and Hindley.
  • A case of brazen criminal, ingenious loophole was that of former French courtesan and mistress of Edward VIII, Marguerite Marie Alibert. She shot and murdered her husband Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey in 1923, but because she had kept some highly incriminating letters sent to her by Edward VIII and threatened to reveal their scandalous liaison, she was acquitted. The remaining incriminating letters were found and destroyed after her death in 1971.
  • Mensa member George Trepal though he'd committed the perfect murder when he fatally poisoned his neighbour Peggy Carr with thallium. However, despite being a genius he made a number of stupid mistakes, with holding a murder mystery weekend in which the "perfect crime" was identical to his crime and the solution was the victim's neighbor poisoning them with thallium being an obvious one.
  • Rodney Whitchelo was a former police officer writing a book on how to commit the perfect crime. It turned out that while he was doing this he was also committing what he believed was the perfect crime for inspiration. He sent letters to supermarkets threatening to put razor blades in baby food unless he was paid a substantial amount of money, staying one step ahead of the police because his old friends involved in the investigation were keeping him up to date. He only got caught because the police realized someone was helping him and replaced all the officers on the case with officers from out of town, meaning Whitchelo didn't know what they were doing and walked into a trap while collecting his latest blackmail payment.
  • The murder of Julia Wallace in Liverpool in 1931 has been dubbed "the perfect crime" by multiple writers, including Raymond Chandler. The victim's husband William Wallace (not that Wallace) was called away from their home by a mysterious phone call inviting him to call at an address in a neighbourhood which he soon found out did not exist. Upon returning home, Wallace found that his house had been burgled and his wife murdered. Wallace himself was initially convicted of the crime, but it was soon proved that he couldn't have committed the murder: his search for the non-existent meeting place had given him a cast-iron alibi, as he couldn't have had enough time to get back home, re-enter without being seen, commit the murder, change out of his blood-spattered clothes and get back outside in time to be seen by neighbours trying to get back inside the house. Wallace's conviction was thrown out, but this left the question of who else could have done it, as the established timeline left no-one but Wallace with any window of opportunity. It seemed that the case had been solved in 1981 when evidence implicating another man, Richard Gordon Parry, emerged, only for it to be revealed in 2001 that Parry also had an alibi, as multiple witnesses swore that he had been at a party the whole night. To this day the culprit remains unidentified.