They say a good friend will help you hide the body. In the absence of a good friend, apparently Google is your friend, I have just discovered.

On the Quora website there are 46 answers to the question ‘What is the best place to hide a dead body?’ Each of these have had thousands of views. (And I have just added to this number – damn!) Other questions include ‘what is the best way to dispose of a body’, ‘what is the worst place to hide a body’, and ‘what is a good place to hide a body when you have killed ten people’ (which is disturbingly specific and best not examined too closely.

Interestingly, hiding the body may be done at the request of the deceased and not as a result of foul play. Some famous or infamous people have been buried in secret locations to avoid desecration, grave robbing, or tourism. Apparently Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in California, has a number of movie stars interred there and will not under any circumstances disclose their exact resting place. This is probably wise, as some ‘fans’ have no shame when it comes to their idols.

An actual murderer decided that Siri would be a much better friend than Google, and consulted his Iphone. (Yes this contributed to his conviction, apparently. He obviously didn’t think that through.)

Of course there are potential problems with enlisting your good friend to help you hide the body. That good friend then becomes the person who ‘knows where the bodies are buried.’ Some websites will tell you that this saying first appeared in the film ‘Citizen Kane’ (1940), however according to Word Histories there are earlier sources, the earliest quoted being a 1928 newspaper. So the general idea is that if you ever see anyone in a position for which he/she is unfit, or see them getting away with everything, you can be sure that that person is fully acquainted with the location of the aforementioned corpse, or other incriminating evidence.

A related phrase ‘skeleton in the closet’, conjures up delightfully ghoulish images of ghost stories and movies where some unsuspecting person opens a cupboard, only to have a skeleton, dead body, or something even worse fall out on top of them. This old trope is always good for a jump scare, and a bit of a giggle. (I am reminded of an old Vincent Price movie called ‘House on Haunted Hill’, where a very plastic skeleton dangling on very visible wires was supposed to scare a woman into falling into a pool of acid. If you haven’t seen this film, check it out. It’s hilarious!) More generically, of course, it merely refers to a guilty secret of any type, the idea being that the apparently respectable person has something they don’t want discovered, but it’s as close to discovery as merely opening a cupboard door. It’s earliest known usage is in the early nineteeth century, and the idea is demonstrated quite literally by the writer Edgar Allen Poe in his story ‘The Black Cat’, written in 1845. His contemporary, English author William Thackeray, who referred to ‘skeletons in cupboards’ in a work of 1854.

But if you ask Americans, the best way to hide the body, or at least the information about it, is under a mountain of paperwork. When documents were declassified in 2006, it did not make them immediately available. Why? Because they all had to be sorted and catalogued, and there were millions of them. The article describing this was in 2007, but given the description of the quantities involved I would not be surprised if they were still at it. I guess red tape is the most dangerous weapon of all.

I wonder if I’ve gone onto a list somewhere due to googling ways to hide a dead body. Oh well.

Bibliography

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/skeleton-in-the-closet.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2007/01/16/how-to-bury-a-secret-turn-it-into-paperwork-span-classbankheadmillions-of-pages-are-declassified-but-that-doesnt-necessarily-mean-divulgedspan/25539ba3-6e38-4c88-88ae-16fcf50df4a5/

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