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View Full Version : assassinated via heart attack. How?


pkbites
09-29-2001, 02:32 AM
I've read a couple of novels over the years where a victim was injected with some chemical which caused a heart attack, therefore making it look like the death was by natural causes and not murder.

Does such a chemical exist? if so, has it ever really been used?

The only thing close I can think of is casot beans, but i didn't think the effects of those mimicked a heart attack.

jk1245
09-29-2001, 03:24 AM
Potassium Chloride will stop your heart. In fact, it's what's used in lethal injections (one of the things anyway).

Don't know if it's detectable in the blood, or if it would look like a "natural" heart attack, but it would work.

kinoons
09-29-2001, 04:01 AM
there are several things I guess you could inject into someone because the heart attack. adrenaline, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate, just to name a few.

it is all a matter of getting the right amount to the heart of the right time. Delivery of these chemicals wouldn't be easy, you would have to inject them into a person's veins.

Anyone else with any ideas?

Gaspode
09-29-2001, 04:20 AM
Speaking as a botanist I'd like to recommend ricin and grayanotoxin. Two natural plant products that commonly lead to heart failure in poisoned livestock, though by two separate means.

williambaskerville
09-29-2001, 06:08 AM
Not quite chemicals, but there's a Dorothy L. Sayers murder mystery where the murder weapon is an empty hypodermic needle. Apparently you just draw some air into the hypo, and inject into an vein. This causes an air bubble to be drawn into the heart, and gives all the appearance of a heart attack.

choosybeggar
09-29-2001, 07:12 AM
Is the OP making a dictinction between a "heart attack" and stopping or poisoning the heart? Because, if so, few of the proposed methods will produce a "heart attack."

Potassium chloride stops the heart (it's used for this purpose in the capital punishment IV cocktail). Excess potassium is easily detected

Calcium promotes arrythymias (which can kill you), but I've never read of it stopping the heart or promoting heart attacks. Excess Ca is easily detected

Bicarbonate increases blood pH. This can cause lots of problems, but no direct effect on the heart. Excess Bicarb is easily detected

Adrenaline make the heart pump harder against blood vessels that are increasingly clamped down. The net effect is to make the heart work really hard, while elevating blood pressure to a great degree. Such alterations may promote a heart attack in an otherwise succeptible individual. Excess adrenaline is easily detected, but since it is elevated in the context of a heart attack anyway (the body's way to try to make the most of a shitty heart), maybe you'd get away with it. But probably not since you'd likely need a quantity inconsistent with any physiological state.

I don't know what ricin and grayanotoxin do specifically to the heart, but it's more likely a direct toxicity than promotion of heart attack.

Air embolus can make it impossible for the heart to pump blood, but this works by filling up the heart's chambers with air, physically impeding the entry of blood. To be effective, the embolus must be massive. The commonly held notion that one lil' bubble will do you in has been refuted by no lesser a source than the master himself, but I can't find the vstchinken column. In any case, it's pretty obvious what happened when you open the heart and find it full of frothy blood.

To answer the OP, I know of no means to produce a perfect, heart attack (short of stuffing an old, fat guy-with a family history significant for heart disease-with french fries and making him run like the wind) While there are things that work (adrenaline, as mentioned and neo-synepherine as well), they are detectable and the evil villian would get pinched. And if I knew of some perfect method, do you think it'd be a good idea to post it here?

Qadgop the Mercotan
09-29-2001, 09:19 AM
What Choosybeggar said. To be sure of causing a heart attack, sneak up on the person, catheterize his femoral artery, and slide the catheter up the aorta, then thread it into a coronary artery. Inflate the tip of the catheter a la balloon angioplasty so it occludes the coronary artery, and wait for 45 minutes or so. You'll infarct a portion of the cardiac muscle, aka heart attack. Fatality is not assured, tho.

Jeremytt
09-29-2001, 01:36 PM
I had heard that an overdose of Aconitine is untraceable. Also, supposedly, an overdose of Potassium Chloride is fatal to the heart. With all due respect, Choosyburger, yes, the extra potassium is detectable, but in terms of an autopsy, isn't linked to murder, directly.

The Angel of Death, i.e. the nurse who murdered dozens of his patients, used overdoses of Potassium Chloride. All the coroner can say for sure, is that the deaths were Consistent with Potassium Chloride poisoning.

Also, Ricin, which is the active ingredient in Castor Beans, is almost completely undetectable. It works by poisoning the blood (to oversimplify). Victims die with flu-like symptoms. Heart failure isn't the direct cause of death, only a subsidiary cause.

Hope this helps.

drachillix
09-29-2001, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
What Choosybeggar said. To be sure of causing a heart attack, sneak up on the person, catheterize his femoral artery, and slide the catheter up the aorta, then thread it into a coronary artery. Inflate the tip of the catheter a la balloon angioplasty so it occludes the coronary artery, and wait for 45 minutes or so. You'll infarct a portion of the cardiac muscle, aka heart attack. Fatality is not assured, tho.

I having a little chuckle here thinking, hold still damnit!! I'm doing this for your own good!!

choosybeggar
09-30-2001, 06:24 AM
Originally posted by Jeremytt
Also, supposedly, an overdose of Potassium Chloride is fatal to the heart. With all due respect, Choosyburger, yes, the extra potassium is detectable, but in terms of an autopsy, isn't linked to murder, directly.



Let's do a little math. KCl for injection comes premixed at 2mEq/ml. This California capital punishment page (http://cdc.state.ca.us/issues/capital/capital4.htm) says they use 50 ml KCl for lethal injection. So lets assume that 100mEq of KCl is what we'd need to inject. How much would that raise plasma K concentration? Lets take 3L as a rough estimate of plasma volume and 4mEq/L as a normal K value. Assuming that all the potassium we add stays in the plasma, following the infusion, the plasma K will be (100/3)+4=37mEq/L. That big of a jump is likely to make Mr. Forensic Examiner's eyebrows travel to the back of his head.

Now, perhaps the amount of KCl the use in Cali is overkill (OOH, I slay me), and surely, not all the KCl will stay in the plasma, but Senor Jeremytt, I believe you got some 'splaining to do regarding the statement quoted above.

Why wouldn't an easily detectable increase in a known cardiotoxin help establish the role of foul play at autopsy?

And by the way, the name's not choosyburger it's chewybooger. (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=76466)

Johnny L.A.
09-30-2001, 09:45 AM
Is the OP making a dictinction between a "heart attack" and stopping or poisoning the heart? Because, if so, few of the proposed methods will produce a "heart attack."
I think pkbites means, "a victim was injected with some chemical which made the death appear to be a heart attack." I've heard and read the method in movies and books, usually in the form of, "It kills instantly and is undetectable. The target will appear to have had a heart attack." Of course, the good guys will have someone who finds the point at which the needle entered which will tip them off that an assassination has been carried out.

A friend of mine had a book called The Poor Man's James Bond, which he let me look through. One part told how to make "prussic acid" and said you could put it in a squirt gun. Spray it in the target's face, and he will inhale it and die instantly. People would assume he'd just dropped dead from a heart attack. I think it also said something about it being dangerous to anyone who tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Of course the author of that book was a pint of potato salad short of a barbeque. No idea how much, if any, of what he wrote was true or practical. (And I'm not about to buy his book and try any of them out!)

Qadgop the Mercotan
09-30-2001, 10:11 AM
Death will look like a heart attack only if a myocardial infarction actually occurs. Dead heart muscle is easily seen on autopsy. I think the OP means "what drug will cause a cardiac arrest, or fatal arrhythmia, and be undetectable?"

Jeremytt
09-30-2001, 12:56 PM
Choosybegger, LOL. Sorry for the misquote.

We are probably both right, Choosy. That much Potassium is, indeed, detectable in the blood. I didn't contend that.

I was only saying that, in terms of a coroner, he can't look at a high K level in the blood, and say, "Ah, it's murder". He can only say,"This is CONSISTENT with overdosage with KCL".

This is because there are other ways, innocuous ways, that excess K can be in the blood. Perhaps the individual is taking KCL pills for a medical condition. Perhaps the person uses a lot of "No-Salt". A lot of Sodium-Free products you can buy directly over the counter is loaded with the stuff. Yes, that No-Salt you can buy is 99% KCL. It seems a little irresponsible, doesn't it?

In fact, one of Cecil's columns addresses this very point. People have committed suicide by overdosing on No-Salt. Interesting, huh?

Like I said, Choosy, I believe we're both right.

peepthis
09-30-2001, 01:09 PM
On the tv show "The Practice" there was a plotline that included a serial killer who used large nicotine injections to produce what would appear to be a heart attack. Is this feasible, or is it possible television has lied to me yet again?:eek:

choosybeggar
09-30-2001, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by Jeremytt

I was only saying that, in terms of a coroner, he can't look at a high K level in the blood, and say, "Ah, it's murder". He can only say,"This is CONSISTENT with overdosage with KCL".

But they'll find the IV infusion site to be compelling, I bet.

This is because there are other ways, innocuous ways, that excess K can be in the blood. Perhaps the individual is taking KCL pills for a medical condition. Perhaps the person uses a lot of "No-Salt". A lot of Sodium-Free products you can buy directly over the counter is loaded with the stuff. Yes, that No-Salt you can buy is 99% KCL. It seems a little irresponsible, doesn't it?

Oral absorption will invariably be slower than IV. Surely you can kill yourself this way, but if you havehealthy kidneys (which is where 90% of potassium excretion occurs) you'd probably have a tough time.



Choosybegger, LOL. Sorry for the misquote.
Well, I'll let it slide this once. IMHO, murder by IV KCl would be easily detectable

shimmery
09-30-2001, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by choosybeggar
And by the way, the name's not choosyburger it's chewybooger. (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=76466) [/B]
choosyburger.. that cracks me up.

Forbin
09-30-2001, 06:48 PM
Years ago the KGB assasinated a Bulgarian defector named Gregori Markov by shooting him with a poison pellet fired by an air rifle concealed in an umbrella.
Very covert,and "James Bondlike".
A search on google yielded me this site:

http://geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/4907/Source2.htm

Quote:
Vladimir Kostov, a defector form 1977, wrote a book about these practics called Bulgarian umbrella. It describes the hunt for Gregori Markov a bulgarian emigrant who worked for BBC and Radio Free Europe. He was killed in a very adventurous way. One rainy evening he was given a lethal dose of poison hidden in the top of a umbrella. He died three weeks later. It's clear, that this happened due to his anticommunistic activity.
Good luck learning more about this pkbites.
Forbin

Chronos
09-30-2001, 10:28 PM
Doesn't the umbrella story just prove the point, though? After all, we do know that he was killed that way, which implies that even the KGB, with all of its resources and ingenuity, still couldn't kill someone and conceal the cause.

Doctor Goo Fee
10-01-2001, 12:46 AM
golly! isn't murder illegal?

should we really be discussing specific methods of killing a person and getting away with it by making it look like a heart attack?

Jeremytt
10-01-2001, 02:52 AM
Originally posted by Forbin
Years ago the KGB assasinated a Bulgarian defector named Gregori Markov by shooting him with a poison pellet fired by an air rifle concealed in an umbrella.
Very covert,and "James Bondlike".
A search on google yielded me this site:

http://geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/4907/Source2.htm

Quote:
Vladimir Kostov, a defector form 1977, wrote a book about these practics called Bulgarian umbrella. It describes the hunt for Gregori Markov a bulgarian emigrant who worked for BBC and Radio Free Europe. He was killed in a very adventurous way. One rainy evening he was given a lethal dose of poison hidden in the top of a umbrella. He died three weeks later. It's clear, that this happened due to his anticommunistic activity.
Good luck learning more about this pkbites.
Forbin

Hey, Guys, the poisin used was the aforementioned ricin. Extracted from the castor bean, it's almost completely undetectable. I've heard that only one or two facilities on Earth have the ability to detect ricin, and in fact, it's not ricin that's being detected, it's the antibodies.

Likewise, supposedly the only known antidote to ricin poisoning is at the CDC (sic?) at Atlanta.

Jeremytt
10-01-2001, 02:56 AM
Originally posted by choosybeggar
Originally posted by Jeremytt

[quote]This is because there are other ways, innocuous ways, that excess K can be in the blood. Perhaps the individual is taking KCL pills for a medical condition. Perhaps the person uses a lot of "No-Salt". A lot of Sodium-Free products you can buy directly over the counter is loaded with the stuff. Yes, that No-Salt you can buy is 99% KCL. It seems a little irresponsible, doesn't it?

Oral absorption will invariably be slower than IV. Surely you can kill yourself this way, but if you havehealthy kidneys (which is where 90% of potassium excretion occurs) you'd probably have a tough time.



Choosybegger, LOL. Sorry for the misquote.
Well, I'll let it slide this once. IMHO, murder by IV KCl would be easily detectable

Choosy: I think you might find this article interesting, straight from the Straight Dope Archives:

https://academicpursuits.us/columns/991217.html

Johnny L.A.
10-01-2001, 08:34 AM
Years ago the KGB assasinated a Bulgarian defector named Gregori Markov by shooting him with a poison pellet fired by an air rifle concealed in an umbrella.
Was he shot with a pellet? I thought the pellet was inserted with a jab as the assasin walked by him.

Forbin
10-01-2001, 10:58 AM
[/B][/QUOTE]Was he shot with a pellet? I thought the pellet was inserted with a jab as the assasin walked by him. [/B][/QUOTE]
It depends on what you mean by shot.The umbrella was not a long range weapon.It was jabbed into his thigh,and then the air rifle(inside the umbrella)was fired.It just so happens that those were the limitations of that particular weapon.

And for Chronos:
Doesn't the umbrella story just prove the point, though? After all, we do know that he was killed that way, which implies that even the KGB, with all of its resources and ingenuity, still couldn't kill someone and conceal the cause.

I think they did a pretty fair job.If I recall correctly,the assasin was able to get well away.The death did not take place for several days,and all Markov could remember was a man who had an accent appologizing and leaving quickly.

Jeremytt
10-01-2001, 01:05 PM
[i]

And for Chronos:
Doesn't the umbrella story just prove the point, though? After all, we do know that he was killed that way, which implies that even the KGB, with all of its resources and ingenuity, still couldn't kill someone and conceal the cause.

I think they did a pretty fair job.If I recall correctly,the assasin was able to get well away.The death did not take place for several days,and all Markov could remember was a man who had an accent appologizing and leaving quickly. [/B]

All the Western gov'ts could say in the matter is that his death was CONSISTANT with ricin poisin. (they hadn't developed the ability to detect ricin yet). They did find a microscopic pellet. The ricin theory was really just that, at the time---a theory.

They still don't know for sure.....

Jeremytt
10-01-2001, 01:10 PM
And for Chronos:
Doesn't the umbrella story just prove the point, though? After all, we do know that he was killed that way, which implies that even the KGB, with all of its resources and ingenuity, still couldn't kill someone and conceal the cause.

I think they did a pretty fair job.If I recall correctly,the assasin was able to get well away.The death did not take place for several days,and all Markov could remember was a man who had an accent appologizing and leaving quickly. [/B]

All the Western gov'ts could say in the matter is that his death was consistant with ricin poisin. (they hadn't developed the ability to detect ricin yet). They did find a microscopic pellet. The ricin theory was really just that, at the time---a theory.

They still don't know for sure.....their opinions are based on recollections of ex-spies, etc.

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