Front page
Silflay Hraka?

Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is.
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

bigwig AT

Friends of Hraka
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
Fragments from Floyd
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
The Greatest Jeneration
Ipse Dixit
Blog On the Run
Redwood Dragon
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Bo Cowgill
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Northwest Notes
The Blog from the Core
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Sasha Castel
Susskins Central Dispatch
Josh Heit
Aaron's Rantblog
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
Single Southern Guy
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Snooze Button Dreams
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
Geekward Ho
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
The Biomes Blog
See What You Share
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Pajama Pundits
Goddess Training 101
A & W
Medical Madhouse
Slowly Going Sane
The Oubliette
American Future
Right Side Redux
See The Donkey
Newbie Trucker
The Right Scale
Running Scared
Ramblings Journal
Focus On Reality
Wyatt's Torch

February 11, 2004

Ice, Ice, Baby

Say you're a Sao Paulo resident aspiring to a zoo serial killer career. You've got some poison, sodium fluoroacetate, that you've either bought or made yourself. The poison must be ingested to work, yet it can't be put in the food or water--either you don't have access to the meal preparation areas or have decided that dosing path is far too obvious. How do you go about your killing spree?

Sodium fluoroacetate can theoretically kill if it's inhaled, but it's hard to deliver a lethal dose to the target of choice. Wind patterns and all that, plus you'd probably have to wear a surgical or painter's mask to cut the risk of inhaling a lethal dose yourself. It might be possible if there's a job at the zoo that involves wearing a mask as part of its description, but the delivery method is still unsure. Animals are one thing when it comes to investigations, but a wind shift that kills a kid or two would bring an entirely different level of official attention to the case.

So the poison has to be delivered orally. No problem, right? People are always feeding the animals at the zoo. But they do it less now than they used to, and besides, someone might remember another person throwing the tapir a peanut or two on the day that animal died. Getting a job at the zoo lessens that possibility, and given the lack of witness it's almost certain this is an inside job, but there's always the chance that the animal won't eat the poisoned comestible, and hanging around the cage long enough to make sure one way or the other is bound to invite suspicion at a later date.

So what's left? Ice cubes. Sodium fluoroacetate is soluble in water at 68°F (20°C). Mix it up in tap water, freeze the resultant solution in an ice tray, and carry it to work at the zoo in a sandwich cooler. Lots of people carry something similar to work everyday; it would attract no notice at all. Then, when you're making your rounds carry a "drink" around with you. Every now and then, leave an ice cube where the animal can get at it. If they eat it--great, another score. If not--no problem, the evidence melts away in a matter of minutes. Anyone who sees the leftover water will dismiss it as a spill, or urine, and not even think to test it. If the police even bother to look in the cup, all they'll see is ice.

Odds are such an approach would kill more of the curious animals, the ones that like investigating their surroundings, and the monkeys, chimps, elephants, tapirs and dromedaries that have died so far are all species known for their curiosity, as well as an ability to pick up small objects; the primates with their fingers, the elephant with his trunk, the tapir with its proboscis and the dromedaries with their flexible lips--no hippos or oxen on this list.

So, if ice is the delivery method, who is the delivery person? The article assumes that it is someone with a good knowledge of chemistry and biology, presumably because since sodium fluoroacetate is banned in Brazil, the killer is having manufacture his or her own. Said assumption could well be incorrect. Brazil, like most other South and Latin American countries, has a thriving black market, and sodium fluoroacetate, under the name of Compound 1080, is definitely available on the black market, though it is a bit pricey at $1000 per 8-oz can.

Odds are that if the sodium fluoroacetate was bought on the black market, it's a cheaper, domestically produced version of Compound 1080. Since demand for it is obviously high, the relative ease with which sodium fluoroacetate is manufactured should have produced a cheap alternative soon after the substance was banned. Certainly someone in the poison chain has a knowledge of chemistry and biology, but it need not be the killer.

Who, by the way, is probably a woman, as most poisoners down thru the ages have been. I'm not going to attempt to build a detailed profile, but I'd suspect she is one of the lower-skilled workers at the zoo, perhaps someone detailed to clean out the cages, which would give her all the acceess she needs to the animals. It's probably that she sees the job as beneath her. She may also resent the relative comfort and luxury the animals live in--Sao Paulo has huge numbers of desperately poor residents, it's not hard to understand the resentment a member of the lower classes may feel towards animals with better living conditions than she herself has.

She'll almost certainly kill again. If there's more than one incident, then they'll continue until the killer is caught, an event which Sao Paulo should hope comes sooner rather than later. For most serial killers, animals are just a first step.

Posted by Bigwig at February 11, 2004 01:02 PM | TrackBack
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.

That is pretty freaking spooky.

Posted by: Jim at February 13, 2004 09:39 PM
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.

Remember personal info?