You’ll probably never know until ...

2010-12-14 13:45

Surprisingly little research has been done to criminally profile those ­husbands, wives and lovers who will pay a killer to murder their partner.

Contract killing today is often associated with movies rather than being regarded as an everyday ­reality.

One of the first written accounts of it is the case of Pharaoh Ptolemy XI of Egypt, who had his wife and stepmother, Berenice III, ­murdered just 19 days after their ­wedding in 80 BC.

Ptolemy himself, however, was ­murdered shortly afterwards by the citizens of ­Alexandria, who adored Berenice.

This week British businessman Shrien Dewani was accused of ­hiring hitmen to “take out” his wife, Anni, barely a fortnight after their “fairytale” Hindu wedding ceremony in India.

Shock and disbelief among his family and the public followed the disclosure that Dewani was allegedly ­involved in the hit.

It is likely that Anni never saw it coming.

Criminologist Professor Sandra Joubert says very little research has been done worldwide to profile seemingly normal spouses who hire assassins to kill their ­partners.

Joubert says money and inheritance feature in most cases.

“Financial gain is in most cases the motivation, although there might be psychological and emotional aspects as well.

Money is more than often the real motive ­behind such murders,” she says.

A fair amount of planning ­usually goes into organising a hit and creating an alibi.

“The husband or wife has to decide where and how he/she can get a contract killer, how much he/she is willing to pay, where and when the murder should take place, and what or who will be his/her alibi.”

Even if one can never tell beforehand whether a husband or wife is planning a contract killing, afterwards there are some telltale signs, such as a very emotional reaction to the death of the spouse.

Joubert says: “Because the ­husband or wife did not physically murder a spouse themselves, they can put a ­distance between ­themselves and the murder and mourn like any other spouse.

“They also seldom, if ever, ­confess that they planned and hired a hitman to murder their spouses.

Even after conviction and sentence, they insist on their innocence so that their families and ­children keep visiting them.”

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