Showing posts with label crime writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crime writing. Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Autopsies 101: Info for Writers


English: Skull and crossbones
English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The ambulance guys think he died of anaphylactic shock,” the young policeman’s partner confided to Sean, as they took the body out. “Looks like the seafood did for him. You wouldn’t think prawns were dangerous, would you? Anyway, no foul play, so everyone can relax. Of course, there’ll have to be an autopsy.”

Cadillac Fleetwood hearse 1990s. Photographed ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So someone is dead. The body was collected. And now you're at the point where your plot needs scientific data. Decisions must be made.

All deaths are given a CAUSE and a MANNER. Though either or both can be listed as unknown. This is particularly true if the remains have decayed substantially. (See skeletal remains HERE)

Why = cause of death - what trauma or happening terminated the
            person's life?

How = manner of death

* In most of US there are only five reasons for a death:
1. Natural
2. Accidental
3. Homicide
4. Suicide
5. Unknown
In some states a 6th manner is:
6. Therapeutic - this relates to a death that is the result of a medical intervention

Ultimately, it is the CORONER or MEDICAL EXAMINER (this depends on the location) who makes the decision about what is listed as the cause and manner of the death. 

The CSIs, anthropologists etc. inform the Coroner or Medical Examiner by presenting their scientific findings.

Only about 1/2 of the United States uses the coroner system. A coroner is an elected county official who may or may not be a medical doctors. 

Go HERE for more information. 

It is usually a part time job with a small income.

Only 4 states require their coroners to be medical doctors: Ohio, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota

Because coroners are often elected officials, there are often problems with on-going cases and transferring/losing files. This might be a good place to twist your investigatory plot.

The coroners do not do autopsies. Their job is to certified deaths in their jurisdiction and order an autopsy when one is required. Smaller jurisdictions will contract with larger areas to do their autopsies. 

Some states have opted out of the coroner system and use instead a MEDICAL EXAMINER or MEDICAL INVESTIGATOR. So you will want to do some research into the state/jurisdiction in which the body is found in your plot line.

For more information go HERE.

ME or MI are usually appointed individuals with educational backgrounds in medicine and death investigation. 

Autopsies are conducted by MD and DO who have specialized training.

  • Pathologists with specialized training in understanding the   disease and traumas in/on a body such as
    • High energy impact   
    • Stabbings 
    • Gun shot wounds   
    • Poisons
    • They need to be able to tell what was a disease prior to death and what was a trauma that created the death.

In the Morgue

  •  The body is logged in.
  •  Anything that came with them is catalogued.
  •  The body is weighed and measured.
  •  The pathologist and coroner will decide on the timing of the autopsy. Is this an urgent case? Should it be bumped to
  • The front of the line? For example, is there is a killer on the loose?
  • The police might need the findings quicker than if they are looking at a probably heart attack.
  • The body is then stored in a cooler.

The Autopsy

  • Performed on bodies in the early stages of decay.
  • In bigger offices, consultations often happen. They often have   regular meetings to discuss various cases. So you could plot   different individuals with varying backgrounds weighing in.

External Exam

  • A complete external exam is conducted clothes
  • Notes and photographs are taken
  • This initial exam is very important because the condition of the body is about to be forever changed.
  • Looking for trace evidence like 
    • gunpowder residue (go HERE
    • fiber evidence 
  •  Once collected the trace evidence will be sent to a crime    Laboratory for further investigation.
  • Whole body X-rays can be taken to look for broken bones,  foreign objects such as bullets, and previous surgical hardware  that might be helpful in identification of an unknown body.
  • Then the clothes are removed. 
  • Further tests are performed.
    • They look for other hair - ex. they might comb the pubis looking for pubic hair as a part of a rape kit. (hair forensics HERE)
    • They might take fluid samples. For example, they might look For/collect semen in the vagina or anus. (serology forensics HERE)
  • Once all trace evidence is collected the body will be washed if it is needed.
  • A second external exam takes place, with photography of surface trauma. Also, anything that might be useful in determining identity such as past scarring, and tattoos.
  • Sometimes they will take fingerprints which they run through IAFIS (fingerprint forensics go HERE)

Internal Exam

  • Y incision from clavicle to sternum, and then down to the pubic bone.
  • Skin is pulled back and the ribs will be examined
  • A rib spreader and scalpel are used to expose the organs under the rib cage and sternum
  • A visual  exam is done first called an In Situ exam.
  • Individual organs are removed.
  • Each organ is weighed, measured.
  • Tissue samples are processed and turned into microscope slides for viewing by slicing them with a  microtome. The exam is called a histological exam.
  • Fluids are collected for the toxicology lab (go HERE). The fluids might also be sent to labs to look for bacteria and viruses (this is NOT routine).
    • Brain - the scalp is cut and pulled down over the face (so that it can be put back in place if the family wants to have an open casket funeral.) A bone saw cuts open the skull cap. The brain can be examined in place and/or can be removed. This is processed differently than organs. 
  • Sometimes the skin on the limbs is opened to see if there are   signs of trauma beneath the skin. In people with dark skin, for   example, bruising is not always as obvious on the surface of  the skin.

Finishing Up

Once all of the tests are run, the pathologist moves on to the next body. The morgue attendants close up the body.

  • The organs are put in a plastic bag and placed in the cavity so the body doesn't look deflated - they are not in their anatomical position.
  • Skull cap is replaced
  • Sutures are put in place to close the skin.

The Family -

  • On occasion will need to identify the body
  • Also works to with the coroner/pathologist to get the medical and dental records to the staff.
  • Will give permission to harvest organs for donation if the organs are still viable.

The body is released to the funeral home if they know the name of the remains. If the remains are unidentified, then a decision is made on how long/what the officials will do with the remains.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Terrorism 101: Information for Writers with Corporal Allen Norton

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.

This article is the first article in a planned series on terrorism with ThrillWriting's guest, Corporal Allen Norton. I was so excited to have met the very knowledgeable and entertaining Cpl. Norton at a lecture on terrorism. He had the room transfixed. 

Fiona - 
Corporal Allen Norton

Corporal Allen, thank you so much for sharing your information with us. Can we start with an introduction of your background? How did you come to be an anti-terrorism instructor?

Cpl. Norton - 
In 2007, I graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell with a certification in Homeland Security and also graduated from Columbia Southern University with a degree in Criminal Justice. I've attended the National Center for Bio-medical Research and Training through Louisiana State University and recently graduated from the University of St. Andrews, where I obtained a Global Certification as a Terrorism Specialist. In addition, I am a recognized Certified Homeland Protection Professional (C.H.P.P.) I obtained this certification through the National Sheriffs Association and the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has employed me for 11 years. In my time with the Commonwealth, I served as a Task Force Officer for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for 2 years.  I currently teach an Evolution of Terrorism program, other various terrorism classes, that includes Sovereign Citizens, and History of Islam class, at the local and regional police academies. I personally designed all of the classes. In addition, I own GDSI Intelligence and Training.

GDSI Intelligence and Training - website link
and on Facebook - click here

Fiona - 
You had a very personal brush with terror.

Cpl. Norton - 
I was supposed to be in the World Trade Center on 9/11 for a meeting. At the time, I served as Director of Security for three resorts in the Poconos. Fortunately, I overslept that morning.

Fiona - 
Very fortunate!

We met at a lecture, and the very first thing that you pointed out was that every government agency has their own definition of terrorism. Is there a reason that we do not have a national definition? How does this pose problems in working across agencies? 

Cpl. Norton - 
I cannot give a 100% definite reason as to why each agency and state has their own definition. My guess would be that each government agency wants to be the one to determine what it is. Like the rivalry between police and fire, each wants to be in control of the scene. 

The major issue is that working for an agency, you have to be able to enforce the laws of that agency. It is hard for individuals that serve on different task forces. They have to be very mindful of the capacity that they are serving in, and enforce that agencies definition. 

Fiona - 
Can you sift the definition down to one so that we can get a basic understanding as it applies to the U.S.?

Cpl. Norton - 
My personal favorite is the one offered by the Department of Defense, which states: 
Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. 
This definition is my favorite because it lists religious, something that most of the others fail to list. The significance is that in this day and age, there is probably a 5:1 ratio of religious groups to political groups. 

Amazingly, there is only one definition for domestic terrorism, which is:
Extreme force and violence perpetrated by residents of a country, within that country, for the purpose of coercing its government and population into modifying its behavior.

How do they decide who has control over the case? Who maintains jurisdiction?

Cpl. Norton - 
The problem with most terrorist activities here in the U.S. we list the activities as criminal acts. Only once we've established a link between an event and a terrorist organization, are the FBI usually involved. In all terrorism cases here in the U.S., the FBI gets the lead. All terrorism cases that affect U.S. interests overseas the CIA gets the lead. 

Another issue that makes it difficult to determine who has jurisdiction is that we see gangs using terrorist tactics, and terrorists using gang tactics. The FBI, however, does do a good job serving as a go-to resource to help determine what agencies have jurisdiction.

Fiona - 
I was fascinated to learn that terrorism runs on a business plan and provides benefits. I am not talking about the virgins-in-the-sky kind of benefits either, I am talking about vacation pay. Can you talk about terrorism - both domestic and foreign as a business model?

Cpl. Norton -
One of the definitions of business is "an occupation, profession or trade." For most terrorist organizations what they are trying to accomplish, whether it be religious or political, they see as an occupation for God or the people. They are doing their work. Therefore, they are working for them. Domestic terrorism is less of a business than the international terrorist groups. Practically all of the domestic terrorists have regular jobs that they do.

Al-Qaeda, for example, does operate as a business. They, as well as other organizations, still promise 72 virgins, the chance to live in the lands of milk and honey, and they get to touch the face of God. 

These perks are only for males though; women get family redemption.

Fiona - 
Family redemption? I mean that is a nice gesture and everything... but there are other things that might entice me a bit more.

Cpl. Norton - 
Understand that family redemption for women is very important in the Islamic religion. 

Most of these women are raped into the organizations, therefore, making them impure. The only way they can purify themselves, and be right for God, is to do His bidding (as they are told).

There are many ways to entice women, but the most popular are:
* They are raped-in 
* They want family redemption 
* They have lost family to the enemy and want revenge 
* Or in many cases, they want to prove that they can fight and die
    just as well as a man can. 
* Some women are romantically involved with members of the
    organization, and it is just natural that they join.

Fiona - 
Let's do a little myth-busting. 

Cpl. Norton - 
Myths of Terrorism -

1. Terrorism is a new tactic.
    Terrorism can be traced to biblical times, but the first time it was
     used in the context we use it today was 1792 during the French
     Revolution. A British scholar said, "What is
     happening in France is terroristic."

2. One person’s terrorist is another person’s liberator. 
    That statement is in the eye of the beholder. If you ask a terrorist
     group if they are terrorists 9 out of 10 times they will say no.
     They will call themselves Freedom Fighters or Liberators. 
     Therefore the term is very political loaded. 

    Terrorism itself is part of a strategy. No one goes out and says, "I
    am going to terrorize people." It is a tactic that is used to reach
    one's goals.
3. Historically, terrorism has been assumed to be a left
    wing/revolutionary phenomena
    Right wing wants a return to a previous time.
    Left wing wants to  create a new reality.
    The reality is that there is a 5:1 Right wing to left wing terrorist
    ratio right now  

4. Terrorism is highly effective 
     No, it is part of a strategy. It is also important to realize that
     when terrorists receive what they are asking for, they will not
     stop and be happy. They will continue to do what they do, but
     next time ask for more. 

5. Terrorists are idealistic – 
    Terrorists use their ideology to gain power.

6. Humane behavior is sacrificed for revolutionary goals.
    The goal is power. 

7. Terrorism is for the poor.
    In reality, the people with high status within and organization
    come from very wealthy families.

Fiona -     
You have a list of the planning stage steps that all terror acts follow. 

Cpl. Norton - 
Yes, every terrorist organization uses this planning cycle:

Planning cycle  

• Broad target selection 
• Intelligence and surveillance 
• Specific target selection 
• Pre-attack surveillance and planning 
• Attack rehearsal  
• Actions on the objective 
• Escape and exploitation

Fiona - 
What is the point of no return? Where do the good guys usually catch the cell's planning?

Cpl. Norton - 
Catching a terrorist event before it happens is the ultimate goal. However, for the good guys to completely disrupt the event, it has to be caught before the attack rehearsal. Once the terrorists have all of the information, it's almost impossible to stop,  If we are able to disrupt the attack during the rehearsal stage, the terrorists already have all the information they need. If we arrest a group, then the terrorist organization simply finds others to train. Anytime you can foil it before then; they have to start all over. They have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky always.

Fiona - 
Can we talk about ideology and how they get the message out to possible followers?

Cpl. Norton -
Ideology is at the heart of all major decisions and choices the terrorist group makes. The avenues terrorist use to spread their ideology are: 
* Mass media
* Internet 
* Political fronts
* Literature dissemination 
One of the biggest recruiting tools is Social Media. Moreover, there are no laws against that.

Fiona - 
What are the usual tactics that terrorists use? Also, who are the targets? 

Cpl. Norton - 

The 6 Traditional Tactics: 

* Arson 
* Assault 
* Bombing 
* Hijacking 
* Hostage taking 
* Kidnapping 

Newer Tactics: 

* Threat-Hoax 
* Raid or Ambush 
* Seizure 
* Assassination 
* Weapons of Mass Destruction


* Governments 
* People 
* Other countries and their people

Fiona - 
Thank you so much, Cpl. Norton. I am so looking forward to learning more in this series. 

Also, thanks to you writers who do their research here on ThrillWriting. Hopefully, this has given you some plotting points for your WIP. While this article is only the first in a series, if you have a question or comment, please leave it below. The comments are moderated to block SPAM, so it will go up ASAP. In the meantime, if you find this resource to be helpful, I would appreciate your spreading the word. I've placed some handy-dandy social media buttons below.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Paracord Bracelets: How to Save Your Character's Life


paracord bracelet
 (Photo credit: Carriagehouse2011)
Here's a fun project and very useful.

Paracord comes in all kinds of colors from pink to blaze orange and camo.

What you'll need:
Paracord - 10 feet
Bracelet latches
a lighter

Video Quick Study This is the tutorial you will need to put it together - very very simple clear instructions.


Add a key chain ring and small carabiner so that when not able to use it as a bracelet (because it wouldn't be office or Sunday wear, for example) then someone could still slip it into their pocket and have help at hand. This is also a great addition for the person who throws their keys in their backpack or purse and is forever losing them - they can just snap the bracelet over the strap, and they are now easily accessible.

You can incorporate a tiny compass towards the clasp.

If your recipient is a fisherman or camper or hiker, you might want to go to a little extra time and expense to make them a survival bracelet with fishing gear incorporated. - won't they be impressed? Video Quick Study (23:46) Watch the basic video first.

Fire Starter Survival Bracelet - Video Quick Study very cool indeed.

These can also be made into belts like the one my son made for my husband last Christmas. This provides 1 foot of survival rope per 1" of belt so a 34" waist offers over 10 yards of cordage which could come in very handy. (Do not buy small packages as above - buy it by the yrd.)

How to Save Your Character's Life with a Paracord Bracelet.

A paracord bracelet provides two five-foot sections of cordage when needed. Simply unravel the bracelet and voila! 

It's called 550 paracord because it is supposed to be able to support 550lbs before it breaks. That's pretty impressive.

Well chances are in the everyday world people would run into NORMAL problems that could be remedied with some paracord:

1. Replace shoe laces while your out and about.
2. Lowering objects down inclines - pulling things up when hiking.
3. Basic first aid when out for a walk like tying on a splint, creating an arm sling, or tying cloth to an open
4. Make-do lead if you find a dog and need to walk it home.
5. Tie down the trunk when you bought too many Christmas gifts
6. Tie the tree to the roof of the car when you forgot your bungees
7. Tie your hair back when you get hot and sweaty (actually just wrap the braclet around 2x and clasp.
8. Replace a zipper pull
9. Inner strands can be used for dental floss 
10 Secure something to you such as a water bottle or other object you're afraid to lose

There are all kinds of uses for the paracord bracelet and as long as you don't cut the line, it can be quickly and easily re-tied for the next need.

But your character probably isn't getting off that easily. Knowing you, they are hacking through a jungle or left for dead at the bottom of the ravine. Now let's get them home safely so they can pour out their heart to the one they love, kiss, and live happily ever after.

Remember there are FOUR things to put in place for survival: Shelter, Fire, Water, Food

* Traps for food 
* The inner strands can be used for fishing.
   Video Quick Study (14:43) This uses the fishing
   paracord bracelet from above. If your heroine
   doesn't have this particular kind, she can use a bobby
   pin, paper clip etc.   

* Use for your tie down on a poncho tent
* Tie together sticks to form a debris hut

* Help create a bow drill to start a fire.

*Clothes line
* Inner strands can be used for sewing to repair clothes and equipment
* Hang a bear bag
* In a car accident it could tie a door open when on an
   incline, allowing the heroine to work on the victim
* String a trip wire to protect an area especially if your heroine can tie cans on the line
* For a trip line if your heroine is being pursued.
* Garrote for choking out the villain without breaking a nail. 
* Tying up the bad guy until the authorities can get there
* Rig a pulley system to raise heavy objects (maybe your heroine loved her physics class)
* If your heroine has to get the injured hero out of the woods she can use the paracord to create a
   branch drag to move the person. (I'm not saying this is going to be easy - I'm just saying it's better than
   leaving him in the woods with the predators)

EDIT - a reader asked me how to un-ravel the bracelet to have access to the ropes, so I made this video of me gnawing on the paracord, LOL!

And what if the paracord roping is not long enough, and your heroine needs to join the two pieces together securely?

Video Quick Study (14:04) Man goes into the woods with only the clothes on his back and his paracord 
                               bracelet to start his fire, create shelter, and provide his food.
Video Quick Study  (14:19) 101 uses(ish). 

And there you have it - handy-dandy piece of EDC for your hero or heroine.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Drugging Your Character - Date Rape Drug Information for Writers


Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women'...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision

Some statistics indicate that 40% of all sexual assaults are due to date rape, that 1 in 3 women experience an assault - as many as 1 in 4 women are successfully assaulted. 

Related blogs:
How a Predator Courts his victim
The NEW rape definition - makes it easier to send the perp to prison

So some personal information - 

I have two personal connections to these drugs. One had a "as good as it could get under the circumstances" outcome and one did not.

The first.
I was at a frat party as a young college girl - and had never heard of date rape drugs. But with my very first drink that particular night, I was out of my head drunk and passing out. Luckily, my friend, Suzie, saw me and kept me safe. I was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with Rohypnol poisoning.

The second.
Suzie went to Switzerland with another friend. One night at a pub, Suzie went to the ladies' room, and when she came back, her travel buddy was gone. Just gone. No one saw the girl get up and leave. After 24 hours, the police got involved. They dragged the lake and found the girl's body. Later, the police disclosed the bar video of a man's hand moving over both of their drinks. Suzie was saved by her trip to the ladies' room  prior to sipping her drink. The long line meant Suzie wasn't there to see her friend's symptoms or to see the two men "escorting" her friend out the door.

So let's start off by keeping your character safe (or reverse if your plot line needs her in trouble):

1. Don't let her drink anything
    that she didn't see poured or that
Cosmopolitan (cocktail)
Cosmopolitan (cocktail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    she didn't open 
    herself (unless
    it's via a waiter).
2. Don't let her drink
   from a punch bowl.
3. Always have her
    watch her drink (rest
    her hand over the
    top of her glass or
    leave a napkin or
    coaster over the 
4. Have your
    character take her glass with her to the ladies' room. 
5. If she gets up to dance, she should get a fresh drink when she
    gets back to the table (yes, even if your character is drinking 
    water or a soft drink).
6. If your character thinks she's been drugged, she should ask for
    help immediately (preferably not from a stranger) her window is
    small between awareness of something odd happening and
    inability. She should be taken to an Emergency Room and a
    toxicology report taken.

English: A girl sleeping in the heat room in t...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


* Is the #1 date rape drug effecting almost 50% of sexual assaults.

ROHYPNOL - Roofies

* A white tablet or green tablet. The green tablets dissolve slowly
   and may leave particles at the bottom of the glass and will turn
   the drink blue (this was a safety feature added by the
    manufacturer to try to prevent the drug from being used for date
   rape. Go ROCHE!) Bitter taste (possible).
* Works in 15- 20 minutes effects last 8 -12 hours

Health risks for your character:

* Nausea
* Slurred speech/problems talking
* Muscle relaxation/loss of motor 
* Drunk feeling
* Confusion
* Problems seeing
* Dizziness/sleepiness
* Loss of memory of events that took
   place while under the influence of the
* Unlikely to be fatal though the risk
   increases with other drugs (recreational or prescription), alcohol
   levels, pre-existing conditions such as type 1 diabetes, respiratory
   issues such as asthma, and circulatory issues. 
* This drug works by suppressing the central nervous system and
   respiratory systems.
It passes out of the system in 24 hours.


*Originally used by weight lifters to stimulate muscle growth. It
  comes as a clear liquid, a white powder, a tablet or capsule form. 
  Odorless, and nearly tasteless - it can also taste salty -
  though almost undetectable when mixed into a drink.
*Takes effect in 15 - 30 minutes and can last 3-6 hours.
*Usually made at home or in "street labs"

Health Risks for Your Character

* Relaxation
* Drowsiness
* Dizziness
* Blacking out
* Seizures
* Not remembering what happened under the influence of the drug.
* Problems breathing
* Sweating
* Vomiting
* Slow heart rate
* Dreaming feeling
* Coma
* Death


*A powerful hallucinogen originally used as an animal tranquilizer.
  Frequently found in a powder form that is sprinkled over
  marijuana or tobacco (so this drug doesn't have to go into a drink)
  but can also be found in a clear liquid form.                                          

Health Risks to Your Character 

* Distorted vision and hearing
* Lost sense of time and identity
* Dream-like out of body experiences
* Feeling out of control
* Impaired motor functioning
* Problems breathing 
* Convulsions
* Vomiting
* Memory loss
* Aggressive or violent behavior                                                                  
* Depression
* Slurred speech
* High blood pressure


Video Quick Study

Drink Savvy - preventing date rape products
Crisis Interventionist Talks About 3 Major Date Rape Drugs, Preventitive Strategies

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Escaping Handcuffs - Information for Writers


Handcuffs Clejuso 12 made from stainless steel.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.
Remember it is always best to get your heroine free as soon as possible. Escape becomes more and more difficult the longer she is left in a captive capacity from a strategic, physical, and psychological standpoint. (Also makes for a slow plot line).

Technique 1 - Breaking the Cuff 

To be used if the heroine has no tools either in her EDC kit or homemade.

Your heroine CAN use this technique. She would be
using torque to produce the pressure required,
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
not upper body strength. This works if handcuffed in the front and the back. Obviously anything in front is easier, simply because there is more room to move the arms around. It all depends on how difficult you wanted to make things for her. (This technique is from Kelly Alwood, SERE Instructor)

NOTE: If you are mentioning the brand of handcuff for some reason, there is a difference in how they will break and the difficulty factor. For ease of writing, I would suggest a higher quality cuff.

* In high quality handcuffs, the Rockwell Hardness of
   the steel makes them fragile and brittle. They will
   sheer at the line.
* Low quality hancuffs the steel is so mild that the
   heroine will have to get a break in the link, thus
   making them more difficult to break.

The Technique:

1. Rough up the metal
   * Dirt will help absorb the oil and help get the
     chains to bind up.
   * Any kind of surface that roughs up the links to make them less slippery and help them to bind up.
2. At the rotation pin, the heroine will want to stuff these holes on either side with anything she can get in
    there to help lock up the chains
3. Leaving her non-dominant hand still, the chains will droop downward.
4. Rotate the chains until they lock up.
   * In the front presentation, she would do a visual check to make sure that she has not caught two links
      across one (three together). She wants to torque only two. (Three will hurt the wearer.)
5. Position her hands so that instead of coming together in prayer form, that they will pass each other. This
    movement produces the physical tension on the metal that is required.
6. Move hands past each other to snap the metal

*NOTE - this will not remove the cuffs from the wrists it will merely separate the hands again. Use this technique if you want tell-tale cuffs left on the wrist.

This technique in action (14:26 - but move 13:00)
Breaking techniques (2:42)

Technique 2 - Pick the lock.

English: : Universal handcuff key
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Note: It is NOT righty-tighty/lefty-loosy here. It is
   inward opens outward locks. The direction you turn
   will be different left to right

1. Easiest - have a key on you. If your heroine is in a
    place where she is in danger, or in a job that might
    endanger her, she might have a key (cheap and easily
    accessible) sewn into the hems of her clothing or
    taped with duct tape to the inside of her watch.
2. A little harder - have a shim. A heroine can make a
    shim using a barrette, an easy EDC that she can wear
     under her hair without detection.
3. Make a tool like a paper clip or bobby pin. The
    bobby pin is preferred for its tensile strength and can
    easily be an EDC that a heroine puts under her hair.
    This would not be seen by an abductor.


1. If her hands are behind her back move them to the front.If she is not attached to something preempting this move, then the heroine should stand and work her hands down over her hips and bottom. Sit down and work to get  the legs through the arms. Problems can arise if some injury, such as a broken leg, makes this more difficult. Boots make this more difficult. Removing the heroine's shoes will help her get her feet through. So she should try to toe off her day shoe. Knowing how you want this to play out will make a difference in how you dress your heroine for success or complication. (Blog Link to dressing your heroine)

QUICK STUDY - video of me moving cuffs from behind my back to front position. **Turn your sound to mute so you don't have to listen to the ke-yups. Those trained exhalation sounds help reduce anxiety/panic in a fight, keep the fighter breathing, and help anesthetize pain from in-coming blows.

2. Create a tool. (No tools? Try Technique 1)
   * If using a bobby pin, strip the plastic protective end off with her teeth.
   * A Paper clip is easier to bend but this can also create problems.

A Bobby-pin
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    * Pick the double lock first - use counter-
       clockwise sweeps moving from 9-5. She
       should hear a metallic click.
    * Work on the ratcheting mechanism

Working the ratcheting mechanism can be done in two ways
1. Insert your tool into the key hole and bend it into a right angle. Then use this to push the mechanism up
    and out of the way.
2. Feed the tool between the mechanisms and close the cuffs tighter while to insert the tool further until it lifts
    the internal pin away from the teeth like a shim.

Picking is PREFERRED because when you shim you have to ratchet down on the cuff making it tighter. If she fails, she can cut off circulation to her hand. *NOTE ratcheting too tight is prevented by a double lock. You CAN NOT shim a double lock.


Video 1 (10:00) This has a clear cuff so you can see the inner workings as well as the use of a key, shim,
and paper clip.

Video 2 (11:39) Combat Application Technique Handcuff Restraint Escape - excellent hostage
              scenario is silent in the first half of this video the second half has audio and is taught school-style.
 Video 3 (6:49) Shimming
Video 4 (11:56) Picking a double lock. This method seems the EASIEST.

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