By Douglas P. Lyle

Staging is when someone who’s committed a crime attempts to make the scene look like something that it isn’t. The most common staging scenario occurs when someone tries to make a murder look like a suicide or an accident. The suspect may move the body or clean certain areas.

Say, for example, a husband strikes his wife in the head with a blunt object, killing her. Then he cleans up the bedroom, moves her body into the bathroom, places her in the tub, and calls the paramedics, claiming that she fell while bathing.

Other common examples of staged crime scenes include the following:

  • A murderer breaks a window or pries a lock and makes sure a prized piece of insured jewelry is missing in an effort to stage the crime so that it looks a burglar killed the victim.

  • One spouse secretly feeds a deadly quantity of alcohol and sedatives to the other and then forges a suicide note in an attempt to make homicide look like suicide.

  • A person committing insurance fraud stages a breaking and entering: Jewelry is missing, a window has been pried open, and of course, the jewelry was insured.

  • A perpetrator sets a fire (thus committing arson) to cover up another crime, perhaps a murder, embezzlement, or even a burglary. The perpetrator hopes that the fire, which becomes a staged crime scene, destroys evidence of the underlying crime.