At the beginning of the board game Clue, every character is equally likely to have killed Mr. John Boddy. But what if the famous murder at Tudor Mansion happened in the real world? Who would be the most likely killer and which weapon would be most likely used? In an episode of the (highly recommended) TV series Sherlock, the master sleuth concludes that the victim must have used the rope to kill himself. It’s an interesting theory, but let’s accept the game’s version of events. If a homicide was committed by one of Mr. Boddy’s six guests using one of the six available instruments, who and what do real world crime statistics tell us to most suspect?
First, let us consider the weapon:
The List of Possible Murder Weapons:
- Lead Pipe
Based upon FBI homicide statistics, if the murder involved one of these six weapons we would expect the killer to wield one of the blunt objects (candlestick, lead pipe, or wrench) just 6% of the time. The rope would be used to strangulate about 1% of the time. The knife would be employed in 20% of cases. However, in an overwhelming 73% of cases, the murder would be committed using the revolver.
Now let us discern the most likely perpetrator:
The List of Possible Suspects:
- Miss Scarlet, female, 25-49 years old
- Col. Mustard, male, 40-65+, army colonel
- Mrs. White, female, 25-64
- Mr. Green, male, 30-65+, former reverend
- Mrs. Peacock, female, 50-65+
- Prof. Plum, male, 35-65+, professor
We have very little information to work with regarding these suspicious characters, but we can make some inferences about their ages based upon their careers and typical appearances. According to U.S. Justice Department statistics, different age groups commit homicide at higher rates than others. Also, 88% of male murder victims (such as Mr. Boddy) are killed by men and only 12% by women.
Therefore, based solely on gender and estimated age, all other things being equal, the most likely killer would be the youthful Mr. Green with the revolver:
The Likely Guilt of Possible Suspects:
- Mr. Green (39.2%)
- Prof. Plum (25.8%)
- Col. Mustard (23.2%)
- Miss Scarlet (6.5%)
- Mrs. White (4.4%)
- Mrs. Peacock (0.8%)
(These numbers do not add to 100% due to rounding)