You’ve seen contract killings go down in TV shows and movies. You’ve played hired killers in video games series like Hitman, Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed. But a new study from Great Britain reveals that the modern-day business of paid murder is more mundane, bumbling and boring than what’s shown in popular entertainment.
Some of the facts gleaned in the completed study by the Center for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, written up at Pacific Standard, aren’t that surprising. For example, guns are the go-to weapon for most of the criminals studied in their research. But, the fact that Tuesday is a frequent day for professional killers to take out targets feels weird. Tuesday doesn’t feel like a day for murder.
Other findings run counter to the vision of high-priced, city-centric killjobs that we see in pop culture:
- The cost of ordered murder in Britain was also found to vary considerably, with the average cost standing at £15,180. The lowest fee in the sample was a mere £200, in contrast to the highest fee of £100,000.
- Far from being carried out in smoky underworld clubs, the majority of hits took place in suburban neighbourhoods, often as the victim was walking their dog or going shopping. Often the hitman and their victim lived in the same area, which is one of the most common reasons behind their eventual arrest.
- Contract killings are overwhelmingly likely to be carried out by men. The only female hitwoman to be identified was Te Rangimaria Ngarimu, a 27-year-old Maori who was found guilty of being paid £7000 to murder her victim in 1992.
The research team categorized four types of hitmen — novice, dilettante, journeyman and master — based on their research of cases that happened from 1974 to 2013.
This final type of hitman is the most elusive to study, as they are also the least likely to be caught. Professor Wilson’s team suggests these killers are likely to come from a military or para-military background and could be responsible for up to 100 hits. The major reason the master killer evades justice is that they travel to an area to carry out the hit, without any local ties, leaving minimum local intelligence about the hit or the hitman.
So, if there are any real-life analogues to video game characters like Agent 47, they probably fall under the Master category. And their Tuesdays are probably very busy.