Jane Thurgood-Dove was shot in 1997 in her driveway, in Australia.
She was 34 years-old, blonde, and lived on Muriel Street in Niddrie, 3 doors from the corner.
She led a spotless life, the only clue was a police officer whose house she regularly cleaned.
It turned out he was obsessed with her, he had a wall of photographs of her, his computer password was her d.o.b., he’d even booked a cemetery plot next to hers.
When asked if he was responsible for her death he failed the lie-detector test.
So the police knew he must be the killer, but for five years they couldn’t prove it.
Until an overheard conversation in prison told them they’d been wrong all along.
The words of the prison conversation were: “We killed the wrong Sheila”.
A gangster, cheated out of $200,000 by another criminal, hired a hit man to kill the criminal’s wife.
The wife was 34 years-old, blonde, just like Jane Thurgood-Dove, and she lived on Muriel Street, 3 doors from the corner, just like Jane Thurgood-Dove.
But it was the wrong corner.
We might think that’s a tragic one-off killing by mistake, but apparently not.
John Sylvester has been a crime reporter for 40 years and he puts it this way:
“Hit-men are stupid. There’s no greater myth in the underworld than that of hit-men. They’re supposed to be these cool-under-pressure clinical guys, carefully carrying out their craft like experts. We use the term “professional hit” and nothing could be further from the truth: that hit-men are some sort of elite super-crooks. The reality is that they are only hit-men because most of them are too stupid to organise their own crimes and too immoral to care about who the victims are. They are truly the bottom-dwellers of the underworld. And because they’re so scrappy, mistaken identity hits are all too common.”
So the murder was random, and the police didn’t allow for that.
They followed the only logic they could see: the policeman who failed the lie detector test.
But the question is, why did he fail the lie detector test?
It turns out when asked: “Were you responsible for her death?” he felt he was responsible.
He thought her husband had found out about his obsession with her and killed her.
So he stuck to his logic, the police stuck to their logic, and the real killer wasn’t questioned.
Meanwhile actual criminals aren’t restricted by logic.
In the same town, another criminal, Fasad Rasooli, knew he was being targeted to be hit.
Logic said he should park his white BMW in a garage out of sight, but he didn’t.
Rasooli knew the car made him a target, so he parked it in plain sight in front of a house two doors down.
And sure enough, the hit man broke in and shot the wrong man in the wrong house.
Because, as John Sylvester says, hit-men are stupid.
As for the police, deductive logic didn’t lead to a solution because the crime was random.
And because it’s random, it’s not subject to logic.
When we understand that, we can use the same simple common-sense creativity that Fasad Rasooli used, instead of the paralysing deductive logic of the police.
We can stay open to fresh and enquiring thinking, instead of the usual formulas.
Creativity and common-sense don’t follow rules, so they can’t be learned.
In advertising and marketing we have entire departments dedicated to following rules.
Departments to ensure we end up with answers that look like they make logical sense.
There’s only one problem.
Solutions arrived at by following the same rules all look the same, so they’re invisible.
Because creativity and common-sense don’t live in textbooks and can’t be learned parrot-fashion.
We have to work them out fresh each time, we can’t go on auto-pilot.
We have to reinvent the wheel every time, because that’s what creativity is.