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Murder in the Desert

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Murder in the Desert - Back to the River Crossing Puzzles

This is a story about three people (A, B a C) crossing a desert. A hated C and decided to kill him - he poisoned the water in his sack (only C had water). B also wanted to kill C (not knowing that the water of C had been already poisoned) and so B made a hole into the sack of C and the water spilt out. A few days later C died of thirst.

Who was the murderer - A or B?

This old topic is locked since it was answered many times. You can check solution in the Spoiler below.

Pls visit New Puzzles section to see always fresh brain teasers.

Murder in the Desert - solution

Well, this is a hard one. In my opinion, there is no clear solution. Each point of view is correct, somehow. Most of the people would say that A is the murderer. Solicitor of B would stress 2 things:

1. to take away poisoned water from someone does not mean killing him,

2. B just made C live longer, even if he did not mean to (the poison might have killed C earlier).

However, solicitor of A could present the following argument:

"How can be A be punished for committing a murder by poisoning C, if C did not swallow a single drop of poison."

Raymond M. Smullyan pointed out the moral, legal and logical point of view. It is morally clear that both A and B are guilty of homicide attempt. Legally, 2 different courts could judge them in 2 different ways. And logic gives us the opportunity to write a whole book on this topic.

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Actually, since C was the only one with water, and he died from thirst, you would have to conclude that A & B must both have perished from dehydration before C since they had no water at all. So they can't be held responsible anyway.

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goldilocks that is very true.

but they may have gone ahead of C and found water.

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Well. . . it really depends on what the court knows.

B didn't know the bag was poisoned and C is dead, so only A knows A tried to kill C, which means he'd likely blame B for cutting the bag. Now, B would probably blame A for cutting the bag because only A and B really know who did it, which would end in a stalemate at a court. Knowing this, it would be best if A and B agreed to blame C for cutting his own bag by accident. Of course, either A or B might back out of the agreement, telling the court know that a conspiracy was taking place, making it possible that both get blamed, so they would probably just blame each other and nobody would be convicted.

Or, they would simply not tell anybody so nobody would get blamed. By the time the body was found, there wouldn't be any evidence to prove he was with them at the time he died, and if people knew he left with them they could just say he got lost and they never found him. Alternately, they could tell the police upon arrival that he got lost so it wouldn't be suspicious when they found a corpse lying in the desert.

If the court knows A poisoned the bag and B cut the bag, B could possibly say he cut the bag so C couldn't drink the poisoned water. He could furthermore say he didn't just tell C the bag was poisoned because he was dehydrated and not thinking clearly. A would get attempted murder and B would either get off the hook or get negligent homocide. If the court also knows why B cut the bag, the murder should fall on B, and A should get attempted murder only.

If I put a bomb in someone's house and cause it to detonate 5 minutes after he's supposed to get home, but that person dies in a car accident on the way home, I will not be blamed for his death, though I will get in a lot of trouble for trying. Likewise, A would not be blamed for C's death, even if A had already set the stage to kill him.

Of course, this does depend on the local laws.

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I would say A is the murderer seeing he is the one who put the poision in the water causing B to cut a slit in the sack...

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well i say charge A with attempted murder and charge B with attempted murder and throw them both in jail for the rest of there lives!

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I would say A is the murderer seeing he is the one who put the poision in the water causing B to cut a slit in the sack...

WHAT???? Come on people. Not ONE of you made mention of the most important 2 facts of the situation!!!

#1 And MOST importantly, #2 did NOT cut the bag to PREVENT #1 from poisoning #3. HE DID IT TO KILL HIM. There was no attempt to save this guy at ALL from EITHER party! Therefore #2 does not get ANY credit for saving #3!!!

#2 HE DID NOT DIE OF POISONING. HE DIED OF THIRST which was a direct result of #2's actions, PERIOD! #1 tried to murder him with Poison. His attempt was unsuccesful due to #2's tactic for murder. You can not say that number 2 SAVED #3's life by cutting a pouch UNLESS HIS INTENTIONS WERE TO SAVE HIM. He did what he did to KILL HIM, and he SUCCEEDED!

#2 is the Murderer, Period. #1 is an Attempted Murderer

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b killed him. the riddle says he died of thirst. to die of thirst you die of lack of water. not by getting poisoned.

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Actually, I would argue that "to die of thirst" would be to die of lack of *potable* water. Since C did not have any potable water with him (as a consequence of A's actions), A would be the murderer as per this point of view since he deprived C of potable water intentionally.

B would be charged with attempted murder as he cut the slit with full knowledge of the consequences and intended for these consequences to occur.

I would find both guilty of attempted murder, but I would definitely not convict B of murder. A could be convicted by a competent lawyer or an extremely sharp judge...like ..ahem... yours truly

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Actually, I would argue that "to die of thirst" would be to die of lack of *potable* water. Since C did not have any potable water with him (as a consequence of A's actions), A would be the murderer as per this point of view since he deprived C of potable water intentionally.

B would be charged with attempted murder as he cut the slit with full knowledge of the consequences and intended for these consequences to occur.

I would find both guilty of attempted murder, but I would definitely not convict B of murder. A could be convicted by a competent lawyer or an extremely sharp judge...like ..ahem... yours truly

How could you charge "A" with murder if he didn't MURDER him? He TRIED to poison him by spiking the water. HE DID NOT DIE FROM BEING POISONED. He died of THIRST.. Attempted murder is when someone TRIES to kill someone, but is unsuccessful. That is what "A" did.. He TRIED to poison "C" but was unsuccessful. "B" had the intention of murdering him by ridding him of water. He had no idea that the water was already poisoned!!! His goal was simply to cut the bag, causing "C" to die from thirst. His attempt was SUCCESSFUL. "C" did in fact DIE from LACK OF WATER, NOT POISONING!!!

My conclusion stands...

A = Attempted Murder...

B = Murder

Are you really a Judge???

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How could you charge "A" with murder if he didn't MURDER him? He TRIED to poison him by spiking the water. HE DID NOT DIE FROM BEING POISONED. He died of THIRST.. Attempted murder is when someone TRIES to kill someone, but is unsuccessful. That is what "A" did.. He TRIED to poison "C" but was unsuccessful. "B" had the intention of murdering him by ridding him of water. He had no idea that the water was already poisoned!!! His goal was simply to cut the bag, causing "C" to die from thirst. His attempt was SUCCESSFUL. "C" did in fact DIE from LACK OF WATER, NOT POISONING!!!

My conclusion stands...

A = Attempted Murder...

B = Murder

Are you really a Judge???

Ok... let me try and make this clearer to you...

The actions of A were intended to kill C by poisoning him

C died since A depleted C's supply of DRINKABLE WATER. Once A added the poison, C had no drinkable water. C died of thirst thereby making A's actions responsible for the murder.

It is irrelevant that C did not die the way A intended for him to.

The actions of B were intended to kill C

B's actions did not play a part in killing C since B just took away poisoned water from C which was irrelevant to C's death. B's actions in no way caused C's death.

It is irrelevant that C died the way B intended for him to.

I thereby question the veracity of your conclusion.

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How could you charge "A" with murder if he didn't MURDER him? He TRIED to poison him by spiking the water. HE DID NOT DIE FROM BEING POISONED. He died of THIRST.. Attempted murder is when someone TRIES to kill someone, but is unsuccessful. That is what "A" did.. He TRIED to poison "C" but was unsuccessful. "B" had the intention of murdering him by ridding him of water. He had no idea that the water was already poisoned!!! His goal was simply to cut the bag, causing "C" to die from thirst. His attempt was SUCCESSFUL. "C" did in fact DIE from LACK OF WATER, NOT POISONING!!!

My conclusion stands...

A = Attempted Murder...

B = Murder

Are you really a Judge???

Ok... let me try and make this clearer to you...

The actions of A were intended to kill C by poisoning him

C died since A depleted C's supply of DRINKABLE WATER. Once A added the poison, C had no drinkable water. C died of thirst thereby making A's actions responsible for the murder.

It is irrelevant that C did not die the way A intended for him to.

The actions of B were intended to kill C

B's actions did not play a part in killing C since B just took away poisoned water from C which was irrelevant to C's death. B's actions in no way caused C's death.

It is irrelevant that C died the way B intended for him to.

I thereby question the veracity of your conclusion.

LOL... WOW... ""It is irrelevant that C died the way B intended for him to"" Are you Serious? I mean, I do understand exactly what you are saying, and there is most definitely some logic to it, however, here in the U.S, If you try to kill someone, and they DIE the way you INTENTDED for them to die... YOU ARE A MURDERER...lol The Potable water issue is understandable, but we are VERY much talking INTENT!!! It is this simple. Had "B" not cut a hole in the bag "C" would have drank the poison and died, making "A" the killer.. I think we both agree on that!!! However, what you are saying is that "C" would have died because of "A"s actions even if "B" didn't cut the bag because "A" destroyed the water source.. Once again, Here in the U.S it's not a matter of what WOULD HAVE, or COULD HAVE happened, It’s a matter of what DID HAPPEN. And "C" DIED OF THRIST DAMNIT. lol I don't care WHAT "A" put in the water,,, it was never INGESTED due to "B"s ACTIONS, which ultimately lead to the unquestionable DEATH of "C"

If you can't grasp this simple concept, then I have no further desire to continue debate on the issue. If it makes you feel better, You win...LMAO

And by the way, you can question my Veracity all day long, but doing so makes about as much sense as your logic on this topic. Truth has nothing to do with someone’s Conclusion on a Puzzle, unless you think I just have nothing better to do then LIE about what I think my answer is... DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENCE?? LMAO anyway..

NEXT......

P.S I Love You

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Well, my point is that intent doesn't matter. If I intend for someone to die of thirst in the desert, I am not responsible because my actions did not cause the death. Similarly, even if I started up my car and drove around looking for X to run over and someone else ran him over, I would not be a murderer (although, if caught I would be an attempted murderer).

I think in this analogue, C died as B wanted him to but as a consequence of A's actions. B just made sure it happened the way B wanted it to happen.

And hey, I just used word veracity since it is your screename... no doubting your truthfulness or the validity of your logic intended... (Just the validity of the conclusion hehehe )... Sorry if that came across the wrong way... Or maybe we should argue the semantics of the word 'veracity' instead)

Cheers!

--

Vig

P.S. I want you to have my kids!!

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Veracity!

Your blunt logic and tongue are just the same as mine. I completely agree with you exactly.

A poisoned water, plus the fact that there is no poison in C. This is attempted murder NOT ACTUAL MURDER

B slit the bag so that there was no water unbeknownst of A actions so this does not excuse him from commiting the deed! B is the killer by proxy as there was no water and C died of thirst!

QED: Quite Easily Done

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The question seems to be discussed in The Philosophical Quarterly and the author seems to agree with you guys. However, as the author is in fact opposing a previous stance by a different author, I am still not convinced.

Also, legally, it seems that if the precise action that caused a crime cannot be determined, all the involved parties are tried for the severest crime that they could be tried for. This seems to be more acceptable to me. Refer to a google of the words 'Mises' 'Ridiculous' and 'scenarios'.

I am more confused than I was to start with, but it seems like a lot of people agree with you guys. I guess I need to analyse this further philosophically, but legislatively, your points of view would win... Unless B had a kickass attorney

Cheers!

--

Vig

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If you look at this as a logic puzzle, then Veracity is absolutely correct. C died from thirst, a lack of water, so B is the murderer.

However, once we get into legal grounds, anything can happen. Lawyers can probably prove the sky to be green and grass to be blue if needed. No point arguing over legalities here.

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If you look at this as a logic puzzle, then Veracity is absolutely correct. C died from thirst, a lack of water, so B is the murderer.

However, once we get into legal grounds, anything can happen. Lawyers can probably prove the sky to be green and grass to be blue if needed. No point arguing over legalities here.

ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY O.J IS GUILTY??? LMMFAO... I Love all you guys!

As much as I HATE to admit it, I have been thinking about your point a lot KingOfPain and it does make sense. I think however that we ARE discussing the Legal aspects at that point though. Yes, "A" did spike the water source, therefore "B" might have cut a whole in the bag, but he really didn't rob "C" of water, because "A" already Destroyed the Water making "B"s actions futile, So I see what you mean. Interesting, huh.. Fun Debate!!!!!! I Love this site!

==-V-E-R-A-C-I-T-Y-==

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KingOfPain I would only agree with your point of view if the victim knew that the water was poisened. If C didn't drink the water because he knew it was poisened then A would be the murderer regardless of the actions of B. There is no indication that this is the case. The riddle seems to indicate that C didn't drink the water because B cut a hole in the bag. As has been pointed out the victem died of thirst as was the intent of B.

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I would like to point out something that i haven't seen mentioned yet. And it is this - B would have to be considered the murderer because we don't know whether the actions of A would have killed C. For instance, what if A hadn't put in quite enough poison to do the trick? Or what if C had been immune to that particular poison in any event (think The Princess Bride)? Therefore there is the possibility that if not for the actions of B, then C would still be alive.

So in summary - we cannot know for certain what would have happened if the bag had not been cut (C may have gotten sick but still survived)...but we do know for certain what would happen, what did happen, when B deprived C of his water.

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hmmm. Let's see if my 2 cents worth can muddy up the waters or clear them.

It seems that a lot of people here are mixing in an irrelevant fact: that B unintentionally "saved" C from being poisoned. That does not matter. Even if B knew that the water was poisoned, the fact remains that he deprived C of a water source with the explicit intent to kill C. C died as a direct result of B's actions. B murdered C.

Think of it this way, and may seem clearer. If I intentionally grab you and throw you off a cliff to the rocks below, does it matter that doing so saved you from being shot? Does it matter whether or not I knew you were about to be shot? Is there any way at all that you think a lawyer can convince a judge and jury that I didn't commit murder because I got to you first?

I THREW YOU FROM A CLIFF - I KILLED YOU. INTENTIONALLY. I DIDN'T "SAVE" YOU FROM A BULLET!

I THREW YOU FROM A CLIFF - I KILLED YOU. INTENTIONALLY. I didn't "save" you from a poisoned water bag!

I slit your water bag - I KILLED YOU. INTENTIONALLY. I didn't "save" you from a poisoned water bag!

B slit your water bag - B killed you. Intentionally. B didn't "save" you from a poisoned water bag!

B slit C's water bag - B killed C. Intentionally. B didn't "save" C from a poisoned water bag!

If you believe that you can argue that B saved C from A, then any murderer can get off by saying he was saving his victim from cancer/being run over by a truck/drowning/getting stuck in the dessert with a poisoned bag of water.

Clive "I didn't 'murder' him - I saved him from being murdered by my partner - I'm innocent, I'm a hero" Pottinger

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What you all are forgetting is that C died of dehydration. If the poison killed by dehydration and C did take a sip before B slit the container than C could have died as a direct result of the poison.

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Also the who quetion is moot this happened in the desert no witnesses no evidence both A and B would get off scott free.

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So what's the deal? You all seem to be missing the point, C died from the direct actions of B NOT A , therefor B is the murderer and A is an attempted murderer. So to prove my point what if C drank the poison water and before he died B slit his throat (not the bag). Thus the poison didn't kill him in either scenarios. :

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Actually, if C died of thirst and he had water originally, A & B had probably already died of thirst before C died. So technically, neither of them could be charged with murder.

[update] Sorry for the repeat of Goldilocks answer. I did not see his until after I posted.

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C did not drink the water, it was suicide(even if b cut the sack, he still did not try to drink that we hear of-if b were the killer they would say something like c tried to drink but found no water)

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