Even though Halloween has come and gone, this should give you the willies regardless. According to SSRN, there is a specific area within Yellowstone National Park where people can not only commit murder, but get away with it. The paper was published by a Michigan State University law professor and there is even a book called Free Fire by C.J. Box that uses this paper's contents as a premise.
Brian Kalt wrote the paper and gave insight on this geographical legal strangeness in a recent article on Vice. Is it not strange that nothing has been done about this? Or that it has not garnered more steam? Just be careful campers because this could be the perfect place for some demented murderer to live out their epic fantasy. So, make sure you read up on your constitutional law before stepping foot in this designated area!
Since it is a national park, Yellowstone is federal land and as such falls under federal jurisdiction which means crimes committed there are dealt with in a specific way. Article III of the Constitution requires criminal trials to be held in the state where the crime was committed and Sixth Amendment entitles a defendant of a federal crime the right to a trial by jury from the state and district it was committed in. There is a big problem with all of this, though. Yellowstone park stretches across parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and Congress put the entirety of the park under Wyoming’s federal district.
So, why does that actually matter? Well it makes it so there is an uninhabited 50 square mile portion of the park that falls outside Wyoming state lines and makes it a no man's land of well, whatever. Since the area falls under federal jurisdiction, crimes committed in the dead zone that are serious enough to warrant a trial by jury would be impossible since it’s uninhabited Idaho land that technically falls under Wyoming’s jurisdiction.
According to Vice, Kalt sent copies to lawmakers with simple suggestions on how to close the loophole, but there still hasn’t been anything done to fix the problem. Responses ranged from “it’s not so simple, we’re looking into it” type responses to some lawmakers insisting any serious crimes committed in the area would still fall under the state’s jurisdiction despite evidence to the contrary.
So yeah, there is now a spot in Wyoming/Idaho that provides the Patrick Bateman style setup for anyone to get away with murder. Be wary, campers!
This is pretty mind-blowing in every way because it allows for the act of murder to, basically, be legal. Do you think the loophole being closed is an easy fix? Let us know in the comments below.