Saturday, 26 December 2015

How Forensic Teamwork Helped Solve Gruesome Double Murder

                                 
When you find a dead body with multiple stab wounds, you say its a crime of passion or an overkill.
If the victim bled to death from just two slits on both writs, the perpetrator might  have had basic knowledge of anatomy.


Supposing you find burnt fingertips? Hmm. You wonder why the perpetrator doesn't want the victim 'IDed'. Maybe he or she has knows one or two things about criminality.

Also, when you find the crime scene is so clean with hardly any trace left, everything looking spotless...you might be dealing with a suspect highly trained in forensics or one with in depth knowledge on how to hide crimes.

Who do think might be responsible in a case when you find a hurriedly left shoe...?(not necessarily a murder case now) An amateur? Maybe a first time offender or just a petty thief?

But what if you meet dismembered bodies? Separated according to the order: skull, torso, hands, legs, fingers and toes and even set of teeth,...all meticulously cut and wrapped with newspapers and placed at different locations? You would think one was carrying out an autopsy. Who might do that kind of thing with the patience involved? A doctor? Bsc Anatomy?

It will take more than just police efforts to 'nail' this kind of guy. It will require the cooperation  of a list of experts to reveal who the perpetrator is. Experts such as:
Pathologists
Anatomists
Dentists
Forensic anthropologists
Serologists
Fingerprint experts
Police Criminal Investigators..
It had to take this list to reveal who the suspect was and successfully convict him of the heinous crime committed.
The crime
He suspected his wife, Isabella of having an affair and with a jealous rage, killed her. Their maid, Mary caught him in the murder act. He killed Mary too. He divided their bodies into several parts with the meticulosity of a surgeon which took him more than five hours to do, wrapped the body parts with recent newspapers and scattered them in the woods of Lancaster, UK. He came back home to erase every trace of the murders in the house and told neighbours his wife and maid had gone to Scotland for vacation! His name was Buck Ruxton . A medical doctor. They had three children and it was October 1935.
The evidence gathered by the forensic team against him was staggering.

The serologist (Bodily fluids)
Even though he washed his home spot clean, it wasn't enough to hide it from a serologist, an expert in bodily fluids. Blood was revealed on the staircase, linoleum floor and the bathroom door. This proved the murders were committed in his home.

The Anthropologist/Anatomist(Sex,  age and stature)
It took the above mentioned experts' knowledge of the human  skeleton to reconstruct the bodies and knowing which part was for who. Initially, investigators thought they were male and female bodies. But it turned out to be that of two females, one not more than  20 and the other not above 45 including their heights.
Also, the X-rays  image of the victims' skulls  were superimposed with an enlarged image of their life photographs...it perfectly matched!
A cast of their feet was made and put into shoes they normally wear. It fitted perfectly!

Dentist (age)
The knowledge of dental growth also helped in determining which set of teeth was for who.
Pathologist
He determined the cause of death of one of the victims as asphyxiation. Death by strangulation.
Entomologist
This expert used the maggots found on the decomposing bodies to determine the post mortem interval (PMI). This technique uses the knowledge of the life cycle of flies from eggs-larvae-pupae-adult flies.  It correlated with the date of the newspaper the perpetrator used to wrap the dismembered bodies.
Given the overwhelming evidence from the forensic team, Doctor Ruxton was convicted of the murders and was hanged May 12, 1936. Details of the forensic techniques have been published by  John Glaister and James Couper Brash.

It was  a major breakthrough of solving crime using forensic science and the effort by this team of scientists to make it work. And this was before DNA analysis was discovered!

Forensics require team work and cooperation among expert scientists for it to succeed which this case proved.