The crime that captivated Agatha Christie — Buck Ruxton’s double homicide
The grisly discovery of two dismembered victims was called the Jigsaw Murders. The subsequent police investigation not only led to the arrest of their assailant, but also paved the way for contemporary forensic science.
It was the most horrifying murder case of the 1930s, a terrible mystery that could have been plucked from Agatha Christie’s pages. The Queen of Crime was so engrossed in the Jigsaw Murders that she included a reference to them in her novel, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
The case that shocked millions of newspaper readers across the world began in 1935, when dismembered human remains were discovered in the Scottish Borders.
Buck Ruxton, a charming and respected Lancashire doctor, was executed after being convicted of murdering his wife and his children’s nanny.
Because of the extraordinary forensic advances achieved by investigators, the case is still remembered nearly 90 years later.
Some of these cutting-edge methods are still in use today.
The pathologists and cops worked together brilliantly, which was a critical component of the inquiry.
Prior to the Ruxton case, forensic scientists often operated alone, unaffected by criticism or scrutiny from the outside world.
Sir Bernard Spilsbury was the most prominent pathologist, and his testimony was used to convict Dr. Crippen in 1910.
However, after the Ruxton case, his prominence in the field of forensics began to decline.
Spilsbury’s dogmatism and unflinching self-confidence clashed with the new culture, and his professional judgment would now be called into question in court.
Indeed, the great, pioneering work done in Edinburgh in the winter of 1935 would lay the groundwork for the now-classic team-led forensic science investigations that fans of TV dramas like Silent Witness and Crime Scene Investigation are familiar with.
Walkers in the rural Scottish Borders noticed an odd bundle laying near a creek in a gully below a bridge in September 1935.
A human arm protruded from it.
70 dismembered parts of human remains, including two disfigured skulls, were discovered by police.
Eyes, teeth, fingertips, and other distinguishing characteristics had been obliterated.
To piece together the terrible human jigsaw puzzle, detectives enlisted the help of prominent Scottish forensic specialists from the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The scientists quickly realized the assailant had surgical experience.
The reconstruction of the remains was led by Professors John Glaister and James Couper Brash.
There had been previous murder cases involving dismembered body parts, but this was the first time many bodies were mixed together.
Glaister and Brash weren’t sure how many people had died at first. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”