On September 14, 1935, Dr. Buck Ruxton, in a jealous rage, murdered his wife Isabella, in their house in Lancashire, England. He also killed Mary Rogerson, a nursemaid who probably witnessed the attack on her mistress.
Dr. Ruxton dismembered his victims, tried to destroy their fingerprints, birthmarks, and other features, and then scattered the remains. When police recovered the jumbled body parts, the case became known as the “Jigsaw Murders.” Circumstantial evidence implicated Ruxton, but prosecutors needed to make a precise identification of the victims. Using photonegative portraits of Mrs. Ruxton and Mary Rogerson to aid in the reconstruction, forensic pathologists John Glaister Jr. and James Couper Brash sorted and reassembled the body parts.
The team of pathologists, dentists, entomologists, and other specialists worked together to make the bodies of the victims—and perpetrator—visible and identifiable. At the same time, the figure of the forensic expert—Dr. Glaister especially—became visible in court and the press. Celebrated as a landmark of forensic science, the Ruxton case fostered public faith in scientific crime investigation.