The grisly deaths of Edinburgh women Isabella Kerr and Mary Rogerson made headlines around the world after a motorist stumbled across human remains near the Devil’s Beef Tub close to Moffat in Dumfries-shire, in September 1935, sparking a massive police investigation.
Following a huge search, more than 80 body parts – including two severed heads – were found, each neatly bundled up in newspapers, wrapping paper and sheets, and scattered. Teeth and fingertips had been removed to prevent identification.
The case, which became known as “The Jigsaw Murders”, led eventually to the hanging of Dr Buck Ruxton – originally Bukhtyar Rustomji Rantanji Hakim from Bombay in India – who emigrated to Canada before moving to the Capital.
He was already married but struck up a relationship with Isabella and took her as his common-law wife. They had three children and hired Mary, her childhood friend, as a maid and nanny, and he set up in practice in Lancaster. Suspicion fell on Ruxton after Isabella and Mary were reported missing to police in the Capital.
Scientists from Edinburgh and Glasgow universities examined maggots found on the bodies to determine the date of the killings and reconstructed the victims’ bodies, leading to Ruxton’s conviction and hanging in Manchester at the age of 36 in May 1936.
A new TV series will be based on author Jeremy Craddock’s book The Jigsaw Murders: The True Story of the Ruxton Killings and the Birth of Modern Forensics, which is due to be published next year. It will be made by Tod Productions and STV Productions.
Elaine Collins, managing-director of Tod Productions, said: “Jeremy Craddock is a hugely talented writer, who is not only determined to excavate this brutal story and the consequent scientific breakthroughs that still influence today’s forensics, but to give an unprecedented voice to Buxton’s female victims.”
Mr Craddock, a journalism lecturer, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that The Jigsaw Murders has been optioned for TV by Elaine Collins and Tod Productions. I am a huge fan of her work, especially Shetland and Vera, and I feel privileged that she has seen potential in my work.
“This is a story that has haunted me since I was a child, a landmark case that changed the way forensic pathologists help to solve murders.
“Most previous accounts focus solely on the lurid aspects, ignoring the human drama behind it all. My book – and hopefully a TV drama – will tell the full story of the people behind the sensational headlines for the first time.”
David Mortimer, managing director of STV Productions, said: “We’re thrilled to have Tod as part of the STV Productions family and The Jigsaw Murders is a fantastic addition to their already strong development slate of distinctive, high quality shows.”
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