A heavy rain in Scotland had swollen the streams. As one of them subsided, a small bundle was left by the recedingwaters.This bundle contained human flesh.A search revealed more bundles. Some of them were found days apart. Apparently, many of them had been thrownfrom a bridge into the turbulent flood waters.Nearly a month after the first discoveries, a left foot was found on the roadside some distance from the stream bed.Nearly a week later, a right forearm with hand was discovered.All of the recoveries were, of course, in a state of advanced decomposition.When the pieces were assembled, it was found there were two heads which had been mutilated by removal of eyes,ears, nose, lips and skin. All teeth had been extracted.It was apparent that a skilled hand had deliberately butchered two human beings in an attempt to make identificationhumanly impossible.While visiting in Glasgow, I was privileged to discuss this case with the distinguished medicolegal expert whosework contributed so much to a solution of the murders.This man is John Glaister, D. Sc., M.D., F.R.S.E. He is learned in the law and in medical science, being a barrister aswell as a doctor of science and of medicine. His academic honors, the positions he has held in his long anddistinguished career, would make this brief note too long for available space, should I attempt to enumerate them.Suffice it to say he helped make medicological history by his work in this baffling murder case. The distinguishingfeatures of the bodies were “reconstructed” by scientific methods. Brilliant deduction determined the generalneighborhood where the victims had lived, and shrewd detective work resulted in apprehending the murderer.My friend Professor Glaister is the author of
Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology
(E. 8c S. Livingstone, Ltd.,Edinburgh & London; 11
Edition), one of the most comprehensive and authoritative books in the field. Those whowish to learn more of the puzzling murder case mentioned, and the scientific methods used to identify the bodies andapprehend the murderer, will find an account of the case in that book.Professor Glaister is a dedicated man. His is an honored name in his profession. He has contributed much to ascience which protects the living by making the dead reveal their secrets. He is a dignified, impartial man, devoid of bias, devoted to finding out the truth, regardless of where the chips may fall.And so, I dedicate this book to my friend
JOHN GLAISTER, D. Sc., M.D., F.R.S.E.CHAPTER ONE
Murder is not perpetrated in a vacuum. It is a product of greed, avarice, hate, revenge, or perhaps fear. As a splashingstone sends ripples to the farthest edges of the pond, murder affects the lives of many people.Early morning sunlight percolated through the window of a private room in the Phillips Memorial Hospital.Traffic noises in the street which had been hushed to a low hum during the night began to swell in volume. The stepsof nurses in the corridors increased in tempo, indicating an increase in the work load.Patients were being washed, temperatures taken, blood samples collected; then the breakfast trays came rollingalong, the faint aroma of coffee and oatmeal seeped into the corridors, as if apologetically asking permission to pushaside the aura of antiseptic severity, promising that the intrusion would be only temporary.Nurses holding sterile hypodermic syringes hurried into the rooms of surgery patients, giving the preliminaryquieting drug which would allay apprehensions and pave the way for the anesthetic.Lauretta Trent sat up in bed and smiled wanly at the nurse.“I feel better,” she proclaimed in a weak voice.“Doctor promised to look in this morning right after surgery,” the nurse told her, smiling reassuringly.“He said I could go home?” the patient asked eagerly.“You’ll have to ask him about that,” the nurse said. “But you’re going to have to watch your diet for a while. Thislast upset was very, very bad indeed.”Lauretta sighed. “I wish I knew what was causing them. I’ve tried to be careful. I must be developing some sort of anallergy.”
Out at the Trent residence, set in its spacious grounds reminiscent of a bygone era, the housekeeper was putting thefinishing touches on the master bedroom.“They say Mrs. Trent will be home today,” she said to the maid. “The doctor asked her nurse, Anna Fritch, to be hereand she has just arrived. She’ll stay for a week or two this time.”The maid was unenthusiastic. “Just my luck. I wanted to get off this afternoon—it’s something special.”It was at this moment that a pair of hands hovered briefly over the washbowl in a tiled bathroom.A trickle of white powder descended from a phial into the bowl.