Buck Ruxton was born Bukhtyar Rustomji Hakim in Bombay, India on the 21st March 1899. He qualified as a doctor before emigrating to Edinburgh in 1927, where he took a post graduate course in medicine and while in Edinburgh met Isabella Kerr. They moved in together and went on to have three children.
Number 2, Dalton Square.
In 1930 he set up practice as a GP at 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster and changed his name by deed poll to Buck Ruxton. The couple employed a live in maid, 20 year old Mary Jane Rogerson.
Even though he was a popular local doctor he had a dark temper, was insanely jealous and his relationship with Isabella was prone to violence.
She had already made a complaint of assault to Lancaster police against her common-law-husband and had attempted suicide due to Ruxton’s paranoia.
Though the couple never married, Isabella adopted the surname of Ruxton.
No. 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster.
The Affair Accusation.
On Saturday 14th September 1935, Isabella, who was gregarious and fun-loving, arranged to meet her sisters at Blackpool and visit the illuminations. She did not return home until 11.30pm and the jealous Ruxton was waiting for her, accusing his common-law-wife of having an affair, which led to a violent argument, overheard by Mary Jane.
Ruxton stabbed and strangled Isabella in a fit of jealous rage, and to prevent Mary Jane Rogerson from talking he attacked her, strangling her to death.
With his medical knowledge and expertise, he used a scalpel and a surgical saw to skilfully dismember both bodies in the bathtub, and wrapping the many severed body parts in newspapers.
Mary Jane Rogerson.
The Journey To Scotland.
The doctor was familiar with the Scottish Borders, an area sparsely populated and that night he loaded his car with packages of the women’s severed corpses and drove to Gardenholme Linn, near Moffat. He knew of a remote ravine in the area, dropping down to a river and in driving wind and rain threw the parcels of his dismembered partner and maid into the gorge, then drove back to Lancaster.
The Journey Back to Lancaster.
As Ruxton was returning home through Kendal he collided with a cyclist, knocking him off his bike and failed to stop. The cyclist made a note of the registration number and reported the accident to the police. Later that night Ruxton was stopped by police in Milnthorpe. He was questioned about the accident, which he denied and told to produce his driving documents at Lancaster Police Station and allowed to continue his journey.
A Grim Discovery.
On the 29th September, fifteen days after Ruxton’s trip to Scotland, a hill walker found a package containing a decomposed human arm on the slopes of the gorge at Gardenholm and contacted the police. All together the police recovered 30 newspaper bundles containing seventy body parts, including two human heads, a torso, legs and internal organs. One of the newspapers Ruxton had used was a special edition of the Sunday Graphic and only sold in Lancaster/Morecambe.
It was the lead the Dumfriesshire Constabulary needed in their investigation.
Police search the crime scene.
The remains where taken to the University of Edinburgh and the bodies pieced together in an effort to reconstruct them. They had been mutilated to prevent identification. Fingertips had been cut off and teeth, eyes, ears, skin, lips had been surgically removed.
A senior police officer carrying one of the bundles of body parts.
Professor John Glaister, using pioneering anthropological methods and forensic entomology in studying the stages of growth of maggots found in the remains, established a time and date of death for both victims.
Ruxton is Questioned.
Mary Rogerson’s family reported her missing and Isabella’s sister’s, concerned with her disappearance, also reported Isabella missing to the police. Ruxton claimed his wife had left him for another man and Mary Jane, who he said was pregnant and had stolen £30 from his safe, had eloped with a local youth to have an abortion.
Abortions were illegal in England at the time.
Scotland Yard detectives where brought into assist the investigation.
Number 2, Dalton Square, Lancaster was searched and enormous traces of blood discovered throughout the house, especially the bathroom. Also the parents of Mary Jane had been asked to identify certain items of clothing found with the human remains and confirmed a blood stained blouse was their daughters.
Ruxton also denied taking a recent trip to Scotland and could not explain why his car registration number had been reported by the cyclist in Kendal or why someone driving his car would provide his own personal details to the police.
The Arrest, Trial.
On the 12th October Ruxton was arrested and charged with the murder of Mary Jane and on 5th November was also charged with the murder of Isabella. He denied both charges.
The trial opened on the 2nd March 1936 at Manchester High Court of Justice.
The trial lasted eleven days and Ruxton was the only witness for his defence. The jury retired and within an hour returned a verdict of ‘Guilty’.
On the 12th May 1936, Ruxton was hanged at HM Prison Manchester by Albert Pierrepoint.
Police Hold Back a Crowd Outside Strangeway’s Prison on Day of Execution.
The day after Ruxton’s execution, a Sunday newspaper published a handwritten confession by Ruxton, written the day after his arrest and only to be opened in the event of his execution.
The torso of Mary Jane was never found, despite an intensive police search.
Number 2, Dalton Square remained empty and dilapidated for nearly fifty years, with rumours of it being haunted and its tragic history keeping locals and potential buyers away. As it was a 200 year old listed building, demolition was not an option and eventually Lancaster City Council purchased the property and after extensive renovations became their main planning office.
Present Day No. 2, Dalton Square(centre building).
The building has been a subject of various reports of supernatural phenomena while standing empty, including passersby hearing the screams of women coming from within the building. Many, including paranormal investigators believe the building is still haunted by the ghosts of Isabella Kerr and Mary Jane Rogerson.
The bath used by Ruxton to dismember his two victims was removed and produced as evidence at the trial. It is now used a horse trough by the mounted police at Lancashire Police Head Quarters, Hutton, Preston.
This infamous double murder case which became known as ‘The Jigsaw Murders’, is to be turned into a television drama. The 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 (2021).
It will be made by Tod Productions and STV Productions.
The bathtub at Lancshire Police Headquarters.
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. I’m excited to develop this complex and multi-layered crime story for television, to give presence to the victims, and to dramatise the characteristically brilliant scientists at work in 1930s Scotland.”
Reference sources: wikipedia; article by Simon Entwistle for bbc lancashire history, murderpedia, LancsLive and the Daily Record (Dailyrecord.co.uk).
All photos courtesy of Google Images.