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New book examines impact of 20th century murders

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By Fiona Reid
New book examines impact of 20th century murders

IT was 85 years ago this week that Moffat found itself at the centre of a murder investigation that changed the face of forensics.

And a new true crime book was released this week on the Ruxton killings of 1935, featuring classified information, never seen before by the public.

It is written by retired Deputy Chief Constable Tom Wood, left, who has re-examined the investigation, which stretched from Lancaster to Moffat.

Using previously unseen documents, he explores what occurred and how it paved the way for modern criminal investigation today.

‘Ruxton: The First Modern Murder’ follows how the case transpired, from the first night to the sentencing, and delves into the exceptional pioneering forensic work carried out by Dumfriesshire forces, as well as cross-border police.

Residents in Moffat were shocked when 43 pieces of human remains were found in a local river. They turned out to be two women, Isabella Ruxton and Mary Jane Rogerson, from Lancaster.

And as events unfolded, it turned into not simply a case of murder, but of science never seen before in an English court, culminating in the conviction of surgeon Dr Buck Ruxton, husband of Isabella, who was later hanged for the crimes.

Commenting, Wood said: “It was the prestige of this case that heralded the forensic approach to criminal investigation that we are so familiar with today.

“If the forensic investigation of crime was a book – this case would be chapter one.”

Over the last few years, Wood has painstakingly trawled through classified interview and trial notes to compile his gripping account.

And he has the backing of renowned crime writer Val McDermid, who said of the notes: “They reveal the inside story of the murder, including lines of inquiry never before made public.

“Wood tells his compelling story with the clarity and urgency of a thriller.”

Ruxton: The First Modern Murder is published by Ringwood Publishing and was released yesterday.

Tom Wood was an experienced senior police officer, laterally working as Deputy Chief Constable and Director of Operations of Lothian and Borders Police.

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