Police investigation from 1930s helped change the way murders could be examined

  • Watch as Bruce McKenzie visits Moffat Museum to learn more about the jigsaw murders

The town of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway made the headlines in 1935 after two bodies were discovered.

The case became known as the jigsaw murders, and the hard work of forensic scientists from Glasgow and Edinburgh University allowed a case to be built against surgeon Buck Ruxton.

Janet Tildesley a Moffat Museum trustee, said: "It was huge because it was gruesome.

"There were two dismembered bodies. To begin with they thought it was a man and woman, it was a while before they identified them as two woman.

"It was the investigation that certainly has fascinated me. These were days before CSI and big white suits, we had a local police man here who turned up with his notebook.

"It was a very early case in terms of using fingerprints. It was the first time really that they had used chance fingerprints, they had dusted for fingerprints."

Surgeon Ruxton had killed his wife and their children's nanny. Credit: ITV Border

Surgeon Ruxton had killed his wife and their children's nanny. The bodies were eventually identified as Isabella Ruxton and Mary Jane Roberson from Lancaster.

The work was done by local policeman Robert Sloan who also saved vital evidence which would help secure a conviction.

Janet Tildsley added: "They did some really innovative work with the skulls about using photography and x-rays and super imposing photographs on top of the skulls to try and identify who these women were.

"It was the first use of maggots in the UK. They were doing things like this on the continent. Through bluebottles they were able to identify when the bodies were dumped.

"Robert Sloan who was a sergeant here and took the newspaper pieces that the body parts were wrapped in. He took them home where he lived in Moffat at the police station, which is now the local Italian restaurant.

"He dried out the pieces of newspaper and was able to identify that they were from a Lancaster paper.

"That helped make the connection with Lancaster."

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