“This publicity is ruining my practice”
The first murderer trapped by skull and portrait comparisons, Buck Ruxton was born on 21 March 1899 at Bombay as Bukhtyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim. In 1930 he and his girlfriend Isabella Van Ess (she called herself Mrs Ruxton), 34, moved to 2 Dalton Square, Lancaster, England, where he began to practise as a doctor.
It was a fiery relationship and on more than one occasion the police were called. “We were the kind of people who could not lived with each other and could not live without each other,” he said. On 14 September 1935 Isabella drove to Blackpool to look at the illuminations. She left at 11.30pm and was never seen alive again. At 6.30am the next day Ruxton visited his cleaner Agnes Oxley and told her that she did not need to visit the house that day. Ruxton told her and anyone who asked that Isabella and their children’s nanny Mary Rogerson, 20, had gone to Edinburgh on holiday.
At 11.30am he took the children to a friend’s house who noticed that Ruxton’s right hand was badly cut. He blamed it on a tin opener. He then asked one of his patients to scrub the staircase and bath at his house in preparation for decorators he said were arriving the next day. On 29 September the dismembered remains of two bodies were found in the River Linn at Gardenholme near Moffat, Scotland.
One of the bodies was wrapped in a Lancaster edition of the Sunday Graphic and clothes were identified as belonging to the Ruxton household. Rumours began circulating about Ruxton’s involvement and he complained to the Chief Constable of Lancaster, “This publicity is ruining my practice.” On 13 October Ruxton was charged with murdering Mary Rogerson and on 5 November with Isabella’s murder. His trial opened on 2 March 1936. All identifying characteristics had been removed from the bodies but, thanks to the masterful photographic reconstruction by Professor John Glaister, it was proved that the second body was Isabella. Ruxton was found guilty and hanged by Tom Pierrepoint at Strangeways on 12 May 1936.
2 Dalton Square, Lancaster, England
Sunday 15 September 1935
It seemed likely that in a fit of jealousy Ruxton murdered Isabella when she returned from Blackpool. Mary saw what he had done so he strangled her, too. The bath in which Ruxton dismembered Isabella and Mary later became a horse trough for the mounted police at Preston.