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the BODY SnAtCheRS; Selling corpses of the poor and lonely for cash, Burke and Hare were..

The drink - a rum and bitters - burned her throat as she knocked it back. But Mary Paterson accepted readily when the broad-shouldered Irish man, who'd introduced himself as William Burke, called for three more. "Last one though, eh, Mary?" urged her friend, Janet Hunt. "Then let's go." But, although she'd been awake all night, Mary was happy and certainly not ready to leave.

Her new acquaintance - this William Burke - who'd been buying both women drinks in the tavern, was now offering them breakfast, too. Mary was hungry and not a little drunk.

Just 18-years-old, Mary was an attractive young girl who had notions of one day escaping the life she fallen into - one which involved furtive fumblings with strangers in Edinburgh's back alleys for a few miserable pennies.

But Mary had hopes. She studied her Bible.

She believed she would figure out a way to respectability. For now, though, she would take free drinks wherever she found them.

The Irish man bought two bottles of whisky to take back to his flat. There, as he gave the two women tea and continued to fill their glasses, another man arrived, Also Irish, he was William Hare. Mary had little time to talk to him before all the rum and whisky took their toll. When a woman calling herself Helen McDougal and Burke's wife appeared and started shouting, Janet was unable to rouse her friend.

So she departed alone, leaving Mary unconscious in a corner. She would never see her friend again.

No one will ever know whether Mary was woken from her drunken stupor by the weight of Burke kneeling on her chest. Or if she fought as Hare slowly suffocating her.

They bundled her corpse into a sack and carried it to a medical school. The young woman who had regularly sold her body for less than a shilling, was now traded as a corpse by Burke and Hare for the princely sum of pounds 8. It was 1828, and to qualify for medicine, doctors were expected to attend the dissections of real human bodies. For this purpose, the remains of executed criminals were donated to the medical schools.

But there simply weren't enough hangings to meet the demand. And so, a gruesome black market of body snatching had emerged. Graverobbers removed the newly-buried and sold them to the medical men - no questions asked!

Not that Burke and Hare bothered with graveyards... Hare and his wife Margaret ran a shabby boarding house. In November 1827, an elderly tenant died there still owing rent money.

Hare didn't know any of the old man's family to summon to remove the body. When he complained about the fact to his acquaintance, Burke had the perfect answer. A flamboyant professor of anatomy named Robert Knox gave daily demonstrations of the art of dissection at his school of medicine. Burke knew bodies were always needed - and Knox paid well for them!

And so the devious pair offered up the dead man's body. In return, Burke and Hare received pounds 7 and 10 shillings.

It seemed easy money... and Hare and Burke launched their sickening career of murdering innocents to sell.

The killing method was always the same. They would ply their prey with alcohol until they were too drunk to fight back. Then Burke, the heavier of the two men, would kneel on their victim, while Hare throttled them.

David Paterson, who worked for Dr Knox, would later tell how he would be called out when Burke had "procured something for the doctor... which I took to mean a dead body."

Mostly, Burke and Hare killed poor and homeless women. But a couple of the 16 or more cadavers they provided for the medics raised some questions. One was Mary Paterson.

It was said that one of the students who watched closely as her naked body was cut open recognised her. He had been one of Mary's clients in those seedy back streets. Another familiar body on the slab was that of 'Daft Jamie'. James Wilson was 18, and today he would be classed as having 'special needs'.

But things were very different in the early 19th Century. 'daft Jamie' was made to openly beg in the street markets and act the fool to entertain the locals with his 'funny' ways and peculiar mannerisms.

But it was an old woman, believed to have been named Marjorie or Margaret docherty, who sealed the fate of Burke and hare.

like the others, she had been lured back to Burke's home on the promise of breakfast and whisky. the two men and their victim drank all day and into the night.

later many neighbours reported hearing screams. And the next morning one couple whose surname was Gray, went to investigate.

they found Burke and hare were out, but discovered a pile of straw by a bed.

further investigation revealed the true horror of what they had heard the night before. Buried under the bed was a suspicious shape.

"the first thing i seized hold of was the woman's right arm," a shocked Mrs Gray would later testify at the trial of the two men. "the body was naked, there was blood on the nose and mouth."

By the time they'd fetched police, the corpse was gone. But the couple would later positively identify it - when officers found it at Knox's medical school.

After his arrest, hare agreed to testify against Burke in order to save his own neck. Burke's wife was also charged with murder but she was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

the not-so-good doctor Knox escaped the wrath of the law for his part in the horrific case. he was not charged with any crime, but his reputation and career were destroyed.

Before sentencing, the judge placed a black cap on his head. Burke would be executed by hanging, he ordered.

his body would be "dissected and anatomised and part of it will be preserved as a skeleton in order that posterity may keep in remembrance your atrocious crimes."

At Burke's execution, a wild mob bayed for him to be killed in the same manner he had murdered his victims - by suffocation to the nose and mouth.

Afterwards his naked body was, as the judge had ordered, dissected and left on a hospital slab for public viewing for seven-and-a-half hours.

Burke's skeleton is still held at edinburgh University's Anatomy Museum.

EXPERT comment Psychologically we describe the motivation of Burke and Hare as 'extrinsic'. This means that their motivation to kill was purely for the money they could make from selling the bodies of their victims for profit.

I suppose you could almost call them an early version of today's hit-men.

The activities of Burke and Hare led directly to the passage of the Anatomy Act 1832, which increased the legal supply of cadavers to medical schools. Professor David Wilson EYE WITNESS I heard someone going along the passage between 11 and 12 that night. Then two men were quarrelling and a woman was crying, but not in such a way that I thought she might be in danger. I went down a part of the stairway towards Burke's house. The woman continued sobbing for a few minutes, then there were three cries. It sounded as if someone was strangled. I heard no more noise on the floor only loud voices.

Hugh Alston was a neighbour of William Burke at the time of the killings The French ripper Less than a decade after Jack The Ripper began his spree of brutality in London, the dead body of a young millworker named Eugenie Delhomme was found in the Southern French town of Bourg-en-Bresse. Eugenie had been strangled, her throat cut and right breast mutilated.

It was 1894. For the following three years, young factory workers and teenage peasant girls and boys would be found dead in various parts of the French countryside. Many had been disembowelled.

It seemed a killer was working in France with the same demonic sadism as London's own Ripper. But it took French police some time to link together the various murders.

Eventually a nomadic vagrant was arrested. Joseph Vacher, 29, had a bizarre and permanent grimace. In earlier years, the former soldier had been rejected by a woman. In a fury, he'd tried to shoot her before turning the gun on himself.

Both had survived but Vacher's own face had been permanently and horribly paralysed as a result.

After that, he had focused his rage on strangers, killing for no apparent reason merely for the thrill of it.

CHARG After his capture, he confessed to 11 murders. But it is believed that he killed more than twice that number. SHEET In October 1998, Vacher was given justice French-style... he was executed by the guillotine.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, as a new century approached, his counterpart Jack The Ripper would evade detection... and leave his legacy as history's most notorious ever killer. Name BorN October active KNowN suspected seNteNce The werewolF killers In medieval times, horror stories were rife with witches and evil spirits lurking in forests... and the terror of the Werewolf! At the end of the 16th Century, a purge of so-called werewolf killers was carried out across Europe.

Gilles Garnier lived in central France, a loner who found himself in a miserable marriage.

It was a time of poverty and hunger. Garnier, in his confession, admitted not just to murdering at least four children, but to eating their flesh.

Garnier claimed he had been visited by a spirit who had shown him how to change his shape into that of a wolf.

He was convicted of witchcraft and 'lycanthropy' - transformation into a wolf. And he was burned alive in 1573.

CHARG SHEET Fifteen years later, a German called Peter Stumpp was executed for the same crime. Stumpp, who confessed to murder and cannibalism, admitted he had practised black magic and could change his shape to a Name Peter Stumpp BorN Unknown -died October 31, 1589 active period 1564 KNowN victimsReported as 18 seNteNceTortured followed execution by beheading wolf. He became known in history as the Werewolf of Bedburg, after the town of his birth.

CHARGE SHEET NameWilliam Burke and William Hare BorN Both 1792 active periodNovember 1827 - October 1828 LocatioN edinburgh KNowN victims At least 16 seNteNce Burke to death by hanging; Hare turned King's Witness and testified against him - and was released.


DOCTOR DEATH: Knox bought bodies for cash SCARFACE: Vacher turned gun on himself BAYING FOR BLOOD: Crowd chases Burke's mistress through the streets HANGING MOB: Burke executed in Edinburgh DEADLY DUO: Burke and Hare sold 16 cadavers
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2011
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