Buck Ruxton

Location

2 Dalton Square
Lancaster, LA1 1PL
United Kingdom
54° 2' 51.7704" N, 2° 47' 50.6364" W
Other names: 

Bukhtyar Rustomji Rantanji Hakim

Buck Hakim (changed name by deed poll to Buck Ruxton c.1929)

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Date of birth: 
21 Mar 1899
City of birth: 
Bombay
Country of birth: 
India
Current name city of birth: 
Mumbai
Current name country of birth: 
India
Date of death: 
12 May 1936
Location of death: 
Strangeways Prison, Manchester
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1927
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Y
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1927-36

Location: 

London, Edinburgh, Manchester.

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About: 

Buck Ruxton studied medicine at the Universities of Bombay and London. He also held a Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Bombay, but failed his examination to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of the University of Edinburgh. Before taking up his post in Lancaster in 1930, he had served with the Indian Medical Corps in Iraq and had gained further experiences as a doctor in London. In Lancaster, he took over a substantial practice, which catered largely to a working-class population. He lived there with his wife, three children and their maid Mary Jane Rogerson.

He met his partner Isabella Kerr in 1927, while she was still married to the Dutchman Mr van Ess. She left him and joined Ruxton in London in 1928. She and van Ess subsequently divorced. She and Ruxton never married, but they lived together from 1928 until the time of her murder. Their relationship was often quarrelsome. Ruxton was intensely jealous and had a tendency to verbal abuse and violent outbursts directed against Kerr. Their volatile relationship led to her attempting suicide on a number of occasions. For a time in 1934 she stayed with her sister in Edinburgh, but Ruxton managed to persuade her to return with him to Lancaster.

On 14 September 1935 Isabella Kerr went to Blackpool to meet up with her sisters alone. She returned to Lancaster at 11.30 that night which was the last time she was seen alive, although she had arranged to meet her sisters again the next day. On her return, there ensued a row between Ruxton Kerr, which resulted in her being strangled. The maid was also murdered. Ruxton subsequently drained the bodies of their blood and then dismembered and mutilated them beyond recognition before driving the body parts to Scotland and scattering them in an 80 foot ravine two miles from Moffat. The first body parts were discovered by two women on 29 September 1935. In total, thirty disfigured body parts were found.

In the aftermath of his crime, Ruxton committed a number of errors (for example, bloodstained clothing and carpets were spotted; he wrapped the body parts in newspaper from the Daily Herald dated 6 and 31 August 1935, and a limited local edition of the Sunday Graphic dated 15 September 1935, a copy of which, it was gathered, was delivered to the murderer’s house). These mistakes finally led to his arrest. He was charged with the murder of Mary Rogerson on 14 October 1935, and with that of Isabella Kerr on 5 November. He was tried for murder in March 1936 and sentenced to death. A subsequent appeal was thrown out by the Court of Appeal on 27 April. A Sunday aper (News of the World) subseqently acquired his confession for the sum of £3,000 which was used to cover part of his defence costs. He was hanged in Strangeways Prison, Manchester, on 12 May 1936.

The gruesome nature of Ruxton’s crime captured the imagination of the public, which avidly followed the story in the newspapers. The case continued to obsess the public for years to come. The bath in which Ruxton had dismembered the bodies was used as a horse trough at Lancashire Constabulary Headquarters, Hutton, Preston, while a play based on the case was staged in 1975. It was one of the first cases to use forensic evidence such as fingerprinting, forensic anthropology, and X-rays.

Involved in events: 

Murder of his wife and their maid. The case is one of the most notorious in British criminal history and captured the public imagination at the time.

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Secondary works: 

Bardens, Dennis, Lord Justice Birkett (London: Robert Hale, 1962)

Blundell, R. H. and Wilson, G. H. (eds), Trial of Buck Ruxton (London & Edinburgh: William Hodge & Co., 1937)

Davenport-Hines, Richard,  ‘Ruxton, Buck (1899-1936)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/73638]

Potter, T. F., The Deadly Dr Ruxton: How they Caught a Lancashire Double Killer (Preston: Carnegie Press, 1984)

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Archive source: 

MEPO 3/793: Mutilated human bodies found at Gardenholm Linn, Moffat, Dumfriesshire, afterwards named "The Ravine Murder" (Doctor Buck Ruxton), National Archives, Kew

ASSI 52/463: Murder: Ruxton, Buck, National Archives, Kew

HO 144/20678: CRIMINAL CASES: RUXTON, Buck: convicted at Manchester on 13 March 1936 for murder and sentenced to death, National Archives, Kew

HO 144/20679: CRIMINAL CASES: RUXTON, Buck: convicted at Manchester on 13 March 1936 for murder and sentenced to death, National Archives, Kew

DPP 2/306: RUXTON, Buck: Murder, National Archives, Kew

PCOM 9/796: RUXTON Buck: convicted at Manchester 13 March 1936 of murder and sentenced to death, National Archives, Kew