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Sun Round A Dead Dody

It may happen to some of you that one day you will be the first to find the body of a dead man. In such a case the smallest signs that are to be seen on and near the body must be examined and noted down, before the body is moved or the ground disturbed and trampled down. Besides noticing the exact position of the body (which should, if possible, be photographed exactly as found) the ground all round should be very carefully examined-without treading on it yourself more than is absolutely necessary, for fear of spoiling existing tracks. If you can also draw a little map of how the body lay and where the signs round it were, it might be of value.

I know of two cases where bodies have been found which were at first supposed to be of people who had hanged themselves. But close examination of the ground round them-in one case some torn twigs and trampled grass, and in the other a crumpled carpet -showed that murder had been committed, and that the bodies had been hanged after death to make it appear as though the people had committed suicide.


Finger-prints are some of the first things the police look for on all likely articles. If they do not correspond to those of the murdered man they may be those of his murderer, who could then be identified by comparing the impression with his fingers.

There was the case of a learned old gentleman who was found dead in his bedroom with a wound in his forehead and another in his left temple.

Very often after a murder, the murderer, with his hands bloody from the deed and running away, may catch hold of the door, or a jug of water to wash his hands.

In the present case a newspaper lying on the table had the marks of three blood-stained fingers on it.

The son of the dead man was suspected and was arrested by the police.

But careful examination of the room and the prints of the fingermarks showed that the old gentleman had become ill in the night. He had got out of bed to get some medicine, but near the table a new spasm seized him and he fell, striking his head violently against the corner of the table, and made the wound on his temple, which just fitted the corner. In trying to get up he had caught hold of the table and had made the bloody finger-marks on the newspaper lying on it. Then he had fallen again, cutting his head a second time on the foot of the bed.

The finger-prints were compared with the dead man's fingers and were found to be exactly the same. Well, you don't find two men in 64,000,000,000,000 with the same pattern on the skin of their fingers. So it was evident there had been no murder, and the dead man's son was released as innocent.

Other Marks

In a Russian city a banker was found murdered. Near the body was discovered a cigar-holder with an amber mouthpiece. This mouthpiece was of a peculiar shape and could only be held in the mouth in one position, and it had two teeth marks in it. The marks showed that the two teeth were of different lengths.

The teeth of the murdered man were quite regular, so the cigar-holder was evidently not his. But his nephew had teeth which corresponded to the marks on the mouthpiece. He was arrested, and then further proof came up and showed that he was the murderer.

There is a similar story in Sherlock Holmes' Memoirs called "The Resident Patient". Here a man was found hanging and was considered to be a suicide till Sherlock Holmes came in and showed by various signs-such as cigar ends bitten by different teeth, footprints -that three men had been in the room with the man for some time previous to his death and had hanged him.


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

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