Detective William Murdoch sat at the worktable in his office at Station House no 4, magnifying glasses on his nose, frowning at the flecks of dirt taken from the latest murder victim’s clothes.
He'd hoped re-examining the trace evidence might reveal a hitherto missed clue.
Yet, the particles of dried dung, hay fibres and powdered stone were unremarkable and indistinguishable from the ground where the headless body had been found.
He had to conclude what trace evidence there was had been transferred when the corpse was dropped in an laneway behind Gerrard Street near Seaton. The samples were another dead end.
The case had plagued him for the last week and drove him to distraction. The corpse's head was still missing. Dr.
Julia Ogden had confirmed the man had originally died of a strychnine-induced cardiac arrest and was probably middle-aged. Little else could be known with certainty, even the time of death.
The body bore no identifying marks. He had been washed and seemingly kept in cold storage for at least a week, though no ice house in the area had revealed any clues.
The stomach and bowels were empty and traces of inflammation indicated the possible use of an enema shortly before death. No more than a day before having been found, the body was thawed.
Before the process was complete, the man’s hands and feet were destroyed with a strong acid, confirmed by Julia as oil of vitriol. Someone had dressed the body with care.
The clothing was pristine, of very high quality and no doubt expensive, though no tailor marks or tags indicated its provenance.
None of the fine tailors in Toronto had recognized the silk suit, ascot, trousers or shirt as coming from their workshops.
The shoes were fine, Italian-made but nondescript, and no one had ever walked in them.
Furthermore, the corpse did not match any missing person in and around Toronto, nor in Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, Boston or New York.
Constable Crabtree volunteered to inquire more broadly, but there were limits as to how many telephone calls and telegrams the station could afford.
Read the rest via the link in the description!