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Birth name: Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: September 15, 1935
Date of arrest: October 13, 1935
Date of birth: March 21, 1899
Victims profile: His wife Isabella Kerr, 34, and their housemaid, Mary Jane Rogerson, 20
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Lancaster, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Strangeways prison, Manchester, on May 12, 1936
photo gallery

Dr Buck Ruxton (21 March 1899, Bombay – 12 May 1936, Manchester), also known as Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim, was a Parsi doctor and murderer, involved in one of the United Kingdom's most publicised murder cases of the 1930s, which gripped the nation at the time. The case is remembered now for the innovative forensic techniques employed in solving it.


Buck Ruxton, a Parsi, was born Bukhtyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim but later changed his name by deed poll. He was a practising doctor in Lancaster, England, and was reputedly a diligent GP, well respected and popular with his patients. He lived in a large house at 2, Dalton Square (still a popular area for practising doctors) with his common-law wife Isabella Kerr and their three children. Isabella was an outgoing lady who enjoyed socialising with Lancaster's elite and was a popular guest at functions. Dr Ruxton began to suspect that she was having an affair behind his back, though there is no evidence of infidelity.


Ruxton became increasingly jealous of Isabella's popularity, allegedly exploding into fits of rage behind closed doors. Eventually his jealousy overwhelmed him and, on 15 September 1935, Ruxton strangled Isabella with his bare hands. In order to prevent their housemaid, Mary Jane Rogerson, from discovering his crime before he could dispose of the body, he suffocated her too. Ruxton then proceeded to dismember and mutilate both bodies to hide their identities.

Various human body parts were found over 100 miles north of Lancaster, dumped in a stream crossed by the Edinburgh-Carlisle road, near the town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. They were found wrapped in newspaper on 29th September, 1935, by Miss Susan Haines Johnson who was visiting from Edinburgh. Unfortunately for Ruxton, one of the newspapers he had chosen to use was a special edition of the Sunday Graphic that was only sold in the Lancaster area. The police were quick to investigate this lead.

Identification of the bodies

The bodies were identified using the fledgling techniques of fingerprint identification, forensic anthropology to superimpose a photograph over the X-ray of a victim's skull and forensic entomology to identify the age of maggots and thus the approximate date of death. This was one of the first cases where such forensic evidence was successfully used to convict a criminal in the UK.

Experts involved in the identification of the bodies

  • Professor John Glaister, Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Glasgow

  • Dr Gilbert Millar, Lecturer in Pathology at the University of Edinburgh

  • Professor Sydney Smith, Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

  • Dr Arthur Hutchinson, Dean of the Edinburgh Dental Hospital and School

  • Professor J C Brash, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh

A preliminary examination was made at Moffat by Professor Glaister and Dr Millar, after which the remains were taken to the anatomy department at Edinburgh University for a more detailed investigation.


Ruxton was arrested at 7.20 a.m. on 13 October 1935. His trial lasted for 11 days and ended on 13 December 1935 when the jury had returned a 'Guilty' verdict and Mr Justice Singleton sentenced him to death. A petition urging clemency for Ruxton collected over 10,000 signatures. However, the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed Ruxton's appeal on 27 April 1936 and he was hanged at Strangeways prison, Manchester on the morning of 12 May 1936.


  • The house on Dalton Square where the murders were committed remained empty for decades because of its notorious reputation. Eventually, in the 1980s, the building was gutted and underwent substantial internal alteration. Thereafter, it became architects' offices. It remains a non-residential building: nobody sleeps there.

  • The bath in which Buck Ruxton dismembered his victims was removed and used as evidence during his trial. Afterwards, it was used as a horse trough by the mounted police division at its headquarters in Preston.

  • The dismembered remains of Mary Rogerson were buried in the churchyard at Overton, a small village near the neighbouring town of Morecambe.

  • The newspaper in which Ruxton wrapped the bones featured headline stories involving Morecambe Carnival.

  • When initially questioned Ruxton denied he had ever been to Scotland. However, whilst he was in Scotland disposing of the evidence, his car was stopped by a Police Officer who had made a record of the registration number in his pocketbook, vital evidence at the later murder trial. This case took place long before the sophisticated forensic evidence gathering techniques of today.

  • There was a pub called "Ruxton's" less than 50 metres from where Dr. Ruxton lived. However, the name was later changed to "The Square".

  • The Ruxton trial caught the public interest to such an extent that there was even a song about it as follows:

Bloodstains on the carpet,
Bloodstains on the knives
Oh Dr Buck Ruxton
You murdered your wife.

Then Mary she saw you
You thought she would tell
So Dr Buck Ruxton
You killed her as well.


  • Hodge, James H. (1964). Famous Trials 10.


Dr Buck Ruxton. Murder, mystery and a vital ingredient

Told by local historian Susan Wilson

Dr Buck Ruxton was a good looking Parsi-Indian doctor who practised in Lancaster in the 1930s. He was loved by many people in the community. He was born in India of Indian and French parents. He was born on the 21st March 1899 and his real name was Bukhtyar Rustom ji Hakim. He was known as Gabriel Hakim.

Parsees are descended from the Persians and today most are found in Iran, Pakistan and Bombay. Buck Ruxton was educated in Bombay where he qualified as a doctor and he became Medical Officer to the Malaria Commission. On 7th May 1925 he married a girl called Motan who was a well to do Parsee girl. The marriage was short lived and he came to England and concealed all evidence of it.

He came to Edinburgh where he took a post graduate course in medicine and surgery. He then moved to London and that was the time he changed his name to Buck Ruxton. Whilst he had been in Edinburgh he had met a young woman called Isabella Kerr. Born in Falkirk she had worked in Edinburgh in several jobs. It was love at first sight for her and Buck Ruxton and romance blossomed very quickly.

They were married by 1930 and they came to live in Lancaster. At that time they had only one child Kathleen Elizabeth but the family eventually grew to three, the other two children being called Diana and Billy. They inhabited No 2 Dalton Square Lancaster. They seemed at first a contented family and the doctor’s surgery was rarely empty. However the neighbours soon heard violent quarrels taking place. On more than one occasion Isabella left Ruxton and took the children with her. She took refuge with her sister Mrs Jeannie Nelson.

One of the worst rows took place in 1934. Isabella walked out yet again threatening never to return. She did come back persuaded only by her sister. A few months later she was dead and also dead was a 19 year old Morecambe girl named Mary Jane Rogerson. She had worked as a maid for the Ruxtons for 3 years. How these two women met their deaths is still one of the most fascinating in the history of crime today.

The sheer gruesomeness of the Ruxton case caught the people’s imagination. It was tragic but good reading for the sensation hungry public. The first stories began rolling off the press when two women had been taking a morning stroll along a road between Carlisle and Edinburgh at a place called Devil’s Beef Tub. This was two miles from Moffatt. The two women were walking over a bridge when one of them looked down and set off one of the biggest murder hunts of all time.

She thought she saw part of a human arm sticking up through the stream. Shortly after that more remains were sighted. It was the largest event that had happened in Moffatt and outside the scope of local police experience. Top Scottish experts were called in. The remains were so bad that at first that at first they did not know how many bodies they were dealing with. The main difficulty that the authorities had was that the whole torso of one of the bodies was missing. On each the eyes, ears and noses had been removed and the hands had been lacerated. Cuts showed an amount of skill had been needed. There was also very little blood so the bodies had been drained. This would have needed anatomical knowledge. However the murderer had made one fatal mistake and that is the vital ingredient. He wrapped some of the remains in newspaper. The newspaper was a special edition of the Sunday Graphic which could have only come from the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

Three eminent men from Scotland carried out much of the work on the remains. Professor John Glaister and his assistant Dr Martin of Glasgow University and Professor James Brash of Edinburgh University.

Within a few days the discovery of the remains and disappearance of two women from Lancaster were linked. Buck Ruxton had said that Isabella and Mary were away on holiday in Scotland but the police were disinclined to believe him and his house was put under siege. The drains and debris were collected from No 2 Dalton Square and examined.

Forensic found a photo of Isabella wearing a tiara. They measured the tiara and calculated how far away from the camera Mrs Ruxton must have been standing. They then took a photo of the skull at the same distance and the two photographs produced a perfect match. They also examined dental records. The discoveries in total were two heads, two upper bodies and shoulder blades, seventeen limb portions and forty-three pieces of soft tissue. The fact that two bodies had been drained of blood meant that some pieces of flesh could be identified under the microscope.

The chief constable of Lancaster at that time was Mr H Vann. It was very handy for him because his office was at the Town Hall opposite the Ruxton house. Large crowds of spectators gathered and patients still remained loyal to Buck Ruxton and still came to the surgery.

The police made several public appeals for help. One was for anyone who had seen a stone coloured car in the Milnthorpe area. They found out that Buck Ruxton had knocked a man off his bike in that area when he had gone on a mystery trip and they knew he had a stone coloured Austin 12 Saloon.

The police were able to draw up a timetable of Buck Ruxton’s movements for several days before and after the alleged murder day of September 15th 1935. His behaviour was certainly very strange on all those days.

Buck Ruxton was finally arrested by Constable Vann after a two day continuous investigation. He was charged early in the morning of October 13th a month and a day after Mary Rogerson’s father had last seen her alive. Ruxton made an emphatic if not very original reply, “what are you talking about”. However he was charged with only the murder of Mary Rogerson at that time. It was not until November 5th that he was charged with the murder of his wife. Remains of the bodies when put together were labelled simply number one and number two. One being Mary and number two being Isabella.

The trial opened on March 2nd 1936. It was Norman Birkett for the defence and Jackson, Maxwell Fyfe and Hartley Shawcross for the prosecution. The judge was Mr Justice John Singleton. They were all very experienced. There were 115 witnesses for the prosecution and 209 crown exhibits. The trial was held at Manchester Assizes and it took the prosecution four hours to make the opening statement. The trial lasted eleven days. One of the star witnesses against the doctor was his wife’s sister Jeannie Nelson. The trial ended on 13th March 1936. It was the biggest murder trial of the century. The verdict was that Ruxton was sentenced to death by hanging. The jury had needed only one hour to reach the verdict. There were two main reasons for this. One was the volume of medical evidence. The other was that the carpets, wallpaper, skirting boards and the entire contents of the bathroom of No 2 Dalton Square had been taken to Glasgow University for examination and the findings pointed to murders.

In Lancaster a petition was opened for Dr Buck Ruxton. Within four days 2,500 people had signed it and within a week 6,000. It went before the court of appeal but was rejected.

On May 12th 1936 Buck Ruxton walked from his Strangeways cell to the gallows. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of the prison.

The News of the World published a confession by Ruxton dated October 1935. This was intriguing because on every occasion bar this one Ruxton had stoutly denied the killings. It is reported that the News of the World paid £3000 for the confession. The confession said “I killed Mrs Ruxton in a fit of temper because I thought she had been with a man. I was mad at the time. Mary Rogerson was present at the time. I had to kill her”.

His wife’s remains were taken back to Edinburgh. Mary Rogerson’s remains were taken to Overton churchyard. Funds were set up to help the Rogerson’s and the Ruxton children. The Rogersons suffered another tragedy in February 1937 with the death of their son Peter.

After a short time a little ditty came to light to Red Sails in the Sunset and it was:

“Red stains on the carpet, red stains on the knife
For Dr Buck Ruxton had murdered his wife.
The maid servant saw it and threatened to tell
So Dr Buck Ruxton he’s killed her as well”.

The bath from the house is now used as a horse trough at Hutton Police HQ.

Susan Wilson



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