In 1913 two small bodies were discovered in a disused quarry. The waterlogged bodies were found at post mortem to be those of two little boys, whose ages were put at seven and four years old. Barely recognisable as human, the bodies had been converted to a substance called adipocere.
Home Office Pathologist Dr Dick Shepherd talks about the extent of the adipocere which meant that the pathologist Sydney Smith, who on this case began a legendary career in forensic science, could put the time of the boys’ death at about eighteen months prior to discovery.
The adipocere had also preserved their stomach contents and it was established that they had eaten just an hour before their deaths, and that the meal had been of vegetables known to be grown locally.
With this information the identity of the boys was quickly established and their father, a drunk who worked at a local brickyard, was arrested.
An interview with a local historian depicts the poverty of the time and the sort of man Patrick Higgins was. In the end he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.