List of murder convictions without a body

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A murder conviction without a body is an instance of a person being convicted of murder despite the absence of the victim's body. Circumstantial and forensic evidence are prominent in such convictions. Hundreds of such convictions have occurred in the past, some of which have been overturned. In all cases, unless otherwise noted, the remains of the victims were never recovered.

  This color indicates convictions that were overturned
  This color indicates the partial remains were recovered or the body was located after the conviction

Australia[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Azaria Chamberlain Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton Uluru August 17, 1980 October 29, 1982 An infant who is now believed to have been killed by a dingo while on a camping trip with her parents. Her mother was convicted of the murder in 1982 and her father was convicted as an accessory to the crime. However, following the discovery of the baby's clothing in an area frequented by the animals, the charges were overturned in September 1988.[1] Evil Angels, journalist John Bryson's book about the case, was the basis for the eponymous film known as A Cry in the Dark internationally.
Samantha Knight Michael Guider Bondi, New South Wales August 19, 1986 August 28, 2002 A nine-year-old girl abducted from her home. Guider, a pedophile who drugged his victims with Temazepam before molesting them, pleaded guilty to her manslaughter when he was already behind bars for other crimes. According to Guider, Knight never recovered after being drugged, and he later buried, dug up, and re-buried her body in two different Sydney locations to evade suspicion. It is believed that the body was ultimately removed or destroyed during the construction of a carpark.
Dorothy Davis, Kerry Whelan Bruce Burrell Sydney May 30, 1995 - May 1997 2006 Two women who disappeared after leaving her home to visit Burrell's wife, and boarding Burrell's car, respectively.
Tegan Lee Lane Keli Lane Auburn, NSW September 12, 1996 December 10, 2010 After the mother attempted to adopt out a child in 1999, DOCS workers uncovered evidence of two previous children one of whom could not be located and notified police. After years of investigation and a coroner's inquest charges were laid in 2009, ultimately leading to a conviction on majority verdict.
Keith William Allan Sudo Cavkic, Costas Athanasi, Julian Michael Clarke Melbourne May 28, 2000 2007 A so-called "contract killing" in which three men were convicted of the crime.[2]
Peter Falconio Bradley John Murdoch Barrow Creek, Northern Territory July 14, 2001 December 13, 2005 A man murdered by a truck driver while holidaying with his girlfriend, Joanne Lees. Lees survived the ordeal and identified Murdoch as the killer.[3]

Belgium[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Edit Fintor, Ilona Sőrés; Andrea, Dániel, Zoltán and Tünde Pándy András and Ágnes Pándy Brussels 1986 - 1990 March 6, 2002 The two wives, two sons, and two of the step-daughters of András Pándy. The conviction relied heavily on the forgery of documents by Pándy aiming to prove that the disappeared had left the country, and the testimony of his eldest step-daughter Ágnes, who confessed to have helped Pándy murder the victims, dismember and partially dissolve the bodies in drain cleaner, and throw any remains in an Anderlecht slaughterhouse's dumpsite. Following Pándy's arrest, the skeletons of seven women and one man were discovered buried in concrete under one of his properties, but they did not belong to his family.

Brazil[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Eliza Samudio Bruno Fernandes das Dores de Souza Esmeraldas, Minas Gerais June 9, 2010 March 8, 2013 The convict's former mistress and mother of his illegitimate child, she disappeared after suing him for child support. The child also vanished, but was found in the care of Souza's wife. Souza's cousin and accomplice testified that Souza had dismembered Samudio after abducting and killing her, feeding some parts to his rottweilers and burying the rest in concrete.

Canada[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Elizabeth Bain Robert Baltovich Scarborough, Ontario June 19, 1990 March 31, 1992 The convict's girlfriend, Bain disappeared after telling her mother that she was going to check the tennis schedule on Scarborough campus. On June 22, Bain's car was found with a large bloodstain on the backseat. In his trial, Baltovich claimed his innocence and accused the at the time unidentified Scarborough Rapist of being the real murderer. After new evidence surfaced, Baltovich was granted a retrial and found not guilty on 22 April 2008.
Lyle and Marie McCann Travis Vader Edson, Alberta July 3, 2010 September 15, 2016 An elderly couple who disappeared during a road trip; only the charred remains of their motorhome were found. Vader was convicted of second-degree murder after being arrested a second time, having spent four years in jail before the charges were dropped following his first arrest. Testimony at his second trial established that his blood was found mixed with that of the victims in the vehicle; prosecutors theorize that Vader, a meth addict, killed the McCanns in the course of a botched robbery attempt.[4]

France[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
11 victims Henri Désiré Landru Paris January 1915 - January 1919 November 1921 Ten World War I widows and one child who fell prey to the notorious lonely hearts killer. All evidence tying Landru to the victims was documentary. It is believed that he burned the bodies in a kitchen stove.
Pierre Quéméneur Joseph Marie Guillaume Seznec Between Finistère, Brittany and Paris May 25–26, 1923 November 4, 1924 Wood merchant vanished during a business trip with the convict. Seznec's heirs continue to claim his innocence.

Germany[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
21 victims Fritz Haarmann, Hans Grans Hanover September 27, 1918 - June 5, 1924 December 19, 1924 Part of at least 24 teenage boys lured to Haarmann's apartment, where they were raped, murdered and dismembered. Their remains were mostly thrown in the Leine river, although suspicion exists that Haarmann sold the flesh of his victims as pork in the black market. Although very few of the human remains recovered from the river could be identified or connected to Haarmann, several belongings of the victims were found in possession of Haarmann, Grans, or other people who had purchased or received them as gifts from Haarmann. Both accused were sentenced to death, but Grans's sentence was reduced to 12 years in prison on retrial, in 1926.
Rudolf Rupp Matthias E., Hermine Rupp and her two daughters Heinrichsheim, near Neuburg on the Danube, Bavaria October 13, 2001 May 13, 2005 Farmer last seen driving from another home, where he had been drinking. Rupp's family and the boyfriend of one of his daughters were found guilty of his murder despite the absence of any evidence and numerous contradictions in the testimonies of the accused; the lack of a body was explained as the accused dismembering and feeding it to the victim's dogs. However, Rupp's car was fished out of the Danube in February 2009, with his body still in the driving seat and no sign of foul play. Another man, Ludwig H., had been charged with stealing Rupp's vehicle.

Iceland[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Locations Disappeared Conviction date Description
Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Einarsson (no relation) Sævar Ciesielski, Kristjan Vídar Vídarsson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, Erla Bolladóttir Hafnarfjörður and Keflavik January 26 - November 19, 1974 1980 Two unrelated men who disappeared in different circumstances, ten months apart. Despite the lack of connection between the cases, six people were kept in solitary, drugged and subjected to water torture and sleep deprivation until they signed confessions to both murders. A new investigation was ordered in 2011. After 5 years of investigation it was concluded by prosecutor Davið Þór, that 5 of 6 convicted were wrongfully convicted when the case was originally heard in court in 1980. the case brought back to court, on September 13 and 14. Two weeks later, On September 27, 2018, it was ruled that the original conviction was an error brought forward with questionable methods and thus ruled that the five men previously convicted were not guilty of murder a Sævar Ciesielski, Kristjan Vídar Vídarsson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson.[5] Erla Bolladottir's conviction was not reopened since she was not originally convicted for murder rather for lying who were guilty of the murders, Einar Bollason, Magnús Leópoldsson, Sigurbjörn Eiríksson og Valdimar Olsen. They were not convicted in the original court ruling.[6]

India[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Locations Disappeared Conviction date Description
Chekannur Maulavi V. V. Hamsa Edappal, Kerala July 29, 1993 September 30, 2010 Progressive Islamic cleric abducted by two men in a car, outside his home. Nine other people were also charged but acquitted.

Italy[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Locations Disappeared Conviction date Description
Giuseppe Di Matteo Vincenzo Chiodo, Enzo Salvatore Brusca, Giuseppe Monticciolo Altofonte, Sicily November 23, 1993 1996 13-year-old boy kidnapped by mafiosi who wanted to silence Di Matteo's father Santino, the first collaborator (pentito) of the Sicilian Mafia with Italian justice. After almost two years of captivity, Di Matteo was strangled on January 11, 1996 and his body dissolved in acid. The mafiosi that carried out the killing were arrested in February 1996 and got reduced sentences in return for also becoming pentiti.

Malaysia[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Locations Disappeared Conviction date Description
Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, Noorhisham Mohamad, Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim N. Pathmanabhan, T. Thilaiyalagan, R. Kathavarayan Banting, Selangor August 30, 2010 July 4, 2011 First murder conviction without a body in Malaysia. A cosmetics millionaire, her driver, banker and lawyer, respectively, went missing at the same time. The victims' blood and wristwatches were found at a farm in nearby Tanjung Sepat, property of local lawyer N. Pathmanabhan. It was determined that two farmhands (Thilaiyalagan and Kathavarayan) had murdered the victims, incinerated them, and thrown the ashes on a river under orders of Pathmanabhan. All three were sentenced to death.[7]

New Zealand[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
An unnamed newborn William Henry Woodgate Point Resolution, Marlborough Province November 1876 December 1876 Woodgate was executed in January 1877 for the murder of his niece's newborn child. The case turned on the testimony of the niece and her sister, and whether the alleged infant had been separated from the mother's body according to the definition of infanticide at the time.
Mary Eileen Jones George Cecil Horry Auckland, North Island July 1942 August 1951 No body was found, so Horry was not arrested until 1951, when the circumstantial evidence was deemed sufficient. He was released from prison in 1967; the death penalty had been restored in New Zealand in 1950, but it was not in force in 1942 (see Capital punishment in New Zealand).
Sven Hoglin, Heidi Paakkonen David Tamihere Coromandel Peninsula, North Island April, 1989 December 1990 Swedish couple Heidi Paakkonen, 21, and her fiancé Sven Hoglin, 23, went missing while tramping in a Coromandel forest. Tamihere (b. 1953) was convicted of their murder in 1990 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Hoglin's body was found in 1991, providing evidence that contradicted some aspects of the Crown's case. Paakkonen's body has never been found.
Deane Fuller-Sandys Stephen Stone, Gail Maney Auckland, North Island August 1989 March 1999 Auckland tyre-fitter Fuller-Sandys (aged 21) disappeared on August 21, 1989, en route to a fishing expedition. Ten years later (in 1999) Stone and Maney were found guilty of his drug-related murder. His body has never been found.
Ben Smart, Olivia Hope Scott Watson Marlborough Sounds, South Island January 1, 1998 May 1999 Smart and Hope were a young couple last seen accepting an invitation to sleep in a private vessel by a man, later identified as Watson, who was convicted of murdering them. He is believed to have disposed of the bodies in the ocean at an unknown location. Their remains have never been recovered.[8]

Philippines[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong Francisco Juan Larrañaga, six other men Cebu July 16, 1997 February 3, 2004 Daughters of an alleged Cartel member who was due to testify against his boss when they were abducted and never seen again. Authorities maintain that Larrañaga (who was in Quezon City at the time of the crime according to documentary evidence and the testimony of over thirty people) and six others abducted, raped and murdered the sisters, based solely on the word of a burglar who testified in return for immunity, did not know the accused, and was found to have lied about his own criminal record. This witness also claimed that one of the bodies was abandoned in a ditch, but the body found there did not belong to either of the sisters. All seven were sentenced to death, but the sentences were changed to life in prison when the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006. Larrañaga, as a dual Spanish-Filipino citizen, was allowed to serve his sentence in Spain from 2009, where he continues to claim his innocence.

Portugal[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Joana Cipriano João and Leonor Cipriano Figueira, Algarve 12 September 2004 2005 An eight-year-old girl last seen walking back to her house after running an errand at a local store. Her mother and uncle, whom she allegedly witnessed having sex, were the first defendants convicted of murder in Portugal without a body, based on their apparent confessions to the crime. Both have protested their innocence and alleged police misconduct; similarities to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann a short distance away in 2007 have been noted.

Spain[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Holy Child of La Guardia Alonso, Lope, García, Juan and Yosef Franco; Benito García, Moshe Abenamías La Guardia, Kingdom of Toledo 1475-1487 November 16, 1491 Six conversos and two Jews were arrested by the Spanish Inquisition and confessed under torture to have murdered a Christian child in La Guardia as part of a magic ritual; at least five were burned at an auto de fe in 1491. Because of constant contradictions and legal irregularities, the fact that the child was never named, no body was found, no child disappearance or murder was reported in La Guardia around that time, and obvious similarities with other European blood libels and antisemitic legends, modern historians believe that neither crime nor child actually existed. It is believed that the process was a sham to incite the expulsion of all Jews from Spain, which was decreed four months later.
José María Grimaldos López Gregorio Valero Contreras, León Sánchez Gastón Osa de la Vega, Cuenca Province August 20, 1910 May 25, 1918 A shepherd from nearby Tresjuncos who disappeared after an animal sale. His family accused local farm wardens Valero and Sánchez, who had a history of bullying Grimaldos, of murdering him to steal the money. The case was at first dismissed due to lack of evidence, but it was reopened in 1913 by a newly appointed examining magistrate, Emilio Isasa Echenique. Under Isasa's watch, Valero and Sánchez were arrested and extrajudicially tortured to make them confess. No body was found and the accused ended up claiming that they had fed it to pigs, then burned and grinded all remains left. Each was sentenced to 18 years in prison. After Grimaldos was found alive in Mira in 1926, the Supreme Court overturned the sentence and started proceedings against those responsible for the 1913 investigation. Isasa could not be judged because of his sudden death, officially attributed to a heart attack but suspected of being a suicide.
Marta del Castillo Casanueva Miguel Carcaño Delgado Seville January 24, 2009 October 17, 2011 A 17-year-old girl who disappeared after leaving home to talk with her ex-boyfriend, the convict. He was arrested on February 13 and confessed to the murder the next day. However, he soon recanted and produced several different versions of the murder and the fate of the body, which was never found. Carcaño was found guilty due to witness statements, blood and DNA evidence.
Julia Lamas, Maurici Font Ramón Laso Moreno Els Pallaresos, Tarragona Province March 27, 2009 October 16, 2014 First murder conviction in Spain with no body, no organic remains and no confession. Lamas was Laso's second wife (he was previously imprisoned for the murder of his first wife in 1988), and Font was the husband of Lamas's sister, who was also Laso's lover. Laso was the last person to see them alive, and claimed that they had run away together to never come back. Although no trace of either was ever found, Laso was arrested and convicted for the murders after he was caught faking evidence intended to make people believe that the victims were alive. It is suspected that the bodies were buried in a land plot owned by Laso at the time, which was later expropriated to build a road.[9][10][11]

United Kingdom[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
William Harrison John, Richard, and Joan Perry Chipping Campden, England August 16, 1660 Spring 1661 A wealthy 70-year-old man last seen walking to Charingworth. After his hat, coat and neckband were found on the side of the road with a sharp cut and sprinkled in blood, his servant John Perry claimed that Perry's own brother and mother had murdered Harrison to rob him, and subsequently dumped the body in a pond. The pond was drained but no body was found. The Perrys then alternated between pleading guilt and innocence, until they were all found guilty and hanged. However, Harrison reappeared in 1662, claiming to have been abducted by Barbary pirates. It has been said that this case caused British courts to not give murder sentences without a body for the next 250 years.
William Moore William Kidd Indian Ocean October 30, 1697 May 23, 1701 Privateer's gunner murdered at sea after making a disrespectful remark to Kidd, his captain.
Gay Gibson James Camb Atlantic Ocean, west coast of Africa 18 October 1947 22 March 1948 An actress who was on an ocean liner, the MV Durban Castle, when her dead body was pushed through the porthole of her cabin. According to James Camb, the man convicted of killing her, she died during consensual sex and in a panic he pushed her body through the porthole. He always denied killing her.
William, Donald and Amy McSwann; Archibald and Rosalie Henderson, Olive Durand-Deacon John George Haigh London September 9, 1944 - February 19, 1949 August 10, 1949 Victims of con artist and serial killer John George Haigh, who dissolved the bodies in acid under the belief that he couldn't be prosecuted for murder without a corpse; the resulting liquified remains were disposed of in a manhole. There was ample documentary evidence tying him to his victims however, and a search found remains of human fat, three gallstones and a couple of dentures in the vat he had used to dissolve the body of his last victim.
Stanislaw Sykut Michail Onufrejczyk Llandeilo, Wales Late 1953 August 1954 Partner of the convict in the management of a farm rehabilitated by the Polish Resettlement Corps after World War II. Onufrejczyk, who had been previously denounced by Sykut for violence and was about to lose the farm as a result of legal action, offered wildly varying stories to explain his partner's sudden disappearance. He was convicted largely because of the finding of over 2000 blood stains in the passage leading from the farm's kitchen to the backyard, which Onufrejczyk claimed to be from rabbits he had skinned. Police believed that Onufrejczyk dismembered Sykut's body in the kitchen and fed the parts to the pigs. The ruling was cited as a precedent in later murder without a body cases in England and Wales.[12]
Malika Maria de Fernandez Peter Reyn-Bardt Wilmslow, England June 1961 December 1983 The estranged wife of the convict. When the bog body later known as the Lindow Woman was found in a bog behind his home in 1983, police questioned Reyn-Bardt, whose wife had been missing for over two decades. Reyn-Bardt, also believing that the partial body was that of his wife, admitted to have murdered her when she blackmailed him under threat of revealing his homosexuality. Afterward, he dismembered the body and buried the pieces in a trench leading to the bog. Carbon 14 dating later showed that the body was nearly 1,800 years old. While Malika's own body was not found, the detailed confession was enough to pronounce her husband guilty.[13]
Muriel McKay Nizamodeen and Arthur Hosein London December 29, 1969 October 6, 1970 The wife of Alick McKay, deputy of Rupert Murdoch, who was abducted from her home in Wimbledon. It is believed that the Hoseins intended to abduct Murdoch's wife Anna Murdoch Mann and hold her for ransom, but that they mistook McKay for her after she used Murdoch's car to buy groceries. After several failed attempts to ransom her to McKay's family, the Hoseins were arrested and convicted to life in prison for her murder despite no trace of her being ever found.[14]
Terence Eve, Robert Brown, George and Terry Brett, Frederick Sherwood, Ronald Andrews John Childs London November 1974 - October 1978 December 4, 1979 The six claimed victims of confessed hitman John Childs, who said he carried the killings on behalf of the other convicted, and that he dismembered and burned the bodies in his apartment's fireplace. No evidence ever existed besides Childs's testimony. Pinfold and MacKenney's convictions were overturned in 2003 after Childs was ruled to be a "pathological liar."
Terry Pinfold, Harry MacKenney November 28, 1980
Robert Nairac Liam Townson Dromintee, Northern Ireland May 14, 1977 November 1977 British Army Captain murdered by the IRA during the course of an undercover operation. It is believed that Nairac's body was buried in farmland on the Republic of Ireland.
Gerard Fearon, Thomas Morgan 1978
Mark Tildesley Leslie Bailey Wokingham, England June 1, 1984 December 9, 1992 A seven-year-old boy who disappeared while visiting a funfair in Wokingham, Berkshire. He was lured away from the fair and his bicycle was found chained to railings nearby.[15] In 1990 it emerged that Mark had been abducted, drugged, tortured, raped and murdered by a London-based paedophile gang on the night he disappeared.[15][16]
Helen McCourt Ian Simms Billinge, Merseyside, England February 9, 1988 March 1989 A 22-year-old woman last seen walking towards the pub owned by the convict, who had previously made rejected advances on her, and had also banned her from the pub after she had an argument with another patron. Forensic evidence included McCourt's blood found in Simms's car; a plastic binfold left by a river, that contained McCourts's clothes, hair and a flex with toothmarks that were matched to one of Simms's dogs; and a set of clothes and two towels, property of Simms and sprinkled with McCourt's blood, that were found abandoned near the Manchester Ship Canal.
Arlene Fraser Nat Fraser Elgin, Scotland April 28, 1998 January 29, 2003, May 30, 2012 A woman murdered by her husband, who maintains innocence of the crime. He was given a new trial in 2012, but he was convicted.[17]
Danielle Jones Stuart Campbell East Tilbury, England June 18, 2001 December 19, 2002 The convict's 15-year old niece, disappeared while walking to a bus stop. A pair of stockings with blood from both Jones and Campbell, and lip gloss used by Jones were found in Campbell's apartment. In addition, Campbell claimed to have received a text message from Jones after she disappeared, but it didn't match Jones's texting style, and Mobile Switching Center records showed that both Campbell's and Jones's cell phones were in the same place when the message was sent.[18]
Linda Razzell Glyn Razzell Swindon, Wiltshire March 19, 2002 November 2003 The convict's estranged wife disappeared at about 9.10 a.m. while walking to Swindon College where she worked as a teaching assistant. Her blood – discovered in the boot of a Renault Laguna which Glyn had borrowed from a friend – was initially missed by the forensics team. In June 2018 the case was the subject of the BBC Two documentary Conviction, which included an examination of a possible link to convicted serial killer Christopher Halliwell.[19]
Jenny Nicholl David Hodgson Richmond, North Yorkshire, England June 30, 2005 February 19, 2008 The 19-year old mistress of the convict, a 45-year old married father of two, with whom she had been having an affair for five years. Nicholl also had a relationship with Hodgson's older brother, which Police considered the motive of the murder. Hodgson was sentenced to life with a minimum of 18 years.[20]
Suzanne Pilley David Gilroy Edinburgh, Scotland May 4, 2010 March 15, 2012 A woman believed to have been murdered by her ex-boyfriend.[21] Evidence cited by the prosecution included scratches on Gilroy's body, that he stopped sending frequent text messages to Pilley the day she disappeared, an unjustified roundabout trip of Gilroy's car to the other extreme of Scotland on the same day and the fact that the car was later cleaned.
April Jones Mark Bridger Machynlleth, Wales October 1, 2012 May 30, 2013 A 5-year-old girl murdered in 2012. The convict stated he had deposited the body in both the Afon Dulas and River Dovey, although authorities presume the remains are near the man's home.[22][23]
Veronica "Carole" Anne Packman Russell Causley Bournemouth, England 1985 December 18, 1996; overturned in 2003; reconvicted upon retrial in 2004 Carole Packman went missing shortly after initiating a divorce with her husband (whose name was Russell Packman at the time; he changed his name to that of his mistress after Carole's disappearance.) Initially, police investigated the possibility that Causley murdered his wife, but closed the investigation when sufficient evidence was not forthcoming. Years later, when Causley was discovered to have faked his own death in an attempted life insurance scheme, police reopened the investigation, which led to Causley's first conviction.[24] Packman's disappearance became the subject of the 2016 television series The Investigator: A British Crime Story.[25]

United States[edit]

Victim(s) Convicted Location Disappeared Conviction date Description
Priscilla Rulloff Edward H. Rulloff Lansing, New York June 23, 1844 1858 The convict's infant daughter; disappeared along with her mother. Rulloff was suspected of murdering both, but he was only tried and sentenced to ten years for the kidnapping of his wife. Upon his release in 1856, he was charged, tried and convicted for the murder of his daughter, but he escaped and was acquitted on appeal in 1859. Rulloff was hanged for an unrelated murder in 1870.
George Watkins Charles Hudspeth Marion County, Arkansas 1886 1888-1892 Watkins disappeared a year after moving to Marion County with his wife, who had an affair with Hudspeth. After their arrest, the wife accused Hudspeth of murdering Watkins so they could marry each other. Hudspeth was found guilty in an 1888 trial that was overturned, but was later found guilty again on retrial in 1892, and hanged. Hudspeth's lawyer claimed to have found Watkins alive in Kansas in 1893.
Grace Budd Albert Fish New York City May 28, 1928 March 1935 A nine-year-old girl abducted by Fish after he lied to her parents about taking her to another child's birthday party. In a 1934 letter to Budd's mother, Fish claimed that he killed the girl on June 3 and ate her whole body over the course of nine days.
Thora Chamberlain Thomas Henry McGornigle Campbell, California November 2, 1945 1946[26] A 14-year-old girl abducted outside her high school. Evidence included a bullet hole and blood stains in the car of the convict, objects belonging to Chamberlain found buried in the convict's workplace, and two pairs of socks belonging to Chamberlain being found on the sea cliff where he confessed to have disposed of the body.
Evelyn Scott Robert Leonard Ewing Scott Los Angeles May 16, 1955 1957 The convict's wife. The crime was believed to have been motivated by money.[27]
Curtis Chillingworth and Marjorie Chillingworth Joseph Peel and Floyd Holzapfel Manalapan, Florida June 15, 1955 December 12, 1960 (Holzapfel), March 30, 1961 (Peel) Circuit court judge Chillingworth had reprimanded municipal court judge Peel for unethical behavior, and Peel feared being disbarred. Peel hired Holzapfel to kill Chillingworth and his wife. Holzapfel and accomplice Bobby Lincoln kidnapped the Chillingworths and dumped their bodies in the ocean with weights tied to their legs.[28]
Jan Susan Whitney Jerry Brudos Between Salem and Albany, Oregon November 26, 1968 June 28, 1969 A 23-year-old woman lured to Brudos's home after her car broke down on Interstate 5. Several photos of Whitney depicting her before and after her death were found in Brudos's garage, along with a mold of resin made out of her breast. The body was found one month after Brudos pled guilty to her murder, downstream from where he said he had thrown it.[29]
Rosemary Calandriello Robert Zarinsky Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey August 25, 1969 1975 A teenage girl believed to have been abducted and murdered by a truck driver. Zarinsky, a suspected serial killer, denied knowing the victim until after his conviction, claiming her death was an accident. He died in 2008, never having disclosed the location of her body. It was the first-ever bodyless-murder conviction in New Jersey.[30][31]
Donald Shea Charles Manson, Bruce M. Davis, Steve "Clem" Grogan, Tex Watson Chatsworth, California August 26, 1969 December 13, 1971 Spahn Ranch foreman murdered by the Manson Family because they believed he had turned them in to the police. Grogan helped locate Shea's remains in 1977.
Mary Kitts Clarence Ray Allen, Eugene "Lee" Furrow[32] Fresno, California July 1974 November 1977 A teenager murdered in 1974. Her body was apparently weighed down and thrown into a river.[26]
Katherine and Sheila Lyon Lloyd Lee Welch Washington, D.C. March 25, 1975 September 12, 2017 Two sisters aged 10 and 12 who disappeared during a trip to a shopping mall. In 2013, Welch, a convicted and incarcerated child molester, became a suspect after it was noticed that he strongly resembled a young man seen stalking the girls by one of their friends, and that in 1975 he had gone to police to claim that he had seen an older man abducting the girls. After a cousin of Welch confessed to helping him burn two suspicious duffel bags at his property in Thaxton, Virginia in 1975, police searched the place and found items that had belonged to the girls, but no organic remains. Nevertheless, Welch pled guilty to both counts of abduction and murder.

The 42 years that passed between the crime and the conviction is the longest such interval in an American bodyless murder case.

Melvin "Ricky" Pittman, Ernest Taylor, Alvin Turner, Randy Johnson and Michael McDowell Philander Hampton Newark, New Jersey August 20, 1978 August 2011 Five teenagers who were presumably lured by at least one subject who was convicted. One suspect was eventually acquitted, and one other had died.[33]
Etan Patz Pedro Hernandez New York City May 25, 1979 February 14, 2017 A six-year-old boy who disappeared on his way to the school stop. He was the first missing child whose photo appeared on a milk carton. In 2010, Hernandez confessed to have strangled Patz after he walked in the convenience store where he worked at, and to have disposed of his body on the garbage. Various members of Hernandez's family claimed that he had confessed the murder to his church in the 1980s.
Karen and Michael Reinert Bill Bradfield Philadelphia June 22, 1979 1983 Brother and sister who vanished along with their mother, Susan Reinert, after she received a phone call from Bradfield. Susan's body was found three days later in the trunk of her car, which had been abandoned in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but the children never appeared. Bradfield, who was Susan's lover and the sole beneficiary of her life insurance, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and died in prison in 1998. Smith, the principal at the high school where both Bradfield and Susan Reinert were teachers, was found guilty of carrying out the murders and sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to prosecutorial misconduct.[34]
Jay C. Smith 1986
Lucinda Schaefer, Andrea Hall Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris Glendora, California June - July, 1979 February, 1981 First victims of serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, who kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered a total of five teenage girls in California in 1979. Although the bodies of Schaefer and Hall were never found, Norris confessed that he and Bittaker had murdered them. In 1981, Bittaker was sentenced to death, while Norris was sentenced to life in prison.
Paula Godfrey, Lisa Stasi, Catherine Clampitt John Edward Robinson Overland Park, Kansas September 1, 1984 - June 15, 1987 October 2002 - October 2003 Three women who disappeared after being offered jobs by the convict. The conviction for Stasi's murder was later overturned on a technicality.
Gail Katz-Bierenbaum Robert Bierenbaum New York City July 7, 1985 October 2000 The convict's wife. It is believed that the body was deposited in the ocean off of the coast of New Jersey, where he reportedly had flown a plane.[35]
Michelle Dorr Hadden Clark Silver Spring, Maryland May 24, 1986 1999 A six-year-old girl who disappeared from her father's backyard while he was taking a nap. The father confessed to the murder in a psychotic episode, but was later exonerated. The real murderer was serial killer Hadden Clark, who offered to disclose the body's location as part of a plea deal. Although this deal was not made, Clark still showed police where to find Dorr's body, after his conviction.[36]
Helle Crafts Richard Crafts Newtown, Connecticut November 19, 1986 November 21, 1989 A Danish-American woman murdered by her husband, in a case popularly known as the "wood-chipper murder". It is believed Crafts had been beaten to death and was then dismembered, frozen and placed in a wood chipper aimed over a bridge. Fragments of a body were found, yet only a tooth with a filling as well as hair consistent with the victim's indicated the body was Crafts'. Despite this, the case is often referred to as a conviction without a body, as the remains could not be definitively proven to be that of Crafts. It was the first bodyless murder conviction in Connecticut history.[37][38] Initially, a trial in 1987 was mistrialed.[26]
James Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, Edward Smith, David Thomas Jeffrey Dahmer Various January 16, 1988 - September 24, 1990 February 15 - May 22, 1992 The bodies were dismembered and taken out with the trash, pulverized and scattered in the woods, or dissolved in acid.
Kiplyn Davis Timmy Brent Olsen Spanish Fork, Utah May 2, 1995 February 11, 2011 15-year-old girl last seen taking lunch at Spanish Fork High School, which she attended. Although Olsen pled guilty to her manslaughter, he claimed that it was other person who killed her with a rock, and that he only helped conceal the body. However, he refuses to reveal the other person's identity or the body's location.
Diane van Reeth John "Jack" Kalhauser Arizona August 10, 1995[39] 1999 The wife of the convict, a serial killer.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Jon Garth Murray, Robin Murray O'Hair David Roland Waters, Gary Paul Karr San Antonio, Texas September 29, 1995 August 2000 The ruling board of American Atheists, Inc., who were abducted, robbed and murdered in a conspiracy led by Waters, a former employee who had a personal vendetta against Madalyn. Waters was helped by Karr and a third man, Danny Fry, who was also murdered by their companions. Five months after their conviction, Waters led the FBI to the shallow grave where they had buried the three victims and the head and hands of Fry.
Justina Morales Luis Santiago New York City December 31, 1995 1997 The abused eight-year-old daughter of the convict's girlfriend. Her disappearance was not reported nor investigated until more than a year after her death.
Robert Wykel Myron C. Wynn Burien, Washington February 21, 1996 April 2011 A man murdered and robbed by someone who had accompanied him to look at an old car he was considering purchasing. Wynn consistently changed his account of the time he spent with Wykel whenever he was confronted with new information; police later linked him to the crime through a distinctive diamond very similar to one from a ring Wykel wore and an incriminating remark he made to a friend that contradicted what he had earlier told police.[40]
Anne Marie Fahey Thomas Capano Philadelphia June 27, 1996 January 17, 1999 A woman murdered by her lover, the former attorney general of Delaware, after she was last seen dining with him outside their native state. It is believed that her body was dumped in the ocean near New Jersey.[41] Capano was having an affair with the victim prior to her murder.[26]
Janet Levine March Perry and Arthur March Nashville, Tennessee August 15, 1996 August 16, 2006 A woman who disappeared after supposedly having an argument with her husband, who moved to Mexico with their children several years later. Perry was convicted after ten years due to inconsistencies in his story and incriminating statements made to fellow jail inmates. Arthur March, his father, confessed to placing Janet's body in a pile of cleared brush where it was burned.[42]
Irene Silverman Kenneth and Sante Kimes New York City June 1998 2000 A woman killed by a mother-son con artist team as part of an identity-theft scheme. At trial he testified to disposing of her body.
Katie Poirier Donald Blom Moose Lake, Minnesota May 26, 1999 2000 A woman abducted from her job at a local convenience store. Bone chips and a tooth found in a fire pit on Blom's property were linked to her, although DNA could not be tested; surveillance video also suggested he was the abductor. It was the first bodyless murder conviction in Minnesota history.[43]
Girly Chew Hossencofft Diazien Hossencofft, Linda Henning Albuquerque, New Mexico September 9, 1999 2002 A Malaysian-American woman murdered by her husband and his mistress. Blood matched to the victim was in a large quantity which proved she could not have survived the attack.[44]
Logan Tucker Katherine Rutan Woodward, Oklahoma June 23, 2002 2007 A six-year-old boy who vanished in 2002. His mother was eventually convicted of his death.[45]
Thomas and Jackie Hawks Skylar Julius Deleon, Jennifer Henderson, John Kennedy, Alonso Machain Prescott, Arizona November 15, 2004 November 17, 2006 – May 1, 2009 A couple believed to have been murdered for monetary reasons. Their bodies are believed to have been thrown into the body of water on which their vessel was traveling.[26][46]
Nina Reiser Hans Reiser Oakland, California September 3, 2006 April 28, 2008 The convict's wife.[47] He was given a reduced charge of second degree murder in exchange for disclosing the location of the victim's remains, which were recovered in 2008.[48]
Jessica Heeringa Jeffrey Willis Norton Shores, Michigan April 26, 2013 May 16, 2018 Willis was serving life in prison since 2017 for the 2014 murder of Rebekah Blestch. Police had suspected Willis of kidnapping and murdering Heeringa as well, ever since the Blestch murder investigation began, but Heeringa's body was never found. Willis was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. His cousin Kevin Bluhm pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact by helping him dispose of her body, and received five years probation.[49][50]
Julie Ann Gonzalez George De La Cruz Austin, Texas March 26, 2010 April 22, 2015 Victim was the convict's estranged wife.[47] The state would not entertain deals for a lenient sentence in exchange for information about victim's fate.[51]
Sierra LaMar Antolin Garcia-Torres Morgan Hill, CA March 16, 2012 May 9, 2017 (sentenced December 2017) Sierra, a fifteen-year-old high schooler, disappeared one morning after missing her school bus. Her cellphone was found the day after she disappeared, a few blocks away from her bus stop, and then her clothing and purse were found the day after.[52] The discovery of these items suggested she was not a runaway. DNA from Garcia-Torres was found on Sierra's purse.[52] Garcia-Torres was also linked to attempted kidnappings of women in Safeway parking lots in Morgan Hill beginning in 2009 and was tried for these kidnappings during the trial.[53] Garcia-Torres was convicted of murdering Sierra and sentenced to life without parole in 2017.[54] Her body has never been found.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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