This is exactly right. This story contains adult content and language, listener discretion is advised. Susan, how do you want to be introduced? You know, I mean, do you mean to just say Susan and she lives in the United States just to be able to at least give you a first name?
Well well, this will be recorded and played elsewhere.
It's a podcast, so anybody will be able to access it. This is my first name.
And I if you don't mind me and tell me, you know what what your trepidation just is in general, do you think is it just because of the family, you know, being nervous?
What's kind of the trepidation and all of that, as I thought more about it being publicly broadcast, that if there were somebody out there that just had, you know, a crazy thought to try to do something as revenge or, you know, some sort of payback in some way, I would hate for any member of our family to have something bad happen just because we were unfortunately related to a serial killer.
Susan's relative murdered 16 people. The victims families were traumatized, heartbroken and vengeful. They rioted outside of his jail cell and demanded his blood. You might be cautious, too, if you are related to a prolific serial killer. I wouldn't want to give my last name either, but you probably know by now that I only write about very old true crime stories. And the killer in Susan's family is her great, great, great uncle. He died almost 200 years ago.
The relatives of his victims likely vanished at least a century ago. So any threat of retribution is gone. But that's the power of a McJob family legacy. I mean, it's an odd way, is it you know, is it a sort of a little bit of a cautionary tale about exploring too much about your history? You know, when you do reach ancestry research, you're always I think in theory, you're hoping to find someone who came across on the Mayflower and did something amazing to establish the United States or did something great for society.
I think there's still some shame 200 years later, there's still some shame and being related to a serial killer. It's shocking and it is shameful because it's just a horrible act against humanity. What they did and in taking advantage of all these people, Dan is another descendant. The serial killer was his great, great, great uncle and he's a cousin of Susan's. He also asked me to not include his last name. He wants me to figure out if the serial killer's family also knew about all of those murders.
Was it a family secret or were they trying to protect a murderer? Do you think Constantine knew what was going on?
Do you think Elizabeth knew? Well, you know, obviously she understood the aftermath of it. I'm Kate Winkler Dawson, a true crime historian and author of American Sherlock and Death in the Air. I write about real stories that Mary History with murder each season is a new case with new families at the center of it. I sought out the facts from the fables and family history. And this is our second season of tenfold More Wicked. It's set in the early 19th century in Edinburgh, Scotland, and it's called The Body Snatcher.
There are three men at the center of this tale, an unlikely partnership initiated by greed, pride and science. Their story inspired Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson to write a tale that has terrified generations of children for almost 200 years. But this true crime mystery also rewrote the history of medicine. It challenged Christianity and the very tenets that govern society and much of Europe and America in the early eighteen hundreds. But perhaps most importantly, the public outrage forced people around the world to ask can murder actually save lives because it did.
In this story, the outcome, you could argue, was positive.
I certainly wouldn't want to go back to that, even if it was for the greater good. I've spent six years researching William Burke and William Hare, I've traveled to Scotland four times and spent hours at the National Library reading trial transcripts and contemporary newspapers have a file called Great Podcast Tales. And out of all of those stories. This one is the most challenging.
You may have already heard of Burkean hair, the quite famous in Britain, like the legends of the boogeyman, also known as Old Bloody Bones, or Sawney being he was the fabled and likely mythical Scot who murdered and cannibalized more than 1000 people in the 16th century.
But William Burke and William Hare were real men, real serial killers, and you've never heard this version of their story like any good murder mystery, there are villains, there are heroes, and there are too many victims and too few answers.
And at the center is a surgeon skilled at saving lives, teaching students and making lots of money.
At this point in history, you've got no idea who's telling the truth.
And he was a doctor. He must know that many people just don't die. Let's see if we can figure that out. It was October of 1827, the red and yellow hues on the trees outside nearly sparkled in the daylight. The anatomies stared down at her, the woman on his table. He squinted at the tumor on her neck, she didn't move. Dr. Robert Knox picked up his scalpel and began gently removing the mass.
No need for pain relievers, his patient was already dead. It was a difficult procedure, but he did manage to remove the lump. Dr. Knox picked up a drawing, a sketch of an almost identical tumor. But this one came from a very live patient at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The surgeons there were preparing to operate on her right now. Knox looked at the tumor in the dish on the table and he was alarmed. He told the surgical team an operation will probably kill her.
And they believed him because Robert Knox was one of the most talented anatomists in the world. They immediately cancelled the operation.
Dr. Knox and his cadaver likely saved that woman's life. And that was just one reason why anatomists needed those bodies. In the 19th century, discoveries in anatomy research had dramatically reduced the amount of deaths associated with amputations, which was a big victory during times of war. And it's also why they still need them.
We're in a brightly lit room on the top floor of an old stone medical school building. Professor John Gillenwater is the head of anatomy at the University of Edinburgh, one of the world's top medical schools.
So where would the midbrain be on there if that was intact? Where would the midbrain be? It's over here somewhere here. Well, put it. Put the next one that is intact so you can kind of trace it.
He's teaching a small number of postgraduate medical students in a neuroanatomy lab there in groups of three or four. Each group has a dish holding a section of a human brain.
This is basically an oblique section, of course, where this is where you go to get your orientation. Yeah. So that would be on there.
Like, but they're squinting as they try to answer questions while Gillenwater and his assistant stroll around the room. Anatomy labs like these are crucial, says Dr. Gillenwater.
Those students, they will dissect essentially a whole cadaver over a year. Those that have had a solid grounding in anatomy will do much better.
For hundreds of years, medical students from around the world have come here to Edinburgh to learn about medicine from the inside out. Working on a cadaver is the cornerstone of a surgeon's education.
If you want to know what lies underneath your skin or the skin of a patient, you might be treating or try to understand the human body, you have to have seen the real thing. Dr. Knox was a leading figure in Edinborough, someone who had traveled in the same circles as author Sir Walter Scott and naturalist James Audubon.
He was one of the most talented anatomists in the early 1980s. And thanks to a seemingly endless supply of cadavers, he had a crucial advantage for a surgeon in the early 19th century.
Dr. Knox was so respected that celebrated figures wanted to meet him. Actually, just how Knox met James Audubon was interesting, the author was in Scotland promoting his book, The Birds of America, when they were introduced, the anatomists took Automan on a tour of his lab.
He winced as Knox strutted around the room with blood still on his fingers. Knox never bothered to wash his hands between lectures. The naturalist left as soon as he could. Audubon later wrote the sites were extremely disagreeable, many of them shocking beyond all I have ever thought could be.
I was glad to leave this charnel house and breathe again the salubrious atmosphere of the streets. Audobon might have been disgusted, but Knox's students nearly worshipped him. He was a fellow of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, an organisation reserved for only the brightest minds in medicine. Knox lectured on bold, innovative ways of detecting diseases and understanding how bodies work. He trained some of the most talented surgeons in the world, including many in America, by showing them a new way to view the body from the inside.
Dr. Knox saved lives as he delivered groundbreaking anatomy lectures to thousands of future surgeons. These doctors would go on to make scientific discoveries, invent new techniques and teach other talented surgeons. His students helped advance medicine in the United States. Knox offered anatomy classes in his private lab so he didn't work within the University of Edinburgh. He actually was competing against other professors for students and their tuition. But he had an advantage because he had something incredible to offer access to cadavers.
Students used to flock to various people who were lecturing outside university, but not in it. And these included, among others. Robert Knox was an extremely fine teacher, a tremendously exciting lecturers, and, of course, gave the students plenty of experience in dealing with and handling dead bodies. That was historian Owen Dudley Edwards author Janet Philp is with the University of Edinburgh. She says that Knox's popularity increased each year and not just because he offered bodies, he offered fresh cadavers, which was a big attraction.
But he was also a fantastic anatomist and teacher and 400 students would turn up to his class. The university was at the epicenter of medical education advancement in the early eighteen hundreds. Only the best students were admitted. Knox hired talented assistants who helped prep his cadavers and kept his secrets. His power would have been great when he taught lots of people, you read the histories of him and his students loved him and the way that he taught, but it's almost like power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Dr. Knox and his fellow anatomy professors knew how to wield their intellectual power, but they were frustrated, professionally stymied by what they considered to be draconian beliefs from pious political leaders.
Religious leaders then believed that only complete bodies could be resurrected.
Religious doctrine forbade instructors all over the world from using cadavers from anyone but executed criminals. They were the only people who weren't allowed to receive a proper religious burial. So the bodies of criminals were really valuable. But in the early 1980s, parts of Europe had seen criminal justice reform. New laws had drastically reduced the number of executions in Britain. And what we'd get at executions is fights over the bodies.
So you'd have the relatives struggling to take their loved ones away for a proper burial. And then you'd have the students and sometimes even the lecturers fighting to try and get the body for dissection.
Robert Knox and his fellow anatomy professors believed that cadavers were essential and at the same time, medicine was evolving really quickly.
New advances were saving patients lives. But the conservative elders in Edinburgh were devout Christians, and they kept a suspicious eye on Robert Knox and his assistants.
There was something alarming about a professor who happily toiled at dissecting cadavers before hundreds of students while wearing a bloody smock, a real life Dr. Frankenstein.
And the reality is most anatomy professors in the 19th century had to turn to these so-called resurrection men for supply.
So I didn't know this, but grave robbing actually wasn't a serious crime, it was a misdemeanor. There was a small fine, but the medical school always paid the bill. Purchasing recently buried bodies was definitely illegal, but it was often ignored by overtaxed police who were struggling in a dangerous city.
Malcolm McCullom is with the Anatomy Museum at the University of Edinburgh. He says that desperate families were forced to hire night watchman at cemeteries. If you could afford to, you can employ a man with a rifle to look after your loved ones remains for 72 hours. But that wasn't for everybody. So that was definitely the ordinary. People must be quite fearful because this was a Christian country and you won't get a Christian burial if your remains were being stopped and taken off to the medical schools.
The watch houses and the gods in churchyards weren't the police militia. They were the local relatives who were making sure that their relatives weren't taken away.
Families also built iron coffin frameworks around the graves called Moort Safes.
Janet Filt takes me on a walking tour of Old Town, starting with Greyfriars Kurkdjian, the city's most famous graveyard. Several iron moort safes still lay here almost 200 years later. I want to talk about this real quick, because this is impressive. I mean, this is iron and obviously has been, you know, slaughtered and everything else.
It's just a big iron cage is one over there that's been renovated. And you'd rent this. So you rent it for four or five days and then the next Fanfan would rent it. So it's worth, you know, a blacksmith's time to make.
One of these families also had trip wires on the ground attached to shotguns around the cemetery so grave robbers would pay a steep price for sneaking around at night.
So we'll head up this Victoria Street now, which, if you're interested, is apparently the street, the Duigan alley and Harry Potter is based on my kids will be interested in that.
But what was the time the the the body that sort of the body would expire for grave robber to be interested in coming in? Is it four or five days or five days? And it's not a lot of use for them because obviously we're talking pre preservation. So none of these would have been involved.
So if you couldn't afford to hire a guard with a weapon where you didn't have the money to rent a metal cage for the gravesite, then your loved one would likely end up on the lab table of an anatomist.
What is the justification for any anonymous at this point in history for doing this? You know, is this for the betterment of science?
I mean, is that even that philosophical, the best way to learn anatomy is to look inside the body. I mean, there is an argument the person is already dead. So if you just bury the body in the ground, nobody's learning anything from it. If you can train 400 doctors that can go off and save other people by the fact that they've looked inside that one body, then that is an argument for making the best use of what you have in front of you.
But of course, the families of the Disinterred Dead didn't care for that argument, they believe deceased loved ones belonged in heaven. Science could be cold and calculating, and that's the crux of the story. When do we value the wishes of someone over an advancement that will save countless other people? Flying corpses from the grave, robbing ghouls was a nasty business, yet a necessary one, it seemed, in the pursuit of the greater good. Saving lives through medical research.
Dr. Knox unemployed grave robbers for years, and he was specific about the types of bodies that he wanted, ones that wouldn't attract attention, and Knox essentially said that in a letter that he wrote to his family, Anonymous generally are most anxious to avoid public scenes such as these.
And for this purpose, they are careful to select subjects which are claimed by no relative or friend and thus often avoid the painful necessity of violating the burial grounds and by doing so, inflicting a shock on the most sacred feelings on human nature.
When grave robbers arrived at his door with a cadaver, the professor and his assistants never asked questions. Any story that they were about to tell was swept aside. Nobody wanted to hear a story about how they had got that body. They simply wanted the body. Who were these bodies before they became specimens of anatomy professors, mostly poor immigrants. So there were lots of people that were looking for work, looking for a livelihood. They came across to Edinburgh because at that time we were building the union canal between Edinburgh, Glasgow.
So there was work. So there's an awful lot of Irish people that came across for work in Edinburgh at that time.
The cobblestone streets of Old Town in 1827 were filled with dead eyed immigrants as lost as when they arrived. Many of the smoke tinged dilapidated buildings teater during strong wind storms, which were frequent in the winter months when temperatures refused to climb past 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the city's borders were exploding with new business. The launch of industrialization at the turn of the century meant an influx of workers toiling in cotton fields, digging in the filthy union canal or cleaning the streets of Old Town for little pay.
The air was tainted by the constant, putrid stench of human and animal waste. It was horrible. During the day, the ancient cobblestones braced under the weight of thousands of immigrants, scuttling to their drudgery all the street vendors, scavengers and servants who rushed to begin work just so it would finally end.
And then at night, it was rarely peaceful, the noise of pub fights and domestic squabbles and drunken rages was deafening.
So this is this is a close the Edinburgh's famous folk, you know, I mean, close is just a path between two of these large tenements.
But the tenements could be seven, eight stories high and they tend to be steep.
You do get kind of a little bit of a workout here.
Janet Philp guides me through the narrow closes the pathways between tenement buildings. She describes life as an Irish immigrant and Edinborough in 1827. It's pretty depressing. So these would be filthy, if you can imagine.
This is before sanitation. They just threw the rubbish out the windows. They would have been horrendous.
The drinking water was so noxious that most people turned to whisky or rum instead. Sex workers trolled alleyways for clients. Residents feared cholera and dysentery.
I mean, that's that's the same for a lot of Britain. But at times it was safe to drink the beer and the whisky than to actually drink the water.
There were no sewers or running water.
Things were thrown out into the street. You had lots of people living really close together at a time when they didn't really understand how infection and these things worked.
Yeah, they were going to be diseases all over the place. This was West Ward, an area of old town which might have been lifted straight from the pages of Dickens, but the identity of Ed Murrow had an alter ego.
There was an affluent section of town with street streets and clean buildings that was called New Town.
This was where Dr. Knox lived, along with all the other wealthy people in the city, the new town.
People wouldn't have come in to the old town unless they had a reason, the meat markets and those sort of things. But it's probably their servants that came into the old town rather than than themselves.
Dr. Knox was desperate for a steady source of bodies for his anatomy class, fresh bodies, and soon two men would knock on his door with a ghastly business arrangement.
Let me tell you about a brand new show on the obsessed network, it's called Crimes of the Centuries, and it's a new true crime podcast from award winning reporter Amber Hunt. Each week, Amber takes a deep dive into one of these crimes. You know, crime is so commonplace that it takes something really shocking and horrifying to be labeled a crime of the century. But even so, so many of these crimes have been forgotten or lost to history. Not anymore.
This is my kind of podcast. And Amber is actually interviewed me and she was fantastic. You guys are going to love her. Let me tell you about some of these stories. There's one about a 220 year old murder that brought together Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr as lawyers for the defense. You'll learn about Jazz Age, thrill killers. This murdering grandmother, serial killers you never heard of and so many more crimes of the centuries rediscovers the true crime stories that shocked the nation, cases so unbelievable that we thought we'd never forget them, but somehow did until now.
Hear these stories right now by finding and subscribing to crimes of the centuries, wherever you get your podcasts. It's so interesting how infamous killers are described in history books, William Hare just looked evil to most Scots dark hair, high cheekbones, a sharp jawline and a mischievous smirk.
Janet Thorp says he appeared to be oddly handsome and definitely devilish. That's a terrible combination. How is he physically described? Badly.
I mean, he was physically described as having one eye higher than the other, which I mean, we've got his life mosque. One eye is not hard than the other, whether he stood funny or something.
I mean, he's got a very pointy nose, high cheekbones and a long straight nose. And he's very striking and very nasty here.
Had claimed he was 22 years old, but he couldn't be trusted with his slight build. The Irishman was no taller than most women, but an overload of whiskey could kick off a ferocious, violent rage that would down a man twice his height. My father would have called him Hell on wheels. So.
So they used to go around and help harvest crops to make money. And so the stories about after the harvest or people go to the pub, they put a sort of kitty on the table, getting one round of drinks and then stories of hair just pocketing the rest money. And when somebody queries what's going on, he just beats them up. Hair was born in New Ireland, but we don't know much more about him. We do know that he worked on the canal and that job changed his life here.
In any case, was one of the gang, a team of about 10 or so being run by a man called Lugh, whose wife Margaret was a pretty tough lady who played her part with the gang and would certainly good for wielding a great, huge stones that they had to put in place in the growing canal, and she would wield them around the wheelbarrow.
In 1826, Hair rented a room at the Logo's grubby lodging house in Westport. He had stayed there when he was working and he had actually been asked to leave that boarding house because he got a bit too friendly with the landlady. Shortly after that happened, Margaret Laird's husband suddenly died, which, looking back now seems very suspicious.
His death bed became their marriage bed within two years, an alarming beginning to a doomed relationship. Margaret Hair was described by contemporary writers as vivaciously vicious as she devil. The hairs drank heavily and they fought like animals. But all of those arguments were drowned out by the echoes of vulgarities ricocheting through the dank alleyways in Old Town.
William Burke was a former military man with a boyish face and a broad frame. He moved from Northern Ireland to Edinburgh in 1818. He was educated and literate, pretty unusual for a labourer. He was educated whilst he was in the militia in Donegal. And this was one of the scary things about him is that he was quite an educated man and yet he still chose to do this. We don't know much about William Burke, especially about his life in Ireland.
We do know that he abandoned his wife and children after their house burned down and he escaped to Edinburgh. The 35 year old Catholic wooed a Scottish woman named Helen McDougall. Writers describe her as morose, wicked and jealous. But Burke seemed to love her even if she did put his soul in peril.
Now, the local priest found out about that and he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church because of that, long before any murders took place. Burke was a cobbler by trade. He was charming and he was handsome.
He approached strangers and got them to go and drink with him in the pub. Must have been quite charming. Well, or they really wanted to drink. William Burke and Helen McDougle also fought violently, particularly when Nely suspected he was cheating Burkean, his wives were both difficult and that's an understatement. Their neighbors had actually called the police when one of Birken Nellie's fights became violent. There's a police record of Burge almost killing nearly one of the neighbors where they were staying, got the police in touch.
They came in and he was beating us senseless. And all the police did was check that she was actually his wife. So Burkean hair and their wives weren't honest or kind. They seemed like horrible people.
And soon the four of them would meet. And that was really unfortunate. The ANELI were about to leave Edinburgh to try cobbling further down south when they bumped into Margaret lead a book new because it stayed at their boarding house. At some point, a Margaret Ladd persuaded Birkin Nellie to give Edinburgh one more go and said they could use the stable at the back of the house that she had with her and he could run his Copelin business from there. So that's how they all came together.
And now an evil scheme was forming in the poorest part of the city. In October of 1827, business was lively for both anatomists and grave robbers. Hundreds of medical students were streaming into Edinburgh that fall and they were spending anywhere from 150 dollars to 700 dollars per year on expensive textbooks, private courses in a small dorm room on campus. That's a huge amount of money. In that time period, anatomy and physiology classes attracted more students than any other course for much of the 19th century.
But inept university professors drove students away that year, including a young Charles Darwin. Surgeons like Robert Knox offered private classes with real cadavers, and students responded.
They knew that anatomy drawings couldn't replace real bodies.
Authors Owen Dudley, Edwards and Janet Phelps say that the university's head of anatomy was a horrible professor and everybody knew it.
The professor of anatomy, Alexander Monroe, was the grandson and son of a distinguished anatomist whose university chairs he had inherited. Holtmann seems to have been an extremely dull, tiresome lecturer. The letter and hundreds of people still using his grandfather's lecture notes. So he was telling jokes that were, you know, 50 years out of date and this sort of thing. He literally just read from the script. And that was when the anatomy teaching in the university plummeted and all of these private anatomy schools started popping up because you would go through your exams to become a doctor and you would fail on the anatomy, because the way Monroe had taught it, Monroe's students made fun of him in class, jeered at him and spit peashooters.
Robert Knox and his fresh cadavers signalled the future of medicine, even though Monroe had a big advantage.
If he wasn't a man who was necessarily all that short of bodies, because anybody who was hanged, the body was supposed to go to the professor of anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. And yet he didn't appreciate cadavers the way that Robert Knox did. Monroe gave them almost little more than a sight of a bit of the body to illustrate some point on the lecture, but not actually as far as we can gather much in the way of them being able to examine them themselves.
Knocks, on the other hand, made it quite clear you'll pay ten pounds for your lectures and then you were given the use of a corpse.
Monroe offered little competition against someone like Robert Knox. Knox was a celebrated lecturer exhibiting a flair for fashion, wit and knowledge that far exceeded his more boring contemporaries. All of this was a striking contrast to his unusual appearance. Childhood smallpox left him scarred and with just one eye. His loyal prentice's referred to him as Old Cyclops, and his arch rivals called him Robert the Devil.
Knox was obsessed with being named a full professor at the University of Edinburgh. That was a pretty lofty goal. But the surgeon didn't play politics well. He could earn a faculty appointment if he continued his track record as an excellent researcher and sought after teacher. But he needed a steady supply of bodies.
Early one morning toward the end of October, Knox strolled to his lab to prepare for the first of his three daily lectures on anatomy.
Today, just like all the others, he didn't bother changing his bloody apron in between lessons to outsiders, it seemed like gruesome business. But to Knox, it was simply his job. He dealt with bodies all day long. He opened them, dissected them, marveled at them. Anatomy has always been a messy, labor intensive business. The anatomy instructor was expected to turn the clumsy slashes of a neophyte into the precise incisions of an experienced surgeon. Knox trusted that the cadavers served a higher purpose.
They could save lives, and he was guiding and mentoring students who would become the world's leading surgeons and researchers.
But at what price? And how large and deadly the cost. Anyone could tell that log's lodgings was a boarding house for the destitute. They had some rooms and in that room there were 12 beds in each of those was, I think, three P a night. And it was actually a box filled with straw. And when they got busy, there would be two people per bed. So that is the sort of thing that the immigrants and the old time people would have come into the hairs.
Lodge was a sty. It was a dirty den where stealthy renters often tried to exit with no notice and without settling their debts. It had eight rooms and several fireplaces, and it was in a filthy alleyway called Tana's Close in the Westport section of Edinburgh. No one was ever surprised to hear the cries of murder coming from that one story house, it was horrid.
By the middle of winter, ice was almost a permanent fixture on just about every roof in Edinburgh on November 29th, 1827. The wind howled, residents inside Logo's lodgings tossed back and forth on their pallets filled with moldy hay. Well, not everyone. One of the seemingly forgotten residents was discovered dead.
So old Donald was apparently an only pensioner who was staying in his boarding house and died, and he apparently owed her four pounds.
He likely died of DropZone, better known as anemia. And it was such a painful way to die. But there he was lying on his bed. William Hare peered down at old Donald. He didn't seem to feel one bit of sorrow for the old man. William Bourke just happened to be. Their hair turned to him and complained about the back rent he was owed. And so did his wife, Margaret. Having got to the body of Donald to dispose of her, had the idea he could make back the money that Donald owed him by selling the body to the doctors.
It seemed like a fair exchange, old Donald's corpse for his outstanding rent. The estate of the deceased Donald, consisted entirely of himself. He had no goods that anybody knew about. The pensions of a certainly was not going to pay anything up to him after he was dead. So you could say that, morally speaking, at least, and possibly even legally, Mrs. here was entitled to the dead body.
Hair convinced the local parish to pay a carpenter to build the old man a coffin when he finished, old Donald's body was placed inside the day of the funeral. Birkenhead hair snuck into the room. They quietly pried open the poor man's coffin.
They open up the coffin, took out the body that filled up with. There was a tannery at the back with a certain height which had a big part of bulk. So Bush can have filled up the coffin with bark. So it was the same weight so that when the people came to remove the coffin, they wouldn't think anything untoward had happened.
They shoved all Donald's body into a tea chest. It seemed like a cold reaction to a man's death. But Janet Philp says the people in 1827 and borough were more practical than sentimental.
At least an old town was everyone desperate for money in this area in Old Town during this time period?
Yeah, I think there were lots of people that were very poor back then. Very poor meant that you were going to starve and die, essentially. So if you could see that there's a body here that's going to be buried and this person owes you money, if somebody died in your house and nobody claimed the body, people did pass them to the medical school.
Later that afternoon, they searched for Dr. Alexander Monroe. He was the unpopular professor at the University of Edinburgh who didn't believe in using bodies in his classes.
So they came up to the old college. And somewhere in that doorway, they met a student and the Berk asked about a professor of anatomy. And the student said, Oh, you want to sell a body, do you? You get more from Dr. Knox than you'll get from the professor of anatomy. The student offered them Dr Knox's address, number 10 Surján Square, when they arrived, they asked for the anatomist. They were greeted by his three assistants, including one outstanding future surgeon named William Ferguson.
Burkean here put out their hands and introduce themselves as John and William, they told the assistants that they had a body to sell to Dr. Knox. Come back at night, Ferguson even offered to send a reporter to their home to help carry back the body. No, no, the men insisted they were happy to carry O'Donald back to the laboratory themselves. They didn't care to let anyone in Newtown know where they lived.
Working here used the pathways of Edinburgh's numerous grave robbers. Old Donald was heavier than they thought. The cobblestone streets of Old Town were slick in the mist. The steps were steep and they were cloaked in darkness. Soon they were standing in front of a regal, yet odd looking older man. Robert Knox told them to lay the body on the examining table.
Old Donald was still wearing a shirt. The anatomist examined him. Knox checked for damage, disease, anything that might help or hinder scientific study. Old Donald was once a sad pensioner, but now he was an excellent specimen. Knox offered the men seven pounds, ten shillings. It was a lot of money for two labourers, and he asked no questions about where the man came from. Not one question. Old was a prize for Dr. Knox. He wasn't a criminal.
With rope burns still around his neck, he was in a partially decomposed corpse with dirt still embedded in his hair or mould on his flesh from being buried. This man was pristine. What's really sad is that old Donald was probably more valuable in death than in life. As Burkean hair left Dr. Knox's laboratory that night, one of the anatomists assistants called out to them. He said they would be glad to see them again when they had another body to dispose of.
And with that offer, the pair joined in to a catastrophic and deadly bond with one of Scotland's most distinguished professors. Dr. Robert Knox would rewrite medical history and William Burke and William Hare would become the most famous grave robbers. To never rob a grave. This season on tenfold more wicked. People come in and they talk absolute rubbish about broken. That's not the story. You don't have to make it more gory. It's already two people killing people for money.
It's gory enough. I never heard anything about this. It's something she just tucked inside of her heart or whatever and decided she was just going to carry that burden and not share it with anyone.
So when these victims came in to the anatomy schools, there were no signs of the chance of a doctor recognising a murder victim murdered. The way Burkean had done it is pretty slim.
It's brilliant that if you love historical true crime, be sure to order my book, American Sherlock. It's about a real life Sherlock Holmes who solved some of the most gruesome murders in the 1920s. The paperback arrives on February 16th, but it's available for preorder. Now, this has been an exactly right and tenfold fold more media production producers Jason Whaling and Laura Sobell, sound designer. Eric Friend, composer Curtis Heath artwork. Nick Todger, executive producers, Georgia Howard Stark, Karen Kilgariff and Danielle Cramer follow us on Instagram and Facebook at tenfold more wicked and on Twitter at tenfold more.
If you're an advertiser interested in advertising on our show, go to Mirel Dotcom ads and if you know of a historical crime that could use some attention. Email us at info at tenfold more wicked dotcom. So please listen, subscribe leave us a review on Apple podcast, Ditcher or wherever you get your podcasts.