First Ellen Bury Medical Report

[This report was prepared by Charles Templeman and Alexander Mitchell Stalker, who were the first doctors to conduct a medical examination of Ellen Bury’s body.  Both doctors would testify for the prosecution at William Bury’s trial.  —Steve Earp]

We hereby certify in soul and conscience, that on the morning of Monday, 11th February, 1889, we examined at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal for the Dundee district of Forfarshire, in the mortuary attached to the cemetery at Constitution Road, Dundee, the dead body of a woman said to be that of Ellen Elliott or Bury.

External appearance.  The body was that of a woman apparently about 30 years of age, 5 feet 1½  inches in height, well-made, but poorly nourished.

The body was quite cold.  Rigor mortis was still present, but not marked.  Post mortem lividity, which was of a bright red colour, was well marked on the back of the trunk and arms.  There was some greenish discolouration of the right side of the abdomen.

In the front hair were five curl papers.

Head.  On both sides of the face were blood-stains which presented a striated appearance, as if they had been wiped with a dry cloth.  There was some clotted blood in both nostrils.  A small stream of blood trickled across the cheek from the right side of the mouth.  The eyeballs were soft + slightly congested, corneae dull, pupils equal and of medium size.

About half an inch above the outer end of the left eyebrow was a circular bruise about a third of an inch in diameter.  Over the bridge of the nose was a small incised wound penetrating the skin only, half an inch in length, running obliquely downwards from right to left.

There was a mark of constriction around the neck, passing in front between the hyoid bone and the larynx, and maintaining this level all the way round with the exception of about two inches on the left side of the neck where it tended slightly upwards.  The whole of the face and neck above this line was congested.  There was slight lividity of the lips, but no protrusion of the tongue.

From the centre of the neck, the first five inches of this mark to the left was brownish red and hard, and the rest of it was pale in the centre and congested at the edges.  It varied in width from an eighth to a third of an inch.  About an inch and a half from the middle line on the left side of the neck, was a similar mark joining that above described—three quarters of an inch in length, and running downwards and outwards.  It was at the junction of these two lines that the first mentioned tended slightly upwards.

About three-quarters of an inch above this line, below the angle of the left lower jaw, were two small bruises each half an inch in length.

Trunk.  There was an incised wound in the centre of the abdomen, extending downwards from the umbilicus for four and a half inches.  It penetrated the abdominal cavity, and through it protruded part of the omentum, and about a foot of intestine, part of which was dry and black from exposure to the air.  This cut was ragged towards the lower part.

Commencing at the inner end of the fifth right costal cartilage, was a cut running downwards and to the left for seven and a half inches.  This was quite superficial, with the exception of the last inch, where it penetrated through the skin into the muscular layer of the abdomen.  Half an inch to the right of this, and running parallel to it, was a similar cut, five inches in length and superficial throughout.  Two inches to the right of, and commencing on a level with the umbilicus was an incised wound, three quarters of an inch in length and penetrating through to the muscular layer.  From the lower end of the wound opening into the abdomen, on the left side were several superficial cuts little more than penetrating the cuticle, and running downwards to the pubis.

Running downwards from the centre of the pubis to the outer side of the left labium was an incised wound 2 ½ inches in length, penetrating the skin and fat.  On the inner side of the right labium was a wound 2 inches in length, penetrating the skin.  Beginning about an inch behind the anus was an incised wound running forwards and to the left, into the perinaeum, and dividing the sphincter muscle.

At the lower border of the ribs on the left side in the nipple line were two abrasions each an inch in length.

The edges of all the wounds above described were everted and marked throughout by a line of capillary haemorhage, and we are therefore of opinion that they must have been inflicted during life or very shortly after death, while the body still retained its warmth and vital elasticity.  The other injuries described were all of recent origin.

There were other two cuts on the abdomen—one two inches to the inner side of the right anterior superior iliac spine, and the other at an almost corresponding level on the opposite side.  They were each about half an inch in length, running downwards and inwards and penetrating to the muscular layer.  These were free from any trace of haemorhage.

There were a few dried coagula in the left groin.  There was no other appearance of blood in the region, except at the lower part of the left side of the abdomen and the upper half and inner side of the left thigh and this presented the appearance of having been partially removed by washing.

Upper extremities.  On the outer side of the left shoulder was a bruise three-quarters of an inch in length.  An inch and a half behind this was a circular abrasion a third of an inch in diameter.  On the inner side of the left elbow were two irregular bruises, about half an inch in length, and a slight cut little more than penetrating the cuticle  On(?) the knuckle of the right mid finger was a scooped-out abrasion an eighth of an inch in diameter.

Lower extremities.  Over the right trochanter were a bruise about an inch in diameter and somewhat irregular in shape.  These injuries were all of recent origin.

On the front of the right leg, about three inches below the lower border of the patella were four small lacerated wounds communicating with the tibia.  At this part there was a comminuted fracture of both bones of the leg but there was no haemorhage into the muscles and surrounding structures.  We are therefore of opinion that this fracture must have been caused a considerable time after death.

On cutting into the mark around the neck in various parts of it we found extravasations of blood into the skin and subcutaneous tissue.  This was especially marked on the right side where was a well-marked effusion of blood into the platysma muscle

Chest.  Heart.  The heart was examined in situ.  Both cavities were empty.  There was a considerable quantity of dark coloured fluid blood in the principal veins.

Lungs.  Both lungs were congested and on their anterior surfaces were several small punctiform haemorhages immediately beneath the pleura especially in the lower lobes

The mucous membrane of the Larynx, Trachea and Bronchial Tubes was congested.  There was some bloody mucus in the Larynx and Trachea, and bloody frothy mucus in the Bronchia

Abdomen.  The abdominal organs were normal.  There was some dark fluid blood in the lower part of the cavity.

Head.  There was some ecchymosis into the left temporal muscle just above the ear about an inch in diameter.

The membranes of the brain were deeply congested, but the substance of the organ was itself normal.

From this examination of the body we are of opinion that the immediate cause of death was asphyxia produced by strangulation, and that deceased had been dead for from three to six days

C. Templeman MD
A.M. Stalker. M.D.

February 11th