Face of a 19th-century murderer reconstructed

Researchers have reconstructed the face of John Howison, a 19th-century murderer who committed a brutal killing in Cramond, Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1931.

Reconstructed face of John Howison (by Hayley Fisher)

On January 21, 1831, Howison walked into Cramond with a black handkerchief over his face and a Bible dangling from his wrist. He entered the home of widow Marta Geddes and brutally attacked her with a spade, allegedly nearly cutting her head in two during the attack. He fled without taking anything and was apprehended shortly afterwards. Though he later confessed to seven other killings, for which no evidence was ever found, experts now believe he showed classic signs of paranoid schizophrenia. The man was sentenced to be hanged by judge David Boyle after the plea of homicidal monomania was rejected and his body was given over to Edinburgh University’s Dr Munro for dissection, becoming Edinburgh’s last criminal to be dissected before the Anatomy Act of 1832 abolished the practice. His articulated skeleton is still displayed next to the remains of William Burke, another murderer who committed 16 murders over a period of about ten months in 1828. The facial reconstruction was created for the exhibition in Edinburgh University’s Anatomical Museum.

(after STV News & Hayley Fisher)

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