In 1967 in a sleepy Scottish town known as Biggar, 15-year-old Linda Peacock was reported missing. One morning shortly after her disappearance, her strangled and beaten body was discovered in a local cemetery, her blouse and bra in disarray and an unusual bruise on her right breast. This strange bruise was identified as a bite mark. With the knowledge that it could be possible to study the bite mark and use it to identify Linda’s killer, odontologist Dr Warren Harvey was brought into the investigation to offer his expertise on the matter.
As Harvey conducted this odontological examination, a witness came forward claiming to have seen a man and a young woman at the cemetery the night of Linda’s disappearance at around 10pm. As the girl appeared to know the man she was talking to, the witness had thought nothing of the encounter, despite hearing a girl scream 20 minutes after the sighting. By this time, the examination of the bite mark had revealed a very unique unevenness in the perpetrator’s teeth. With this information plus that given by the witness, a systematic search for the murderer ensued, including townspeople and then inmates at a local detention centre. At the detention centre, numerous inmates were asked to provide dental impressions for comparison, which Dr Harvey later compared with the bite mark from the victim’s body. When Harvey had narrowed the search down to five suspects, pathologist Keith Simpson joined the team to help out. Between the two of them, they identified the creator of the bite mark – 17-year-old Gordon Hay.
Hay, a young man with serious issues with authority figures, had been detained for breaking into a factory. Upon examination of his dental impression, one of his teeth were revealed to have two pits caused by a disorder known as hypocalcination. These pits matched those on the mark on the victim’s breast, and thus Gordon Hay was convicted.
Dorion, R. B. J. 2011. Bitemark Evidence: A Color Atlas and Text. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.