Mistaken evidence: they thought it was a boy and a girl. #graphicnovel #Vancouver @Kickstarter @annatfabulous


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The case itself centres around two unknown children, two young brothers who deserve to be identified.  Cranial reconstruction was performed in 1953, but the result was very generic and based on the belief that the remains were that of a boy and a girl.  Madame Erna von Engel-Baiserdorf created these plaster casts in 1953:


From The Vancouver Province, Friday July 17, 1953:

Madame Erna von Engel-Baiserdorf predicts it will take her several months to prepare busts from the weathered skulls of the two children murdered in Stanley Park more than six years ago. 

She’ll hand five busts back to police for each skull.  Mrs. Baiserdorf- as she’s been called since coming to Vancouver from Vienna five years ago- feels reasonably sure that two of the white plaster busts will be close to the way the children looked before the attack.

Pictures of the busts will be distributed across Canada and positive identification across Canada and positive identification of the tiny victims may be gained.

“It’s just a try, but I’m anxious to do it,” she said.

The skulls, however, won’t be the toughest reconstruction job handed to this Viennese anthropologist-sculptress.  She’s reconstructed countless ancient skulls dating back to Neolithic man. 

Her work- first with the Natural History Museum in Vienna, the in Vancouver Museum and finally in private studio work here at 245 West Sixteenth- had brought her world recognition. 

She is the only scientist in B.C. trained in physical anthropology, the field where skulls are measured.

“If bits of hair were found with the skeletons, it will make facial reconstruction much easier,” she said.

“If the police don’t bring me hair, it will be most difficult to judge the skin coloring.

“The skull will show a definite facial outline- chin, jaw, bridge of nose, forehead, cheekbones.  The soft parts of the face can vary.  Things like lips, tips of noses and ears.  That’s why I’ll give police about five busts each.

Mrs. Baiserdorf will probably start work on the two skulls next week after a conference with Police Chief Walter Mulligan and Det.-Sgt. Perry Easler.

Photo retrieved from “Grisly murders unsolved after 31 years,” The Vancouver Sun, January 14, 1984
Video capture from Babes in the Woods Task Force meeting at Vancouver Centennial Police Museum, February 2004

The larger skeleton was referred to as the female victim in 1953 and was assumed to be the older child.  The smaller skeleton was referred to as the male victim and was consequently deemed the younger child. The skulls were described in The Vancouver Sun on April 15, 1953:

MacKay, a detective who has cracked some of Vancouver’s most baffling murders [said} “The [smaller skull] showed two clefts which fitted the blade of the hatchet.  The [larger skull] has one cleft.  This also fits the blade.  They were light blows that barely made a depression in the skull…

The [larger skull] had light brown hair and a very prominent lower jaw.  The [smaller skull] had dark brown hair and his lower jaw, while also prominent, was not as pronounced as the girl’s.

Both children had many cavities in their teeth, [the older child] especially, and doctors who examined the skeleton said [he] had been inclined to eat too many sweets.  [He] was of slender build while [the younger child] was sturdy. 

My sketch, 2004

Dr. David Sweet, forensic odontologist, performed DNA profiling on the teeth pulp.   In 1998, sex [two males] and age was determined but the profiles are unable to determine race.  I’ll discuss the DNA evidence in the next post.

Photo of skulls in evidence boxes

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