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A researcher's journey to Siberia

Does the murder method matter?

Filed under: Conferences & Presentations,Ignatii Dvernitskii — Wilson Bell at 3:17 pm on Wednesday, November 6, 2019  Tagged ,

When I presented at Dalhousie’s Stokes Seminar in September, one interesting question that came up in discussion related to the method of murder in the Ignatii case.

Krista Kesselring, Chair of the history department and expert in the history of crime in early modern England, noted that in her research she found that only about 5% (if I remember correctly) of murders in her data set were by strangulation. Moreover, in almost all of those murders there was an intimate connection between the victim and the perpetrator (they were close relatives, or lovers, or married, and so on). Dr. Kesselring thus questioned if the method of murder in the Igantii case (strangulation) meant that the relationship between Ignatii and the pupils was somehow closer than might appear (perhaps there had been some abuse, for example?).

I had not thought much about the murder method before this question, and just assumed that strangulation could be explained in a relatively straightforward way: the perpetrators did not need to find a murder weapon. But, the question does make one wonder if there’s a deeper meaning behind the method, and also if perhaps cultural differences between early modern England and late Imperial Russia are too great to draw any conclusions. Nevertheless, I’m now very curious about murder methods in late Imperial Russia: how common was strangulation? In strangulation cases, was there usually an intimate connection between the perpetrator and victim?

In any case, it’s fascinating to find further avenues to explore in this project.

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