Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Identifying the Body

The autopsy of the body found in Furry Creek was performed the night of October 13, 1975, by City Pathologist, Doctor Harmon who was assisted by Coroner's Technician, Ian Marshall. Detective Sergeant Sam Andrews; Detectives Hale and Chapman; Constable Culic and Sergeant Randall of the Squamish R.C.M.P. were all in attendance.

Although detectives were fairly certain the body was that of missing Pat Lowther, a positive identification had not been made. The body was of a middle-aged woman. The top of her skull was missing, the facial features were distorted by decomposition and as a result of laying in the water.

Dr. Harmon discovered death had been caused by a severe blow to the back of the head. The blow was struck with such force that the back of the skull was indented.

There was no way that a visual identification of the body could be done. Because the body was in the water for so long, fingerprint impressions were difficult to obtain. And Mrs. Lowther had no criminal record so even if they could get the prints, there was nothing to compare them to.

Constable Hugh Campbell of the Vancouver identification section did manage to get fingerprints. Since those prints lacked the fine ridge detail needed for comparison so the skin was removed from the fingertips and chemically treated. These prints were compared to ones found in the house Pat and Roy Lowther, and their children, shared. Unfortunately, although some of the prints matched, all that proved was that the deceased woman had been in the house at 566 East 46th, not that it was Pat Lowther.

The dead woman wore a dental plate in her upper jaw. The plate had broken and half of it remained in place. The dentist for the Lowther family was contacted and although he was able to say the plate was similar to the one provided for Pat, he wasn't able to say it was definitely the one. Nor was he able to provide x-rays of her jaw.

So what to do now? This was before the time of DNA testing or many of the scientific advancements we see on television shows today. The detectives tried something else.

They checked with the Associated Diagnostic Radiologists office in Vancouver, hoping Pat Lowther had x-rays on file. The association examined their records and discovered copies of x-rays taken of Pat's skull in 1970. The x-rays showed the lower jawbone and some dental fillings.

The jawbone of the body was then x-rayed. Dr. Cheevers, a senior Vancouver dental surgeon confirmed they were identical and a second comparison was later conducted at the University of British Columbia.

This was the body of poet, Pat Lowther.

More about this intriguing case on Friday. Once again, I am getting the information from the book, Policebeat by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Not much yet to tie a murder to the husband. The police did pretty good work for not having the technology of today.

    1. We forget sometimes how much common sense etc was used before the technology we have. Crimes were still solved.