It’s Possible For Prosecution To Win “No-Body” Cases


Twelve weeks of combing woods and construction sites, diving into ponds and canals, and retracing Stacy Peterson’s last contact with family and friends have shed little light on the 23-year-old Illinois mother of two’s whereabouts, reports the Associated Press. Although authorities labeled Peterson’s disappearance a possible homicide and named her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson, a suspect less than two weeks after she vanished, could anyone could ever be charged or tried in the case? “Without a body, the average U.S. citizen would probably tell you that it is impossible,” said Daniel Bibb, a former New York prosecutor who worked on the case of Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, a plastic surgeon convicted of killing his wife and dropping her body into the ocean from a small plane.

Suspects have been brought to trial — and convicted — in cases where not only is the body missing, but there is no physical evidence linking the suspect to the crime. “A body is such a critical component of a homicide case [] but it is something you can overcome,” said Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor who has researched “no-body cases.” With or without a body, she said, “you need circumstantial evidence.” Prosecutors who have won convictions in such cases say they first must overcome the suggestion the purported victim is alive and simply walked away from his or her life.


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