How Prosecutors Prove Cases Of Murders Without Bodies


In the possible solution of one of the coldest cases in New Jersey’s history — the disappearance of five Newark teenagers in 1978 — two men were arrested last month and charged with herding the teens at gunpoint into an abandoned rowhouse, tying them up and torching the building, setting a blaze so fierce police say the bodies were incinerated. The Associated Press says that prosecutors have a difficult task: Prove the teens were murdered when their bodies were never found.

Advances in technology have made the once-unthinkable prospect of proving murders without bodies more doable. Thomas “Tad” DiBiase, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer, runs a Web site on “no body” murders. He said the majority of such cases end in convictions or guilty pleas. Two of the nation’s most high-profile murder cases without bodies – the killing of a wealthy Manhattan socialite by a mother and son team, and a doctor who killed his wife and tossed her body from an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean- were prosecuted by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. “These cases are important because it shows you can’t just get rid of the body and get rid of the case,” Morgenthau said. He recalled how skeptics questioned his decision to pursue New York’s first such murder prosecution based entirely on circumstantial evidence: the death of Irene Silverman, a wealthy socialite and former Radio City Music Hall Rockette

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