Corpus Delicti

It is a common misconception that you cannot prove murder without a body. This error is the result of a misinterpretion of the legal term corpus delicti. Many people think this term means the body of a murdered person, when in fact, it means the body of evidence that proves a crime occured. Although it is difficult to convict someone of murder without the body of the victim, it happens, and it is happening more and more often due to advances in forensic science.

Posted below are three lists of Charley Project cases where someone was charged with murdering the missing individual. The charge does not necessarily have to be first-degree murder; it can be manslaughter or any other crime that results in death. In a few instances the same missing person appears on more than one list; this is because multiple defendants were involved, with different outcomes. These lists do not begin to cover every case where a person was convicted of murder without the victim's body; they only contain the names of people currently profiled on the Charley Project. These lists are not meant to be a commentary on the guilt or innocence of the defendants involved. They are for informational purposes only.

  • List 1—Convictions
      This list is for cases where the defendant was convicted or pleaded guilty or no contest to causing the missing person's death. Insanity pleas are included here as well, since an insanity plea does not dispute the defendant's actions, only his or her responsibility.

  • List 2—Acquittals
      This list is for cases where the defendant was either acquitted, the charges against him or her were dropped and not brought up again, or for some other reason the defendant was never tried.

  • List 3—Not Concluded/Unknown Outcomes
      This list is for cases where either the court proceedings against the defendant are not concluded, or the outcome of the trial is unknown to me. Email me if you know the outcome of any of these cases.

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