WHEN a severed left leg was found in a field in Cottered, Hertfordshire, in 2009, police were baffled.
But it turned out to be the first clue in a macabre crime that became known as the Jigsaw Murder, as several body parts were discovered in rural locations throughout Hertfordshire and Leicester in the coming weeks.
In the first episode of true crime series The Truth About My Murder, former detective Ian Siggery tells how he pieced together the crime and found kitchen salesman Jeffrey Howe’s callous killers.
On March 22 2009, a farmer found a green Gulliver’s holdall on his land – and was horrified to discover it contained a human body part wrapped in polythene and tape.
Police sent the amputated left leg to a mortuary for forensic examination.
Ian said: “It was an unusual call and therefore all about keeping an open mind as to why – what was this left leg doing in Cottered and why?
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“Was it a stolen body part from a mortuary or something like that or was it indeed some macabre murder?
“We weren’t to know at that stage.
“The most important part of my role that night was to make sure that our scene was secure so that come first light the following morning our forensic teams and our crime scene managers could get in and do a proper forensic search of that crime scene.”
They could deduce the leg belonged to a white or mixed heritage man who suffered from skin condition eczema but no found no DNA matches on the police database.
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The cause of death was also a mystery to investigators.
While they could tell the leg hadn’t been removed from the torso by a surgeon, the culprit likely had experience of dismembering bodies.
Pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd said: “Someone with some knowledge has dissected around the joint from the rest of the body.”
As police struggled to ID the victim, officers looked to missing persons lists.
Ian added: “The crux of the matter was we had a left leg.
“That’s all we had at this stage.
“We needed to identify who did that left leg belong to?
“As soon as you identify who your victim is it naturally follows on you are going to identify who the offenders are.”
Gruesome new finds
A week later dog walkers stumbled upon a left arm with no hand in Wheathampstead – 25 miles from where the leg was found.
The DNA matched that of the leg, sending panic through the local area.
Ian said: “The discovery of one body part was concerning but the discovery of another body part was even more disturbing.
“We didn’t know who we were dealing with. Was the murderer playing with us?”
He added: “Where was the next body part going to be?”
Days later, a head was found in a field 100 miles away in Asfordby near Melton Mowbray, Leics – but with eyes, ears and nose removed, the finding revealed little more about the victim.
Ian said: “We needed a little bit of luck. It’s often said in police investigations you make your own luck.
“When was our break going to come?”
On April 7, a right leg was discovered dumped in a layby in the A10, in Puckeridge, Herts. ends
Four days later, a torso was found in nearby Standon by a farmer.
The body revealed the cause of death was two stab wounds to the back – something the police made public in a press conference.
Ian said the appeal helped with a breakthrough: “As a direct result of our press appeal from that conference we received a telephone call from a gentleman who said his brother had been missing for some weeks.
"His brother was Jeffrey Howe.
“He was the right ethnicity, right age and weight and he had eczema.”
Kitchen salesman Jeffrey, from Southgate, north London, had been missing since March when he stopped turning up for work.
Police looked into his two flatmates and made a shocking discovery – one was a known criminal called Stephen Marshall.
'They exploited that friendship'
Marshall had moved in with former sex worker girlfriend Sarah Bush, initially on a short term basis.
He said: “Stephen and Jeffrey had met through kitchen sales, both were very successful in kitchen sales.
"Stephen probably had the gift of the gab and they seemed to hit it off.
“Jeffrey Howe was being typical Jeffrey and doing them a favour. Just being a good friend to them but they exploited that friendship.
“Originally they were paying a peppercorn rent but eventually they stopped paying any money to Jeffrey at all.”
When police quizzed the pair about Jeffrey’s whereabouts their stories didn’t add up.
In Jeffrey’s bedroom they found his distinctive private licence plates.
Ian said: “The car wasn’t outside the address and they’d said that he’d taken the car when they had last seen him. Nothing they said was ringing true.”
They made the decision to arrest the couple and take them for questioning.
But Stephen remained tightlipped – answering “no comment” to the police officers’ questions.
Ian said: “If he was an innocent man he’d be shouting from the rooftops ‘I’m an innocent man, I did not do this’. You would expect him to do everything possible to help us identify who had.
“But no, Stephen Marshall refused to help us in any way.”
Meanwhile investigators matched the skull’s teeth to Jeffrey’s dental records and found Jeffrey’s blood in his flat.
This gave police enough evidence to charge both Marshall and Bush.
Investigators were then able to find a motive in the killing – greed.
They deduced Marshall had stabbed Jeffrey twice while Sarah was out – and then left him to bleed out.
He then returned to the flat to dismember and dispose of his body and clean up the flat.
Ian said: “Within hours of Jeffrey Howe’s death SM had started writing cheques using Jeffrey Howe’s cheque book.
“Taking out cash and monies from Jeffrey’s bank account. They sold his car. They’d set up online shopping accounts.
Plundered victim's bank accounts
“They purchased takeaway pizzas. As soon as they got rid of Jeffrey they plundered his assets and plundered his bank accounts to their own ends.”
In court, the couple turned against each other for three weeks before Marshall resubmitted his not guilty plea as guilty.
During sentencing, Marshall’s QC revealed the murderer had worked for the notorious Adams crime family.
Working as a doorman in the Nineties he had disposed of four bodies for the gangsters, giving him disturbing experience in dismembering limbs.
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He was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 36 years before parole while Sarah Bush was given three and a half years for perverting the course of justice.
The Truth About My Murder airs on CBS Reality tonight at 10pm
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