Guilt can be a terrible thing. It can makes people do the most extraordinary things. Like confess to the murder of someone who died one and a half millennia before they were born.
In 1961 a man named Peter Rayn-Bardt brutally murdered his wife in the town of Wilmslow, Cheshire, and buried her remains in a peat bog on the outskirts of the town. Although police suspected that he was somehow involved in her disappearance, at the time there wasn’t enough evidence to pin the crime on Rayn-Bardt and he remained at large for the next 22 years.
Fast forward from there to 1983, when some female human remains were unearthed by a team of peat cutters working at the same site. Understandably, the police were quickly called to investigate and, believing they had finally found Rayn-Bardt’s wife, hauled him in for questioning.
Confronted with the evidence, Rayn-Bardt promptly confessed to her murder. But it was at this point that word arrived from the Cheshire police’s laboratory that the remains they had unearthed were somewhat older than they had first presumed. Like, around 1,500 years older.
Incredibly, the body parts—a fragment of skull with hair, skin, and other preserved soft tissue still attached—actually belonged to a woman who had lived in the Wilmslow area during the Roman rule of Britain in the third century AD. Long story short, they were’t those of Rayn-Bardt’s wife.
But having confessed, he was nevertheless finally convicted of her murder and given a life sentence.