Laura Babcock murder trial: What does it mean to have no body?

In the run-up to the Laura Babcock murder trial, which is supposed to get underway in October, I wanted to take some time to address some of the questions and issues that crop up regularly.

One of the first things people say about this case is, “But there’s no body” to which I usually respond, “Are you one of those people bothered by the fact there’s no body?” because I’m not.

To my mind, if someone disappears, and it’s completely out of character, they’re almost certainly dead. And please be clear here, I’m not talking about the classic “he went out for milk and never came back” scenario, where someone has reasons to want to start a new life. I’m talking about people who would be extremely unlikely to voluntarily disappear based on past behaviour.

I definitely think this is the case for Laura Babcock, who was close to her friends and family, even if she was having going through a rough stage in her relationship with her parents. She was a prolific texter and used social media daily. Her friends say it was very important to her to stay in touch.

By all accounts, Laura was not the type to decamp to Vegas on her own. And when you consider that, after her disappearance in the summer of 2012, that she never again used her bank and health cards, the inescapable conclusion is that she was dead.

I will admit that I find myself quite impatient with people who can’t accept this. I do understand that that most of the time their hope comes from a good place, namely not wanting to believe the worst or that something evil has happened. But in other cases, the motivation for claims that Laura Babcock is alive is far from benign. There are people who make it a habit to defend murderers and accused murderers, and to be contrarian in the most obtuse possible ways.

All that said, there’s no denying it’s way harder for prosecutors to prove murder without a body since a body can provide all sorts of evidence. A big piece of the puzzle is missing when there’s no body.

The special challenges of “no body” cases are the focus of this website called — what else? — www.nobodycases.com — which is run by a former prosecutor, Thomas A. (Tad) DiBiase aka the “No Body” Guy. He took a special interest in the topic when he worked on a no body case. I haven’t read the site, but I’ve heard him interviewed and found his insights very helpful. If you’re curious about how no body cases proceed, you might want to check it out.

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