Author Topic: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?  (Read 298 times)

kultsi

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Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« on: September 07, 2019, 10:16:26 AM »
Hi,

I am trying to recreate some knots used in a famous murder case and in order to do this I'm trying to teach myself how to tie some basic knots and understand basic knot tying concepts. I was wondering if someone could help me with these questions:


1) What does it mean exactly, when a knot has multiple names? For example, one knot used in this murder in a ligature was described in a document as being a "lark's head knot, also known as a cow hitch or a capsized reef knot or more commonly a square knot." When I look up what a cow hitch is, it looks very different from a square knot, so I'm very puzzled by what this could mean.

2) Can hitches (such as cow hitch, camel hitch, or Prusik hitch) ever be used in a way that involves a finishing knot? Or do hitches, by definition, use the looped end of a cord and are open or "unfinished"? I don't know if this question makes any sense...I'm trying to ask if a hitch, like a cow hitch, can be used on itself to secure or tie itself instead of on something else, such as on another cord or on a rail or pole or whatnot.

3) One of the binding ligatures used in this murder case was described as a "Z noose" with the "standing part pulled through the center of the noose knot, which allowed the pulling together of the wrists".  I haven't found any readily available information online about what a "Z noose" is. I have found some information about Z-bends or Zeppelin knots. Does the "Z-noose" sound like it could be derive from Zeppelin knots? Has anyone heard of "Z nooses" before or is this a made up concept?

Many other questions lolling around in my confused head, but for now those are the main ones I'm grappling with. Any help or information would be truly appreciated. Thanks!

agent_smith

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2019, 11:11:40 AM »
Hello kultsi,

Thanks for posting your interesting question.

The reason why there are different names for the same knot specimen is the same reason why there are so many common names for various fish, trees and plants.
With all animal and plant species, there is the scientific name (Binomial nomenclature / Latin name) - which positively identifies the species.

In the case of hand tied knots, the nearest thing we have to a source of 'scientific names' is the Ashley Book of Knots (ABoK).
Almost (but not quite) every knot is identified in this masterpiece authored by Clifford Ashley (published in 1944).

For example, the 'Cow hitch' can be found at illustration #1673.
And the 'TIB' (tiable-In-the-Bight) version is found at illustration #1859 where Ashley describes it is a 'Ring hitch'.

Quote
2) Can hitches (such as cow hitch, camel hitch, or Prusik hitch) ever be used in a way that involves a finishing knot? Or do hitches, by definition, use the looped end of a cord and are open or "unfinished"? I don't know if this question makes any sense...I'm trying to ask if a hitch, like a cow hitch, can be used on itself to secure or tie itself instead of on something else, such as on another cord or on a rail or pole or whatnot.
Struggling a little bit to exactly understand your question...
I suspect you are referring to whether a knot can be tied in different ways - eg without access to a free end... or if it can only be tied by using a free end?
The 'Cow hitch' / 'Ring hitch' is both (it is TIB).
Refer to attached image to get an idea of what 'TIB' means...

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3) One of the binding ligatures used in this murder case was described as a "Z noose" with the "standing part pulled through the center of the noose knot, which allowed the pulling together of the wrists".  I haven't found any readily available information online about what a "Z noose" is. I have found some information about Z-bends or Zeppelin knots. Does the "Z-noose" sound like it could be derive from Zeppelin knots? Has anyone heard of "Z nooses" before or is this a made up concept?

There are 2 noose knots which spring to mind...both are in 'ABoK'.
#409 'Poachers noose' and #1228 'Jam noose'.
They have the same geometry and yet they appear in 2 different entries in ABoK.
There is also #1120 (Scaffold noose) which is similar but has one extra riding turn.

A noose cinches tight to abut against the host object (think hangmans noose).

A noose would certainly cinch a persons wrists together... but there is also the 'Constrictor hitch' at illustration #1188 (TIB method) and at #1249 (tying with access to an end).
The Constrictor hitch is a very effective 'binder'.
Refer to attached image... again note that Ashley lists this hitch in 2 different places in his book and uses 2 different reference numbers.
They are the same knot species - just tied in different ways (one is via 'TIB' method and the other is with access to one end).

Geoffrey Budworth had experience in knot forensics... and he was one of the original founders of the IGKT.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 11:40:17 AM by agent_smith »

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 08:39:17 PM »
1) What does it mean exactly, when a knot has multiple names? For example, one knot used in this murder in a ligature was described in a document as being a "lark's head knot, also known as a cow hitch or a capsized reef knot or more commonly a square knot." When I look up what a cow hitch is, it looks very different from a square knot, so I'm very puzzled by what this could mean.
But then you're not comparing what was said,
which was "capsized reef knot" (which is
to carry through its "or" to mean "reef" or "square'
--but both being capsized).
Knots originate all over, and are used by various groups,
and hence garner various names --for better or worse
reasons.

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2) Can hitches ....I'm trying to ask if a hitch, like a cow hitch, can be used on itself to secure or tie itself instead of on something else, such as on another cord or on a rail or pole or whatnot.
Both the two half hitches & buntline hitch can be considered
to be what you ask --a clove hitch (oriented resp. differently) tied around
its own line which is what surrounds the object.

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3) One of the binding ligatures used in this murder case was described as a "Z noose" with the "standing part pulled through the center of the noose knot, which allowed the pulling together of the wrists".  I haven't found any readily available information online about what a "Z noose" is. I have found some information about Z-bends or Zeppelin knots. Does the "Z-noose" sound like it could be derive from Zeppelin knots? Has anyone heard of "Z nooses" before or is this a made up concept?
Oh, my goodness, NO --this isn't alphabet soup!

I'll surmise that the "Z" simply signifies that in regards
to a normal noose (ha, "normal" indeed!) where the SPart
runs from the formed noose-eye up through the coils of
the knot, it, to make this "Z"-meriting name then makes
an opposite side eye by turning and running back down
through the knot.  One would tighten this extra/2nd eye
after tightening the original one,
and then tie off the SPart somehow.

I can imagine simpler ways to implement the same effect.
(e.g., doubly slipped multiple strangle knot)


--dl*
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kultsi

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2019, 11:20:05 AM »
Thanks for the replies, you guys! I really appreciate it. 


Both the two half hitches & buntline hitch can be considered
to be what you ask --a clove hitch (oriented resp. differently) tied around
its own line which is what surrounds the object.

So, Dan_Lehman, I think you're right and the knot I was looking for is two half hitches! Can I get some further help on this, if you don't mind? I really don't know what I'm doing...

Here is the knot I am trying to recreate, including the wrapping part underneath the knot. Another pic Opposite side view of stick (sorry for the low quality images but it's all that is available).

Here is my attempt at recreating it using two half-hitches/double half-hitch.
 
Does it look like the same knot? I'm having trouble with getting the orientation of the wrapping of the cord around the stick right. Also, I'm not sure I could recreate my recreation again because I don't remember exactly how I did it (fortunately I did take that photo before untying it)  :-[ 

I found this cool chart of two half hitches variants and have tried playing around with those different orientations (or whatever the proper term is called in the knot tying community) to see which is the one I want. Phew, this ain't easy for me (did I mention I'm a complete novice?).

Any tips or advice or *anything* on recreating that knot? Am I at least on the right track?

Thanks!

P.S. - If cordage info would help, the cord of the original knot is Stansport nylon utility cord, 3/16". It's gutted/flat. The cord I am using in my recreation is flat coreless nylon paracord type III, 5 mm (closest I could find in Europe to the Stansport cord).
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 10:59:13 AM by kultsi »

kultsi

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2019, 09:22:40 AM »
Geoffrey Budworth had experience in knot forensics... and he was one of the original founders of the IGKT.

I'm trying to find a copy of his book Knots & Crime because it looks really interesting and I'd love to read it. But I'm not having any luck finding it anywhere, alas...must be super niche. Hopefully I can access the Identification of Knots journal article through the university library, at least.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2019, 12:23:53 AM »
So, Dan_Lehman, I think you're right and the knot I was looking for is two half hitches! Can I get some further help on this, if you don't mind? I really don't know what I'm doing...

Here is the knot I am trying to recreate, including the wrapping part underneath the knot. Another pic Opposite side view of stick (sorry for the low quality images but it's all that is available).

Here is my attempt at recreating it using two half-hitches/double half-hitch.
 
Does it look like the same knot? I'm having trouble with getting the orientation of the wrapping of the cord around the stick right. Also, I'm not sure I could recreate my recreation again because I don't remember exactly how I did it (fortunately I did take that photo before untying it)  :-[ 
/.../
P.S. - If cordage info would help, the cord of the original knot is Stansport nylon utility cord, 3/16". It's gutted/flat. The cord I am using in my recreation is flat coreless nylon paracord type III, 5 mm (closest I could find in Europe to the Stansport cord).

It's nigh impossible to make much of anything
from those two photos.  I'm reminded, however,
of a technique for taking up slack with a stick:
i.e., that of holding & *twirling* the stick to wrap
the surplus cord around it --perhaps this is partly
how the attachment was formed.  If so, one should
expect to see effects of torsion in the line, I think;
again, these photos don't help much.
(But in the first one, one can see that there is a
layer --maybe one strand-- of wrapping beneath
that of the leftmost side of the stick.  Your description
of the cord is helpful in understanding that that could
happen pretty easily w/o bulking the structure much.)

Don't expect to find so much >>a knot<< where that
means >>something orderly with a name and known use(s)<<;
but only perhaps a consequence of taking some likely
or not uncommonly made movements, such as the
taking-up-slack wrapping aforementioned here.
(Which could mean that first some knotting was
done, AND THEN it was felt there was too much
slack and the wrapping got done,
though this I think we CAN see must've been
somehow tied off (so it wouldn't unwrap). !?)


--dl*
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kultsi

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Re: Trying to figure out some knots in a murder case...questions?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2019, 11:05:50 AM »

It's nigh impossible to make much of anything
from those two photos. 

God dang it. I'm sure you're right but I had to try. I guess even the most knowledgeable knot wizards can't read minds of the tyer or see through objects  :P

Quote
I'm reminded, however,
of a technique for taking up slack with a stick:
i.e., that of holding & *twirling* the stick to wrap
the surplus cord around it

Do you know if this technique has a name?

Quote
Don't expect to find so much >>a knot<< where that
means >>something orderly with a name and known use(s)<<;

OK. I was hoping the type or even the style of knot used could give a clue to the pastimes of the potential tyer (scouting, sailing) or to their skill level. The more knots I learn, though, the more I'm realizing that many share superficial resemblances and that assessing what a knot is - or even if it's a recognized knot or a made-up one - without being able to physically analyze/deconstruct it is, as you said, pretty nigh impossible.

Quote
though this I think we CAN see must've been
somehow tied off (so it wouldn't unwrap). !?)

I'm no expert but it def looks tied off with *something* and that's the part I was wondering about (not so much the wrapping part).

Thank you for your thoughts! I really appreciate it  :)