Death in 10,000 Fragments

When asked what his most difficult, fascinating and perplexing case was Dr. Maples always responded the Meek-Jennings case. Maples examined cases around the globe but his most puzzling case came only twenty miles from his own front door. The case involved a fire that burned two bodies almost beyond recognition and the murder of two more individuals several states away. There were two suicide notes which appeared to be fakes, missing x-rays, mistaken surgeons, and missing teeth which all complicated Maples solving the case.

Maples loved a good mystery and he worked for a year and a half to figure out whose bodies were burnt in the shed near High Springs, FL and just what led them to be there. The area where the charred remains were found

On January 28, 1985 the charred remains of two bodies were discovered in burned shack in a field off of I-75 near High Springs, FL. An article from the Gainesville Sun, click to read article When the Alachua County Sheriff's office discovered the bodies they thought Dr. Maples was still in Peru investigating the remains of Francisco Pizarro, so they collected what they could of the badly burnt bodies to be taken to the Pound Lab. Maples had returned to Florida, but because he was not informed of the discovery, he only learned of it when the remains were delivered on January 30th. What he received was a single body bag that carried the remains of two individuals, which looked as if they had gone through a cement mixer. His job was to sort out the remains and try to figure out the identity of the individuals, as well as exactly what killed them.

The bodies then turned out to be linked to another double murder in New Hampshire, and the victims in New Hampshire were believed to be the parents of one of the victims in the fire, and the murder of all three was thought to be the fourth body discovered near High Springs. But the case would not be easily solved. An eight-page suicide note left in a blue Fiat near the burnt shack confessed to the murders of the two victims in New Hampshire, Malcolm and Elizabeth Jennings, and to aiding in the suicide-murder of Page Jennings, and then it alluded to the self-demise of the murder of the three, Daniel Mikel Daniels, which turned out to be an alias for Glyde Earl Meeks. But Page Jennings never signed the note.

Chris and Page Jennings Meeks, 50, and Page Jennings, 21, had been dating on and off for a year and a half. Her parents, and brother Christopher Jennings, did not approve of the relationship. The suicide note alleged that Page had asked Meeks to kill her parents and then kill her and himself, so that Meeks and Jennings could be together forever in death. In fact, it stated they set the fire up to destroy their bodies so completely that even after death they could not be separated, but that is exactly what Maples was determined to do.

First Maples had to try to reconstruct enough of the remains for the bodies to be identified as those of Page Jennings and Glyde Earl Meeks. There was much speculation that perhaps the bodies burnt in the shed were not theirs, only set up to look like theirs in order to throw off police. Maples worked, with the help of his grad students, to slowly reconstruct some semblance of human skeletal remains that might be identifiable as Meeks and Jennings. Maples learned that Jennings had had knee surgery at the age of seventeen, but the surgeon no longer had the x-rays. The surgeon was able to diagram for Maples the type of marks that should be present on the tibia of Jennings. So Maples set to work reconstructing the female tibia from the fragments found at the scene, but no surgical marks such as those described by the surgeon where present on the bone.

A New Hampshire wanted poster for Glyde Meeks

The New Hampshire authorities believed that the bodies in the shack were not those of Meek and Jennings, and got Meeks placed on the FBI's most wanted list. Maples eventually was able to match the female palate, shrunken by the fire, to the dental records of Page Jennings, but he was still bothered by the missing surgical scars. Maples returned to the surgeon who had performed the knee surgery on Jennings. He requested to see the medical file from the surgery, and there in the file it stated the surgeon had used a technique different from the one she had originally told Maples, and the procedure she had used, did not leave marks on the bone. Maples then reconstructed the female humerus and matched it to an x-rays previously taken of Jennings. Satisfied he had proven the female body found burnt in the shed was that of Page Jennings, he set to work to discover the identity of the male body found along side her.

Maples received x-rays taken of Meeks' back from a chiropractor Meeks had visited years ago in Arizona. Maples was able to match a rib bone with a distinguishing mark found in the shack, with the x-ray of Meeks, but another clue still alluded him. Maples knew from Meeks' dental records that Meeks had a gold filling in one of his teeth, but the filling was never found. The missing evidence-the gold filling Determined to find the filing, Maples enlisted three University of Florida archeologists to reexamine the area in and around the shack. Still no filling surfaced. Maples then had his students working in the lab resift the debris brought in by the sheriff's office with a smaller screen than before. The filing was discovered and a forensic dentist matched it to that of Meeks. Now satisfied that the bodies in the shack were indeed those of Meeks and Jennings, the case was closed and Meeks was taken off the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

Soon Maples would be off to Russia to help solve a mystery that had intrigued him since his childhood.