Dr. John W. Webster (defendant) owed money to Dr. George Parkman. Parkman disappeared at about the same time that he and Webster were scheduled to meet so that Webster could repay his debt. A few days later, searchers found fragmentary human remains, apparently Parkman's, in Webster's chemistry laboratory and furnace. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (plaintiff) prosecuted Webster for Parkman's murder. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts instructed the trial jury on the law of the case, particularly as to the difference between murder and manslaughter.