Did Tom Riddle have "The Trace" on him when he was at Hogwarts? While he was still underage

he murdered his father and grandparents

It seems to me that even though he covered up his crimes that the ministry might do some sort of detective work when it comes to murder. With the trace on him wouldn't the ministry be alerted that in Tom Riddle's vicinity there was a stunning spell cast, a few killing curses performed, and then a memory modification done. You would think any killing curse done near an underaged wizard would be investigated.

Has JKR ever commented on this?


As discussed previously, The Trace was place-localized, NOT person-localized (e.g. Harry was blamed for Dobby's magic).

In your example, Riddle blamed it on Morphin who was obviously nearby, and therefore wasn't under suspicion.

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    @Dason - precise rules on trace stickiness vary. Note how Harry was NOT at the home when the trace went off during Dementor attcak. Also, Voldemort just might have brought Morphin with him specifically for the purpose, to have a magical trace of him having BEEN in the Riddle house - that is never addressed in canon but would be quite plausible. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 10 '12 at 16:13
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    What makes you think the Trace is place-localized? Everything I can find in the books says it's person-localized. To give just a couple of examples, in DH Ch3, Moody refers to the Trace as "The charm that detects magical activity around under-seventeens"; and in Ch11, Lupin says "They'd know for sure Harry was here if he still had the Trace on him", which wouldn't be true if it was centered on the Dursleys'. – Joe White Feb 12 '12 at 6:10
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    Also, Tom Riddle used Morphin's wand, which served to cover up his tracks pretty well. No one ever knew that Tom was even there, and since it was easy and made sense that Morphin did it (since he'd attacked Muggles in the past), the Ministry didn't see any reason to look into it further. – morganpdx Mar 12 '12 at 23:10
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    I'll accept this since it does answer the question about the trace but I'm still not satisfied with this. Wouldn't there at least be an investigation into why Tom was there in the first place since it would have been Tom's trace going off? – Dason Apr 1 '12 at 20:36
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    Probably? You don't think it might raise a few eyebrows that Tom was out in the middle of nowhere. And it just so happens that when he's out there a few murders occur around the same time as a memory modification spell was cast. – Dason Apr 1 '12 at 23:18

Harry asks Dumbledore why the Ministry couldn't detect Tom Riddle's magic:

"But how come the Ministry didn't realize that Voldemort had done all that to Morfin?" Harry asked angrily. "He was underage at the time, wasn't he? I thought they could detect underage magic!"

"You are quite right — they can detect magic, but not the perpetrator: You will remember that you were blamed by the Ministry for the Hover Charm that was, in fact, cast by —"

"Dobby," growled Harry; this injustice still rankled. "So if you're underage and you do magic inside an adult witch or wizard's house, the Ministry won't know?"

"They will certainly be unable to tell who performed the magic," said Dumbledore, smiling slightly at the look of great indignation on Harry's face. "They rely on witch and wizard parents to enforce their offspring's obedience while within their walls."

As for why the Ministry didn't investigate, well they actually did investigate, and the investigation led them to Morfin. As Dumbledore explained:

"The Ministry, on the other hand, knew at once that this was a wizard's murder. they also knew that a convicted Muggle-hater lived across the valley from the Riddle house, a Muggle-hater who had already been imprisoned once for attacking one of the murdered people.

"So the Ministry called upon Morfin. They did not need to question him, to use Veritaserum or Legilimency. He admitted to the murder on the spot, giving details only the murderer could know. He was proud, he said, to have killed the Muggles, had been awaiting his chance all these years. He handed over his wand which was proved at once to have been used to kill the Riddles. And he permitted himself to be led off to Azkaban without a fight.


Although canonical support is sketchy, what we know already from the Trace leaves the following explanations (and perhaps others):

The Ministry does not monitor underage magic use at all when school is in session.

If Riddle did his dirty work at that time, he escapes detection. So he managed to sneak away from the school for a few hours during the night, or perhaps on a weekend. I don't see what he did as taking more than a few hours to accomplish. We already know (from Prisoner of Azkaban) that students can leave the school grounds without being detected.

Riddle found a way to suppress the Trace.

The nearest we come to canonical support for this is the established fact that Riddle was an extraordinarily gifted wizard. If any student found a way to get out from under the Trace, it would be he. Since the Trace is a restriction on his activities, he would certainly be motivated to negate its effects.

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