In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we learn that the Riddle family was murdered by Tom Riddle. We read that the "whole village" of Little Hangleton went to the pub to discuss their suspicions, and that the muggle police investigated the case.

When magical crimes affect Muggles in this series of books, the Ministry of Magic swoops in and modifies the memories of muggle witnesses.

Why did the Ministry not try to cover up a multiple murder caused by magical means? Or are we hearing the tale from the before-the-cover-up moment?!

  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/14452/…
    – TimSparrow
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 12:34
  • Thanks Tim. I am ashamed to have forgotten that aspect of the story. I've modified my question to focus more on the lack of 'cover up'. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 12:38
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    Uh, to cover up a murder, they would've basically had to erase the Riddle's entire existence, wouldn't they? If they mind wiped the murder, eventually someone would notice they were no longer living there (and no longer living, in point of fact) So then there'd be that inconveniently large house to get rid of... It just seems far easier to let the murder be noticed, and let the Muggles simply be mystified. There are no witnesses and no evidence that points to magic, so the Ministry is already covered.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:40
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    Oh and PS: Who's memory would they need to modify? What witnesses were there? They do not cover up that people get murdered, just the aspect where people see magic
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:46
  • The Ministry believed Morphin Gaunt was the culprit and sentenced him, so they were aware of everything; Tom Jnr wasnt implicated and so he was free to apply for a teaching job. I dont think the large house is inconvenient. You just make the Muggles think the Riddles emigrated, and the house is for sale. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


The plain fact is that no Ministerial cover-up was necessary. All the Muggle authorities knew was that the Riddles died from 'causes unknown'; they had no idea magic was involved because they had no idea magic even existed (and probably would have scoffed if anyone even suggested 'magic' as a cause). Deaths from no apparent or determinable cause are rare, but they do happen (probably more so, back in the old days); this was just a particularly strange one. And without any definite clues, they simply fell back on the usual police habits and prejudices, to whit: Whoever was most closely associated with the family (and survived) probably did it.

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    I see. No magical acts were witnessed by Muggles, so no need to take action. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 10:27

They did not have to cover anything up, because there was no proof of a murder or foul play. As Dumbledore says, the killing curse leaves no physical evidence on the body.

Muggle authorities were perplexed. As far as I am aware, they do not know to this day how the Riddles died, for the Avada Kedavra Curse does not usually leave any sign of damage ... the exception sits before me,’ Dumbledore added, with a nod to Harry’s scar.

Half-Blood Prince - page 343

The ministry probably thought that the Muggles would make the wrong assumption, which they did.

The police had never read an odder report: a team of doctors had examined the bodies and had concluded that none of the Riddles had been poisoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, suffocated, or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all. In fact (the report continued, in a tone of unmistakable bewilderment), the Riddles all appeared to be in perfect health -- apart from the fact that they were all dead. The doctors did note (as though determined to find something wrong with the bodies) that each of the Riddles had a look of terror upon his or her face -- but as the frustrated police said, who ever heard of three people being frightened to death? As there was no proof that the Riddles had been murdered at all, the police were forced to let Frank go.

Goblet of Fire page 4

They knew it would be hard for Muggle police to link it in any way to wizards or Magic. There was no proof at all that there had been a murder to cover up.

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    I'm fairly certain no chickens were involved. Or did you mean foul play?
    – Theik
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 10:27
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    Yes. Sometimes I talk to text into my tablet and the words come out wrong. As in homophones. They sound the same on the phone lol. Thank you for spotting that and telling me :)
    – Flitoangel
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 18:23

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