Tina Jordan
November 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

What is it?

A dollhouse-size diorama of a 1944 murder photographed by Corinne May Botz for The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

Where’d it come from?

It’s one of 18 tiny crime scenes made in the 1940s and ’50s by Frances Glessner Lee, an eccentric Chicago heiress.

Why’d she go to all that trouble?

Lee founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where the 1:12-scale models helped train police detectives.

Isn’t there something creepy about this?

”It’s their combination of the idyllic — pinups, milk at the back door — and deadly that is so intriguing,” says Botz, 27. ”You always think you can manipulate and control a perfect dollhouse world, but things here are smashed up, out of control.”

So what’s their appeal?

”It’s mostly their obsessive detail that draws you in,” says Botz, adding that their creator’s life ”Is as mysterious and fascinating as the dioramas themselves.”

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