DNA link found in hunt for 1960s killer

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The Independent Online
Detectives in Glasgow are to seek permission to exhume the body of a man they believe to be the notorious "Bible John" who murdered three women in the late 1960s.

Genetic fingerprinting techniques, which were not available 30 years ago, have established a link between the dead man, who is buried in Lanarkshire, and 29-year-old Helen Puttock who was killed in 1969. The mother-of-two was one of three women raped and strangled after being picked up by a man - believed to be Bible John - at the popular Barrowland ballroom in the east end of the city.

Officers who carried out the initial investigation believed all three murders were committed by the man, who gained his nickname by quoting the Bible in conversation. Each victim died within hours of leaving the club. The killings, the first of which came in early 1968, led to the city's biggest ever manhunt, but the murderer was never caught.

The breakthrough came last year when forensic scientists and detectives at Partick police station began to re-examine the case. They recovered traces of bodily fluid from Ms Puttock's clothing, and produced a DNA fingerprint. After checking 26-year-old suspect lists, officers identified a possible killer and took samples from close relatives. One such sample proved to be a close genetic match.

The man detectives have identified used to frequent the Barrowland ballroom and visited the club on the night Ms Puttock's body was found. Police will not reveal his full name but he is understood to have been around 30 years old at the time of the killings. He committed suicide in 1980.

Although detectives have established a link between the dead man and Ms Puttock, no evidence is thought to have survived to connect him with the two other murdered women, Patricia Docker, 25, and Jemima McDonald, 32.

After their six-month investigation, police will seek permission to exhume the body for further tests. If the move is approved, digging will begin at dawn in accordance with ancient Scottish laws.

The breakthrough is a major coup for Scotland's largest police force and will help resolve one of Glasgow's most enduring murder mysteries.

In the first year of the police inquiry, more than 5,000 suspects were identified, but no one was charged. The man they now suspect was the child of fanatical Christian parents, and grew up in Stonehouse before moving to nearby Newarthill. He married and had children but soon divorced. He served in the Scots Guards but left to become a furniture salesman in Glasgow, where he became a regular at the Barrowland.