Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The World's End Murders and the Glasgow Connection

In October 1977 two 17-year-old girls, Christine Eadie and her friend Helen Scott were murdered in West Lothian.  The girls had been drinking at the World's End in Edinburgh, it was their last stop on a pub crawl. They were seen leaving the pub at closing time in the company of two men.

The World's End, Edinburgh
On October 6th Christine Eadie's nude body was found on the foreshore at Gosford Bay, East Lothian and three hours later the semi-naked body of Helen Scott was found 6 miles away in a field off the Huntington/Coates road near Haddington. Both had severe head injuries, both had their hands tied behind their backs, both had been raped, and both had been strangled.

In 2007 Angus Sinclair stood trial for their murders and was acquitted in controversial circumstances. He was retried in 2014 after the amendment to the double jeopardy law, and in November 2014 he was found guilty of the murders and sentenced to a minimum prison term of 37 years. He will be 106 years old before he will be eligible for parole.

The murders that became known as 'The World's End Murders' had long been connected by press and police with a series of murders in Glasgow in the late 1970s. Angus Sinclair is suspected to be responsible for some if not all of these cases.

The Plaza Ballroom, Eglinton Toll
Hilda Miller, a 36-year-old divorced mother of two, left her Glasgow home on Saturday 1st October 1977 to go dancing with friends at the Plaza dance hall at Eglinton Toll. At midday the following day her half-naked and brutally battered body was found by a group of youngsters out bramble-picking, lying among the long grass opposite the entrance to the West Ferry caravan site in Langbank, Renfrewshire. The area was known as a local lovers lane. Her clothing had been scattered among the bushes and her coat, shoes and handbag were missing. Her hands had been tied behind her back and she had been strangled with her own stockings.

Police quickly eliminated from their inquiries a man said to have left the Plaza dance hall with Hilda after midnight. Another woman contacted the Glasgow Herald office with the name of an other man. She said that it had been 'on her conscience' for several years that he may have been 'Bible John' - the untraced serial killer of three women who were murdered after visiting Glasgow dance halls in 1968-69. It is not known what became of this lead. Detectives said that they were anxious to trace a slim man seen talking with Hilda in McNee's bar next to the Plaza around 10pm the evening she was killed. The case remains unsolved.

The Cladda Social Club, 1980
A few weeks later 23-year-old Agnes Cooney, a children's nurse, was found in a copse at Caldercruix, Lanarkshire, she had been stabbed 25 times. She had spent the evening at the Cladda Social Club in Westmoreland Street only about 500 yards from the Plaza ballroom. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a royal blue cagoule, blue cords, and fawn desert boots.
Police believe that she left the Cladda Social Club alone and because she was careful with her money, tried to get a lift to her home in Coatbridge. Police said they were anxious to speak to two young men who were seen in two cars outside the Cladda around midnight when Agnes left. The first car was a Ford Cortina and the second a white van. Police believed that Agnes could have been held captive for up to 24 hours before her death. 

When asked about a link to other recent unsolved murders Detective Superintendent John MacDougall said: 'We are bearing in mind the girls murdered in Edinburgh as well as Hilda Miller's murder  and the disappearance Anna Kenny. There are certain similarities - the victims disappeared at midnight from places of entertainment and were found in the country. He warned that the 'weekend killer' could strike again  and appealed to young women not to leave dance halls and clubs unescorted.

On the 1st of August 1977, 20 year old Anna Kenny disappeared while she was walking to her home in Gorbals after a night out in Glasgow. On the night of her disappearance she and her friend, Wilma, had been drinking in the 'Hurdy Gurdy' public house in Townhead where they met two young men. After closing time Anna said goodbye to her friend and accompanied by one of the young men set off to walk to George's Square to catch a bus. Police were able to trace the young man, he told them that Anna got a taxi from the corner of Lister Street and Baird Street, Townhead.

The Hurdy Gurdy public house, 1979

On April 28th 1979 Anna's skeleton was phone buried in a shallow grave in a remote spot of Kintyre.

Police search for Anna Kenny's remains

In 1978, Mary Gallagher, aged 17, the eldest of six children, left her home at 16 Endrick Street, Keppochill on November 19th for a night out with friends. She left home about 6.30pm, walked down Endrick Street onto Keppochill Road and then onto Flemington Street where she took a shortcut across a railway bridge into the pathway.

Springburn Rd, Flemington St in 1977
She was going to meet her friend Elizabeth Blair in Avonspark Street and the intention was that the two teenagers would walk to Carlisle Street to meet a Mr and Mrs Dolan who were taking them to the Firhill Club, adjoining Partick Thistle football ground in Maryhill. But Mary never made to her friends home on Avonspark Street.

On the quiet pathway, between 6.45 and 7.30pm she was brutally attacked and killed. Her body was not found until the following morning. She had been stripped to the waist. Another 17-year-old girl had been attacked on the same pathway the previous evening and at the time police believed it was the same person who killed Mary, however, no one was every arrested for this attack.

Police interviewed more than 2000 people in door to door inquires without anyone yielding the vital information that would lead to Mary's killer. Police knew that the killer would almost certainly be bloodstained after the attack and believed that someone may have been shielding him. Police also believed that Mary's handbag, which was found in a tenement building at 147 Edgefauld Rd about 10 minutes walk from where her body was found, near Barnhill Station, had been deliberately placed there by someone who wanted them to find it.

In 2001 Angus Sinclair was convicted of the murder of Mary Gallagher it was revealed that after stripped her of her clothing he had strangled her with her trouser leg before raping her and slitting her throat.

In August 1978 Patricia Caldwell, a mother of two, went missing after attending a city center dance hall. She was last seen talking to two men at George Square at about 2.30 in the morning. Police linked her disappearance with the murder of Hilda Miller and Agnes Cooney. Her body was never found.

If all of these cases, and almost certainly more like the murder of Frances Barker in 1977, can be attributed to Angus Sinclair and/or his brother in law Gordon Hamilton then they could be Scotland's worst serial killers. It has been reported that an FIB profiler is looking into connections between Sinclair and other murder cases in the 1970s.

1 comment:

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