Wednesday, 28 January 2015

1927: Woman's Head Found in Clyde and Mutilated Remains Found in Coal Bunker

'The finding of a parcel containing parts of the dismembered body of a woman on the North Side of the River Clyde on Saturday led police to a house at 213 Main Street, Glasgow, South Side, yesterday afternoon. In the coal bunker of the house, the remaining portions of the body found hidden under a layer of coal and dross. The police have taken the son of the dead woman into custody and he is charged with her murder.'

The discovery of the gruesome parcel was made shortly after 8 o'clock on Saturday morning by Mr George Geddes who was rowing up the river in a small boat. About 100 yards east of St James's Bridge, Mr Geddes observed a bundle lying on the mud bank on the north side. On rowing toward it and undoing the rope which bound it he was horrified to discover a women's head. The parcel also contained an arm and two legs. The remains were taken to the Central Police Station.

Due to the lack of clues the case presented considerable difficulty for the investigating detectives. It was decided to conduct a huge search of most houses in the Central, Eastern, and Southern Districts in search of the trunk of the body, almost every police constable in the city was recalled to help in the search.

In the course of the day, a woman entered Central Police Station and stated that her mother in law was missing. The woman had been on holiday in Rothsay and it was not until she returned and visited her mother-in-law's house that she discovered it was unoccupied. Shown the remains, the woman identified them as those of her mother-in-law, a Mrs Agnes Arbuckle.

Two detectives were dispatched to Mrs Arbuckle's house at 213 Main Street, South Side and when the door was opened and a search of the home made, the remaining body parts were found under a layer of coal and dross in the coal bunker. The trunk, which was cut in two parts, and the missing arm were taken to the Mortuary at the Central Police Station. 

The woman's son, a man aged between 36 and 40 was taken into custody and charged with Mrs Arbuckle's murder.

A next door neighbour yesterday described Mrs Arbuckle, a 60-year old widow, as a woman of very quiet habits who had lived at her home on Main Street for 17 years. During the past few years she had lived alone, one of her sons was reporting missing during the war and another had died six years ago. It was known that she called at the local post office to collect a pension in respect of the son who was killed in the war, and the last time she was seen alive by any of her neighbours was three weeks ago. On that day, it is believed she left to visit the post office as usual but she did not return. 

Many aspects of the case were similar to those of the recent London Trunk Murder.  In the Arbuckle case, the assailant in dismembering the body had taken deliberate precautions against the identification of the victim, The face and head, which had been severed at the neck, had been shockingly cut and bruised, apparently with some sharp heavy instrument, In addition to the head, the gruesome package found on the river bed contained two legs amputated below the knee, a thigh, a left arm, and a hand from which the ring finger had been cut off. The missing finger, from which a wedding ring had been recently removed was also found in the package. The appearance of the remains suggested that a sharp saw had been used in the dismemberment by someone with some skill. The singed condition of the back of the head and neck indicated that the woman had been knocked into a fireplace by a blow or that an attempt had been made to dispose of the evidence by burning.

The authorities take the view that while the woman had probably been dead two or three days, the bundle had only been deposited in the river on Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Saturday 17th January 1976 – Two children found brutally murdered in Govan

Golspie Street before it was demolished

In January 1976 a massive police hunt was launched to find the killer of two Glasgow children brutally murdered in their home in a case that senior detectives at the time described as possibly the most brutal they had experienced.

On Saturday 17th of January 1976, the bodies of John McMonigle aged 13, and his sister Irene McMonigle aged 12, were found bound, gagged, and battered almost beyond recognition in their home at 108 Golspie Street, Govan, by their father when he returned home with his other daughter, 9-year-old Elizabeth, after a visit to a flat in Pollock to which the family were due to move that night.
Irene and John McMonigle
The children were watching television when their father, Mr John McMonigle aged 36, left for Pollock with Elizabeth around 2.30pm. A meal had been prepared for the children and they had also been given money for sweets. It is thought that the children were attacked sometime between 2.30pm and 4pm.

The McMonigles were the only family still occupying a flat in Golspie Street, an area that was to be pulled down under a redevelopment scheme. Hardly a window remained intact in the close of No.108, neighbouring tenements also presented a similar picture of decay and destruction. Relatives spoke of Mr McMonigle’s constant battle to keep his home intact from vandals, squatters and down-and-outs.

Golspie Street before it was demolished

After the murder councillor Andre McMachan who represented Govan in Glasgow District Council suggested that immediate efforts should be made to demolish all empty tenements in Govan – ‘My heart goes out to the father of these kids’ he said, ‘Tenements like these, which have been emptied of all or most of their official tenants, are an incitement to madmen. They are being used unlawfully by some dubious people and they represent a risk to the community. I think it is necessary now to demolish them.’
The flat had been broken into a fortnight earlier, and the children were under strict orders from their father not to let anyone in while he was away.
Alexander Miller
On the day of the murder John was wearing a blue pullover with Bay City Rollers style tartan flashing on the shoulders while Irene was wearing a brown tweed dress.

In the hunt that followed for the killer, a team of 60 detectives took statements from more an 3500 people. Two months later 28 year old Alexander Miller was arrested and charged with the murders. Miller had lived next door to the McMonigles but had moved away under the redevelopment. He has broken into the McMonigles’ house a fortnight earlier and was returning to steal a television that he has spotted previously.
When Irene interrupted him shouting, ‘I know you, I’ll tell my daddy’, he tied both children up and battered them to death.
He was charged with murder but admitted culpable homicide with diminished responsibility. He was described at the time as ‘mentally defective’ and was sent to Carstairs.

New Golspie Street development