A serial killer nicknamed Bible John who brutally murdered three women in the late 1960s was never caught – but new photofits have prompted a slew of people to come forward and name potential new suspects
More than 50 years after the lives of three young women were cruelly taken by a killer who would become known as Bible John, it seemed as if the cold case would never be solved.
But now, a new photofit of what the culprit may look like has been created, and it’s led to several new leads as members of the public come forward naming potential suspects.
A new two-part BBC documentary which airs on Tuesday night tells the story of the horror killings and the hunt to find the perpetrator.
Helen Puttock, Jemima McDonald and Patricia Docker were murdered in Glasgow after what should have been fun nights out with pals at the Barrowland Ballroom between 1968 and 1969.
The killer was nicknamed Bible John because he repeatedly quoted from the Bible and ranted about adultery before he committed the heinous acts.
And now, there are some possible new suspects being linked to the crime following the eerie new photofits.
According to the Daily Record, one is a man who worked in a laboratory at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary, moved to Dublin, and then returned in the early 70s.
A source said: “This man came from a very religious background. He told co-workers he frequented the dance halls at the weekends and his face was remarkably similar to the photofit. Not the painting but the original image.
“His behaviour was increasingly bizarre and worrying and he got into trouble a few times. He died in the mid 70s, having killed himself in the most awful of manners.
“Bible John was said to have told Helen Puttock and Jeannie Langford he worked in a lab. I am convinced he is a viable suspect.”
Another potential name of interest was a fairground worker from Glasgow who frequented Barrowland, was known to quote the bible and named his children after disciples, the publication reported.
A relative of the man told the Daily Record it was “bizarre” the police never suspected him.
The first victim was Patricia Docker, a 25-year-old nurse and mother-of-one who was found in the doorway of a lock-up garage in February 1968, having been strangled and suffering from blunt force trauma to the face and head.
The second was Jemima McDonald, 32, a mother-of-two who was found raped, extensively beaten and strangled to death with her own stocking in August 1969.
The third known victim, 29-year-old Helen Puttock, was raped and strangled with her tights following a night out with her sister Jean McLachlan in October 1969.
All three women had attended Barrowland Ballroom around the night they were killed.
Jean gave an account of the killer to the police, but despite thousands of men being interviewed, he could not be found.
She described him as being a tall, slim and well-dressed young man with reddish or fair hair rounded neatly at the back, aged between 25 and 30, and approximately 5ft 10.
More than 100 detectives were assigned to work full-time on the case, and 50,000 witness statements would be taken in door-to-door inquiries.
Over 5,000 potential suspects were questioned and Jean attended more than 300 identity parades – but said none of those present were the man who butchered her sister.
Fearing Bible John would strike again, a team of 16 detectives were instructed to mingle with dancers at all dance halls in Glasgow at the over 25s events, where they believed the killer had struck before.
Helen’s husband George is convinced it was the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who took her life after noticing some similarities between the two cases.
Peter Tobin, a convicted Scottish serial killer and rapist, was initially suspected to have been Bible John but it emerged in 2021 that he had denied it.
George said Tobin’s denial had only reinforced his belief it was really Sutcliffe who killed her.
He told the Daily Record that Helen had also suffered a serious head injury, which prompted police at the time to ask if he had ever hit her.
He said: “They asked me if I hit her and, of course, I said no and asked why.
“They said she had a blunt force injury to her head and it wasn’t until years later when I discovered that Peter Sutcliffe favoured using a ball-pen hammer that I began to investigate him.
“I was able to place him in Glasgow at the time too.”
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Sutcliffe, who died in 2020, was jailed in 1981 after being convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven more in Yorkshire in the 1970s and 80s.
But George said he thinks Sutcliffe started killing in Scotland and that Helen was one of his first victims.
He explained: “A photograph of Sutcliffe from the 60s, showing him clean-shaven and digging a grave, bore a remarkable resemblance to the pictures police put out on Bible John.
“Also on the night of the murder Jean told police she went to the cloakroom and on her return the man with Helen was showing her something on a piece of paper and Helen’s face was one of shock or surprise.
“Police always said maybe he was showing her a Police ID card or a military ID card but Helen was a military wife, I was in the Signals regiment for 22 years, she would not have been surprised at a military card – but she may have been shocked at a grave digger’s card.”
George added that Sutcliffe often travelled to Scotland in his lorry during his reign of terror.
He also pointed out Sutcliffe suddenly grew a beard around the time of Helen’s death.
This, he says, may have been because of the marks she left while defending herself against him, possibly with the large topaz ring he says she was wearing.
* The Hunt for Bible John begins at 9pm on BBC2
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