Glasgow's Most Notorious Serial Killers Part One
Can you feel it in the air Glasgow? The changing of the seasons. Where night outlives day and light is consumed by darkness. It’s the time of year where you find yourself frantically chasing daylight, whilst simultaneously peering over your shoulder to discover that the darkest of nights are in rapid pursuit. Beware the all consuming terror of darkest winter night.
Did you know that many of the most horrifying murders in British history have been the direct responsibility of Glaswegians. What does that say about a city with less than 600,000 people in it?
We bring you 8 of Glasgow’s most notorious serial killers…
8. Peter Manuel
AKA The Beast Of Birkinshaw. Peter Manuel started his criminal career as a petty thief and was well known to police by the age of ten. Originally born in New York, Manuel moved with his parents to Birkenshaw in North Lanarkshire relatively early in life. By the age of 16 Manuel had received a nine year prison sentence following a spate of brutal animalistic sexual attacks. Serving nine years he was released in 1953, moved to Glasgow nearer his parents, he was due to marry in 1955 but Anna O Hara broke the engagement when she discovered his horrific past crimes. On the day Manuel was due to marry he instead abducted and threatened to decapitate Mary McLaughlin, she escaped and became the only victim to testify against him.
Manuel’s brutal reign of murder began on the fateful night of 2nd Jan 1956 when he stalked 17 year old teenager Anne Kneilands onto East Kilbride Golf Course, raped and bludgeoned her to death with an iron bar. He escaped justice for two years after his father aligned him with an alibi. Resulting from this alibi were eight further horrific murders.
Peter Manuel, perhaps revelling in his new found teflon coated aversion to justice, within 2 years had committed 8 brutal murders and was suspected of a further 10.
His spree of murders included, shooting dead a family, where the husband stood as lead suspect, shooting dead a taxi driver (of which he never received even a trial). Isabelle Cooke who he stalked, raped and murdered, burying her in a nearby field.
His final swansong was murdering a family of three and instead of fleeing, lived in their home for nearly a week, (making sure to keep the cat fed).
He was eventually caught after stealing crisp banknotes from the Smart family home and spending them in an East End Glasgow pub.
It turns out Manuel had given a police officer investigating the murders a lift in the murdered family’s car suggesting to the officer that they were looking for evidence in the wrong place.
During the trial Peter Manuel sacked his legal team and conducted his own defence, (as he had done previously, successfully defending himself against a rape charge in 1955.)
Manuel was the third last prisoner to be hanged in Barlinnie prison and his final words were “if you turn the radio up, I’ll go quietly”.
7. Bible John
One of the most infamous serial killers in modern history as recognisable as Jack The Ripper. Three unsolved murders, involving a Bible quoting killer, preying on vulnerable young females after meeting them at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom. Could easily have sprung from the mind of the late horror maestro Wes Craven. However they were true, and Bible John still remains at large.
Between 1968 and 1969 a silent terror stalked the wooden floors of the Barrowland Ballroom, and across the streets of Glasgow. A man referencing the Bible had been attacking menstruating woman, strangling, raping and then battering them to death.
Two of the woman had been found yards from their home and apparent safety, but instead of being secure in their home with their families they had spent their last moments of life on the earth, terrified, subjected to horrific unimaginable abuse and alone.
Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock each had the unfortunate circumstance of meeting Bible John. Helen Puttock’s sister Jean described “Bible John” as a well spoken, well dressed, young man who regularly referenced the Bible.
The woman when discovered each had tampons or sanitary towels placed near the body and each were missing their handbag, considered by many pathology experts as a trophy.
Officers conducting the case launched the largest investigation in Scottish criminal history with 50,000 statements recorded and more than 100 detectives attributed to solving the crime.
The case, however cold, remains unsolved, and ongoing.
6. Angus Sinclair
One of the worst human beings that has ever lived. Angus Sinclair born in Rottenroe in Glasgow, was found guilty of the murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott i.e the Worlds End Murders. He almost escaped justice as the case collapsed around the prosecution.
Double Jeopardy, a centuries old law had to be reformed to allow the defendant to be retried. It is presumed that Sinclair murdered six woman within seven months. At 15 years old Sinclair was given a ten year sentence after murdering, Catherine Reehill, a seven year old girl.
Serving six years he was released in 1967, married in 1970 but by 1977 had murdered six woman in seven months. In 1978 murdered Mary Gallagher but yet evaded prosecution. In 1982 he pleaded guilty to raping and sexually assaulting 11 children under the age of fourteen. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Officers began to look at cold cases but it took until 2014 to find him guilty of the World’s End murders.
Scientists also studied similarities of 1000 other murders in Scotland between 1968 and 2004 to find that six other murders seemed to fit Sinclair’s Modus Operandi.
Sinclair would bind, restrain and murder each of his victims, and he himself admitted in court that his assault victims may number into the hundreds.
At no time is it claimed Angus Sinclair has ever shown any remorse for his actions..and with his sentence expected to run until he is 107, Sinclair is guaranteed to die in jail.
Stay tuned for the final instalment (#5-#1) of Glasgow’s most notorious serial killers coming soon.