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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
David McLean

New BBC documentary explores Glasgow's brutal Bible John killings

A new BBC Scotland documentary is to re-examine Glasgow's notorious Bible John killings more than half a century on from what became Scotland's biggest ever manhunt.

The two-part The Hunt for Bible John, which airs next week, explores the case, which began in the late 1960s after a string of women were killed following a night of dancing.

Between 1968 and 1969, the papers reported on how three young women, Patricia Docker, 25, mum-of-three Jemima McDonald, 32, and Helen Puttock, 29, had been murdered after nights out in Glasgow.

Each of the victims was found partially naked, having been beaten extensively before being strangled to death.

With all three women murdered in similarly sadistic circumstances, detectives soon realised they were dealing with a serial killer.

Rumour spread that the kiler, a man who quoted scripture from the Old Testament, was targeting dance halls as he believed them to be dens of iniquity where Scotland’s sinful youth gathered en masse.

The newspapers dubbed him Bible John.

One of Bible John's victims, Helen Puttock, was found dead in November 1969, after a night of dancing at the Barrowland ballroom with her sister. Helen Puttock was also raped before she was killed.

In the second episode of the documentary, journalist and former Scotsman editor, Magnus Linklater, recounts the interview he conducted with Helen's sister Jeannie Williams, who had accompanied her that fateful night.

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Jeannie’s testimony about a mysterious red-haired, smart-suited man with crooked teeth, and who quoted from the Bible, would form the basis of the largest manhunt the country had ever seen.

The BBC documentary tells the story of the incredible and groundbreaking investigation, and the extraordinary lengths reporters and the police force, led by DSI John Beattie, went to try and find the culprit.

It will also reflect on the societal attitudes of the so-called Swinging Sixties, and how prejudice affected the public perception of Bible John's victims.

Who was 'Bible John'?

With the case unsolved, there remains a great deal of uncertainty over the identity of Bible John.

Many believe the killer fits the profile of Peter Tobin, who is serving three life sentences for killing three young girls between 1991 and 2006.

However, while Tobin, 75, has allegedly admitted to killing others to a fellow con, he denies being involved in the 1960s murders.

Meanwhile, the husband of Bible John victim Helen Puttock believes Peter Sutcliffe killed his wife.

George Puttock says Peter Tobin's denial that he's the infamous Glasgow killer has reinforced his belief the 29-year-old was murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper.

Sutcliffe died in prison due to Covid last year while serving life sentences for murdering 13 women over a five-year period from 1975.

Episode one of The Hunt for Bible John airs on Monday, November 22 at 9pm on BBC One, with the second part following a week later.

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