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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Lee Dalgetty

The Edinburgh murder of Helen Kane that remains unsolved 52 years later

On the day that would’ve been her wedding anniversary, Helen Kane’s body was discovered in a building site by a man walking his dog on May 25 1970 - she had died from head injuries after being hit by a slab.

The 25-year-old from Craigmillar had been out with her husband and two other couples in Leith, leaving the night out at around 11.25pm. Celebrating their anniversary at the Dockers Club on Academy Street, it was a rare night out for the couple.

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Witnesses claimed a woman who resembled Helen was seen getting into a taxi with a man with the vehicle heading towards Easter Road.

A couple was also seen in Holyrood Park, not too far from where her body was found the following day. The mother of four was described by her friend Rosemary Cook as: “An attractive, quiet person, who lived for her children.”

Speaking with the Aberdeen Evening Express, Rosemary continued: “We couldn’t get into the club and Brian and I left Mr and Mrs Kane and the other couple about 7.30pm. They said they were going down to Leith.

“That was the last time I saw Mrs Kane, I did not know about the tragedy until today.”

Helen’s sister Janet was waiting with the couple’s four children. Helen would never make it home.

Her body was discovered by Christopher Holmes, and his Irish setter called Dougal. The dog found the nude body, covered in blood, in a shallow excavation pit filled with rocks south of the Pleasance.

Detectives immediately launched a hunt, questioning all taxi drivers who had been on duty on Saturday 23. Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Morrison said: “We want to know if a couple were taken by taxi to the Dumbiedykes area between 11pm that night and 2am the following morning.”

Police also believed the victim had travelled with another young woman on a number 12 bus from the Niddrie Mains area, about 7.45pm on the Saturday night. Detective Morrison added: “They are believed to have got off the bus near the foot of Leith Walk.

“We are anxious to trace this young woman who was with the victim - and any other persons travelling on that bus.”

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The other passenger travelling with Helen was never traced, and her identity remains a mystery. As for her killer, several suspects have been investigated though none have come to a conclusion.

At the time, police in Edinburgh and Glasgow looked into possible connections with Bible John. This is the name given to an unidentified serial killer who is believed to have murdered three young women in Glasgow in the late 60s, but detectives soon said there was no link to Helen Kane.

Angus Sinclair, who came to be known as one of Scotland’s most prolific serial killers, was also questioned surrounding Helen’s murder - though was provided an alibi by his family.

Anne Marie Davy, Helen’s niece and goddaughter, said in 2020: “My auntie was only 25 and had four sons aged six and under. The youngest was only about ten months old.

“This was a really rare night out for her, but even so she left early, we think to get back for her kids. She was kind and loving and she deserves justice.”

To this day, Police Scotland are committed to finding answers. Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes said: "Unresolved murders are cases that are never closed and Police Scotland is fully committed to identifying those people responsible for all such cases. Police Scotland works closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and meets regularly to review outstanding unresolved murders from across the country.

"Working collaboratively as the Homicide Governance Board, the potential for new investigative opportunities are regularly assessed to maximise the ability to deliver justice for grieving families, irrespective of the passage of time.

"We would appeal to anyone who has information which could assist in such cases, to contact the Police Scotland via the 101 number. Information can also be provided through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained."

This is the first instalment in Edinburgh Live's four part Testimony series looking at the murder of Helen Kane.

We will also be looking into the suspects police investigated, before discussing the modern DNA testing that could solve Helen Kane's murder 52 years on.

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