IN early January 1976 John McMonigle and his three children were living in one of the most deprived and run-down areas of Glasgow.

So bad were the tenements in Golspie Street in Govan that the council were planning to knock them down so they could redevelop the area.

That same month the McMonigles had been offered a flat in a new housing estate in Pollok and were due to move in over the next few days. It was a promise of a new life, a better life.

Other in families Golspie Street had already moved out and most of the flats were boarded up.

John had set off that morning by bus to view their new flat with his youngest child, nine-year-old Liz.

The older two, Irene, 12, and John, 13, were left at home under the watchful eye of a neighbour.

The close of their old flat was in darkness when they returned hours later after what had been a successful day.

John was keen to tell the two teenagers how lovely their new home was and how excited he was about their future there.

As he walked into the flat with Liz the smile disappeared and instead, he froze in horror.

His two beautiful children lay dead, blood everywhere and they had terrible head injuries.

Both children had been gagged and then beat them to death with the killer also indecently assaulted Irene.

Liz ran out the flat screaming. It was a day she would never forget.

Horrified John went to phone the police and also tell a close relative what had happened.

When the relative saw the bloodbath he was physically sick.

Glasgow Times:

The police arrived a short time later and a murder hunt was launched.

Even seasoned hardened detectives were shaken by the bloody sight inside the flat that evening.

The two kids’ heads had been smashed in and the likely murder weapon – a claw hammer – lay by their side. It later emerged that a skate bought for Irene’s birthday had also been used as a weapon.

As is normal in a case like this, local people lined up to help the cops in any way they could.

The crime sickened the wider city and one newspaper put up a £1000 reward (£7000 today) to catch the killer.

A huge squad of detectives worked on the case.

The police were under pressure, the killer had to be caught before he struck again.

John had the grim task of formally identifying his two children on a black and white monitor at the city mortuary.

After a few days detectives identified a red-haired man wearing a grey suit as a possible suspect.

Glasgow Times:

One neighbour named him as Alexander Millar.

He had only recently moved out of the area to Easterhouse and was a former neighbour of the McMonigle family.

A few weeks earlier their home had been burgled and various items were taken, including a transistor radio.

Had the killer come back for a second time?

John McMonigle himself recalled seeing Millar in the neighbourhood around that week but hadn’t suspected anything.

Eventually, Millar was traced through to a house in Easterhouse, where he lived with a woman.

He had a low IQ and had to attend a special school as a child.

His main interest in life was watching the television.

He also had red hair and a grey suit – just as the neighbours in Golspie Street had described.

But he denied any knowledge of the two killings but admitted robbing the McMonigle’s home a few weeks earlier.

Having confessed to the first burglary, Millar, 27, was jailed for 60 days.

Almost everyone in Govan was interviewed in case they had seen Millar in the area at the time.

He claimed he had been watching television at the time – Dr Who.

There was nothing else linking Millar to the crime at the time including forensic evidence. Then came an unexpected breakthrough.

The suspect’s brother Leslie had asked to see the police.

He revealed that Millar had stayed with him on the night before the murders and there was a fault with the TV.

He then said: “I know where I can get a TV that works.”

The cops returned to the McMonigle’s flat and, sure enough, there in the corner was a TV.

Underneath were marks where someone had tried to move it, which prompted the following questions in the minds of the detectives.

Had Millar spotted the TV when he robbed the house weeks before? Was the theft of the TV the motive for murder? Had he been disturbed by the two children when he tried stealing it?

Leslie had one more crucial piece of evidence to give to the cops.

He and his sibling had met at about 5.30pm on the day of the murders and Millar had asked him if he had heard of the killing of two kids in Govan.

At that time, not even their dad had discovered the two dead bodies. Millar could only have known if he was the murderer. What they call specialist knowledge, known only to the killer.

They had their man but how to nail him?

Leslie agreed that he would speak with his brother and see if he would admit to the murders.

This time the police would bug their room and record any conversation.

They got permission from the Procurator Fiscal and the trap was laid.

A room in Orkney Street police station, Govan, was set up with secret recording equipment and the two brothers left there to talk.

Eventually, Millar told his brother that the police were on to him and asked what might happen if he confessed.

Leslie said he should just tell the truth.

Following a two-month manhunt and 6000 door-to-door inquiries, Millar was charged with the double murder.

He was also charged with stealing 34p from John, putting a sock in his mouth, tying his hands and feet and bludgeoning him with a hammer.

There were further charges of tying Irene’s hands behind her back, committing an indecent offence and striking her repeatedly on the head with a hammer.

Glasgow Times:

On May 13, 1976, Millar admitted a reduced charge of capable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He revealed that he had gone into the McMonigle house on his own to steal their TV having been there two weeks earlier.

He lifted it but both children appeared unexpectedly.

When little Irene shouted, “I know you, I’ll tell my daddy”, he flew into an uncontrollable rage.

He tied both children up and smashed their skulls with a claw hammer, which he grabbed from John, who had bravely confronted the intruder.

Millar was ordered to be detained without limit of time and sent to the State Hospital Carstairs.

The judge Lord Wheatley described his crimes as “most terrible” and said Millar could “certainly” repeat his offence if ever freed.

He had been told that the killer had “fits of blind rage when thwarted” and had gone missing from psychiatric hospitals 20 times before the killings.

The people of Govan and Glasgow sighed with relief the day he was put behind bars.

At the age of 74, Alexander Millar is one of Scotland’s longest-serving and oldest inmates.

He has been incarcerated for the last 45 years.

Miller was held at Carstairs for most of that time before being transferred to a secure psychiatric unit in Ayrshire.

Over the years, the McMonigle family have campaigned relentlessly to keep him behind bars.

The law changed 15 years ago to ensure patients like Millar are referred to a mental health tribunal every two years.

The tribunal can then order that he be kept inside or released.

Millar’s latest bid for freedom was rejected last month following his most recent application in 2019.

Liz, now 54 and a grandmother, welcomed the decision to keep Millar inside.

In one interview, she said: “Two beautiful souls were taken from us in the most unimaginable way.

“What I saw all those years ago haunts me every single day.”

John, who found the bodies of his children died at the age of 77 in 2018.

Before his death, he said: “We will never forget it and never get over it.

“I have always hoped Millar would not be released into the community.

“What he did was evil.”