Will the mystery of Bible John ever be solved? Many feel that's unlikely given that there is little forensic evidence and most of the key witnesses are now dead. In our latest podcast episode, we look at what is known about the Barrowland killings.

The 25-year-old nurse and mother was looking forward to a rare night on the town and a chance to let her hair down. 

Patricia Docker worked long hours as an auxiliary at Mearnskirk Hospital in Newton Mearns on the outskirts of Glasgow and also had a young son Alex to look after. 

She lived with her parents in Langside Place in the south of Glasgow, a short walk from Hampden Park. 

Glasgow Times:

Five years earlier, Patricia had married Alexander Docker, and the following year their son had been born. 

By 1968 Alex Snr was a Corporal with the Royal Air Force in Lincolnshire. 

Their marriage was on the rocks and she moved back to Glasgow with young Alex to live with mum and dad. 

On Thursday, February 22, 1968, Patricia was in her best clothes and had taken time to look her best. 

It had been bitterly cold that day, so she had also wrapped up well in a duffel coat which had a fur collar. 

Patricia told her parents that she was going to the upmarket Majestic Ballroom in Hope Street in the city centre. 

But for some unknown reason, she went instead to the more downmarket Barrowland Ballroom in the city's Gallowgate, about two miles away, where they had a regular over 25's night. 

Whatever the reason this 'white lie" was to have major consequences for the police murder investigation that would quickly follow. 

Patricia's naked body was found on a Friday morning in Carmichael Lane, just a few hundred yards from Langside Place by a local man who kept his car in a lock-up garage there. 

He was heading to work when he made the grim discovery. 

Ligature markings around Pat's neck suggested that she had been strangled, possibly by a belt. 

She had also suffered blunt force trauma to her face and head. 

The victim's handbag, watch, and clothes were missing. 

Her clothing was never found, although her handbag was later recovered from the River Cart. 

Extensive door-to-door inquiries in the area produced a witness who recalled hearing a female scream, "Leave me alone!". 

Little useful forensic evidence was discovered at the crime scene which hadn't been preserved well and had been trampled underfoot by a number of senior detectives and other police officers. 

When Patricia failed to return home that evening, her parents assumed she had spent the night with a friend. 

Later that day the young mother's body was formally identified by her distraught father John Wilson. 

Detectives had got her name from an ambulance man at the scene who recognised the nurse from Mearnskirk Hospital. 

The murder investigation was initially hampered by the fact that they didn't realise she had been at the Barrowland. 

Glasgow Times:

A postmortem indicated Patricia had probably died shortly after leaving the dancehall and arriving in Langside with her killer 

As the weeks turned into months local officers met a wall of silence in their bid to find her killer. 

The usual appeals for information to the public provided little useful information. 

The attack had happened late at night when most people were in their beds or at home watching television. 

Unusually Patricia had gone to the dancehall on her own. Had she made a date to see someone there? A date with death? 

After two weeks most of the detectives were moved to a triple murder inquiry in Govan leaving the local officers to try and tie up the loose ends, before it was wound down and put into cold storage. 

Patricia's parents were left to their grief and their pain. 

Glasgow Times:

However, eighteen months later a second woman's body was found in a tenement close in MacKeith Street, Bridgeton in the east end of Glasgow. 

This turned out to be a single mother-of-three Jemima McDonald who lived nearby. 

She was last seen alive at the Barrowland Ballroom where she had spent the night dancing. 

McDonald was a Barrowland regular and her sister, Margaret O'Brien, took care of her three children in her absence. 

Glasgow Times:

She was seen by several people in the company of a young, well-dressed and well-spoken man. 

Shortly before 1am that morning, O'Brien became concerned when her sister failed to return home.  

Later the same day, she began hearing local rumours that young children had been seen leaving a derelict tenement building in nearby MacKeith Street discussing a body lying there. 

By the Monday morning, O'Brien was so concerned that she herself, fearing the worst, walked into the old building.  

There she discovered her own sister's extensively battered body lying face down, with her shoes and stockings lying beside her. 

Her murder on the night of August 16, 1969, had occurred approximately thirty hours before her body was discovered. 

Glasgow Times:

Like Patricia, she had been menstruating at the time of her death and there were signs of strangulation. 

Police inquiries into McDonald's movements on the night of her murder produced several eyewitnesses who were able to accurately describe the man with whom she had been in the company of at the Barrowland.  

Door-to-door inquiries on MacKeith Street also produced a woman who remembered hearing female screams on the evening of McDonald's murder. 

Officers obtained an identikit picture of the man last seen with the 32-year-old and the image was released to the newspapers and television - the first time such a step had been taken in a Scottish murder investigation.  

Glasgow Times:

However, like the Patricia Dicker murder the second investigation soon ran out of steam. 

Unusually no official connection had been made with Patricia's death at the time, even though both murdered women had been at the same dance venue and apparently left with someone they had met there. 

On October 31, 1969, came the discovery of a third young woman, Helen Puttock, 29, in the back gardens of her tenement home in Earl Street, Scotstoun by a man out walking his dog. 

She had also been had been at the Barrowland Ballroom that night and left with a mystery man  

Crucially Helen's sister Jean Langford had shared a taxi home with her sibling and her new admirer. 

For the first time the police had a proper eyewitness to a possible suspect. 

Jean told the police that both she and her sister had got chatting with two men who were both called John. 

One had said he worked as a slater and lived in Castlemilk. 

The other had been a well-spoken man who did not disclose where he actually lived.  

Glasgow Times:

After being with the two men for just over an hour, all four left the Barrowland to head home.  

John who had been Jean's dance partner walked to George Square to board a bus, while Langford, Puttock, and the man who had been Puttock's dance partner hailed a taxi. 

The trio set off from Glasgow Cross, making a 20-minute journey across the River Clyde to the west side of the city, 

Langford told detectives that her sister's companion had said that he didn't drink and repeatedly quoted from the Old Testament during the time they conversed with him in the taxi.  

He had also referred to the Barrowland as an "adulterous den of iniquity" disapproving of the married men and women who went there. 

The suspect was described by Jean Langford, 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. 

Though two bouncers who saw the couple together dismissed this description, claiming that the man in Puttock's company had been a short and well-spoken individual with black hair one point  

During the taxi ride, he had explained to the women the reason he refrained from consuming alcohol due to his strict upbringing, before adding: "I don't drink at Hogmanay; I pray."  

Jeannie also crucially described him as having overlapping front teeth.  

She was dropped off at her own home in the West End before the taxi continued onto Scotsoun with Helen and the well-spoken stranger. It was the last time Jeannie saw her sister alive. 

After Helen's death, it was decided to link all three murders into one investigation based at Partick Police Office, because of their similarities and the connection with the Barrowland Ballroom. 

Then the man in charge of the triple probe, Detective Superintendent Joe Beattie, also revealed details about the biblical references adding: "I'm positive this man comes from Glasgow or nearby. 

"I do not think he is a religious man but just has a normal, intelligent working knowledge of The Bible that he likes to air." 

Jeannie later worked with Lennox Paterson, deputy director of Glasgow School of Art, to create the famous artist's impression of the suspect, who had already been dubbed Bible John by journalists.  

The last possible sighting of the suspect was made by both the driver and conductor upon a night service bus, who noticed a young man matching Langford's description getting off in Dumbarton Road, Scotstoun, around 2am that morning. 

He appeared dishevelled, with mud stains on his jacket and a bright red mark on his cheek.  

Was this a sign that Helen had struggled with her killer and fight for her life? 

This man was last seen walking towards the public ferry to cross the River Clyde to the south side of the city. 

The murder of Helen Puttock held remarkable similarities to the two previous murders, further raising suspicions that all three murders had been committed by the same individual.  

All of the victims had been mothers and had met their killer at the Barrowland Ballroom.  

They had also been escorted home and murdered within yards of their doorstep. All three had been menstruating at the time of her death. 

Had the women had been murdered because in each case they were unable or unwilling to have sex for that reason? 

Due to the suspect's hair being unfashionably short for the time more than 450 barbers in the Glasgow area were shown the new drawing of the suspect to see if they recognised him as a customer. 

Dentists were asked to examine their records to see if they had a male patient with overlapping teeth. 

More than 100 detectives were assigned to work full-time on the case and thousands of witness statements were taken. 

Teams of young detectives - male and female - were instructed to mingle with dancers at the Barrowland in Glasgow over the weeks to see if they could pick up any clues as to the killer or killer’s identities. 

It was also possible but unlikely that they might return to see the scene of his crimes to target another victim. 

Despite the extensive manhunt and resources, the investigation into the three murders the trail went cold and the inquiry was slowly wound down. 

One theory was that the perpetrator had been jailed for an unrelated offence and therefore disappeared off the radar. 

Others speculated that he may have simply moved away from Glasgow or only murdered when visiting. 

One theory was that the well dressed, well-spoken suspect might be a military man. 

As a result police circulated copies of the Bible John drawing to British Army, RAF and Naval bases at home and abroad. 

Former police chief Joe Jackson worked on the Patricia Docker case and was later called into the Bible John investigation. 

He says the white lie told by Patricia to her parents about going to the Majestic rather than the Barrowland created a needless hurdle in the crucial early stages and may have allowed the killer to escape. 

Mr Jackson said: "That really hampered the inquiry and it was three wasted days, time which is vital in any murder investigation 

"We even spoke to a man who had wrongly claimed he had danced with the victim in The Majestic." 

Mr Jackson, who retired in 1992 at the rank of Detective Supt, can still recall the details of the investigation into Patricia's death. 

He continued: "There wasn't a great deal of information from local door-to-door inquiries or at the Barrowland. 

"We also spoke to local criminals and checked their alibis, particularly those with records of violence and sexual offences, but that threw up nothing. 

"There were several cars in the area at the time, which were never traced. 

"I believe she met her killer in the Barrowland and he took her home by car. 

"At that time, the dance halls were closed by 11pm so there were few people about late at night. 

"Most people would be in their beds which made tracing eyewitnesses even more difficult." 

Mr Jackson travelled to several military bases in Scotland and England with Joe Beattie to interview possible suspects. 

Helen Puttock's sister also accompanied them on a trip to Catterick in North Yorkshire. 

Mr Jackson feels that too much reliance was placed on the eyewitness account of the suspect by Joe Beattie. 

He also thinks that the investigation should have relied more on the evidence of two bouncers at the Barrowland. 

They had seen the suspect with Helen Puttock and described the much shorter man. 

They had also been present when he had complained loudly about losing money in a cigarette machine. 

Mr Jackson added: "Their evidence did not seem to count for much with Mr Beattie. 

"I don't know why, even to this day. 

"The fact that the suspect quoted from the bible is not particularly significant either. 

"Most people at that time would have some knowledge of the scriptures as religious education was compulsory in schools. 

"He was obviously trying to impress the women to make them feel comfortable in his presence. 

"I think Joe Beattie later realised he had made mistake by going so public about the biblical references." 

Mr Jackson is not convinced by the image created of Bible John after the third murder. 
He said: "The artist's impression is highly stylised. It was made to look like a film star it was not what we were looking for.  

"What we got was a portrait of a handsome young man rather than a look-a-like.  

"It meant we were probably looking for someone who probably didn't exist."  

For years after the third murder the case lay in cold storage subjected to the occasional review when new names were put froward. 

In 1996 the case was suddenly reopened more than 25 years after the last murder. 

Strathclyde Police exhumed the body of John Irvine McInnes from a graveyard in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire.  

It followed a review of the case by officers based at Partick Police Office using the then fledgling DNA technology. 

McInnes, who had served in the Scots Guards, had committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 41 

He had been the cousin of one of the original suspects in the series of murders. 

A DNA sample was taken from McInnes's body for comparison with semen samples discovered upon the stockings with which victim Helen Puttock had been strangled. 

The results of the testing conducted proved inconclusive, with the Lord Advocate, Scotland's most senior law officer, saying insufficient evidence existed to link McInnes with the murder of Helen Puttock. 

In July 1996 the Crown officially cleared McInnes of any involvement in the Bible John murders. 

In recent years it's been alleged that serial killer Peter Tobin is Bible John or at least responsible for one of the three killings. 

Tobin, 74, is serving three life terms for the murders of Angelika in 2006 and Vicky Hamilton, 15, from Bathgate, West Lothian, and Dinah McNicol, 18, from Essex, in 1991. 

There are similarities with the three unsolved murders and others that he committed.  

He would also have been in his mid 20's, the right age group for the killer. 

A false name Bible John given to Jean Langford and Helen Puttock in the taxi was similar to a pseudonym used by Tobin. 

Respected criminologist Professor David Wilson has publicly said he strongly that Peter Tobin is Bible John. 

This has led Professor Wilson to state: "I didn't set out to prove Tobin was Bible John, but I would stake my professional reputation on it." 

A police investigation named Operation Anagram, was launched in 2006 to investigate Tobin's possible involvement in other murders. 

However, no evidence was found to link him with the murders of Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock. 

Mr Jackson immediately suspected Tobin after he was arrested for Angelika Kluk's killing at St Patricks Church in Glasgow in 2006. 

He said: "After I saw his photograph for the first time, I thought, 'This is as near to Bible John as you are going to get'." 

The police's key witness Jean Langford, died in September 2010 at the age of 74. 

Will the mystery of Bible John. ever be solved? 

Many feel that's unlikely given that there is little forensic evidence and most of the key witnesses, like Jean Langford, are now dead. 

It seems that unless someone confesses, the identities of Bible John will remain a mystery. 

However, Police Scotland remain committed to solving the three killings. 

In a recently released statement they said: "The murders of Helen Puttock, Jemima McDonald and Patricia Docker remain unresolved, however, as with all unresolved cases, they are subject to review and any new information about their deaths will be investigated."