IT’S not often that a police officer becomes as well known as the crimes that he is tasked with solving.

However in the 1960s, Detective Superintendent Joe Beattie was that man.

Beattie famously led the hunt for Bible John, the man suspected of murdering three women – Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock – in the late 1960s.

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Did Bible John murder Helen Puttock, Jemima McDonald and Patricia Docker in Glasgow?

Then the police chief became a household name with his regular appearances in newspapers and on television.

He was in many ways a real-life Taggart, predating the famous fictional 1980s television detective of the same name.

Glasgow Times:

Regretfully Beattie retired without solving the Bible John case.

Over the years, the three killings have baffled his various successors with no-one yet brought to justice for the crimes.

A larger-than-life character, Beattie was part of a golden generation of officers who joined the City of Glasgow Police after serving with distinction in the Second World War.

READ MORE: Extended: Glasgow serial killer Bible John and the Barrowland killings

A fighter pilot in Bomber Command he had taken part in many a daring Allied raid over German territory before being demobbed at the end of hostilities and joining the then City of Glasgow Police in 1946.

As a young rookie cop Beattie quickly showed an aptitude for solving crime.

He joined the CID three years later and by 1960 had reached the rank of Detective Sergeant.

Over the years as a police officer Beattie often had the knack of being in the right place at the right time. He once encountered a barefoot man being chased by a police officer.

Beattie arrested him only to discover that the man’s wife was about to give birth and both he and the chasing officer were looking for help.

With no midwife immediately available, Beattie and his colleagues helped deliver the baby themselves. Beattie’s time in the RAF meant he had developed keen powers of observation, which he put to good use as a crime fighter.

He was said to have solved one murder after spotting that some knives in the kitchen drawer of a murder suspect were too shiny.

It was obvious they had just been freshly cleaned following their use in the fatal stabbing.

In another case the only clue was a Swan Vesta match found near the elderly victim’s body.

Beattie knew that local men never used that brand of match.

On door-to-door inquiries he questioned one male and asked him to empty his pockets, which contained a box of Swan Vesta.

In one double murder inquiry Beattie was able to use his powers of observation and sixth sense to literally nail a ­suspect.

A man and his 17-year-old daughter had been murdered in their home in Kinning Park, Glasgow.

Both had been stabbed more than 30 times with a kitchen knife which had been left at the murder scene.

The killer had the presence of mind to wipe the weapon clean of any incriminating fingerprints,

It was while studying the crime scene that Beattie noticed a toe print on the hallway linoleum.

It appeared that the killer had removed his shoes and socks so that he didn’t leave a blood-stained footprint – but instead he had left a print of his bare toe.

During subsequent door-to-door inquiries Beattie spoke to a 16-year-old neighbour who he ­suspected of being the killer.

Not only did his toe print match the one found in the murder house, but he also later confessed to the murder. By the late 1960s Beattie had risen through the ranks to Detective Supt.

At that point he took on the case that would define his career.

His job was to solve the three murders of Docker, McDonald and Puttock that had now been linked into the one inquiry.

All three had met their killer at the same venue, the Barrowland Ballroom in the Gallowgate in the East End of Glasgow.

Patricia Docker worked as a nurse at Mearnskirk Hospital in Newton Mearns.

She had a young son Alex and lived with her parents in Langside Place, a short walk from Hampden Park in the Southside of the city.

On Thursday, February 22, 1968, Patricia went to the Barrowland, where they had a regular over 25s night.

Her naked body was found the following 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.

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 mother-of-three Jemima McDonald, 32, who lived nearby.

She was last seen alive at the Barrowland Ballroom on August 16, 1969, where she had spent the night dancing.

However, like the Patricia Docker murder the second investigation ran out of steam and detectives were moved on to other inquiries.

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.

She had also 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.

Jean 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.

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

It was Beattie who 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.”

Jean 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 reporters.

Teams of young detectives – male and female – were instructed by Beattie 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 ­killers’ identities.

The creation of an artist’s impression and a photofit of the suspect were innovative at the time.

Beattie even employed the services of a psychiatrist in 1970 to create a criminal profile of their suspect in 1970 – well before similar techniques were employed by the FBI in America.

Like all such unsolved cases the Bible John inquiry was eventually wound down and officers transferred to other duties.

Beattie would then take on another role that would challenge his detective skills, but in a different way. He was ordered to investigate the deaths of 66 fans at Ibrox ­Stadium on January 2, 1971.

Beattie had attended the game himself and had left afterwards unaware of the tragic events that had just taken place.

He got a phone call to his home from the Chief Constable Sir James Robertson who said: “There has been a terrible accident and I want you to take charge.”

Beattie set up an investigation team at Govan police office where more than 1000 statements were taken from fans and other eyewitnesses.

Such was the swiftness and efficiency of the investigation that a Fatal Accident Inquiry was held into the deaths the following month at Pollokshaws Burgh Hall in Glasgow. Beattie’s gathering of evidence was crucial to getting to the truth of what happened that terrible day.

After the Ibrox disaster investigation he was moved to the Scottish Police training college at Tulliallan Castle in Fife where he was made Deputy Commandant before retiring in 1976.

His failure to solve any of the three Bible John murders weighed on Beattie’s mind right up to his death in 2000 at the age of 82.

He famously said: “I know more about this man than

I do some members of my family.

“If he walked into the most crowded of rooms, I would pick him out right away.”

Beattie became known to a new generation last year when a BBC two-part documentary on the Bible John case featured original television interviews with the


In his autobiography, The Pleader, Glasgow criminal defence ­lawyer Len Murray paid a glowing tribute to his friend.

The solicitor said: “He was one of the best and most talented detectives that I ever knew.

“If there were 25 hours in a day Joe would have worked them.

“Joe Beattie was truly a legend in his time.”