The Victims of Bible John (1968-69)

Updated: Apr 9, 2021


From 1968 to 1969 a serial killer who became known as Bible John stalked the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow, killing at least three women; Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald, and Helen Puttock.


Although no-one has ever stood trials for these murders, there are suspects - including an already convicted serial killer.


It's possible that there may be more victims, including women who may have been raped but never reported the crime. However, there are no other officially linked cases.

 

Patricia Docker


On February 23, 1968, Patricia Docker, a 25-year-old nurse, went to an over-25s night at the Barrowland in Glasgow. The following day her body was found naked a short distance away from her home in Langside Place.

Some sources state she was 'found in a Lane', whereas others say she was found 'in the doorway of a lock-up garage.' Her clothes and handbag were missing but her handbag was later recovered from the River Cart by an underwater search unit, and her watch was recovered from a pool of water close to the scene of her murder.


Patricia's body bore evidence of extensive blunt force trauma—particularly to the face and head. She had been strangled to death with a strong ligature, possibly a belt.


Patricia had been menstruating at the time of her death, leading investigators to wonder if this was what set the killer off.




 

Jamima McDonald

On August 15, 1969, Jemima McDonald, a 32-year-old mother of three, spent the night dancing at the Barrowland. The next day, Jemima's sister Margaret heard rumours in the area that young children were seen leaving an old tenement building in Mackeith Street in Bridgeton talking about 'the body'.


By Monday morning Margaret was so concerned that she visited the old building, where she found Jemima's body. Jemima had been strangled, raped and beaten to death, however, she was found fully clothed.


Witnesses said that they had seen her leaving the dance hall at midnight with a tall, slim young man with red hair.


Patricia had been menstruating at the time of her death, leading investigators to wonder if this was what set the killer off.

 

Helen Puttock

On 31st October 1969, 29-year-old Helen Puttock had gone to the Barrowland dance hall in Glasgow with her sister Jean. They chatted with two men who both called themselves John. One of the men, Castlemilk John, walked to George Square to get a bus home, leaving the sisters, and the killer, to hail a taxi.


On the journey to drop Jean off in Knightswood, the killer told the women, “I don't drink at Hogmanay. I pray.” He quoted his father as saying that dance halls were “dens of iniquity”. Jean was dropped off and Helen and the killer continued on in the taxi.


The next morning, Helen was found in the back garden of her flat at Earl Street, Scotstoun. She had been raped and strangled, the contents of her handbag scattered nearby, and her feet were covered in grass stains. Her bag was massing and she had a deep bite mark on her leg. Semen was also found on her tights, however, DNA evidence was unknown at the time and the evidence languished in an evidence locker.


Jeannie described Bible John as: "25-35 years old, reddish/fair hair, wore a blue suit and matching trousers with a white shirt. Spoke very politely and was very religious" She later remembered further details, including that he had overlapping front teeth.


She was able to give a description to a sketch artist, and the following sketch was created...


 

Profile


It's universally accepted that all three victims met with foul play at the hands of the same killer. The offender is a sexual predator and is likely religious - with a htred towards women, and promiscuity. He comes across as polite, well-spoken, and un-threatening.


All three victims were raped, beaten and strangled (strangling with the victim's stockings), and all but one woman was found without clothes. (Could this be to humiliate and dehumanise? Did he undress the victims after the attack?) We know that he bit one victim and with the severity of the beatings it could be inferred that he has serious rage issues towards women. The offender likely took trophies (missing handbags and clothes), and they were mentally competent enough to discard evidence.


The offender appears to be quite brazen, unconcerned with witnesses (like Jean), and he likely met all three victims at the Barrowland - showing he was confident enough to use the same 'hunting ground.' He also relied on public transport / walking - allowing him to travel with his victims. Interestingly he chose to leave the victims in a public place - despite having nearby access to the River Clyde. Could this suggest the perpetrator wanted his victims to be found? What would this tell us about his psychology, along with his hatred of women?


The killings appear to have stopped after Helen Puttock's murder in the summer of1969. With the profile of this offender, it's unlikely he stopped this behaviour by choice. This may mean that they went to prison, suffered from ill health, or that they relocated.


Extra Note:


One theory is that the Offender was a serial rapist, relying on women not reporting the crime. He may have used The Barrowland as his 'pick up zone', raping women and then letting them go, knowing they won't report due to being married / shame etc.


Two of the victims were menstruating at the time of their death, and it's been suggested that this may have been what prompted their murder. Part of this theory is the idea that the offender's religious beliefs mean that women on their periods are 'unclean'. Could the offender have attacked these women with the intention of raping them, but become incensed when he discovered they were on their period - and he killed them?


 

Suspect


Peter Tobin


Several criminologists and investigators have suggested that convicted serial killer Peter Tobin may have been Bible John. Tobin was convicted in May 2007 of the 2006 murder of a Polish student named Angelika Kluk, who had been raped, beaten, then stabbed to death.


He had relocated from Shettleston, Glasgow to England in 1969 after marrying his first wife, whom he had met at the Barrowland Ballroom the same year as the murders attributed to Bible John had ended.


Tobin had been in his mid-40s when he committed the 1991 murder of two teenage girls whose skeletonized bodies would subsequently be unearthed from the garden of his home in Margate, Kent in 2007. He would be convicted of these murders—alongside that of Kluk—between 2007 and 2009.


Striking contemporary visual similarities exist between Peter Tobin when aged in his 20s and the 1969 composite drawing of Bible John. In addition, all three of Tobin's former wives have given accounts of being repeatedly imprisoned, throttled, beaten and raped at his hands, and each has stated he had been driven to extreme physical violence by the female menstrual cycle.


In addition, Tobin is known to have been a staunch Roman Catholic with strong religious views.


However Jean, the woman who had shared a taxi with Bible John, insisted that Peter Tobin was not the killer.