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The identity of the man in the taxi in the infamous Bible John case was “covered up” by top police officers, it has been claimed.
Helen Putlock was murdered in 1969 after a man sharing a cab home with her quoted a Bible verse.
Her brutal murder was linked to the murders of two other women – Patricia Docker, 25, and Jemima Macdonald – in Glasgow over an 18-month period between 1968 and 1969.
Now, a BBC podcast claims there is evidence that the man in the taxi was John Irvine McInnes, a cousin of a senior police officer.
There is no evidence that Mr McInnes actually committed the murder.
It said his name was known to top officials at the time – including legendary Detective Superintendent Joe Beattie – but it never appeared in official records investigating the murder.
Unknown killers have loomed large in Scotland for decades.
The murders took place after he met the women at the Barrowland Ballroom in the city’s east end.
The new BBC podcast, Bible John: Creation of a Serial Killer, interviews Senior Detective Chief Inspector Jim McEwan and Detective Constable Brian Hughes, who reopened the cold case in 1995.
They said their investigation found enough evidence that John Irvine McInnes, who killed himself in 1980, was the man in the taxi that the procurator fiscal would have issued a warrant for his arrest had he lived.
60s killer bible john file photofit A police forensics team has exhumed the remains of John Irvin McInnes, who they believe may be Bible John, from a grave in Stonehouse Cemetery.
But they believe top cop Joe Beattie helped keep his name out of the frame because he was good friends with one of the suspects’ detectives.
As a result of the 1995 review, the body of John Irvine McInnes was exhumed so that a DNA sample could be tested against evidence found on a pair of tights from Helen Putt.
There was no match and experts would later declare the results inconclusive, officially clearing McInnes of any involvement.
But in 1995 detectives told the podcast they were still convinced he was the man in the taxi, who everyone believed was Bible John and whose name was left out of the investigation by senior police chiefs.
Helen Puttock was last seen alive on Thursday 30 October 1969.
Bible John’s second victim, Jemima MacDonald, 32, a mother of three, was found near her Bridgeton home in 1969.
He got a taxi back to Scotstown with his sister and a man he knew in Barrowland called John.
In the taxi, the man spoke of his disapproval of married people who went to dancehalls and quoted something from the Bible about “adulterous” women.
Helen’s sister Jean wasn’t worried when she got out of the taxi and left Helen with the man.
The next morning, Helen’s body was discovered by a man walking his dog in Scotstoun.
More than 7,000 people involved in the killings were spoken to and police took 4,000 statements but no arrests were made.
Jim McEwan and Brian Hughes told him their first major concern was why a “heavy team” of top detectives, including Joe Beattie, went to Stonehouse in Lanarkshire, where John Irvine McInnes lived, two days after Helen Puttock’s body was found.
Mr McEwan and Mr Hughes said that when they asked John Beatty about the investigation before he died in 2000, the former top detective had tears in his eyes.
“There were tears coming from her eyes – tears, and it’s something I’ve never mentioned before,” Mr Hughes said.
The pair said they also found inconsistencies in the recording of the identity parade which they claimed Helen’s sister Jean McInnes had never seen.
Bible John’s first victim, Pat Docker, was a 25-year-old nurse who visited the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow’s East End in February 1968.
The 1995 team said the taxi driver, who gave the two sisters and the man a ride, was also not asked to identify McInnes.
Jim McEwan and Brian Hughes visited former top police officer Joe Beattie, who was very ill at Glasgow Royal Infirmary at this time.
He said he was clear that the man was paraded in front of Jean, his star witness, and that he failed to pick him out.
However, the pair could not find the suspect’s name in the archive files.
The detective who knew the suspect claimed that he didn’t really work on Helen’s murder investigation, he only helped by phone, and – even then – the investigation was two to three months away.
However, he confirmed that the suspect in Stonehouse, who had seen Joe Beatty, was his cousin John Irvine McInnes.
Jim McEwan told the podcast: “He doesn’t appear anywhere in the initial statement. We are the ones who exposed him. John Irvine McInnes does not appear anywhere in the 1969 inquiry.”
The 1995 team investigated the case and found further discrepancies and missing evidence, such as a card bearing the name of Moylan’s Furniture Store, where John Irvine McInnes worked.
They believe the card was found at the scene of the crime, later lost or moved.