Dundee Templeton Woods murder suspect never found amid fears a serial killer was on the loose

News clippings at the time of the crime show a moustached suspect
News clippings at the time of the crime show a moustached suspect

The last time Carol Lannen was seen alive she was climbing into a car in what was then Dundee’s red light district. It was 7.50pm on March 20 1979.

Wearing a black velvet jacket, the 18-year-old was picked up by the driver of a red Ford Cortina on the corner of Exchange Street and Commercial Street.

The following afternoon her naked body was found partially covered with snow in Templeton Woods. Her handbag and clothes were missing.

Prostitutes who had seen Carol get into the car described the driver as a thin man, with a pale complexion, short dark hair with sideburns and a moustache.

He was said to be aged 25-30.

The description led to the police issuing a photo fit of the man – the first time officers in Dundee had taken such a measure.

Then 11 days later, Carol’s handbag and some of her clothing were discovered about 85 miles away on the banks of the River Don near Kintore, in Aberdeenshire. The net was widened and in the following weeks more than 7,000 people were interviewed about Carol’s murder.

However, the trail ran cold and the hunt was gradually scaled down.

And then, almost a year later, the body of Elizabeth McCabe was discovered in Templeton Woods, sparking fears that a serial killer was on the loose in Dundee.

Second body made police fear they had a serial killer on their hands

With the discovery of Elizabeth McCabe’s body in February 1980, the murder hunt concentrating on Carol Lannen’s death gained new impetus.

Officers leading the investigation feared they had a serial killer on their hands.

Elizabeth’s body was discovered naked and strangled only 150 yards from where Carol had been found.

The 20-year-old nursery nurse, pictured, vanished after a night out in Teazer’s nightclub in Union Street on February 11.

It was to be another two weeks before her body was discovered in the woods – very close to where Carol’s body was found.

For the first time it was considered that a serial killer might be loose in the city.

However, although there were similarities in the two cases, there wasn’t enough evidence to convince police that they were dealing with one individual.

Unlike in Carol’s case, however, someone was eventually tried for Elizabeth’s death.

In 2007, Vincent Simpson walked free from the High Court in Edinburgh after the jury returned a not guilty verdict.