The man who led the investigation into the murder of Carol Lannen admits he still lies awake at night wondering how the killer “slipped through the net”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Cameron has spoken out on the 40th anniversary of the callous crime – and insists it’s not too late to find the man who carried out the Templeton Woods murder.
Carol, a young mum with a three-month-old baby, was last seen alive on March 20 1979 getting into an estate car on Exchange Street.
At the time of the incident, police claimed she had been working as a prostitute in Dundee.
The following day, two dog walkers found Carol’s naked body, partially covered with snow, in Templeton Woods.
A murder investigation began immediately.
Just over a week later, Carol’s handbag was found on the banks of the River Don, near Kintore, in Aberdeenshire.
Many people who were involved in the initial inquiry have died – but Jim remembers Carol’s murder all too clearly.
The 85-year-old former detective has admitted he does wonder if anymore could have been done during the investigation to find those responsible.
Jim said: “I still lie awake at night wondering how the killer or killers managed to slip through the net.
“Back then we didn’t have the technology we have now.
“If the killer is still out there I think it’s still possible he’ll eventually be caught and convicted.
“I still ask myself where did I go wrong? What did I miss? What more could I have done?
“I don’t think I could have done anything else – but I suppose I will never really know.”
Jim admitted the discovery of the bag in Aberdeenshire caught him off guard.
Up until then he believed he’d been looking for someone local to Dundee – rather than a culprit further north.
Jim said: “The killer knew his way around Dundee and we had been working on the basis he could be local.
“However, when the bag was discovered, we had to consider the possibility he came from outwith the area.”
Following the discovery of her body Jim said thousands of people were interviewed.
Taxi drivers, lorry drivers and clients of Carol were all quizzed as part of the investigation.
The team was no closer to cracking the case when the shocking news that a second woman had been found filtered through – 11 months after Carol’s murder.
Elizabeth McCabe was found in the exact same area as Carol in what proved to be another twist in an incredible case.
Jim said: “Carol’s death was obviously shocking and upsetting.
“But if there could be such a thing as a ‘run of the mill’ murder case then that is how Carol’s was perceived.
“With the discovery of a second body less than a year later, the whole picture changed.
“There were so many similarities that we had to consider the possibility that we could have a serial killer on our hands. The manhunt expanded and became one of the biggest and most expensive ever seen in Scotland.”
He added: “I have an open mind about who killed Carol and Elizabeth.
“We interviewed thousands of people and could have interviewed the killer, I don’t honestly know. He simply slipped the net.”