Trail for Templeton Woods murderer went cold, recalls former reporter Sandy

Sandy McGregor
Sandy McGregor

The lack of a prime suspect was just one of the distinctive features in the murder of Carol Lannen, according to one of the journalists who covered the case.

It was a murder which left the whole of Dundee reeling.

On March 21, 1979, the body of 18-year-old Carol Lannen was discovered in Templeton Woods.

Now, 40 years on, in a series of articles the Evening Telegraph looks back at the murder that shocked Dundee, and asks whether it’s too late to find her killer.

Former DC Thomson chief reporter Sandy McGregor wrote extensively about the deaths of both Carol and Elizabeth McCabe in his 2013 book The Law Killers – dedicating a chapter to the Templeton Woods murders.

Having covered many cases of crime in his time as a reporter with the Evening Telegraph among other newspapers, Sandy was well versed on the ins and outs of a police investigation. But he admits the Carol Lannen case proved to be one of the more unusual he reported on during his career.

“The inquiry attracted national media interest but nothing produced the breakthrough that had initially appeared to be so imminent,” said Sandy.

“It didn’t help that there was no obvious motive. Unusually for such an intensive inquiry not a single serious suspect emerged.

“As the months passed the leads dried up and the size of the operation was scaled down.

“It regained impetus twice within the space of a few weeks, 20 months after it began, first with the discovery of a woman’s bloodstained clothing in a lay-by on the outskirts of Aberdeen, seemingly deposited by the driver of a red Ford Cortina.

“Then a woman reported that she had been picked up in the centre of Aberdeen and assaulted but not injured by someone said to be driving a red car.

“Those heading the Dundee murder hunt were alerted to both incidents but once more seemingly promising developments dissolved into nothing.”

Sandy added: “Despite the passage of time the mystery continued to attract headlines and every newspaper article or TV broadcast surprisingly brought forth fresh scraps of information and new witnesses.”