Cracking the case
Cracking the case
In the case of Peter Tobin, his sentencing to life in jail is far from the end of the story. The police have set up Operation Anagram to pursue the outstanding 14,000 separate lines of inquiry. It is the largest investigation of its kind ever set up in the UK. While Tobin will still not talk to the authorities, it’s been reported that he boasted to an inmate that he was responsible for nearly 50 killings.
The BBC’s Crimewatch put out a new appeal for information on Tobin in December 2009 and updated again in January 2010. They are appealing both for specific information and with help identifying the unclaimed mementos, such as jewellery, that were in Tobin’s possession. Does each one of these unclaimed rings, watches and necklaces represent yet another victim of Tobin?
Peter Tobin is suspected to be involved in the following murders:
Barbara Mayo, 24, a teacher who left her London home in October 1970 to hitchhike north. Six days later, her raped and strangled body was found in a wood near Chesterfield. The murder sparked one of the then biggest UK manhunts but no one was ever caught. Soon after Tobin was jailed, police contacted one of Mayo’s surviving sisters.
Then there is law student Pamela Exall, 22, who disappeared in 1974 while holidaying in Norfolk. Norfolk was Tobin’s usual destination for his holidays.
Jessie Earl, 22, rang her parents to say she would soon visit but who instead went missing from her place in the seaside town, Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 1980. Tobin lived 25 miles from her. Her bones and bra were found nine years later and forensics indicated that the bra had been used to tie her wrists. (The same method used in the killing of Dinah McNicol.) After Tobin was sentenced for his second murder, police visited her surviving parents and took oral swabs and some of her personal items for DNA matching.
The same year as Jessie Earl went missing, 1980, Patsy Morris, 14, was strangled on Hounslow Heat, West London.
Then there is the notorious ‘Babes in the Woods’ killings of Karen Hadaway, 10, and Nicola Fellows, 9, in Brighton in 1986. The young girls were found sexually assaulted and strangled in Wild Park. However, Nicola’s uncle, a retired police officer is sceptical that there’s a connection.
Another Eastbourne connection is the missing Louise Kay. She was 18 when she disappeared in June 1988. She’d last been seen driving her father’s Ford Fiesta. Police believe that Tobin was working at a nearby hotel at the time.
But it’s thought that Peter Tobin’s killing spree could stretch back to the late 1960s. When a retired detective superintendent, Joe Jackson, saw Tobin’s photograph, heard his MO, and made the religious link over the killing of the Angelika Kluk, he remembered the suspect he had been after as a detective constable.
In the dying days of the sixties, over a 20 month period, three women were picked up from dance halls. For each woman, it was their last ever Saturday night.
They were Patricia Docker, 25, Jemima McDonald, 32, and Helen Puttock, 29. It is their ages that some believe destroy the connection because all of Tobin’s victims have since been much younger. But Joe Jackson believes that the photo-fit of ‘Bible John’ bears a striking resemblance to photographs of Tobin from that time. Some have even speculated that the fact that all three women were menstruating and might have refused sex as being the stressor that caused him to start killing.
But with no help from Peter Tobin, the true extent of his crimes may never be known. Estimates vary but even conservative estimates believe he is responsible for at least twelve deaths.
If the thrice married father knows, he’s not telling.
"The problem with psychopaths is that they tend to be stuck at the cognitive and psychological level of three or four-year– olds. They don't mature past that egocentric, self-centred, narcissistic, all-powerful stage when they don't feel they are to blame for anything."
(Scottish profiler who inspired TV show ‘Cracker’, quoted in Scotland on Sunday)