Helen Kane: One of Edinburgh’s most brutal murders remains unsolved 51 years on
It was one of Edinburgh’s most brutal murders. And 51 years on, Helen Kane’s devastated family is still left without answers.
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Mrs Kane’s body was discovered in a shallow building site excavation south of the Pleasance by a man walking his dog on May 25th, 1970. The mother of four died from head injuries after being hit with a slab.
The 25-year-old, of Greendykes Terrace in Craigmillar, had been out with friends and her husband, Joe, in Leith the previous night, leaving their company in Duke Street at about 11.25pm. A woman like her was later seen being helped into a taxi by a man, who then got in and the vehicle headed towards Easter Road.
A couple was also seen in Holyrood Park in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat - not far from where her body was found the next morning.
Detectives later appealed to any taxi drivers who may have taken a man and woman to the Dumbiedykes area between 11pm and 2am.
Police in Glasgow hunting the notorious, unidentified serial killer Bible John contacted their counterparts in the Capital to try and determine whether there could be a link with Mrs Kane's murder. But detectives later said they were "reasonably satisfied" there was no connection with Bible John, who was thought to be responsible for the killings of three women in 1968 and 1969.
A retired senior police officer linked to the World’s End murders investigation, Detective Superintendent Allan Jones, previously told the Edinburgh Evening News he suspected killer Angus Sinclair may have been responsible for Mrs Kane's murder.
Sinclair was living in Edinburgh at the time, about half a mile from where Mrs Kane’s body was found, having been released after serving six years of a ten-year sentence for sexually assaulting and murdering a seven-year-old Glasgow girl, Catherine Reehill, when he was 16.
He was quizzed by police at the time about Mrs Kane's death but his family gave him an alibi.
Sinclair was again linked to the murder decades later after his conviction in 2014 for the deaths of 17-year-old friends Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, who were last seen alive at Edinburgh’s World’s End pub on October 15, 1977. Miss Eadie’s body was found the following afternoon at Gosford Bay, Aberlady, while Miss Scott’s body was discovered a few hours later in a wheat field near Haddington.
A new forensic technique called ‘Crimelite,’ using a high intensity light of different colours, allowed Sinclair’s DNA stains that were previously hidden to be identified on the ligatures he used to strangle the girls. This evidence was crucial to sealing his fate - and he was jailed for a minimum of 37 years.
Mrs Kane’s son, Michael Kane, previously told The Sun he believes Sinclair may have murdered his mother - but the notorious killer died in prison in March 2019 before giving any closure.
Former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police Tom Wood, who headed the World’s End inquiry between 2004 and 2007, previously discounted suggestions of a possible link with Mrs Kane’s murder. He highlighted that Sinclair strangled his victims whereas Mrs Kane was struck in the head with a paving slab.
No one has ever been charged with the murder of Mrs Kane, but Police Scotland insist no murder case is closed until they resolve it.
Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes said: "Unresolved murders are cases that are never closed and Police Scotland is fully committed to identifying those people responsible for all such cases.
"Police Scotland works closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and meets regularly to review outstanding unresolved murders from across the country. Working collaboratively as the Homicide Governance Board, the potential for new investigative opportunities are regularly assessed to maximise the ability to deliver justice for grieving families, irrespective of the passage of time.
"We would appeal to anyone who has information which could assist in such cases, to contact the Police Scotland via the 101 number. Information can also be provided through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained."