Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bible John

Enter DNA Technology

The University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow

In February 1996, Marie Cassidy of Glasgow University supervised the removal of John M.'s body from its grave and took samples for DNA comparison to the evidence remaining from Helen's crime scene. Cassidy told the Daily Record that she was certain that the test "...will [leave] no doubt whether this is Bible John or not," and showed her complete confidence in the procedure she would be directing: "If DNA testing had been around in the days of Jack the Ripper, things could have been very different."

Regrettably, the media splashed John M.'s name and history all over Scotland, forcing his family into an unwanted spotlight, with his children and relatives being hounded for statements before the testing had been completed. Numerous acquaintances from John M.'s past gave interviews about whether they thought he could have been the killer and his life was examined under a microscope with every shortcoming being trumpeted in the headlines.

Similarly, Helen's husband was interviewed for the Feb. 5, 1996, Daily Record and decried the most recent portrait of his wife painted by some of the media as "a tart. That's what hurts most. [She was] a terrific mum and a vivacious girl."

Unfortunately, the promise for swift test results wasn't as swift as hoped, and it wasn't until July 5 that the Daily Record reported that "Scotland's top law officer...confessed DNA tests...failed (John M.) to semen stains found on Helen's clothing or prove he made a bite mark on her wrist."

The following day the Daily Mail published a statement made by Jean where she claimed "...she always knew [John M.] was not [Helen's] killer [and] she repeatedly told Strathclyde Police they suspected the wrong man."

The New York Daily News reported that even before the DNA testing was completed, several newspapers had "flatly concluded that [John M.[ was Bible John." When the "... DNA evidence showed [he] was innocent...the government apologized to the man's family."

John M. was quietly re-buried and the investigation went nowhere for eight years.


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