Unsolved murder files that stay open
WITH the discovery of Vicky Hamilton's body buried in a garden in Kent, the 16-year mystery over the schoolgirl's disappearance is finally beginning to unravel.
But while Vicky's relatives can at last begin to grieve, for other families in the Lothians, the wait for answers goes on.
Seven unsolved murders from the last three decades remain on the books for Lothian and Borders Police.
For many of the killings still baffling officers, only the sudden appearance of a vital witness or a confession will bring the inquiry to a successful conclusion.
But the discovery of Vicky's body under a child's sandpit at a house in Margate showed that cases are never truly closed.
A police insider said: "Someone is always responsible for the care and maintenance of the files.
"Events can turn very quickly and everything changes. Sometimes it's a matter of waiting and staying ever vigilant."
Modern science has meant that DNA samples can yield crucial breakthroughs years after they were first collected.
The force has also set up a "cold case" squad to review old files and search for new directions to take the investigation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Livingstone, head of CID, said: "We have a small number of outstanding murder cases, all of which are reviewed periodically with a view to uncovering any new evidence.
"Advances in forensic and investigative techniques allow us the opportunity to approach these cases from a different perspective.
"Although some of these cases are now decades old, that does not mean that we treat them any less seriously.
"The tragic circumstances in which these people died have not been forgotten, neither by their families or Lothian and Borders Police. That is why we are committed to bringing all of those responsible for these crimes to justice.
"We would urge anyone who has any information regarding these cases to contact us."
NEIL McCANN, 37
EX-BOXER Neil McCann was stabbed to death in Craigmillar Castle Loan on February 20, 1974.
Detectives think the intended target in a contract killing was probably the old schoolfriend he was drinking with that night.
Mr McCann and Charlie McGranaghan had been drinking in the Green Tree pub in Gorgie Road.
Mr McCann was almost at his girlfriend's home in Craigmillar Castle Loan when a silver or bronze Ford Capri pulled up. Two men jumped out and Mr McCann was beaten and stabbed in the head and body.
Detectives believed McGranaghan played a part in the Edinburgh underworld scene. In November 1981, he was found stabbed to death in London.
A force insider said: "Fresh information would probably be needed to solve the case as there was little to go on forensically."
J RALPH McINTOSH, 71
MR McINTOSH was beaten to death with a blunt instrument before his body was found in his home in Muirfield Drive in Gullane, East Lothian by a neighbour on January 26, 1982.
Officers were baffled about why the perpetrator did not take money or any other valuables from the pensioner's house.
Mr McIntosh was an unassuming, quiet-living widower who had only lived in Gullane for about seven years after moving there with his wife, Rita.
A police source said: "The feeling was this murder was a crime committed by someone locally.
"Either that, or Mr McIntosh had disturbed someone.
"There was not much to go on forensically so solving this case may take the killer talking or another person putting them in the frame."
SHEILA ANDERSON, 27
VICE girl Sheila Anderson suffered horrific injuries consistent with a car being run backwards and forwards over her body.
Her death was thought by police to have been as the result of a transaction with a client that went badly wrong.
Police admit they never had a suspect in mind - and have never been able to trace the car.
The body of the mother-of-two was found shortly before midnight on April 7, 1983, by two CB radio enthusiasts at Gypsy Brae, off West Shore Road in Granton.
A police insider close to the case said: "Unfortunately the response from the public was poor.
"Once again, it may need someone confessing or providing police with a name. DNA evidence could be problematic as she was working as a prostitute and may have been with several men that night."
HINIFAN BIBI, 47
MOTHER-OF-TWO Hinifan Bibi plunged to her death from her top-floor flat after trying to escape a fire started by vandals in November 1983.
Burning paper had been pushed through the letterbox of her home at Sycamore Walk in Blackburn, West Lothian.
Mrs Bibi's son, Nadeen, 23, and daughter Famida, 21, were also seriously injured when they jumped more than 30 feet on to a bank roof below their home.
Vandals had been plaguing the block of flats for months before the tragedy and had pushed burning paper through several other homes.
Detectives treated the incident as a murder inquiry but are yet to make any arrests.
ANN BALLANTINE, 20
ANN BALLANTINE was strangled and her body was stored for up to two months before it was finally thrown into the Union Canal.
Ann, who lived alone in a flat in Yeaman Place, was last seen in November 1986. She was reported missing when she didn't turn up at the family home for Christmas. Her naked body was found in the water at Lower Gilmore Place.
Detectives believed her killer kept her body hidden until he dumped her, wrapped in a cloth bundle, but where she was kept has remained a mystery.
Detectives released few details regarding her death but several days after her body was found, police frogmen were out searching the rubbish-strewn canal for clues.
Her black shoulder bag, her black leather jerkin, a brass petrol lighter with her initials, and two keys on a keyring were never recovered. Neither were a camera and a small brown photo album missing from her home.
She was known to have a wide circle of friends, including members of the "biker fraternity" and a group of girls that she had gone to Trinity Academy with.
ALEXANDER HAYDEN, 41
THE Edinburgh tramp was found clubbed to death in March, 1990, in a city close.
A murder hunt was scaled down after detectives hit a wall of silence.
Six years later, a new lead sparked a fresh police drive to find the killer as tests were ordered on material found at the murder scene.
But no charges have been brought in the murder of Mr Hayden, who was originally from Glasgow.
He was killed in the doorway he slept in at Old Fleshmarket Close.
BILLY SIBBALD, 48
PORTOBELLO pub owner Billy Sibbald disappeared on October 8, 2002, after telling his wife Julie he was going to meet some business associates.
Three months later his body was found in remote woodland by a lay-by on the A1 near Musselburgh by a man walking his dog.
The father of three, who lived in Joppa and ran the Pop Inn, had been stabbed to death.
Detectives suspect his death was the result of a gangland hit.
A police insider said: "Almost no information came through. It was difficult to progress."
Accused who walked free
IN recent years, three sets of unsolved murders from the Lothians have reached the courts, but the accused walked free on each occasion.
Perhaps the most infamous case was the killing of teenagers Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, last seen outside the World's End pub on the Royal Mile in October 1977.
Their bodies were found the following day in East Lothian but detectives were never able to bring charges.
A re-examination of DNA evidence pointed the finger at convicted killer Angus Sinclair, 62. But his trial dramatically collapsed in October this year when a judge ruled there was "no case to answer".
In March, the family of farm worker Robert Higgins, whose body was found dumped at Craigs Quarry, near Kirkliston, in May 1995, were "devastated" after a man was acquitted of the killing.
A jury at the High Court found the murder charge against William Arthurs not proven. He had been brought to trial following advances in DNA evidence.
Louise Tiffney vanished from her home in Edinburgh's Dean Village in May 2002 and her son Sean Flynn was later charged with murder
But he walked free after the jury returned a not proven verdict at the High Court in Perth in 2005.
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