Woman who heard scream holds key to 61-year Moira Anderson mystery

Superintendent Pat Campbell at Monkland canal, a location linked to the disapearance of Moira Anderson, who disappeared from her grandmother's home in Coatbridge 60 years ago. Picture: John Devlin
Superintendent Pat Campbell at Monkland canal, a location linked to the disapearance of Moira Anderson, who disappeared from her grandmother's home in Coatbridge 60 years ago. Picture: John Devlin
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A woman who heard a scream and saw footprints in the snow could hold vital clues to the 61-year-old mystery of a schoolgirl’s disappearance.

Moira Anderson was 11 when she vanished in 1957 after popping out to buy a birthday card for her mum.

Her disappearance remains one of the longest-running mysteries in Scottish criminal history. Detectives from Police Scotland’s Cold Case Unit believed the woman who heard a scream, now living in France, is a credible witness. She was walking back to a remote farmhouse on the outskirts of Coatbridge, when she heard the cry. In the heavy snow she spotted a set of footprints, which the couple in the farmhouse knew nothing about. The woman, in her late teens at the time, still suffers nightmares about the incident. She has now given a statement to police, at least 15 years after she contacted Sandra Brown, daughter of convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore. This Friday will be the 61st anniversary of the 11-year-old Coatbridge schoolgirl’s disappearance on February 23, 1957. Sandra Brown, the daughter of Moira’s suspected killer and who has campaigned relentlessly to find her body, believes two people could help crack the case.

One is a conductress believed to have been on the bus where Moira was last seen while the other is an ex-pat who has lived most of her life in France.

The Crown Office has indicated Gartshore would have been charged with Moira’s murder were he still alive.

Sandra wrote a book blaming her father for Moira’s disappearance and later received a letter from the woman now living in France.

Sandra said: “She told me she came off the bus in the town centre and walked back to the farmhouse, which was owned by a family friend. The road she had to walk along turns into a farm track and is very isolated. She heard a scream and then saw footprints, which she didn’t understand because no one would be on this lonely farm track late at night in the snow.

“She told the couple in the farmhouse, but felt they dismissed her concerns even though she thought it should have been reported to the police.”

Police have made several attempts to locate Moira’s remains in recent years. Five years ago, a burial plot at Old Monkland Cemetery was exhumed and last year sections of Monkland Canal were searched, as was land near a farm.