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 Monster On The Loose

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Number of posts : 399
Location : Glasgow
Registration date : 2008-09-03

PostSubject: Monster On The Loose   Wed Sep 03, 2008 6:23 pm

Unsolved: Sex Killings... He Raped And Throttled Poor Ann, Then Stored Her Body Before Dumping It In A Canal

THE seconds ticked away to midnight and Christmas. It was usually such a happy time in that home, a time for family. But not that year - a young daughter was missing.

They had last seen her a few weeks before, in November 1986. The beautiful, raven-haired, young woman was her usual, upbeat, smiling self.

But that had been four weeks before and now they were worried.

Ann Ballantine didn't make it to her parents' home on Christmas Day either.

Her mother and father sat with their younger son and daughter and tried to be as cheery as possible. But they were worried. Very worried.

Ann Ballantine lived alone. She was 20 years old and an independent spirit. Not the type of daughter her parents would see every day. But they saw her often enough and now she hadn't been round for such a long time.

A few days after that last meeting, they'd asked her friends if they'd seen her. Sure enough, some had spotted her around her home city of Edinburgh.

But five days later a pal phoned Ann's parents to say she hadn't turned up for a meeting. That wasn't like their Ann at all.

Then they really started to worry.

A few weeks before, Ann had split up with her boyfriend, Joe Burden. Yet she hadn't been in the doldrums. She was upbeat, full of plans.

She'd moved into her own flat in Yeaman Place near Dalry Road.

Her parents, Graham and Isobel, went round and knocked on the door. Receiving no reply, they slipped notes and some money through the letterbox.

"Phone us, even if you're skint," they appealed. No phone call was received. That wasn't like Ann at all. She cared for people - especially her family.

Ann might well be broke. She was unemployed and money was tight.

But she did work as a volunteer in the Canongate Youth Project and with other kids, especially those with disabilities.

She might have loved loud, heavy metal music, hung around The Venue club in Calton Road and had some fierce-looking biker pals, but Ann loved life and children.

As Isobel and Graham's miserable Christmas turned into Boxing Day, there was still no sign of her.

That's when they made the big decision - go to the cops.

The police wouldn't normally treat a missing 20-year-old as urgent. People move away without telling their relatives for 101 reasons.

But Ann had already been missing for four weeks. A beautiful young woman, living on her own, who had made no attempt to contact her family who she was so close to. The cops pulled out all the stops.

Gaining access to her flat, the police could see there was no sign of a breakin or any struggle.

It looked just as it would have done if Ann had popped out for a few hours but her parents noticed something strange.

SOME things were missing. A black leather jerkin, a brass petrol lighter with her initials engraved, a camera, photo album and a black shoulder bag.

It was a strange collection - unlikely to be considered as valuable loot by a burglar and hardly the collection Ann would pack if she were going away for a while.

The missing items were interesting but no more than that.

As the police trawled the city streets, tracking down Ann's friends and her exboyfriend, day after day they came up with the same answer - Ann had disappeared off the face of the Earth.

As the weeks crawled by, her family's despair must have sunk to new depths. Then one day Graham Ballantine took his car to a garage and heard news that shook his very soul.

Graham went home immediately to see his wife. At the garage, he'd been told that three men had spotted a young woman's body in the freezing waters of the nearby Union Canal.

Police crammed the area and wouldn't let anyone near the site. Could it be their Ann?

Soon came the dread knock on their door. It was the police with the worst of news. Ann's naked body had been found wrapped in a carpet in the canal.

As her distraught mother wept, the police went about the business of finding out all they could about Ann's death.

Ann had been strangled - always a worrying sign for the police.

Strangulation takes time and effort. The killer watches the victim first kick out and struggle, then slowly ebb to unconsciousness and death.

Many stranglers get a kick out of killing, a taste for it. Ann's murderer might well strike again.

The forensic bods came up with intriguing information.

Though Ann had been dead for almost two months, she had only been in the canal for a few days.

Her murderer must have stored the body for all that time before slipping her into the canal. What type of cold killer could do that?

Her poor parents weren't even allowed to see their daughter, so advanced was the decomposition.

The police were certain that Ann had been raped but the length of time between her death and being found meant that much evidence had been destroyed.

Police frogmen dragged the dirty waters of the canal for days and uniformed officers walked every inch of the area.

Others searched the warehouses, disused garages and derelict buildings. Still they didn't find where Ann might have lain.

Nor did they find that strange list of items missing from her flat. A photo album, clothes and that brass lighter with her initials - personal items.

Had the killer collected mementos? A strangler who liked to keep some personal memory of his victims? Was a serial sex killer on the prowl in Edinburgh?

THE months rolled on and still no further clues emerged. Eventually Isobel and Graham were allowed to lay their beautiful daughter to rest.

There was just one condition - she had to be buried rather than cremated, in case she had to be exhumed in the future.

Yet shortly before her death, Ann had said to her mother that she couldn't stand the thought of lying in the ground in a coffin.

She hated spiders, worms and every sort of bug and wanted to be cremated. Even after so much pain, her parents were denied the opportunity to grant her last wish.

The years rolled painfully by and there was no sign of Ann's killer playing his sick and deadly game on other young women.

Police became more and more convinced that whoever her killer was knew her well.

An everyday man who afterwards had gone about his business, lived his life as if nothing had happened.

Akiller walking free.

Lothian and Borders Police have refused to give up on Ann. A cold case team are reviewing the inquiry and forensic evidence is being re-examined.

While forensic science and DNA have progressed so much over the past two decades, the truth is that much of the evidence will have deteriorated beyond use due to the time her body lay before discovery and those few days in the water.

The carpet Ann was found in has been kept, though, and some cops are hopeful that fibre analysis will now prove to be useful.

It is only a little comfort to Isobel and Graham as they face yet another terrible, painful Christmas.

For 22 years, that day hasn't been a day of joy.

For 22 years, they have waited and remembered their daughter who didn't come home. Their daughter who will never come home again.

Ann's naked body had been found wrapped in a carpet in the water
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