Police have heard “some names crop up time and time again” while investigating the unsolved murder of an Aberdeen taxi driver, a retired detective has revealed.
“Lots” of people have been in detectives’ sights during the ongoing hunt for whoever killed George “Dod” Murdoch.
The 58-year-old was garotted with a cheese wire after the cabbie picked up his last-ever passenger on the city’s Queen’s Road during the night of September 29 1983.
Retired Detective Inspector Gary Winter, who has previously tried to identify the mystery man behind the brutal death, said: “Some names crop up time and time again”.
Asked how many people detectives have considered persons of interest throughout the long-running inquiry, Mr Winter replied: “There have been lots of people”.
But almost 40 years on from the chilling tragedy, police have never officially assigned suspect status to a single person.
The Press and Journal previously reported Mr Winter’s comments about encountering “a lot of noise” surrounding the notorious north-east case.
“If you went out and stopped ten people today in Aberdeen, one of them would probably think that they could give you information about somebody they’d heard about that had been responsible for George Murdoch’s murder,” he explained.
“But a lot of it is bravado, myth that’s built up over time, or they’ve got the name wrong.”
Mr Murdoch, 58, radioed his dispatcher at 8.35pm on the night he died, saying he was heading to Culter.
But the “gentle and kind-hearted” driver was soon after found dying on the bloodied pavement of Pitfodels Station Road, Cults.
Police officers made the grim discovery after two teenage boys on bicycles witnessed Dod struggling with his killer and cycled to a phone box to call for help.
£50,000 cash reward for information on Cheese Wire Killer
In recent years, Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team has made re-appeals for information to help investigators crack the case for good.
The current Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector James Callander suggested a huge cash reward of £50,000 for information could be the key.
“This can only be solved by the public,” he said, adding: “We’re just hoping that somebody has a conscience and comes forward.
“It just needs to be a member of the public to be that final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
“I firmly believe someone out there knows the gentleman who did it – whether it’s a son or a daughter or a wife, or the man who’s done it.”
‘There are very plausible names the police look into’
Dod’s 66-year-old nephew Alex McKay and Mr McKay’s brother were the first to pledge £10,000 towards a potential payout for information leading to the confirmed identification of the so-called Cheese Wire Killer.
That sum was matched by The Press and Journal and Evening Express newspapers in 2021 and increased last year with another £5,000 from the taxi firm that Mr Murdoch worked for, which is now part of Rainbow City Taxis.
Mr McKay and his wife Robina then put forward another £25,000, doubling the reward to a total of £50,000.
Earlier this month, Mr McKay told The P&J that he feels confident there is still a good chance of his family finding out who took their loved one away from them.
“It’s not always the same names that come up,” he said, adding: “There are other names and very plausible names that the police look into”.
Hopes to trace potential new witness fading
Mr McKay welcomed a recent Facebook appeal to trace a man who was photographed in Wilson’s Sports Bar on Aberdeen’s Market Street in 2015, wearing a T-shirt from Iron Maiden’s The Final Frontier tour of Germany.
He added: “I think it captured the public’s imagination. People were looking at that, trying to figure out if they knew the person”.
In September last year, The Press and Journal exclusively reported that detectives were trying to trace the potential new witness who had “indicated that they have some new information” – according to police.
But a year on from the major development, Police Scotland is “nowhere nearer identifying him” and hopes of doing so are fading fast.
Ahead of the 40th anniversary of Dod’s murder next week, Det Insp Callander told The P&J “there have been a lot” of persons of interest over the decades.
“How they come to our attention is pretty much from the public,” he explained.
“Some of them have better stories than others. Some of them you can dismiss quite quickly and are easy to eliminate, others not so, but we eventually have got there with quite a lot of them.”
The senior officer, who confirmed he’s “never been close” to identifying a suspect, also said “nobody of real significance” who came “anywhere close” to being a suspect has ever been in the spotlight since 1983.
“A lot of the names we’ve had over the years is hearsay. It’s not actual evidence. It’s come via third parties, not a person who really knows.
“The same name comes up time again by the same people.”
However, he went on to explain: “If we had five people telling us the same name, that would be very significant and interesting.
“We’d obviously then look at that very closely, but that’s never really been the case.”
A new podcast series that explores the grim murder mystery will launch next week Friday.
The five-part audio feature is a mixture of documentary and drama and has been produced and narrated by Ryan Ogilvie, the owner of the production company Mind the Gap Creative.
A trailer for the programme has already been released.
Anyone who has not come forward previously who believes they can assist the investigation should telephone 101 or e-mail: SCDHOLMESAberdeen@scotland.police.uk or private message the George Murdoch Murder Facebook page. For all the latest court cases in Aberdeen as well as crime and breaking incidents, join our Facebook group.