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Cheese wire murder exclusive: ‘I was mystery man with blood on his hands in chip shop’

A Northfield dad has been cleared by detectives four decades after a witness claims she saw him on the night taxi driver George Murdoch was murdered.

Ronald Paterson, left, has come forward and could have solved one of the most enduring mysteries in the murder of Aberdeen taxi driver George Murdoch. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson
Ronald Paterson, left, has come forward and could have solved one of the most enduring mysteries in the murder of Aberdeen taxi driver George Murdoch. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

The mystery of a man seen with blood on his hands in a chip shop the night an Aberdeen taxi driver was murdered may have been solved, The Press and Journal can reveal.

George Murdoch, 58, was brutally attacked by a passenger who garrotted the cabbie with a cheese wire at Pitfodels Station Road, near Cults, on September 29 1983.

A woman working at Mr Chips on Great Western Road in Mannofield – just over a mile from the horrific crime scene – later reported her suspicious customer to detectives.

The alleged sighting sparked a major manhunt for the mystery man, who was never officially traced, and the case remains unsolved more than 40 years later.

However, The P&J has now tracked down who we believe to be that man and he told us he visited the chip shop the night BEFORE Mr Murdoch’s murder.

In an exclusive interview, Ronald Paterson, 68, from Northfield, revealed he did have blood on his hands when he went to pick up a fish supper for his wife, but says it was from gutting rabbits.

Detectives – who previously revealed they have DNA of the cheese wire killer – have now conclusively ruled Mr Paterson out of their investigation.

‘I did have blood on my hands’

Mr Paterson explained: “I did have blood on my hands but I had been gutting dead rabbits. I was setting snares because they were ruining my friend’s garden.

“After catching the rabbits, I gutted them, so I could take them home and eat them, but first stopped at the chipper to fetch my wife’s supper.”

Several weeks later, Mr Paterson said he was “shocked” when two detectives turned up at the former tyre fitter’s workplace on Willowbank Road and wanted to question him about the murder.

“Somebody reported me. I don’t know who. I can remember talking to this man. I think he wanted a reward,” he said.

“I told him that the night before the murder I had blood on my hands in the chipper. That was all I said. He must have picked it up wrong.

“It’s horrible to think that somebody thought I was the murderer. I wouldn’t even dream of doing anything like that.”

Ronald Paterson was in his mid-20s when the murder happened.

The Northfield resident believes the chip shop witness mistakenly reported seeing him on the evening Mr Murdoch died.

On the night of the murder, Mr Paterson was at home babysitting his daughter.

He said he looked after her on the same day every week while his wife and mother-in-law went late-night shopping in Aberdeen.

Former detectives, who at the time accepted that Mr Paterson had been in the chip shop the night before the killing, corroborated his alibi with the help of his relatives, eliminating him from their enquiries.

However, Police Scotland only confirmed he had been forensically ruled out as a person of interest a few weeks ago, after The Press and Journal approached them with his name.

The elusive murderer left behind a partial DNA profile and discarded the lethal weapon, leaving stricken Mr Murdoch dying on the pavement next to his sky-blue Ford Cortina taxi.

The Mr Chips shop on Great Western Road in Mannofield.

On October 19 1983, the Evening Express newspaper published a front-page story with the headline: “Police hunt man seen dripping blood”.

The article detailed a description provided by a female chip shop assistant, who claimed she saw a “young man … dripping with blood” in Mr Chips “only minutes after” Mr Murdoch was attacked around one mile away.

Her account has long perplexed many involved in the case.

Despite the murder attracting television and newspaper headlines across the UK, this witness only came forward three weeks after the crime.

She told detectives that the man aged “between 19 and 25” had entered the shop between “9 and 9.15” on the night of the murder.

He appeared “dishevelled and sweating visibly, possibly from running,” it was reported, adding: “There were three or four scratch marks on his cheek and the side of his nose, with recent bruising on the lower lid of one eye … He also had cuts on his thumb and first three fingers on his right hand which were bleeding.”

The Evening Express front page on Wednesday October 19 1983. Image: DC Thomson

Mr Paterson is adamant he had arrived at the chipper in his car the day before Mr Murdoch’s murder.

The man leading the cold case investigation into Mr Murdoch’s killer, Detective Inspector James Callander, confirmed: “[Ronald Paterson] had no injuries on his face. He only had injuries to his hands, I believe.”

Due to discrepancies between the timing and nature of injuries from the chip shop witness and Mr Paterson’s own account, detectives cannot be 100% certain they were the same person.

However, they accept that Mr Paterson’s account – as well as the possibility that that the chip shop witness got the date wrong – is a credible explanation for the bloody man sighting.

Detectives ‘working through’ potential leads generated by publicity

The police probe is firmly focused on developing investigative opportunities using the killer’s partial DNA profile.

First-generation relatives of the killer – a son, daughter, mother or father whose DNA is either already stored on the database or who volunteers a swab – could be identified using the sample.

Det Insp James Callander revealed that he’s “still working through” information generated by the publicity the case has received since 2018.

Det Insp James Callander. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

“Enquiries are continuing,” he told The Press and Journal. “A lot of work with the DNA sample remains ongoing but we still welcome any information from the public.

“I also want to re-appeal to people who may have suspicions over a family member’s involvement to please come forward.

“People have already been phoning us and it’s been relatively easy to eliminate those relatives.”

It’s thought that around 90% of the eliminations have been achieved through taking DNA swabs from people in locations around the world.

George Murdoch’s taxi on Pitfodels Station Road, next to the spot where he was found dying.

One woman in Glasgow and another in the Fochabers area were both relieved to be told that people who were connected with them were not Mr Murdoch’s murderer.

The Moray woman had been suspicious of a relative of her deceased husband, and the central belt woman’s mum previously dated a man whose brother had claimed he was the killer.

However, both men were ruled out through DNA comparisons with the deadly attacker’s genetic signature.

‘Development might spark someone else’s memory of something useful’

The victim’s nephew Alex McKay, 67, and his 68-year-old wife Robina, who are leading a campaign for his killer to be brought to justice, both praised Ronald Paterson for telling his story.

Robina said: “We don’t know if he is definitely the man from the chip shop sighting or if there is another person who’s yet to be identified, but what we can be sure of is that people’s memories of that time still haven’t been forgotten and could still be relevant.

“Perhaps this new development being reported might spark someone else’s memory of something useful that they could come forward to tell detectives who are still busily working away behind the scenes.”

Her husband Alex said he felt “really glad” that The P&J had spoken with Mr Paterson.

“For the longest time, I have been exceptionally sceptical of this chip shop tip-off,” he explained.

George Murdoch’s nephew Alex McKay and his wife Robina. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

“However, one thing that this case has taught me is not to be close-minded. Who would have guessed that 40 years on someone would come forward with relevant information?

“It proves that despite the passage of time the public still has a significant role to play in helping this ongoing live investigation.”

Mr McKay added: “Time could certainly be an obstacle for current police inquiries but it’s by no means insurmountable.

“I believe there are loads more stories like this out there which are still to be heard. I want people to continue to come forward to reveal them.

“Hopefully this development will inspire or encourage other people to speak out. We are indebted to The Press and Journal for keeping this case in the public domain.

“Without that, I don’t feel this case could get solved.”

Deadly robber used wire from cheese board set made in Midlands

Police believe Mr Murdoch died at the hands of a vicious robber who stole his victim’s wallet along with the taxi driver’s takings, anywhere between £21 and £35.

The victim had earlier picked up his last-ever fare on Queen’s Road in Aberdeen and then radioed his taxi firm’s dispatcher at 8.35pm, saying he was heading to Culter.

Two teenage boys on bicycles later witnessed Mr Murdoch struggling with the assailant and cycled to a phone box to call the police, although it was too late to help him.

The murder weapon, a cheese wire supplied with a specific cheese board not believed to have been sold in Aberdeen, was manufactured by what’s now thought to be a defunct family-run firm in the midlands of England.

A replica of the cheese wire that was used to murder George Murdoch.

Previous television appeals for information to help catch the killer have led to tip-offs from around the world, including the Midlands and as far away as the Middle East.

In September 2022, detectives launched an unsuccessful appeal to trace a potentially vital witness seen wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt at Wilson’s Sports Bar on Market Street, Aberdeen, in 2015.

The small, stocky man with a local accent, now considered in his 60s or 70s was pictured in a faceless photograph that only featured his torso and he spoke of knowledge that could unmask the murderer.

Photograph of a potentially vital witness who wore an Iron Maiden T-shirt at Wilson’s Sports Bar, Aberdeen, in 2015. Image: The George Murdoch Murder Facebook page

Last year, on the 40th anniversary of Mr Murdoch’s death, detectives revealed they had recovered a partial DNA profile belonging to Mr Murdoch’s killer.

The genetic sample was identified on evidence previously gathered following advancements in forensic analysis.

It allowed scientists to make the major breakthrough towards the end of 2018, after which the DNA profile was used to eliminate dozens of persons of interest.

The “vast majority” of “upwards of 50” people were successfully ruled out from the investigation, Detective Inspector Callander previously revealed.

A huge cash reward of £50,000 is still being offered for information leading to the confirmed identification of the so-called Cheese Wire Killer.

The money includes £35,000 of Mr and Mrs McKay’s own money, £10,000 pledged by Aberdeen Journals, and £5,000 from the taxi firm that Mr Murdoch worked for, which is now part of Rainbow City Taxis.


Anyone who has not come forward previously who believes they can assist the investigation should telephone 101 or e-mail: or private message the George Murdoch Murder Facebook page.

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