But his daughter Vivienne, 16, invalid wife Marion, 45, and her sister Margaret Brown, 41, were at home. They were all shot in the head at close range and Manuel escaped with a haul of jewellery and other items. The victims were found next morning when the home help ran from the house to tell the postman: "There's been a murder. As a huge police probe was launched, it emerged the killer had helped himself to food before leaving the house.
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- The Beast of Birkenshaw: Life of Serial Killer Peter Manuel.
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During the inquiry, Manuel became an early suspect and cops examined his clothes but there was nothing linking him to the triple shooting. He also went off the police radar when he was jailed in October for 18 months for breaking into a canteen. They began to suspect Watt - who had admitted being unfaithful to his wife.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Peter Manuel, Scotland’s Most Notorious Serial Killer
Police reckoned he could have driven from his fishing base to Glasgow, killed the women then returned. There were eyewitnesses who claimed they saw him driving that night in the Glasgow area. He was eventually charged and held for 67 days.
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Stunned by the allegations, he hired famous lawyer Lawrence Dowdall who soon started receiving strange letters from a con in Barlinnie. The letters were from Peter Manuel, who claimed Watt was innocent and that another, unnamed, Bar-L inmate had admitted to the killings to him in the jail. In more letters, he gave specific details of the murders only known to those who had knowledge of exactly what happened inside the death house that night.
Dowdall met Manuel in jail several times. After Manuel and Watt were released, the lawyer brokered at least two personal meetings between the men. And by New Year's Day , the number of unsolved killings had grown by four.
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First, on December 28, , Isabelle Cooke was murdered as she walked to a dance at a school in Uddingston, Lanarkshire. Early on January 1, , the Smart family were killed in their Uddingston home in a chillingly similar manner as the Watts. They were shot through the head as they lay in bed. The killer helped himself to some biscuits and fed the family cat before leaving.
He was also seen in the Smart family car in the days before their bodies were found - and even gave a young policeman a lift to work in it. But all the time the net was closing in on Manuel, the man who talked too much and craved attention. He had become the main suspect, partly due to his attention-seeking letters to Dowdall and his meetings with Watt. He was finally arrested at his parents' home on January 14 and confessed next day in the presence of his mum and dad after telling a detective: "Bring my mother and father here and I will see them in your presence.
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And I will take you to where the girl Cooke is buried. Manuel said to his parents: "I have done some terrible things. I killed the girl Kneilands at East Kilbride. And I shot three women in the house at Burnside. He also confessed to the shootings of the Smarts and the murder of Isabelle Cooke. Then he took cops to where she was buried. The full series.
The Beast of Birkenshaw: Life of Serial Killer Peter Manuel
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