Emma Caldwell was last seen in Glasgow on Monday 4 April 2005. The following month, her body was discovered by a dog walker in isolated woodland in Lanarkshire. Despite a massive murder hunt, her killer was never found. Now, 12-years since she vanished, cold case detectives have launched a fresh search for evidence. Will Emma's killer finally be brought to justice?
Emma Caldwell grew up in a loving home. Her parents, Margaret and William, called her ‘our little snowdrop’.
Only at 22, Emma dropped a bombshell.
‘I think I’m a heroin addict,’ she admitted to her stunned parents. They took her to hospital, stayed up all night talking to her. Hoped Emma, whose big sister Karen had died of cancer two years earlier, was on the road to recovery.
Yet she spiralled further into addiction, left home. She still kept in close contact with her parents, but hid the extent of her addiction from them. It was only when she vanished on 4 April 2005, that they discovered Emma, 27, had been forced into working as a prostitute in Glasgow’s red light district to fund her habit.
Five weeks later her naked body was found in a woodland ditch in Roberton, near Biggar, 40 minutes drive from Glasgow city centre.
Emma Caldwell was one of seven unsolved murders involving Glasgow prostitutes that decade, sparking a major operation and rumours of a serial killer. Regular clients were interviewed, but none arrested. Police eventually ruled out the theory as sex workers were statistically more likely to encounter violence.
Two years after the murder of Emma Caldwell four Turkish men were charged after police bugged a Glasgow cafe as part of a £4million covert operation. Yet the case collapsed in 2008.
The trail ran cold. Sadly, Emma’s dad, William, died in 2011, aged 62. But even on his death bed, he hoped justice would done.
Now, 12-years on from Emma’s disappearance, Margaret has pleaded for anyone who knows the killer to come forward.
‘No time limit on justice’
‘I will never give up fighting for justice,’ she warned. ‘As long as the killer is still out there another life could be in danger. If you are the one who took Emma’s life then I ask you to come forward, living with the guilt of taking her life must be dreadful. But if you have no conscience, then be aware my family and I will never give up on fighting for justice on Emma’s behalf. We can do no less for we love and miss her every day, not just today,’ Margaret said.
And cold case detectives have also launched a ‘detailed forensic search’ for fresh evidence, scouring the woods where Emma’s body was found. Officers armed with metal detectors are hunting for Emma’s clothes and belongings, which have never been recovered, as well as other clues.
The search will focus on specific areas after witness evidence, as well as advice from special search experts. Twenty officers, including an underwater search team, will spend a week looking for evidence.
New evidence has emerged too. Previously, the last recorded sighting of Emma Caldwell was on Butterbiggins Road in the south-side of Glasgow. Yet detectives have now established Emma may have been spotted getting into a black saloon style car, similar to a BMW, that may have links to the Dumfries area.
Detective Superintendent David McLaren from Police Scotland said, ‘We are determined to do everything possible to find Emma’s killer. If you knew, or had an association with Emma or have any information that would assist, please contact us. Twelve years have passed with no justice for Emma or her family. Please, if you have any piece of information which you think could be of interest to us, get in touch.’
‘I’d like to finally appeal directly to those closest to Emma’s killer and who have suspicions. You may be parent, a brother, a sister or partner of the person who took Emma from this world. I’d ask you to look in the mirror and ask yourself how you would feel if Emma was your daughter or sister. I need you to do the right thing and get in touch,’ DS McLaren added.
Can you help?
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.