Killer Bus Driver Finally Busted
On 23 February 1957, Moira Anderson was sent by her grandmother on an errand to the local supermarket, near to where she lived in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. Back in the Fifties everyone knew everyone in this small Scottish town, which lies roughly 17 kilometres (11 miles) east of the modern day Glasgow City Centre. Coatbridge was experiencing one of the worst snow storms the area had ever seen, but her grandmother had no reason to think anything untoward would happen to her darling granddaughter.
What began as a simple journey would become one of Scotland’s most enduring mysteries. Moira jumped on the bus, paid the driver and took her seat. She had no idea that the driver, Alexander Gartshore, was on bail after being arrested for the rape of a 13-year-old babysitter.
At some point it is thought that the weather forced Gartshore to end the bus service, at which point he seized his opportunity. What exactly happened at this point is still difficult to say, although it is thought that Gartshore waited for people to leave, then grabbed and sedated Moira, before abusing and then killing her. Where he disposed of the body remains unknown to this day. Gartshore was very late home that night, telling his family that he had been working the whole evening, even though his bus company had stopped all their services in the afternoon.
Moira’s family began to search for her, hoping that she had simply gotten lost on her way home, but their efforts would be in vain. During their investigation, the police failed to even speak to Gartshore, even though he was known to them and was living only a couple of streets from Moira’s home. No door-to-door inquiries were conducted either and there was no reconstruction to help find out what really happened. Even when Gartshore was arrested a few weeks later and jailed for raping another school girl, the police failed to link him to Moira.
In the decades that followed, the police continued searching for Moira, but made very little headway in the investigation. Even when Gartshore’s former cellmate revealed that the convicted rapist had told him he had abducted Moira, the police still couldn’t definitively link him to her disappearance.
Sandra Brown, the daughter of Gartshore, had continually campaigned for the police to reinvestigate her father in connection with Moira’s murder. She had long believed that her father abused an untold number of children, and believes he was a paedophile on the scale of Jimmy Savile. According to Sandra, Moira had been killed by her father and she was not the only child in the central belt of Scotland that her father had murdered. Sandra’s campaigning eventually sparked a turning point in the investigation.
Out of nowhere, two new witnesses came forward and spoke to the police. The first witness revealed that Alexander Gartshore had exposed himself to her and Moira in 1956 whilst in a park. Even more disturbing was the fact that he had referred to Moira by her name, suggesting that she had been a target of his for some time.
The second witness revealed they had seen a man dragging a young girl by the arms who fitted Moira’s description, near a bus stop in Coatbridge on the day the victim went missing. The police quickly took the new witnesses to see if they could identify Gartshore, sensing that they were finally going to pin Moira’s death on the convicted paedophile for good. The witnesses were presented with a set of photographs, and both picked out Gartshore from the selection. This man, who had been under the police’s noses for more than half a century, had in fact been her killer all along.
As Gartshore died in 2006, there was no possible way for the police to prosecute him of the crime, they were only able to indict him for it. In Scotland the absence of a body is not a barrier to prosecution, Gartshore would have almost certainly been convicted of the 11-year-old’s murder.
Although the police now believe beyond doubt they’ve got their man, they are no closer to finding the victim’s body. Moira’s sister Janet, who’s in her seventies, wishes only that her sister could be found and reburied. “It’s not too much to ask,” she said “that my little sister, Moira, have her final resting place not in an unmarked grave, or in someone else’s grave, but with her loving parents who grieved for their daughter daily, until they too were laid to rest.”
The sad truth is that at this stage, the investigating team have very few sources to help them find Moira’s body. The investigation is still ongoing; police have enlisted soil science specialists and a geoforensics expert, but major breakthroughs are unlikely. More than half a century of decomposition makes unearthing secrets particularly tough. The only person that could reveal the location of Moira’s remains is her killer, information that he appears to have taken to his grave.
This article was featured in issue 6 of Real Crime magazine. Read more of the world’s biggest crime breakthroughs – Subscribe to the magazine and never miss an issue.