Unsolved Murders

Margaret McOnie

Age: 55

Sex: female

Date: 13 Nov 1989

Place: Tongue, Scotland

Jack Shuttleworth and Margaret McOnie were murdered in separate incidents on different dates and locations, but it was thought that they had been murdered by the same man who had been on the run from the police over an alleged theft of several thousand pounds. However, the man, who was said to have confessed to the murders by his fiancee. later killed himself in Leeds prison before he could be tried.

Jack Shuttleworth

Jack Shuttleworth was found dead in his garden shed in Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales, on 5 August 1989. He had been battered to death and £200 had been stolen from him.

Jack Shuttleworth had been a former prize-fighter and had lived alone.

Margaret McOnie

Margaret McOnie was found dead on a moorland near Tongue in the very north of Scotland on 24 August 1989. She was from Milngavies in Glasgow and had just gone to the Highlands for a walking holiday.

Arrest of Suspect

A 51-year-old mechanic was arrested on suspicion of his murder, but he killed himself in Leeds prison on Monday 13 November 1989. He had been arrested on 30 August after a nationwide manhunt. He had been on remand in Leeds prison since 4 September 1989.

He had used bedding to make a rope and had hung himself from the bars of his prison cell. He had left a note that read, 'The prison authority is in no way to be held responsible for my demise. They have treated me with kindness. They are blameless'.

The man had disappeared from his home in Huthwaite near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire in July 1989 shortly before the police were going to interview him over the theft of several thousand pounds.

He was said to have then travelled across the United Kingdom over the following two weeks.

The man's trail was detailed as:

  • July 1989: He fled his house in Huthwaite near Mansfield shortly before he was due to be interviewed over some stolen money.
  • 3 August 1989: Last day that Jack Shuttleworth was seen alive in Ingleton. On the same day the man left a guest house in Ingleton where he had been staying.
  • 5 August 1989: Jack Shuttleworth's blood-spattered body was found in his garden shed. He had been beaten about the head and had had £200 stolen.
  • 6 August 1989: Margaret McOnie was known to leave her home for the Highlands on a walking holiday.
  • 6-12 August 1989: The man was known to have spent at least two days in a bed and breakfast near Thurso.
  • 11 August 1989: Margaret McOnie called a relative to say that she had met a man, giving a name that the man was known to have been using although it was not his real name.
  • 13 August 1989: Margaret McOnie and the man booked into the Castle View guesthouse in Tongue in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.
  • 16 August 1989: Margaret McOnie last seen alive.
  • 17 August 1989: The man left Tongue and booked into the Dunveaden guest house in Bettyhill for one night.
  • 19 August 1989: The man hitch-hiked with a French couple and then booked into a hotel in Durness with them. When the police determined that the man had been hitch-hiking with the French couple they said that they could not rule out the possibility that the French couple could be in danger.
  • 20 August 1989: The man left Durness.
  • 24 August 1989: Margaret McOnie's body was found on moorland two miles from the Castle View guesthouse in Tongue.
  • 25 August 1989: The Norther Constabulary issued a warrant for the man's arrest in connection with the murder of Margaret McOnie. The French couple were traced unharmed.
  • 27 August 1989: The police publish the man's real name.
  • 29 August 1989: The North Yorkshire police released a description of the man's stolen car, a charcoal-brown-grey Colt Galant, and it's registration number SOS 370X. He was later arrested in a guesthouse in Mansfield about tree miles from his home. He had been in Room 2 at the 11 room Parkhurst guesthouse in Woodhouse Road, Mansfield. When the police arrived he was in bed in his boxer shorts but said that he would come quietly. He was located after a policeman spotted his stolen car outside. He had booked into the guesthouse with two other men at about 9pm and had gone straight to his first floor family room. It was noted that the police had visited the guesthouse minutes earlier and had shown the stand-in manageress there a photograph of the man and that she had said that she had also seen his photograph on the Nine O'Clock News, but said that when the man actually came in he had been wearing sunglasses and had looked nothing like the man in the picture. The police spotted the man's car and soon after put an eight man team together, including a police dog, and crept up the stairs and arrested him without a struggle.

It was further noted that the man was also thought to have stolen a painting from a house in Osmotherly on his travels and also to have been responsible for a string of thefts and bed and breakfast frauds across the Scottish Highlands which included the theft of £35,000 worth of jewellery in one burglary.

The man was described as a casanova conman.

He was charged with Jack Shuttleworth's murder on 30 August 1989 and later charged with the murder of Margaret McOnie on 1 September 1989.

Although he was the main suspect, and there was almost no doubt that he had murdered Jack Shuttleworth and Margaret McOnie, his early death leaves their murders unresolved.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 13 November 1989

see Irish Independent - Thursday 31 August 1989

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 25 August 1989

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 31 August 1989

see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 26 August 1989

see Newcastle Evening Chronicle - Thursday 31 August 1989

see Davenport Gledhill, Peter Ruth. "Arrest in double killer hunt." Times, 31 Aug. 1989, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/IF0500276456/TTDA?u=rbw_earl&sid=TTDA&xid=b193968a. Accessed 12 May 2020.