Criminal News
Curiosities from the world, criminal news

Man admits murder of Glasgow woman Tracey Wylde in 1997

0 2

A man has admitted murdering a young woman in Glasgow 22 years ago, bringing to a conclusion one of the 1990s’ most publicised unsolved cases.

The discovery of Tracey Wylde’s body at her flat in Barmulloch, north-east Glasgow, in November 1997 fuelled fears that a serial killer was targeting sex workers in the city.

Seven women were murdered in Glasgow between 1991 and 1998, all of whom were working in the sex industry at the time of their deaths. The killers of two of the women – Margo Lafferty and Christine Dinnie – were successfully prosecuted.


Zhi Min Chen had been due to stand trial at Glasgow high court but pleaded guilty on Wednesday to Wylde’s murder.

Wylde, who had a young daughter, had gone into Glasgow city centre on 23 November 1997. The 21-year-old was last spotted on CCTV at about 3.20am the next morning in the city’s red-light area. Her body was discovered by friends at her flat the following day. There were marks and bruising around her neck, and the cause of death was found to be manual strangulation. The court did not learn how Wylde met her killer.

Zhi Min Chen

Zhi Min Chen’s DNA matched samples found at the murder scene. Photograph: Strathclyde Police

An initial two-and-a-half-year murder investigation yielded no leads, and a cold case review in 2013 was unproductive. But when Chen was held for an alleged assault in the Cowcaddens area of Glasgow last summer, his DNA matched samples found at the murder scene.

The court heard that Chen, a 44-year-old father of two who was born in China, had lived in Glasgow since the murder, subsequently getting married and setting up a takeaway restaurant.

Retired DCI Nanette Pollock, who led on the policing of the sex industry in Glasgow throughout the 1990s and worked on the Lafferty case, said: “At the time people were desperate to make the serial killer link, perhaps because they preferred the idea that it was one bad guy rather than acknowledging the daily violence that these women had to face.

“Prostitution in Glasgow was normalised to the extent that these women were seen as ‘street furniture’ and it was not until the murders that people began to realise what a violent life they led.”

When heroin hit the city’s streets in the early 90s, says Pollock, the scene changed considerably, with younger women, made more vulnerable and desperate by their habits, putting themselves in danger.

At the time, Glasgow council and the police operated a zero-tolerance approach to sex work, in contrast to Edinburgh, where the council issued licences to massage parlours and saunas, effectively allowing brothels. The debate continues to rage around which approach was more effective.

Pollock worked with charities to set up the Routes Out project, offering women support to exit sex work, but says the culture change took time. “The police force back then was a man’s world, and many officers took the attitude that if you tackled prostitution, ‘what will men do?’”

Chen will return to court for sentencing next month. The judge, Lord Arthurson, told him he faced life imprisonment.

DI Gordon MacKenzie of Police Scotland’s major investigation team said Wylde’s family had “never lost faith that this day would come”.

Original »