David Kerr, handsome, romancer and a fantasiser, had gone missing. So too had his fiancée, 47-year-old widow Margaret McOnie, and her relatives, worried about the bewildering suddenness with which Kerr had bowled her over, went to the police.
On AUGUST 25th, 1989, after a two-day search, they found the brutally battered body of Mrs. McOnie under a bush on the moors to the west of Kyle of Tongue. Her fiancé was nowhere to be found.
But quick checks revealed that David Kerr was also David Rodgers, Richard Grieves, Phil Kerr and Dr. Stephen Barbour. He was also (he claimed) an ex-racing driver, or the personal assistant of Lotus chief Colin Chapman.
The tenor of all his conversation was that he was Gods gift to women and he was also, he always made sure to tell them, stupendously wealthy. In fact Kerr, or whatever other name he chose to live by, was unemployed Nottinghamshire motor mechanic Brian Newcombe, who lived as a con-man, a cash and jewel thief, and a woman-charmer.
He had known Mrs. McOnie, of Sinclair Street, Milngavie, for only a week and had already proposed marriage to her when in early August, 1989, they booked into the Castle View guest-house, Loyal Terrace, Tongue. They left the guest-house three days later to go for a walk.
During their walk Kerr crept up on her, probably with a rock in his hands, and beat her to death. He then hid her body on the moor near the old road that runs round the Kyle of Tongue, not far from the modern causeway linking the two shores.
Detectives quickly connected the murder with the killing in Ingleton, North Yorkshire of 88-year-old Jack Shuttleworth. The old pensioner was murdered for the £200 in his wallet by a man who charmed his way into his house just two weeks before the killing of Mrs. McOnie.
Brian Newcombes game-plan was to travel the country, booking in at hotels and guest-houses for a few days, leaving without paying the bill, and assiduously courting any woman he chanced to meet on the way, relieving her of cash and jewels before making off.
He told the owners of the Smoo Cave Hotel in Durness, 28 miles from Tongue, that he was in the yachting business, and that his £65,000 yacht was moored in a Scottish port. When he saw that the hotel was up for sale he left a cheque for £40,000 deposit on the purchase, saying that his agent, Mrs. McOnie, would be along later with the balance.
He was caught when he stole a car and drove back to his native Nottinghamshire. Police officers surrounded the Parkhurst Guest House in Mansfield when they learned he was staying there, and burst into his room to arrest him.
Newcombe confessed to both murders and seemed philosophical about his fate. But before he could be brought to trial he committed suicide in Leedss Armley Prison in November, 1989, by hanging himself with knotted bedsheets.