Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

James Cameron: Detective in charge of Templeton Woods murder inquiry dies

Chief Superintendent James Cameron during the hunt for the killer of Carol Lannen.
Chief Superintendent James Cameron during the hunt for the killer of Carol Lannen.

The detective who led the hunt for some of Dundee’s most notorious killers has died aged 89.

James Cameron headed the CID in the city and was most closely associated with investigating the Templeton Woods murders of 1979 and 1980.

Mr Cameron, who rose to become assistant chief Constable of Tayside, also investigated the triple slaying carried out by Sonny Mone, father of killer Robert Mone.

He also probed the bloody murders of Dr Alexander Wood and his wife Dorothy in their Roseangle home in 1980.

The killer fled to England where he attacked a priest and his housekeeper, leaving both dead.

A link was made with Dundee and it was James Cameron who travelled south to interview and charge Dundee-born Henry John Gallagher, who was 29.

Chief Superintendent James Cameron in 1980.

After he retired from the force, Mr Cameron expressed regret on more than one occasion that the Templeton Woods killer, or killers, were never tracked down.

His son, also James and a retired police superintendent, said his father believed today’s scientific advances would have provided the breakthrough to catch the killers of Carol Lannen and Elizabeth McCabe whose bodies were discovered in Templeton Woods.

James junior said: “He did not speak about it greatly after he retired but the murder of the two women lived with him for the rest of his life.

“I would say he was disappointed that he did not solve these murders. It irked him but the science was different back then as were recording techniques. If they had had modern scientific capabilities back then there could have been a different outcome.”

James was the very public face of policing in a city shocked by a wave of violent killings between Christmas 1978 and May 1980.

He looked old school, tough as nails. He was rarely photographed outside without his trademark detective’s hat.

James Cameron, second from left, in 1979 during the first Templeton Woods murder inquiry.

But his son James said it was an image he cultivated. It was a work face. In his private life he was a very different man.

“He was light hearted and fun to be around; a gentleman and very different to his public persona,” said James.

James Cameron was born near the harbour in St Andrews, the son of James and Helen Cameron. His father was the town clerk and James was educated at Madras College.

He left school at 15 and began training as a gardener at Strathtyrum estate. He remained in the post for three or four years before enlisting in the Scots Guards.

James qualified as a marksman and served during the Suez Crisis and at Port Said.

Royal duties

In 1953, at the coronation of the late Queen, he was one of the Scots Guardsmen lining Pall Mall in full dress uniform and bearskin hat.

James said: “Whenever he saw footage of the coronation he always claimed he could spot himself but we never knew for sure if it was him.”

He had met his future wife, Betty, while serving in the army and he married in full uniform at SS Peter and Paul’s Church, Dundee, in 1954. They went on to have three of a family; Stuart, Ian and James.

When he left the Scots Guard, James joined the the City of Dundee Police. He was a beat officer based in the city centre and then in Fintry, a place he had great fondness for, said James junior.

In 1960 he transferred to the CID and rose quickly through the ranks. By the time of the first Templeton Woods discovery in 1979, he was chief superintendent in charge of CID.

Former assistant chief constable James Cameron on the occasion of his retiral.

James was also in charge of the planning and security of major events, including NATO and Commonwealth conferences , at Gleneagles Hotel and also prime ministerial visits. Among others he met Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles (now King ) and a host of sporting stars including Virginia Wade.

In a nod to his humorous side he often told a story of giving a parking ticket to an American military helicopter which landed in the wrong place at Gleneagles.


By the time he retired, James was assistant chief constable and the recipient of the Queen’s Police Medal.

James suffered a major heart attack and this led him to evaluate how he would spend his retirement. Although he had made his life and raised his family in Dundee, St Andrews never left his heart and he was a frequent visitor throughout his life.

He became chairman of the charity Shopmobility, enjoyed golf and rugby on the television and went to see both Dundee FC and Dundee United, although his family never discovered which team he favoured.

Retired detective James Cameron in later life.

James, who was predeceased by Betty, married Winnie, also a detective, in 1987 and became parents to Kirstie not long after James retired.

Alexander McGregor, former chief reporter of The Courier and author of The Law Killers, who wrote about several of the murders James investigated, said: “ A chief constable once told me that Jim was the finest detective he had ever met, which tells you the esteem in which he was held

“He had a great success rate and I know he always regretted not bringing the Templeton Woods murders to a satisfactory conclusion.

“However, I’m sure that would have been the case had today’s scientific and technical advancements been available to him.

“As well as being a fine officer, Jim was a nice man. He will be missed.”

Matt Hamilton, vice-president of the Retired Police Officers’ Association Scotland said: “Jim served in uniform as we all did but was very quickly identified as CID material and over the years that followed went through the ranks as a detective involved in numerous serious crimes and major events.

“He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by all.”