"No one does anything from a single motive."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
It was the 19th of March 2016. A Saturday. Fifteen year old Paige Doherty from Clydebank, Scotland, United Kingdom stayed at a friend's house on the Friday night. That morning, the Saturday, Paige was up early. Even though it was the weekend, she had a part time job at a hairdressers.
Paige left her friend's house and made her way towards the bus stop after 8am. But even though Paige was on time for the bus, she never made it into work that day. Nobody from the hairdressers could reach her and they contacted Paige's mother, Pamela Munro. Pamela had not heard from her daughter either and put out an appeal for people to help look for her.
Paige's friend confirmed that she left her house as planned but for some reason, Paige never made it on to the bus. Police needed to know why. They treated Paige's case as a missing person case. There were no indications that Paige would have run away. Everything had been normal that morning as she left her friend's house to go to work. The search for Paige ended two days later. It was the news nobody wanted.
Paige's body was found at the side of the road in an area that had overgrown grass, just two miles from the bus stop. This was no tragic accident though. Paige had suffered a brutal and violent death. She had been stabbed at least 61 times and there were 146 knife wounds all over her body. Some of the wounds were defensive marks which indicated she had tried to fight off her attacker. She also suffered 43 blows to her head and neck. Such a frenzied attack like the one Paige suffered is normally the result of a personal attack. A crime of passion. Often, the attacker in a situation like that knows their victim and police needed to speak with everyone who knew Paige.
Police began looking for information. A business owner in the area tipped off police about the owner of the deli. They were concerned that the man who owned the deli was urgently looking for cleaning products the day Paige went missing. That prompted police to look through CCTV footage in the area.
John Leathem, thirty two years old, was a married father of two children. He worked at the Delicious Deli and lived close by with his family. He told police that he didn't see Paige that day.
That day, John was working in the deli and he opened it around 7.17am that morning.
Police did not expect that the CCTV would reveal so much information. They saw Paige walk down the road towards the bus stop at 8.21 am on the Saturday morning. They also saw her going into the deli. She would normally pick up a roll on her way to work. The troubling part was that she was not picked up on the CCTV footage walking back out of the deli.
The deli, John's house and John's car were searched. The deli looked clean but when the fridge was moved, blood was found and it was found in a few different locations in the shop. It was Paige's blood.
When police looked through more CCTV footage, they saw John leaving the deli and parking his car outside. Police believed John killed Paige during a ten minute frenzied attack inside the deli. John was seen on CCTV putting her body in the boot of his car. CCTV footage showed her foot with a white sock on it sticking out from the bin bag he was carrying. He had wrapped Paige's body in a bin bag.
John spent most of the day working in the deli and he went back that evening to clean it further. He was charged with the murder of Paige.
With a mountain of evidence against him, John entered a guilty plea. Despite his initial denial of seeing Paige that day, he now admitted she was in the deli. According to John, Paige threatened him and told him that if he didn't give her a job, she would tell everyone that he had touched her inappropriately. That caused him to panic and that was why he stabbed her multiple times. His version made no sense though. Paige was on the way to a job she already had and was in the deli for a matter of minutes. Those who knew Paige well also said that it was not in her character to say things like that.
The confusing aspect of this case is the motive. There was no evidence found that Paige had been sexually assaulted and no evidence that she knew John on a personal level. So why on a regular Saturday morning he chose to murder her so brutally in such a short space of time during the course of his working day is something that only John can give the answer to. He did not reveal the true reason and stuck by the story he concocted instead.
Paige's mother Pamela
John was sentenced to life in prison , to serve a minimum of twenty seven years. John appealed the sentence and it was reduced by four years. The Judge in the case reduced it based on the belief that the murder was not premeditated and that John had shown remorse. John's sentence should not have been reduced. The fact that he took Paige's body out of the deli in a bin bag with her foot sticking out of the bin in broad daylight and with people around is truly chilling. He even stayed working in the deli after he viciously murdered the fifteen year old. They are not the actions of a man full of remorse.