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HOW “Bullseye Killer” John Cooper almost got away with two grisly double killings has gripped viewers of ITV’s The Pembrokeshire Murders this week.
But a dark tale of a possible fifth victim — and two more double murders — remains untold.
John Cooper is serving life in prison after being convicted of two double murdersCredit: Enterprise News and Pictures
However, Flo Evans’s family believe she was his fifth victimCredit: Athena Picture Agency
He has also been linked to the murders of Harry and Megan ToozeCredit: Wales News Service
The couple were killed in a ‘brutal macabre execution’ in 1993Credit: Wales News Service
The family of frail widow Flo Evans, 77, always believed her 1989 death was no accident — and long suspected farm labourer Cooper.
A coroner ruled that Flo, who was found lifeless in the bath at her country cottage, died of natural causes.
But her family say too many things about her death do not add up.
In 2011, dad-of-two Cooper was eventually convicted of killing wealthy brother and sister Helen and Richard Thomas in 1985 and husband and wife Peter and Gwenda Dixon in 1989.
He was identified after a 2005 cold case review led by DS Steve Wilkins found new evidence from updated forensics techniques and a clip of TV game show Bullseye, on which Cooper, now 76, was a contestant.
‘MONEY MISSING AND FRONT DOOR LEFT OPEN’
But because Flo’s death was ruled an accident, there was no forensic evidence to examine in that case.
Her great-niece Rena Murphy, 59, said: “Aunt Flo was very set in her ways, she did things in a particular fashion.
“But the way she was found fully clothed in a cold bath and with no money in the house . . . we knew it was suspicious.
“The police at the time said there was no foul play but I remember after her post-mortem an officer telling us, ‘There’s more to this’.
“I remember going to the police when Cooper was arrested to say that Aunt Flo knew him and lived in walking distance across the fields, which is how he got to all the others.”
Flo’s death was ruled an accident but her family always suspected foul playCredit: Athena Picture Agency
They claim the post-mortem proved ‘there’s more to this’Credit: Athena Picture Agency
Cooper is chillingly played by Keith Allen in the three-part mini series, watched by 6.8million viewers in its final episode on Wednesday, while Luke Evans stars as DS Wilkins.
Today the senior detective backs the claims made by Flo’s family.
He said: “I know that Cooper had been at her house on the day she died. That troubles me greatly.
“Unfortunately, because it was a coroner’s case there were no forensic exhibits to examine but Cooper raised Florence Evans in his interview.
“He actually started to talk about her. Why would you do that?”
Flo’s niece, Jean Murphy, 80, added: “Money was missing, she didn’t have her false teeth in, the TV wasn’t switched off properly and the front door was open.
I know that Cooper had been at Flo’s house on the day she died.
“They are all little things but we knew her so well and it all points to Cooper.”
It is believed Cooper was motivated by money in the two double murders for which he was convicted.
He had previously won and blown nearly half a million pounds in a newspaper spot-the-ball competition — and had become addicted to the high life, which he later funded by becoming a prolific burglar.
It was while looting the lonely manor house of Richard Thomas, 58, and his sister Helen, 54, that Cooper committed his first known murders, shooting the pair then setting the house on fire.
Couple shot in head
EVIL Cooper has been linked to more gruesome murders in Wales.
Harry and Megan Tooze were killed in what was described as a “brutal, macabre execution” in 1993. They had been shot in the head and dumped in a cowshed, their bodies covered with a carpet.
Harry, 64, and wife Megan, 67, were found on their farm in Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taf, after daughter Cheryl was unable to get through to them on the phone.
But the resulting investigation soon centred on her boyfriend, Jonathan Jones.
He was convicted of murder and spent two years in jail before being freed on appeal in 1996.
He went on to marry Cheryl, who had campaigned for his release.
Mr Jones’s lawyer argued there were similarities between the Cooper cases and the Tooze killings.
He said these included the fact the Toozes were shot at “close quarters” in their remote farmhouse and that attempts were made to hide the bodies.
“The other thing is there are very few double shotgun murders nationally,” he added.
Cooper’s 1989 appearance on Bullseye eventually led to his arrestCredit: Bullseye/ITV Challenge
He was dragged to court in 2009Credit: Rex Features
Despite 100 detectives working on the case and the Thomas family offering a massive reward, the killer was not caught.
Four years later, police found the bodies of civil servant Peter Dixon, 51, and his wife Gwenda, 52, carefully hidden in undergrowth near a remote cliff-top chapel on the rugged Pembroke coastal path.
Peter’s 22-carat wedding ring and wallet had been stolen.
Ballistics experts revealed they had been killed with a Belgian 12-bore shotgun, the same gun used to murder Richard and Helen Thomas.
Flo’s niece Jean believes Cooper’s greed was behind her aunt’s death, too.
She said: “Cooper knew my aunt. He visited her regularly and would have known there was always money in her handbag and more hidden upstairs.
“He lived across the fields from her and that fits with the way he approached his other victims.
“We could never understand why Aunt Flo was found dead in the bath with all her clothes on.
“She always lit a fire in the kitchen to heat the water before taking a bath and that fire wasn’t lit. She never took a bath in the daytime.”
A NASTY MAN WITH A SADISTIC STREAK
Great-grandmother Jean remembers Cooper, who did odd jobs for her aunt, as a nasty man with a sadistic streak.
She said: “He was always very cruel to animals and to his own son.
Viewers were gripped by ITV’s The Pembrokeshire Murders, which features Keith Allen as evil CooperCredit: WORLD PRODUCTIONS/ITV
Lee Evans stars as DS Steve Wilkins, who unearthed crucial new evidenceCredit: WORLD PRODUCTIONS/ITV
THE deaths of wealthy Griff Thomas and his sister Martha, known as Patti, have never been fully explained.
Police initially launched a double murder investigation after their bodies were found at the home they shared in the quiet village of Llangolman, Pembrokeshire, in December 1976.
But investigators later concluded Griff, 73, had argued with his 70-year-old sister before hitting her on the head with a blunt instrument and setting himself on fire.
Despite an extensive search, no weapon was ever found.
Neighbours of the deeply religious siblings, who had lived peacefully together for 70 years, strongly doubted the murder-suicide explanation.
The crime scene was 24 miles from the farmhouse where Cooper’s victims Richard and Helen Thomas were found in similar circumstances.
“Nobody was surprised when he was done for murdering four innocent people.
“Cooper knew my aunt’s house and my aunt’s habits and that she always had money there.”
A coroner decided her death was a tragic accident, saying she could have slipped and fallen into the bath or collapsed suddenly.
In 2011, DS Wilkins finally put Cooper behind bars for the murders of the Thomases and the Dixons.
Nobody was surprised when he was done for murdering four innocent people.
A key piece of evidence was darts-mad Cooper’s appearance on an episode of TV show Bullseye.
When host Jim Bowen asked about his hobbies, Cooper talked in great detail about the countryside of West Wales, and in particular the spot where Peter and Gwenda would soon be found dead.
Nearly 20 years later in his 2005 cold case review, DS Wilkins dug out this footage and compared the image of Cooper, with his scruffy mullet and droopy moustache, to an artist’s impression of the prime suspect in the Dixon murders.
He said: “I have never in my 33 years in the police seen such a close resemblance between an offender and an artist’s impression. It’s like a tracing.”
Jean added: “When Cooper was done for the other murders we asked the police to look into his link to Aunt Flo. Hopefully, the police will now reopen the case. It would give us some closure.”
Cooper murdered brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985Credit: Rex Features
Four years later, he claimed the lives of husband and wife Peter and Gwenda DixonCredit: Rex Features
Cooper was described as a ‘nasty man with a sadistic streak’Credit: Wales News Service
Flo’s great-niece Rena added: “I watched the series and the portrayal of Cooper is so good.
“He is an evil man and that has come across well.
“Even if they never charge him, we will still have the satisfaction of knowing he is locked up for good.”
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