A CONVICTED sex attacker has emerged as the prime suspect in the murders of at least 11 young British women over the past 40 years.
Police believe Peter Tobin – currently serving life for raping and killing Polish student Angelika Kluk last year – could be one of the UK's worst serial killers after a skeleton was found in the garden of one of his former homes.
The remains are believed to be those of 18-year-old student Dinah McNicol, who vanished 16 years ago.
The bones were found at a three-bedroom terrace house in the seaside resort of Margate, Kent, where Tobin once lived.
Tobin, 61, is also suspected of abducting and murdering at least 10 other victims over the past four decades.
Detectives say there are strong grounds to believe he may have killed a string of women since 1968, when Glasgow woman Patricia Docker, 25, disappeared after leaving a ballroom.
"It is inconceivable that Tobin began killing as he approached old age," one officer said.
"We are working on the theory that he has been attacking and raping women for decades."
The body of 23-year-old Ms Kluk was found buried in a Glasgow church last year.
Since being convicted of her murder in May, Tobin also has been charged over the disappearance of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton who, like Ms McNicol, went missing 16 years ago.
Detectives are now investigating the possibility that Tobin may have carried out other murders, including the notorious "Bible John" slayings in Glasgow in the late 1960s.
Yesterday relatives of Ms McNicol were preparing for the worst as DNA tests and dental checks were carried out.
The development came after police launched an investigation this year into Ms McNicol's disappearance in 1991 as she hitchhiked home to Essex from a music festival.
For a short time in the early 1990s Tobin lived in Irvine Drive after swapping houses with a woman who moved to his home in Bathgate, Edinburgh.
Doris O'Donnell, 53, said Tobin had exchanged homes with her sister, Hannah Hewitson, in 1991.
Mrs O'Donnell said Tobin once dug a huge trench in the garden of his Margate home.
"It must have been about six feet deep," she said. "He told everyone it was for a sandpit for his son, who lived there with him. The little lad used to play in it.
"Now that I know there was a body under the sandpit, it sends shivers down my spine."
A police spokesman said detectives had been given "information" which led them to the Margate address.
Officials in Scotland, where Tobin is serving a life sentence in the sex offenders' wing of Peterhead jail, said he had not confessed to any of the unsolved killings.