Born in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, Black was put in a foster family after his mother refused to put his father's name on his birth certificate. She later married another man, Francis Hall. Black was eventually raised by a couple, Jack and Margaret Tulip. During his childhood, his classmates noticed that preferred to walk with younger children. At a young age, he would usually shove various objects up his anus for no apparent reason, and also displayed a large interest in the genitals of other children. He once manipulated a young girl into taking off her clothes for him so they could compare their genitals. Margaret eventually died and he was subsequently sent back to his old foster home. At the age of twelve, he and his friends attempted to rape a young girl but failed, he was then moved to another foster home, called the Red House. There, he was raped by a staff member. Three years later, he left the Red House and began to work as a delivery boy. When Black was arrested, he claimed that he had raped between thirty and forty children while working that job, though this was never confirmed.
Two years later, when he was seventeen years old, Black lured a child to an isolated location and strangled her before masturbating over her. Ultimately, she survived her attack and Black was arrested, but he only received an admonishment for lewd and lascivious behavior. He returned to Grangemouth and worked in a builder's supply company. There, he met Pamela Hodgson, who became his girlfriend, though the relationship didn't last for too long. Black also molested his landlord's granddaughter and was forced to leave the house. With nowhere to go, he moved to Kinlochleven and took a room with a family, but Black molested their daughter shortly after moving in with them. He was arrested shortly after and sentenced to one year of borstal training at Polmont. When he was released, Black moved to London, England, where he worked as a swimming pool attendant. He took advantage of this job to watch young girls as they swam. He eventually lost his job when he touched one of the girls while she was at the swimming pool. Later, Black got another work as a van driver; it was with this job that he developed an amount of knowledge on some of the United Kingdom's roads, including the minor roads.
Murders, Arrest and Incarceration
Black's first known murder victim was Jennifer Cardy, who was on her way to meet a friend while cycling around Ballinderry. Black abducted her, raped her, and strangled her to death before dumping her body at McKee's Dam. Her body was found six days later. A year later, Susan Maxwell had left home to play tennis with her friends, but she was abducted by Black near the River Tweed Bridge. Like the previous victim, she was raped and strangled, and her body was dumped at Loxley. Another year later, Caroline Hogg was at a playground near her house when she was abducted by Black, then murdered by him and her body dumped in a ditch in Leicestershire. Three years later, Sarah Harper left home to buy bread and was abducted by Black. She was raped and murdered, and her body was dumped in River Trent, where it was found a month later. Because the bodies of the last three murder victims were found within 26 miles of each other, Scottish police deduced that they were the work of a serial killer. The case gained massive media attention and was compared to the infamous Moors Murders. As part of the police investigation, the HOLMES 2 computer system was recommended to be used in an attempt to solve the murders, following its success in the Yorkshire Ripper investigation.
Black was quickly considered the prime suspect in the murders and was questioned about them, but he denied having any involvement. He was finally arrested on July 14, 1990, after he was seen abducting another young girl. The police officer responsible for the arrest opened the back of the van and was shocked to find that his own daughter was the girl that Black had abducted earlier; she had been raped by Black but survived. In Black's home, police found a large amount child pornography. A month later, he was convicted of the child's abduction and sentenced to life in prison. Later, he became a suspect in the murders of Maxwell, Hogg, and Harper. Investigators checked his petrol-station receipts, which placed him at the scenes of the killings. As a result, Black was charged with the murders. On May 19, 1994, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. On December 16, 2009, he was charged with the previously unconnected murder of Cardy, which he was found guilty of on October 27, 2011. During his time in the Wakefield Prison, in July 1995, he was ambushed by robber Andrew Wilson and murderer Craig Hendley. Wilson threw boiling water mixed with sugar on his face and Hendley stabbed him multiple times; Black was severely injured but survived. On January 12, 2016, Black died of natural causes in HM Prison Maghaberry, Northern Ireland. Black was 68 years old when he died.
Black targeted girls aged five to eleven years old. He would abduct his victims and put them in his van, where they would be raped. Some of the victims were manually strangled to death. After killing them, Black would dump their bodies in different locations. In the case of Sarah Harper, she drowned in the river Black threw her in.
- Unspecified date in 1959-1960: Unnamed girl (attempted to gang-rape with some of his friends)
- Unspecified dates in 1962: Thirty to forty unnamed girls (alleged; all raped only)
- Unspecified date in 1964: Unnamed girl, 7 (strangled to the point of unconsciousness, masturbated over her body, and left for dead; survived)
- Unspecified dates in 1966:
- Unnamed girl, 9 (molested only)
- Unnamed girl, 7 (molested only)
- Unspecified date in 1967: Unnamed girl (molested only)
- August 12, 1981: Jennifer Cardy, 9 (raped and manually strangled)
- July 30, 1982: Susan Maxwell, 11 (raped and manually strangled)
- July 8, 1983: Caroline Hogg, 5 (raped and manually strangled)
- March 26, 1986: Sarah Harper, 10 (raped and drowned)
- April 24, 1988: Theresa Thornhill, 15 (attempted to abduct and kill, but escaped)
- July 14, 1990: Mandy Wilson, 6 (abducted, tied up, and raped only; was rescued)
- Note: Black is also suspected of being responsible for multiple unsolved murders across the United Kingdom.
On Criminal Minds
Budding serial killer Hugh Rollins might have been inspired by Black. Both were pedophilic, hebephilic killers who were put in foster homes; committed sexual offenses prior to their murders; and had the same M.O. of abducting, raping, and strangling their victims.