How TV Legend Jim Bowen Helped Catch a Shotgun Serial Killer on Bullseye
Telly legend Jim Bowen unwittingly helped nail a serial killer to a shotgun by asking him about his Bullseye hobbies.
Maniac John Cooper appeared on Bowen’s show shortly before executing holidaymakers Peter and Gwenda Dixon in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1989.
The psychopath was nailed down by DNA evidence in 2009, but only after detectives realized their prime suspect had incriminated himself in front of 19 million oblivious viewers.
Cooper had previously killed millionaire farmers Richard and Helen Thomas when he appeared on the show on May 28, 1989.
Exactly a month later he was robbing and killing the Dixons on a quiet Pembrokeshire coastal path.
Detectives realized that the killings had been planned with military precision, using direct knowledge of the local terrain.
Cooper had been fired as a suspect in the early 1990s for lack of evidence – but frightening footage of Bullseye showed him calmly discussing his intimate knowledge of the Welsh coast.
“You have an unusual hobby John, don’t you?” Bowen asked.
“Oh yeah,” Cooper smiles. ” Scuba diving. “
When Bowen called Pembrokeshire “the place to do it,” Cooper embarked on a lengthy monologue about the scenic landscapes and deep waters.
DCI Steve Wilkins said in Wales on Sunday that the clip was a breakthrough in the decades-old murder case.
He said: “It was Cooper, bold as copper, smiling and joking on national television having almost certainly murdered two people in cold blood.
“Just a month before the murders, revealing on national television knowledge of the area where the Dixons would be murdered.”
When Cooper took his throws, the camera inadvertently took him in the same pose as an artist impression of the prime suspect – and the resemblance was eerie.
Wilkins added: “The images were then put side by side. The result was chilling.
“In my 30 years of service, I had seen many artist impressions and photo-adjustment efforts, but I had never seen a game as close as this.”
Advances in forensic technology allowed officers to locate Ms Dixon’s DNA on shorts he had kept as a trophy.
More damning, a drop of dried blood from Mr. Dixon was found on a shotgun that Cooper had hidden in a hedge near his home.
He was sentenced to Swansea Crown Court in 2011 after an eight week trial – 26 years after his first murder.
He was also found guilty of holding five teenagers at gunpoint in Milford Haven, before raping a 16-year-old girl and indecently assaulting her 15-year-old boyfriend.
He will die behind bars after being struck with a rare life order.