THE mum of murdered Caroline Glachan suffered five miscarriages before having the baby who would later be so tragically taken from her.
Tiny Caroline was born fighting for life weighing just over 21b, proud mum Margaret McKeitch revealed last night.
The tot thrived under her love and care until the date of Margaret’s 40th birthday when teenaged Caroline’s body was found, sparking one of Scotland’s most enduring and infamous manhunts.
Margaret, whose life was turned upside down by the events of 20 years ago, said: “Caroline was born prematurely weighing next to nothing.
“Doctors said bringing her into the world early was her best chance of survival.
“I just told them, ‘Please do what you can. Please give me a child and my happiness will be complete’.
“She fought and survived those early days in an incubator and amazed us all by her determination to survive.
“She grew into a healthy child and she was my pride and joy. A lovely daughter, everything any parent could ever wish for.
“But I only had her for 14 years before she was taken from me.
“I have been denied any chance of seeing her grow into a woman, get married and have children.”
Margaret, 60, has been buoyed by a fresh Police Scotland probe into Caroline’s death which she hopes will finally see justice done for her daughter.
The body of the 14-year-old was discovered on the morning of August 24 1996 in the River Leven, near to the Black Bridge in Dunbartonshire.
The schoolgirl had been killed in a frenzied attack during which she suffered horrific head injuries.
Her body had been dumped in the river fully clothed – apart from her shoes.
“It has not been easy to go on without my daughter, but I have to because Caroline’s killer would win if I didn’t,” Margaret told The Sunday Post.
“Please let Caroline rest in peace and give me closure. That’s what I’d say to anyone out there who can help.
“Caroline knew her killer because she was a quiet girl who would never have spoken to a stranger.
“She was a modest wee girl and easily embarrassed.
“Her teachers at her school Our Lady and St Patrick’s High in Dumbarton could only praise her. She was working hard to gain the exam passes to study for a teaching degree and would have made a fine one.”
Pictures of Caroline take pride of place in the family living room, which looks out on to a garden dotted with a beautiful row of lilies. They remind Margaret of the flowers she got on her 40th birthday.
“My life changed horribly from that day and has never been the same,” she said.
“That’s the reality of having a child murdered.
“Your time left is overcast by grief and you have to learn to cope.
“Memories of your child and what has happened to her are reawakened at any time.
“A favourite song will come on the radio.
“You bump into a school friend of Caroline and suddenly you are taken back to what happened to her.”
Margaret’s hopes rest on pricking the conscience of someone who knows who killed Caroline.
That, and amazing advances in science meaning forensic evidence can now be collected from bodies which have been submerged in water.
Detectives hope the new inquiry – supported by an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme – will finally snare Caroline’s killer. And forensic scientists are re-examining more than 300 items collected at the time of her death.
The bright high school pupil was the apple of her mother’s eye.
“Caroline never complained about anything,” Margaret remembers.
“She was the perfect daughter. People talk about teenagers being moody or troublesome but Caroline was a joy to have around.
“Everyone loved her. She was quiet, mannerly and modest and I knew she would never have gone with someone she did not know.
“She was taken from me in the most brutal way and the past 20 years since have been spent living in hope of police finding her killer.
“Someone knows who they are. I am pleading with them to please think of what I am going through.
“Even if whoever murdered Caroline has passed away, I still need to know who killed her.”
Caroline was last seen heading to meet her boyfriend in the Renton area of Dumbarton. She had spent an evening with friends and took a short cut from shops along Dillichip Loan towards The Towpath and Black Bridge.
Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Angela Parker, national manager for Crimestoppers in Scotland, said: “Twenty years on and Caroline’s family are still left with unanswered questions as to what happened to her. I am asking for people who might have any information to contact Crimestoppers anonymously because you could be the person that provides the missing pieces to the puzzle.
“Please do the right thing and tell us who is responsible for taking a young girl’s life.”
Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr, of Police Scotland, is leading the new inquiry. He has received a positive response to the appeal, with around 50 calls to the
Back in her immaculate home, Margaret waits anxiously for any news.
She has revealed previously that she thought her daughter’s killer was probably someone she’s walked past “a thousand times”.
She added: “I’ll never forget the first time I saw Caroline. She was so small and frail.
“I vowed I’d do anything for her. And that’s a promise I’ll keep.”