A SERIAL killer may have murdered seven young women in Scotland - including one who was found in Langbank.

New DNA tests have revealed `strong links` between the killings, stretching back to 1977.

Three police forces have launched a joint inquiry into the unsolved murders.

Hilda McCauley (36) was murdered in October 1977. She was last seen in Glasgow and was found at West Ferry, Langank.

The discovery sparked a massive police hunt around the village and neighbouring areas.

Around 100 officers from the Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and Tayside Police forces have begun trawling through all the information gathered in the cases, including the notorious World"s End murders in Edinburgh in 1977.

Lothian and Borders Deputy Chief Constable Tom Wood, who is leading the probe, said test results gave detectives a 'strong hope' of tracking down the women"s killer or killers.

He said: 'For the first time, we have a positive line of inquiry and some indications that a number of murders committed throughout Scotland during the late 1970s may be connected.` Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, both 17, who were last seen in the World"s End  pub,  were  found  dead  several  miles away in East  Lothian  after  being  beaten,  sexually assaulted and strangled.

The inquiry will also consider the murders of Anna Kenny, 20, in August 1977, and Agnes Cooney, 23, in December 1977, all in west central Scotland, as well as those of Carole Lannan, 18, in March 1979 and Elizabeth McCabe, 20, in March 1980, both in Dundee.

Suggestions of links between some of the deaths have emerged in the past, but now scientific evidence provides the first positive line of inquiry.

Mr Wood refused to say whether one or more suspects was being sought, and added: 'We"re now in a position to suggest, or believe, that there may be strong links between these crimes.`