POLICE have launched a hunt for the missing main suspect in the 1983 murder of 11-year-old Tracey Waters.

A detective inspector has been assigned by Strathclyde Police to search across the UK to try to track down Adam McDermott, Tracey's uncle, who has gone missing, and review the death of the girl, who was strangled in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.

The family believe there is a link between Tracey's killing and the infamous murder of 16-year-old Pamela Hastie two years earlier in nearby Rannoch Woods. Both girls were strangled.

Raymond Gilmour, the man convicted of murdering Miss Hastie, was in prison when Tracey died. He has recently been released pending a fresh appeal.

Police have obtained a DNA sample from Mr McDermott and are trying to match it with missing persons files. Detective Inspector Steven Wilson is checking hospital, employment and financial records.

The Herald had revealed that the family had asked officers to reopen the case following the disappearance of Mr McDermott.

After Tracey was killed, Mr McDermott was arrested and charged but never faced trial. He left his address in Kilbarchan on October 31, 2001, and has not been seen since.

Mr Wilson hopes the search will bring up information about the murder inquiry ''that was never closed''.

Tracey's mother, Margaret McDermott, had contacted Les Brown, an ex-police officer, to try to track down the former suspect.

Mr Brown runs the Search for Justice organisation, which helps those who believe they have suffered a miscarriage.

He said: ''We believe that a DNA test of the clothing of Tracey Waters and Pamela Hastie would help to clear this up.''