The body of a Johnstone teenager raped and murdered almost 42 years ago could be exhumed in a dramatic bid to finally solve the case.

Pamela Hastie was attacked in the town’s Rannoch Woods as she walked home from school in November 1981.

The 16-year-old was strangled with a length of twine after the killer hit her on the head with a piece of wood and then dragged her into bushes.

Police Scotland are now looking at the possibility of removing Pamela’s body from Abbey Cemetery in nearby Elderslie, where she is buried, to see if they can extract any DNA and then match it to a possible suspect.

A recent review of the case by detectives found that Pamela’s body could still yield evidence, not available at the time.

The new police investigation was ordered by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, who wants to make the unsolved murders of women a priority.

It is understood that Pamela’s family have been informed of the latest development and that her grave has been assessed to identify if exhumation is possible.

Local man Raymond Gilmour, then 19, was tried and convicted in 1982 of her murder at the High Court in Glasgow, but his conviction was later quashed on appeal after he had served 20 years in jail.

Gilmour had been brought in for questioning after he admitted being in the woods the day before Pamela was killed – and exposing himself.

However appeal judges accepted expert evidence that he had been forced by police into confessing to the murder.

Pamela and Gilmour both lived close to Rannoch Woods.

It is believed that Police Scotland do not have a specific suspect in mind.

In recent years there has been speculation linking all of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers with Pamela’s murder, including Robert Black, Angus Sinclair, and Johnstone man Peter Tobin.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “As with any unresolved homicide, we will continue to work with Police Scotland to explore any new evidential developments.”

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes added: “The murder of Pamela Hastie remains unresolved, it is subject to review and any new information about her death will be investigated.

“Police Scotland never considers such cases closed and the passage of time is no barrier to the investigation of unresolved homicide cases.”