From 1963 to 1965, two lovers carried out the unthinkable abuse, torture, and murder of five English children in what is now known as the Moors Murders. Though Myra Hindley and Ian Brady’s crimes sent shock waves across the Western world, there is still a ton of mystery regarding the whereabouts of the remains of the couple’s third victim, Keith Bennett. And with Hindley’s death in 2002 and Brady’s in 2017, it’s less and less likely that the 12-year-old’s family will get any closure.
Timeline of Killings
Five children — ranging in age from 10 to 17 — were abducted then subjected to abuse at the hands of Hindley and Brady. Sixteeen-year-old Pauline Reade was their first victim, who was beaten, raped, and stabbed before having her throat slit. Months later, the duo struck again one evening in November 1963. According to the Daily Star, the pair took 12-year-old John Kilbride from a market town, then raped and killed him — saving one of his shoes.
Though the couple’s murderous activity cooled off for several months, they also showed signs that they had matured as killers. In June 1964, Keith Bennett, who was 12, was killed while heading to his grandmother’s home in Manchester. The child was taken to a ditch and strangled before his body was disposed of. Taking more steps to conceal the body, and not admitting to Bennett’s murder until 1987 (along with Reade’s), his body has yet to be recovered.
Lesley Anne Downey, their youngest victim, was taken from a fair to their home and was tied up, stripped, and forced to pose for photographs. From there, she was strangled and buried in a shallow grave with little to no evidence left behind.
However, a careless oversight during their fifth and final murder led to their capture. Brady had gotten close to David Smith, the husband of Hindley’s sister. Not seeing him as a threat, the pair allowed the 17-year-old to witness the brutal slaying of 17-year-old Edward Evans with an ax. Smith stayed for dinner — where a confident Brady told him all about his previous murders. Smith then escaped to call police who later found Evans’ body wrapped in plastic in a spare bedroom.
In May 1966, Brady was sentenced to life for the murders of Kilbride, Downey, and Evans. Though Hindley had characterized herself as an unwilling participant, she was also sentenced to life for Downey and Edwards’ slayings. However, Brady was transferred to Ashworth Hospital in 1985 after being found criminally insane, according to the Daily Mail.
Both Hindley and Brady expressed remorse for their crimes. Though Hindley died in 2002, prison papers show that she felt she was worse than her counterpart because she knew what she was doing was reprehensible. “Although by the end I had become as corrupt as Ian was, there is a distinction … I did not instigate … but I knew the difference between right and wrong … I didn’t have a compulsion to kill … I wasn’t in charge … but in some ways I was more culpable because I knew better,” she told Dr. Tom Clark.
Letters sent to a pen pal by Brady became public in 2015, showing that he intended to die in a shootout before being captured. “We never intended to be taken alive. Had I heard the knock instead of Myra I would’ve been prepared. We had no luck, no opportunity to exit speedily — house surrounded covertly, all roads blocked, surprise entry through the back door. Total disaster,” Brady wrote, according to The Sun.
Toward the end of his life, Brady was fed via a feeding tube as went on a hunger strike, the BBC reports. He also claimed that he faked a schizophrenia diagnosis during testimony and is indeed mentally sound.
The Search for Keith
Saddleworth Moor — from where the notorious murders drew their name — is where the remains of Kilbride and Downey were unearthed. According to the Daily Mail, Reade’s body was discovered at the moor in 1987 after the couple’s confession.
As mentioned earlier, Bennet is the only victim whose remains haven’t been found. Despite pleas from the boy’s mother which included a personal letter to Hindley, she died in 2012 without knowing where her son’s remains are.
Though experts are certain that Keith’s remains are somewhere near the Moor Murderers’ other young victims, searches have left the family with more questions than answers. Though the Saddleworth News reports that a private search was carried out by Welsh search teams in 2010, it appears nothing came from it.
With no cooperation from Brady, the latest development in the search for Keith came in September 2015 when the family planned to launch a petition to obtain police documents and other relevant information. “If we are to continue doing the job the police will not or cannot continue, Alan should have access to anything that may help in our search. What do you all think?” they wrote in a Facebook post, according to the Manchester Evening News. “Please do let us know your opinions on this before we embark on starting another petition.”
Sadly, the search for Keith Bennett’s remains has been abandoned.
Watch the “Partners in Crime” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Most Evil on ID GO now!
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Main photos: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley [Wikipedia]