Murders on the Moors

Sep 27, 2011 - by Mark Pulham

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

Myra Hindley was, for the British public, evil personified, and was the most hated woman in Britain from the time of her arrest in 1965 until the day she died in 2002 for murdering children with her boyfriend and burying them on the Moors.

by Mark Pulham

At around 8:40 on the morning of Thursday, October 7, 1965, Bob Talbot knocked on the back door of 16 Wardle Brook Avenue. He wore a long white coat and carried a basket of bread under his arm. A woman opened the door and looked at him. He wasn’t the usual bread delivery man, and she told him he’d got the wrong house. The woman was tall and square-jawed, with honey-platinum hair and thick black eyebrows. Talbot would have put her age as around 35-years-old, but he would have been wrong, she had only turned 23 a few months before.

Talbot dropped the pretence. “I’m a police officer.” he said, as he stepped through the door, “Is the man of the house in?”  The newly promoted Superintendent Bob Talbot followed the woman through the kitchen and into the living room, as behind him, his Detective Sergeant Jock Carr slipped into the kitchen through the back door.

In the living room was a bed, and a man was lying on it, writing a letter. He looked up as they entered. It was a neat and tidy room, with a couple of dogs and a budgie. It was not the superintendent’s idea of what a crime scene looked like. He looked at the man and said that he believed that a murder had been committed there.

It had started less than three hours before, when a frantic call had come into Hyde Police Station. It was just after 6 a.m. when the young police constable picked up the telephone and heard the called say, “Is this Hyde Police Station?” The caller was stammering with nervousness, but told the constable his name was David Smith. He said he was speaking from Hattersley, his broad Manchester accent causing him to drop the ‘H’. There’s been a murder, Smith told him, and that he was phoning from the call box on Hattersley Road West.

A police car was sent to the location and as it pulled up, two figures emerged from the shadows. David Smith was tall and tough, but he looked nervous and scared. In his hands were a screwdriver and a bread knife, which he had carried for protection. The other figure was smaller and female. It was Smith’s wife, Maureen.

They were taken back to Hyde Police Station where Smith told his story, incredible as it was. Detective Inspector Wills was called, and he in turn called Superintendent Talbot. Wills apologized, Talbot was starting his holiday that day, and this would delay it. When Talbot arrived at the station, they had Smith tell his story again. A young man, according to Smith, had been murdered by an axe, right in front of him. It was an unbelievable story, but serious and had to be investigated. Smith gave them all a warning to be careful, the killer had guns in the house.

Talbot picked up the telephone and arranged to have two dozen policemen and half a dozen plain clothes officers meet him at the location, a quiet road on the Hattersley Estate. He told them all to keep out of sight.

They all had their attention on number 16, waiting for the killer to come out and head off to work, which Smith assured them he did every morning at 8:20 sharp. This morning, no one had left the house, and Talbot was beginning to suspect Smith’s story may be unreliable. As it got later, the street began to wake up with early morning activity, and Talbot knew he had to do something. He decided to approach the house from the back.

Talbot was wearing his uniform, and knew that he stood out. Talbot spotted a bread man making deliveries, and he stopped him and asked if he could borrow his long white jacket. The bread man agreed.

Now that he was inside, the thought that a murder had taken place here seemed ridiculous, and in his head Talbot cursed Smith. But he had to follow through now that he’d started. He asked to take a look around the house. The woman accompanied him. Upstairs, Talbot turned the handle of one of the doors, and the woman tried to stop him, explaining that it’s her Gran’s bedroom, the house belonged to her. Talbot pushed the door open a couple of inches and glanced inside. There, sitting up in bed, puzzled by what she could hear from downstairs, was an elderly woman. Talbot closed the door.

It began to seem more and more likely that Smith, for some unknown reason, was lying, or maybe he’d been drunk and imagined it all. There was another door, and Talbot tried it. It was locked. He asked the woman to unlock it for him, but she told him that it was not convenient. But Talbot insisted. The woman explained that the key was at work. She belonged to a gun club, and this is the room where she kept the firearms, locked for safety.

She headed back downstairs, and Talbot followed. He still needed to see in the room, and said he could send someone to where she worked to collect the key. The man, who was still in bed and still writing, paused and looked up at the woman. In a Scotish accent, he said to her, “Ye best give him the key.”

Upstairs, Talbot opened the door and went in. The room was meagerly furnished, with bare floorboards, a long, neatly wrapped package underneath the window with a few paperback books piled on it, a wardrobe, and a bed that had been stripped. Talbot looked in the wardrobe, but there was nothing of interest. There was nothing on the bed. There was a small table with nothing on it either, a couple of empty suitcases, and some cardboard boxes, nothing of interest in any of them.

Talbot crossed to the long package. He tried to move it with his foot, but it was heavy. He felt it, and although it was hard, it gave a little as he squeezed. He ran his hand along a bit, and felt a row of small, rounded objects. It was a few moments before he realized what he was feeling. Toes. This was a human foot.

Unknown to him at the time, Superintendent Bob Talbot had just ended a series of murders that almost 50 years later still horrify the British public.

 

The Borstal Boy

The man in the bed was born Ian Duncan Stewart on Sunday, January 2, 1938 in Glasgow, the son of Maggie Stewart, a 28-year-old waitress in a tea room. Her husband, she told everyone, was dead, but the truth was she was not married. The father of baby Ian has never been established, though it is thought he may have been a reporter on one of the local newspapers. Maggie would always sign herself as Mrs. Stewart, keeping up the pretence to avoid the shame of being an unwed mother.

It was a hard time for Maggie. She needed to work, and with a baby to look after as well, it was tough going. Eventually, inevitably, it became too much for her. But she had a solution. She placed an advertisement in a shop window which read Working Widow Willing Have Child Adopted. The ad was answered by a Mrs. Sloan. Mary and John Sloan had four children of their own and one more wouldn’t be a bother. At four months old, Ian Stewart had become Ian Sloan, and went to live in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, a rough and crime ridden district in the center of the city.

But the Sloans were respectable, and their home at 56 Camden Street was decent. Ian was not treated any differently than the Sloans’ own children, yet somehow he knew that he wasn’t really a part of this family, that he was different from them. Maggie, who was now calling herself Peggy Stewart, was a frequent visitor, who loved her son, but did not reveal their true relationship.

Despite the love shown for Ian by the Sloans, Ian felt that he was an outsider, and a barrier began to form within him, separating him from the rest of the world. Ian made no friends, and when the Sloans moved to 21 Templeland Road in Pollock, the move was not as traumatic for Ian as they thought it would be: there was no one for him to miss.

Outwardly, Ian was a polite boy, but as he grew older, a rebelliousness began to take over, and eventually, he began to commit petty crimes, breaking into gas meters and small time theft. When he was caught in 1951, he was bound over for two years. But the temptation was strong, and he continued his crimes until he was caught the following year. Once again, he was bound over.

When he was 15-years-old, Ian began looking for work, and got a job with Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders. He was hired as an apprentice plater, but for most of the time, his job seemed to be making tea for the other workers. He stayed for nine months, but was fed up with the low wages, and finally left. Shortly after, he joined Messrs. Wallace, the butchers, where he was an errand boy.

But once again, the lure of easy money was too much for Ian, and he went back to committing petty crimes. In November, 1954, he was caught after breaking into a house.

The Sloans couldn’t take it any more, they wanted him to go back to his mother. But they had lost touch with her years before. Her visits, regular at first, had become less and less frequent, until finally she never came around at all.

But the welfare office tracked her down. She was living in Manchester after getting married in 1950 to a man named Pat Brady. She was given a choice by the authorities. If she was willing to have Ian move in with her, then the courts were prepared to place him on probation, for the third time. The alternative, if she is not willing, would be jail time for the 16-year-old. Peggy Brady agreed that her son should move back in with her.

In mid-December, 1954, Ian took the train down to Manchester to the woman who he once knew just as Peggy, a friend of the Sloans, but who he now knew was his mother. He took her married surname and became Ian Brady.

If he felt he was a loner in Glasgow, in Manchester it was worse, his strange accent separating him from everyone else. Pat Brady, Ian’s stepfather, wanted to love the boy as much as he loved his mother, Peggy, and wanted to help him as much as he could. The first thing to do was to get Ian a job. Pat worked at Manchester’s Smithfield Market as a porter, and he got Ian a job there with Howarth’s Fruiterers. It was a good job, but before long, Ian was once again involved in crime, this time stealing 44 pounds of lead seals from the market. He was caught smuggling them out. Pat was humiliated.

Once again, Ian found himself in a dock facing a charge, this time at the Crown Court in Manchester. Ian had run out of chances, this time there would be no probation, he would not be bound over, this would be a custodial sentence.

On January 10, 1956, Ian was sentenced to a term in Borstal, the common name given to juvenile prisons in Britain, named after the Kent town where the first one was located.

The aim of Borstal is to reform young offenders, get them on the right track, and there are plenty of chances to learn and become a good citizen. Like many things, it had successes and failures. Ian was one of the failures. He chose to ignore the advantages that were given to him in Borstal. He was finally released on November 14, 1957.

For the next year, Ian hardly worked. He would apply for jobs, but, on Pat’s insistence, he would add to his application his report from Borstal. No one wanted to hire a Borstal boy. Eventually, he got a job at Boddington’s Brewery as a laborer in the wash house. He was there for five months before being made redundant.

By the time his birthday came around, he seemed to want to change his ways, and began hitting the books, brushing up on bookkeeping and accountancy. The 21-year-old applied for a job with Millward’s Merchandising Limited, a wholesale Chemical Company. Despite his past, he was taken on, and he started work there on Monday, February 16, 1959.

 

Enter Myra Hindley

The name of the woman was Myra. She was born at Crumpsall Hospital on Thursday, July 23, 1942, to Nellie Hindley. Her father, Bob, was not present for the birth of his daughter, he was still away fighting in the war with the Parachute Regiment. For the first few years of her life, Myra was surrounded by women. They all lived in her Gran’s house at 24 Beasley Street, in Gorton, at the time a working class area of Manchester. With Bob away, there was only one man who could be thought of as a father figure, and that was Uncle Bert, Nellie’s brother.

By the time Myra was 3 years old, she had hardly seen anything of her dad. The war was now over, and Bob had returned home to Manchester, and soon, the family moved out of Gran’s house to 20 Eaton Street, just around the corner. Like many others, the man that returned was unlike the man who had left to fight for his country. Bob was bitter and disillusioned, and found it a struggle to fit into civilian life. He had found relief in alcohol and was constantly drunk. An aggressive man, he would frequently find himself in fights, either starting them himself, or a willing participant in fights started by others. There was violence in the home as well, with fights between Nellie and Bob, and violence directed toward the young Myra. When, on August 21, 1946, Nellie gave birth to their second child, Maureen, the situation that was already bad only got worse.

To solve the problem, Myra moved back in with Gran when she was 5-years-old. Hopefully, with the house less crowded and one less mouth to feed, the fighting that was going on between Bob and Nellie would be reduced, maybe even stop altogether. Myra was not being rejected in any sense, though it could have seemed that way. Gran loved Myra and loved having her around, and this type of situation was not uncommon. Plenty of families spread their children around an extended family, an easy thing to do in a time when families were not too far from each other geographically. With the houses being so close, Myra spent a lot of time at Eaton Street. It was almost as though she hadn’t moved out at all.

But the situation did cause one problem, unnoticeable at the time. Myra was a girl who was self-centered, and had she remained at home, her mother would have fulfilled the parental duties of teaching her right and wrong, and to learn the things that all little girls learned at the side of their mother. But Gran was not her mother, and her love took the form of a devoted and caring grandmother who did everything that Myra wanted, waiting on her hand and foot. Myra was a spoilt girl, who took her grandmother for granted.

Bob was a tough man, and he believed that his daughter should be equally as tough. He encouraged the young Myra to stick up for herself, and taught her how to fight. In once instance, a boy named Kenny came over to her. Using both hands, he grabbed her face and dug in his nails. As he dragged his fingers down her face, blood began to seep from the deep scratches he left behind. When Myra got home, Bob took her around to Kenny’s house and made her fight him. Kenny lost badly, and it became very clear that Myra Hindley was not a girl you wanted to tangle with.

But Myra was friendly, and one boy in particular she became very fond of, Michael Higgins. Michael was two years younger than Myra, a frail child who was often picked on and bullied, but Myra liked him, and would always come to his defense. It was almost as though he was a younger brother. They would often be together, frequently at the Mellands Field Reservoir where they would go swimming. In June of 1957, Michael asked Myra if she wanted to go swimming, but she had made plans to see a friend. Instead, Michael went off with a couple of others.

Later that day came news that devastated Myra. At the reservoir, Michael had got into some difficulty and had drowned. Myra’s grief was overwhelming. What made it worse for her was that she was a strong swimmer, and she knew that if she had gone along with Michael, then she would have been able to save him. But she had turned him down.

Michael’s death hit Myra hard and she was inconsolable. She cried constantly and wore black all the time. Myra went from door to door collecting money for a funeral wreath, and went to the church each night to light a candle for her friend. For weeks, Myra could be found at the cemetery, visiting Michael’s grave.

Michael was a Catholic, and his death awakened an interest in the Catholic faith. Her father, Bob, was a Catholic, though Nellie was Protestant, and both Myra and Maureen were christened in the Protestant faith. But there had always been some interest in the Catholic faith for Myra. Her Aunt Kate, Uncle Bob’s wife, was a Catholic and often took young Myra to Sunday Mass, though Nellie did not like it. And when it came time to choose a secondary school, Myra wanted St. Francis, a Catholic school that was run by Monks, whereas Nellie preferred a mixed faith school. Nellie won, and Myra went to Ryder Brow Secondary Modern.

But at this time in her life, the draw to Catholicism was strong and, sponsored by Aunt Kath, she took instruction. In November, Kath and Bert presented Myra with a gift, a prayer book, as a souvenir of her first communion. But by this time, something had made her change her mind, and she lost interest.

When Myra finished secondary school in 1957, she was offered a place at Didsbury Teacher Training College. But by now, she had had enough of school, and didn’t want to study anymore. Instead, she got a job at Lawrence, Scott, and Electromotors, an electrical engineering firm, as a junior clerk. She had also met a local boy named Ronnie Sinclair, who worked as a tea blender, eventually getting engaged when she was 17. For a short while, she seemed to be heading along the traditional route for girl at this time, marriage, home, and children. But Myra was a girl who wanted something more, something exciting. Ronnie would not do, and the engagement ended.

She was made redundant by Lawrence Scott, and for a short while went from job to job, considered joining the army or the navy, and even thought about becoming a nanny and working in the United States. But in December 1960 she was 18-years-old and unemployed, and needed a job. She looked through the situations vacant in the Manchester Evening News. One job caught her eye, typist wanted, excellent prospects. She applied, got the job, and on January 16, 1961, began work, at Millwards.

 

Ian and Myra 

To others, Ian Brady seemed brooding and surly, unfriendly. But to the young Myra, she saw someone romantic, a loner, a rebel. He was certainly different from other boys she had known. She had fallen immediately in love, and fallen hard. She would later say that she had never met anyone like him. He was well-read and intelligent, and he had a view of the world that was more sophisticated than that of others. For Myra, this was what she had been looking for, this was what was lacking in Ronnie Sinclair. Ian represented escape.

But Ian didn’t seem to care at all. For the first six months that she was with the company, Ian had not said one word to her. But this didn’t bother Myra. She was infatuated with him, and he was constantly mentioned in her diary. Finally, he said something to her. What it was is unrecorded, most likely something mundane and forgettable, but for Myra, it was a breakthrough of enormous proportions.

But Ian hardly spoke to her after that, and she was becoming disillusioned, with her diary entries jumping back and forth between her loving him, then hating him, then back to loving him again. Things change in December, at the office Christmas party. Ian, maybe a little more relaxed, asked Myra out on a date.

During the next few days, Ian treated her in the same manner he had all along, but he kept glancing at Myra, and she knew that they would be together. More dates followed, and eventually they had sex, the first time for Myra. The sex was brutal and painful, with Ian biting her, but she was okay with the pain.

Myra wanted to avoid Ian meeting her parents, but it had to happen at some time. When they did meet, Bob thought that Ian was okay. He saw something in Ian that was like him, with the same ideas on how women should be treated. Nellie, who probably saw the same qualities that Bob had, instantly disliked him, and warned Myra against him. But Myra was hooked, and nothing Nellie, or anyone else, could say would make her give up the man she loved.

They both made moves that would bring them closer. Ian managed to get his own typist removed and replaced by Myra. Now they could be together, closer, at work. Myra, on her part, brought up some recent burglaries in the area with her grandmother, and suggested that a man about the house would give them some security. They should have Ian move in for a couple of nights a week. And so, Ian was now in the same house with Myra, not for one or two nights a week, but every night.

 

Sieg Heil!

Myra’s life was intertwined with Ian’s, and she became interested in the same things that he was. From a young age, Ian had developed a fascination with the Nazi movement, having read Mein Kampf and the works of Neitsche, and immersed himself in everything German. He drank German wine and listened to German music. More disturbing was the interest in Nazi atrocities, and he and Myra would often read to each other accounts of wartime atrocities and propaganda.

Ian Brady had other interests. An early fascination with tape recorders allowed him to tape German music from records that he borrowed from the library, along with recordings of the “Goon Show” from the radio, and speeches by Hitler and other members of the Nazi party. He had also taken an interest in photography, and developed his own photographs.

He had also developed an interest in sexual sadism and perversion, and had read the works of the Marquis de Sade, in particular Justine, which follows the adventures of a girl from the age of 12 through to her mid 20s, and the sexual and depraved abuse she suffers. Ian had no doubt seen in Myra someone who he could indoctrinate into being a willing partner in his own interests, and he was right.

Brady’s sexual sadism and his passion for photography inevitably led to Myra posing for pornographic photographs involving bondage and sexual perversion. Although these photographs would not even raise an eyebrow now because they were so tame, in the early 1960s, they would have been considered very risqué.

Nellie Hindley must have been disappointed in her two girls. Myra was going out with Ian, and Nellie’s dislike of him was based more on instinct than anything he’d done. Although Myra knew much about Ian’s criminal past, she had, wisely, kept it from her parents. But younger daughter Maureen was in love with David Smith, and Nellie’s dislike of him was based on his past. David was a violent thug, who already, at the age of 15, had a lengthy record for assault. It no doubt seemed that out of the two, Smith was  worse. She would be proved wrong.

 

The Perfect Crime

The lure of crime was never far away from Ian’s thoughts, and he considered himself a master criminal, though the fact that he had consistently been caught would seem to deny this. He had come up with a plan to carry out a payroll hold-up, and Myra would be his accomplice. Myra, obsessed and infatuated with Ian, would do anything he asked. But there was something lacking in the plan. They needed guns to pull off the job.

One of their colleagues at Millwards, warehouse foreman George Clitheroe, was an expert on guns, and president of the Cheadle Gun Club. Myra, on Ian’s orders, became friendly with Clitheroe, and with his help, joined the gun club. Ian couldn’t do it, as he had a criminal record, and to join a gun club you needed a firearms certificate. His record would have prevented that. But Myra, apart from some traffic violations, had no record, and would easily be able to get one, especially with Clitheroe’s help.

Clitheroe helped Myra buy a .22 rifle legally, but behind his back, she made a couple of other purchases from other members of the club. One was a .45 pistol, and the other was a .30 Smith and Wesson. Ian and Myra would spend time up on the moors practicing their shooting, and took lots of photographs of themselves. The moors held a special fascination for them both, especially Ian, who liked the wide open, desolate spaces, and they would frequently have picnics in the area. The moors were bleak, windswept, and remote, where you could see for miles and where no one would disturb them. It was ideal for gun practice.

Now armed with guns, Ian’s plan can go ahead. But it doesn’t. Ian had come up with another, more daring plan. He had read the book Compulsion by Meyer Levin. Levin’s 1956 novel is a fictionalized account of the Leopold and Loeb murder case, and Ian believed he knew why the murderers were caught. He gave the book to Myra and made her read it. It was clear what Brady’s intention was. He and Myra were going to commit the perfect murder.

The perfect crime, the perfect murder, needed research, and Ian and Myra cruised around Manchester. One of the flaws in Leopold and Loeb’s crime was that they picked someone they knew. Ian was not going to make that mistake. The plan was to abduct a child that they had no connection with and kill it. While they drove, Ian took photographs.

 

First Victim: 16-year-old Pauline Reade

Pauline Reade
Pauline Reade

On Friday, July 12, 1963, Myra was driving alone in her van when she turned down Froxmer Street. There was a flash of headlights behind her and a motorbike roared past. It was around 8 p.m. In her headlights, she could see a girl walking along, a pretty girl in a party dress.

Pauline Reade knew Myra quite well, and when the van pulled over next to her, the 16-year-old smiled in recognition. Myra wound down the window and asked where she was going. Pauline told her she was off to a dance at a local social club. She was supposed to be going with friends, but they had set off before her. Myra offered Pauline a lift.

Grateful, Pauline climbed into the van and they set off. In front of them, Myra could see the motorbike that had passed earlier. It was parked on the corner, and sitting on it, waiting for the van to pass, was Ian Brady. As Myra passed by, Ian started the motorbike and followed.

Myra told Pauline that she needed to go up to the moors. She had left a glove there, and it was a gift from her boyfriend. Would Pauline mind if they took a small detour, Pauline could help her find the glove. Pauline said it was okay, she was not in that much of a rush. Myra drove the van along the A635 up to the moors, the headlights of Ian’s Tiger Cub motorbike clearly visible in the mirror as he followed, then passed.

Myra parked the van in the lay-by and she and Pauline got out. Ian greeted them, making their meeting seem to be coincidental, and he suggested that he and Pauline begin looking for the glove. The light was rapidly disappearing as Ian and Pauline moved off, Ian holding Pauline by the arm. It was quiet up on the moors, and Myra, according to her, waited. Ian and Pauline had vanished. Twenty minutes passed before Ian returned. He was alone.

He told Myra to get out and help. He removed a spade from the back of the van. In the moonlight, it was clear that his clothes were covered in blood. They both walked over to Hollin Brown Knoll, where, in the moonlight, could be seen the body of Pauline Reade, her clothing pulled up and blood oozing from a deep wound on her neck. Ian had beaten and raped her, and stabbed her in the throat. Ian dug a grave for Pauline and buried her on the moors.

Back home, Myra and Ian set about cleaning away any evidence. Ian was ahead of his time forensically, and had made a list of things to remember. He had counted all the buttons on their clothing, and recounted them now to make certain that none had fallen off at the crime scene. Outside, Ian washed down the van with hot, soapy water, clearing away anything that could link them to Pauline, or the moors.

Back inside, they were quiet as they went about cleaning, they didn’t want to wake up Myra’s grandmother, who slept on, oblivious to what was happening downstairs. The spade was washed thoroughly and the knife was put in the fire. The wooden handle would burn away to northing and the blade would be free of blood, cleansed by the flames. Ian stripped naked and cut his clothes into strips before putting them on the fire as well.

It was past 4:30 a.m. by the time they finished, and they drifted off to sleep in front of the fire. A couple of hours later they awoke. They quickly had breakfast, then got the blade of the knife out of the remains of the fire. Wrapping it up in newspaper, they took it away with them, driving as far as possible from their home. They found a river and after checking it was deep enough, Ian threw the blade into the water.

Pauline’s parents were worried when their daughter did not come home after the dance, and their fears were made even worse when they were told that she never even turned up. After they searched the streets that night and the next morning, Joan and Amos Reade called the police to report their daughter missing. People were interviewed by the police, including David Smith, who at one point had been Pauline’s boyfriend. Another search was mounted, but nothing was found. It seemed that Pauline had just vanished from the face of the earth.

Ian and Myra had done it, they had committed the perfect murder. Nothing could link them to the disappearance of Pauline Reade, and the chances of anyone finding the grave was virtually non-existent, the moors were too desolate, too vast.

For the next few months, life returned to normal. Ian knew in his mind that he was a criminal mastermind, the successful murder of Pauline Reade was proof of that. As the days following the murder turned to weeks, the disappearance of Pauline Reade began to vanish from the headlines as other news began to dominate. On Saturday, November 23, 1963 the Daily Mail headline screamed out, Kennedy Assassinated. The killing of the American president was foremost in almost everybody’s minds, except maybe Myra and Ian’s. Less than two weeks before, Ian, pleased over the Pauline Reade murder, told Myra that he wanted to do another one. They had planned it for that Saturday.

 

Second Victim: 12-year-old John Kilbride

John Kilbride
John Kilbride

The Kilbride family lived at 262 Smallshaw Lane in Ashton-under-Lyne, just on the edge of Manchester. Pat and Sheila Kilbride had six children, four boys and two girls. There was the youngest, Chris, aged 4, Maria, 6, Sheila, 7, Terry, 9, Pat, 10, and the eldest, John, aged 12.

On this Saturday, John was meeting his friend, John Ryan, and they were going to see a movie and then go to Ashton Market. The market was a draw for kids, a bustling, exciting place that offered food and an opportunity to earn some extra money running the odd errand for a stallholder. There had been a market there for 700 years, and was famous as one of the highlights of the town.

The two John’s walked among the stalls, reveling in the smells from the food stalls and the sounds of the stallholders shouting about what they were selling. Eventually, John Ryan had to go home, and he left his friend. John Kilbride stayed a little while longer. It was 5:45 p.m.

Myra and Ian drove by in the white Ford Anglia she had hired. Myra looked very different, her bleached blonde hair hidden under a black wig. They scanned the crowd for kids that looked as thought they were on their own. Finally, they spotted one who had just bought some broken biscuits from a stallholder. Myra pulled over and parked, then she and Ian got out and walked together over to where the boy was sitting on a wall.

They looked around, making sure there were no witnesses, then, confident that the coast was clear, they struck up a conversation with the boy, asking what he was doing out at that hour. It was late and beginning to get dark, so they offered to give the boy a ride back home, which he gratefully accepted. They asked him his name, and he told them. His name was John, and he told them he lived on Smallshaw Lane.

As they drove, Myra asked John if he would like some sherry, a grown up treat. John, enthusiastic, said he would. Myra told him that they would have to go home to get it, if that was okay with him. Once again, the unsuspecting boy nodded in agreement. John sat back as they headed off and Ian said that he’d just remembered a pair of gloves left up on the moor where they had a picnic that afternoon. John wouldn’t mind if they went and looked for them would he? John didn’t mind. On the moor, Ian took out a flashlight and he and John went to look for the gloves. Once again, according to Myra, she remained behind, waiting.

Back in Smallshaw Lane, Pat and Sheila Kilbride were getting worried. It was past 6:30 p.m. and it wasn’t like John to stay out so late. They checked with his grandmother, but John was not there. They began to panic, where could John be? They called in the police who took descriptions and began a search, but to no avail. The boy had vanished.

John’s fate followed that of Pauline. He was raped and murdered, and buried on the moor. The only difference was the knife that Ian used was too blunt, and so he ended up strangling John with a length of string. As before, the clean up was meticulous.

On the Sunday, a massive search was underway. Two thousand had turned up to help in the search. Teenagers, mothers, businessmen, they searched the derelict buildings and the waste ground, the parks and the reservoirs, the canals and the woods. No matter where they looked, there was no trace.

The months passed and 1963 became 1964. Life was normal, for the most part. Nellie must have been appalled by her daughter Maureen. Pregnant at 18 years of age, the father of the baby a 16-year-old thug. There was no chance of an abortion, it was illegal, and a back street abortion was dangerous. They had to get married.

In the meantime, Ian decided, he wanted to do another one.

 

Third Victim: 12-year-old Keith Bennett

Keith Bennett
Keith Bennett

The Bennett family lived on Eston Street, in the Longsight district of Manchester. It was a crowded house, with the six children in the family. There were the girls, Maggie aged 4, Sylvia aged 11, and their stepsister Susan, also aged 11. Then there were the boys, Ian, aged 7, Alan, 8, and the eldest, 12-year-old Keith. Alan and Keith shared a bedroom and were as close as brothers could be. It was a happy family.

To give their mother, Winnie, a break, the kids spent some nights with their grandmother in Morton Street, not far away. Usually, they all walked together to her house, but on Tuesday, June 16, 1964, the others went on ahead. Keith would catch up. At 7:45 p.m., Winnie walked Keith down the road and left him at the corner of Stockport Road. He only had a few hundred yards to go. He waved to his mum and set off, and Winnie headed in the other direction.

Within minutes, Myra pulled up next to the boy. Wearing her black wig, she wound down the window and asked if he could give her a hand with some boxes. Keith got in with Myra and they drove off, Ian was in the back. On the moors, Ian led Keith a mile from the road.

The Bennett family were oblivious to Keith’s disappearance. When he didn’t turn up at his grandmother’s, the grandparents thought he’d decided to stay home. Like many working class families at the time, they had no telephone, and so no one could call to ask where Keith was. It wasn’t until the next day when his grandmother came around and asked Winnie why Keith didn’t come around the night before that they realized he was missing.

Once again, a police search turned up nothing.

David and Maureen Smith

David and Maureen Smith

On August 15, 1964, David and Maureen got married at the All Saint’s Registry Office. Nellie did not attend the wedding, her dislike of David was so intense. Myra also didn’t like him, and so she and Ian did not go either. But Myra did like her little sister, and so she arranged a day out for the four of them the next day. It was the first time Ian had met David, and they hit it off. They headed off to the Lake District, with Ian and David sat in the back getting drunk. Myra didn’t like this. She was jealous that Ian had found someone and was giving him all his attention.

They began to see more of each other, and Ian saw something in David, a kindred spirit perhaps. David revealed to Ian that he sometimes beat Maureen. Ian confided to Smith that he beat Myra, and it seemed that the two men had something in common. But there was a significant difference. In Maureen’s case, she was the innocent victim of an abusive husband. But Myra was no innocent victim. She was a willing participant.

In September, there was upheaval for the occupants of Myra’s grandmother’s house. The Corporation of Manchester was clearing all the old streets and rebuilding, and Gorton was going to come down. A compulsory purchase order had been issued for Gran’s house, and they were being moved to a spill-over estate in Hattersley on the edge of the city. Myra and her grandmother got a new house, a pre-fab, on the Hattersley Estate, 16 Wardle Brook Avenue.

After the Gorton address, Wardle Brook seemed like a palace. Number 16 was just one of four houses on a raised terrace. It was just on the edge of countryside, and Ian and Myra went for walks along with their dogs, Puppet and Lassie. They would go for picnics on the moors, and take along the daughter of one of the new neighbors. Pat Hodges was 11-years-old at the time, and liked the couple. She would have been horrified if she knew that the area in which she sat while they had the picnic was the grave of John Kilbride.

In October, Maureen gave birth to a baby girl, who they named Angela Dawn. David and Ian were getting closer, and Ian gave David a copy of Justine and told him to read it. Myra did not like this closeness. She didn’t like or trust Smith. He was an interloper in her world, the one she shared with Ian. She thought it was a mistake to bring him into their lives.

 

The Fourth Victim: 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey

Lesley Ann Downey
Lesley Ann Downey

As Christmas approached, Ian wanted to do another one. This time, he wanted to make things a little more dangerous, but being a master criminal, he could handle it. This time, he wanted to kill it in the house. To Ian, the victims were not him or her, they were always “it.”

This time, Ian also has a victim in mind. Pat Hodges. This was risky, they were sure to be questioned if she disappeared, but Ian was confident that they could fool the police, all they needed was a convincing story. However, they eventually decided Pat would not be the victim. Maybe it occurred to Ian that this had been one of the mistakes that Leopold and Loeb had made, when they murdered someone they knew.

At 25 Charnley Walk in Ancoats, Ann Downey was getting ready for Christmas, with her four children and the man she was going to marry, Alan West. Lesley Ann was the only girl, a pretty 10-year-old with dark curls and blue eyes. She was excited about Christmas, not only the presents, but the treat the next day of going to the Christmas Fair just down the road. On Christmas Day, Lesley Ann was excited as she got a special present, a toy sewing machine.

The next day, Boxing Day, 1964, Lesley Ann was looking forward to the fair, and afterwards, when she came home, she and her mum would use the new sewing machine to make clothes for her dolls. As a special present, her older brother, 14-year-old Terry, gave her a necklace of white beads. That afternoon, Lesley Ann’s friends came around and they set off for the fair. Along with her friend Linda and Linda’s brother Roy, Lesley Ann also had her little brothers, 8-year-old Thomas and 4-year-old Brett.

The fair was full of excitement, with the Ferris Wheel and the Big Dipper, the Cyclone and the Whizzer. The time went by in a flash, and soon it was time to go home. The children all started for home, and then Lesley Ann stopped. It was too exciting to leave without just one more look around. She told the others to go on ahead, she’s just going to take one more look and then she will come home. As the others headed off in the direction of home, Lesley Ann went back into the fairground for a last run around.

A woman dropped her bag of shopping next to the girl, a woman with dark hair. She asked the girl to give her a hand with the bags and then asked her name. Lesley Ann the girl told her. Lesley Ann helped Myra to the car with the bags and then Myra offered her a lift home. Lesley Ann got into the car. Ian was in the back. Lesley Ann, as some kids often did, called the couple “Mum” and “Dad,” rather than by name.

Back at Wardle Brook Avenue, the house was empty. Myra’s grandmother was away visiting some relatives. Ian and Myra brought Lesley Ann into the house, and while Myra locked the dogs in the kitchen, Ian took Lesley Ann upstairs. A tape recorder had been set up and was running, and Ian had his camera ready. Myra came upstairs. Lesley Ann’s nightmare began.

Later, Myra looked out the window and saw that it was snowing. It was too dangerous to drive. Ian was angry, it meant they couldn’t get up to the moors that night. Lesley Ann needed to be moved. The little girl, raped and strangled, had been wrapped in a bed sheet and put in the trunk of the car. They would have to take it to the moors the next day.

 

The Last Victim: 17-year-old Edward Evans

Edward Evans
Edward Evans

The months passed and David and Maureen’s marriage was under a great deal of strain. Near the end of April, 1965, it was put to the test. Angela Dawn, aged only six months, died at Ancoats Hospital. The parents were distraught, devastated. Myra, believing they would be better if they moved from Gorton, got them a place to live just two minutes away.

With David close by, he and Ian saw more of each other. In October, David told them that they were going to be evicted, they had no money and could not make the payments. While he was there, David helped Ian bring down some suitcases from upstairs and Ian told Myra to take them to Central Station and leave them with left luggage.

Ian wanted to take even more chances, this time, he wanted to involve a third person, and Smith was ideal. Myra could feel herself being edged out, and she didn’t like it. On October 6, 1965, Myra drove Ian into town and parked near the Central Station. Ian got out and went off to look for a suitable victim. As Ian walked around, he saw a young man at a vending machine.

Edward Evans was supposed to meet his friend Jeff and then both of them were going to go and watch Manchester United play Helsinki at Old Trafford. But Jeff didn’t turn up, probably stayed at home as his mother was sick. Edward had a couple of beers at Aunty’s Bar on Oxford Road, then another in a bar in Sackville Street, most likely the Rembrandt Pub, a well known homosexual bar in Manchester. After a drink, the 17-year-old decided to head home. As he stood by the vending machine, he heard someone talk to him. He turned and saw Ian Brady. The two chatted for a while, and then Edward, always friendly and happy to meet new people, went along with his new friend. It is possible that Ian and Edward had met before. Ian had been known to visit the Rembrandt on occasion, a fact not unknown to Myra, who dismissed these sexual adventures.

Back at the car, Brady introduced Myra as his sister, and suggested going home to have a drink. Edward was all for it. Back at Wardle Brook Avenue, Ian opened a bottle of wine and Edward sat down. He was comfortable, relaxed. Upstairs, Gran was in bed asleep. Ian told Myra to go round and get David.

At his home, David heard the buzzer and answered immediately. Maureen was still up and looked out the window. Myra’s car wasn’t visible, but she thought who else would it be at that time of night. They buzzed the door and Myra came upstairs. David and Maureen noticed that Myra wasn’t all dressed up, as she would have been if they were going out. She looked as if she was ready to do some cleaning, wearing clothes that were a little tattered. She asked David if he would walk her back home as it was late. David put on his shoes and jacket and followed Myra out the door.

Myra, on the way, asked David if he would like to pop in and see their miniature bottles. David said okay. When they reached Wardle Brook Avenue, David went to follow Myra in, but she stopped him, and told him wait outside in case Ian was doing something, she would flash the lights to let him know when to knock on the door. When he did knock, the door was opened by Ian who greeted David warmly and invited him in, asking if he’d come about the miniature wine bottles.

Ian disappeared back into the living room while David waited by the front door. Suddenly there was the sound of a crash and Myra ran out from the kitchen and shouted at David that they’re fighting and he should go and help. From upstairs, there was the sound of Gran’s voice, demanding to know what was going on. Myra replied that it was nothing, they had just knocked something over.

David, thinking Ian was being attacked by whoever their visitor was, came through the living room door. On the floor was a figure, wriggling in agony and fear. Standing above, one leg either side of the prone figure, was Ian. He held the young man on the floor by the neck with one hand. In his other hand was an ax. As David watched, Ian brought the side of the axe down again and again on the young man’s head. The figure on the floor twitched and jerked as each blow fell.

Smith thought at first that it was a joke, and that what Ian was hitting was some sort of dummy, that Ian was making it jerk about with his hand. But it became clear, rapidly, that what he was seeing was real, that the screaming and pleading was coming from a real human being, one he saw that was about his own age.

Fourteen times the ax came down, the pleas for mercy gradually turned to gurgles, and finally, Ian stopped. He lifted up the head by grabbing a handful of bloody hair and pulled a cushion cover over it. Then, grabbing a length of flex, Ian strangled the man on the floor. All was silent from the figure. Ian, wiping his hands on a magazine, said to Myra, “That was the messiest yet.”

She turned on the light to reveal a room covered in blood. It was on the walls, the floor, David’s jacket, all arcing from the ax as it swung up and down in the murderous frenzy. There was a sound from upstairs. Gran again, wanting to know what was going on. Myra told her she dropped the tape recorder on her foot and set the dogs off. Gran went back to sleep.

Ian told Myra to get the cleaning materials, then looked at David who seemed as if he was going to faint. Ian poured two glasses of wine, one for David, the other for himself.  David drank his down as Ian told him to go and help. Together, David and Myra cleaned the mess, the blood, the pieces of matted hair, brain tissue, and bone fragments. All went into a plastic shopping bag.

Myra went to the kitchen and came back with a sheet of polythene, a white sheet and a blanket. David and Ian maneuvered the body of Edward Evans onto it and tied it up. Ian was hobbling a little. During the struggle, Ian had sprained his ankle. But he and David managed to get the body upstairs and into the unused spare bedroom.

Back downstairs, Myra made a pot of tea, and they sat around drinking, Myra telling some anecdote about a time on the moors when they were burying a body. To David, the whole thing was surreal. Ian would have to stay home from work the next day because of his ankle, but the main problem was how were they going to get the body out of the house and to the car. It was decided that David would come back the next evening. He still had the pram that Angela Dawn had used, they could load the body in that and get it down to the car.

It was three in the morning when David left. He casually strolled out the gate after saying goodnight and he’d see them tomorrow. Across the road, he walked as if nothing had happened, around the corner, and finally out of sight. Then he ran.

He got home, fear pulsating through him. He ran into the bathroom, splashed water on his face, and then violently vomited.

Maureen, dozing on and off until he returned, asked him what was wrong and the words rushed out of his mouth. This big man, this tough thug, was quaking in fear. They had to go to the police. Maureen got dressed and they looked out the window. Myra’s car wasn’t there, but that meant nothing, what if they had walked around to their flat and were waiting outside. David grabbed a bread knife and a screwdriver for protection, then they went downstairs. The coast seemed to be clear.

They cut through here, crossed through there, getting further and further from 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, getting some distance between them and the murderous pair that David was certain were after him. At last, they were on Hattersley Road West, and the sky was light and there was a red telephone box. Inside the box, David dialed the number for the police. “Is this Hyde Police Station?” said David.

 

Myra Plays Dumb

After the discovery of Edward’s body, Ian was arrested and taken to the station. Myra insisted on coming along as well. She arranged for someone to look after Gran, then, picking up Puppet, she got in the black and white police car.

Myra tried to blame Smith for what had occurred, and she stood loyally by Ian. The police left her for a few hours, hoping that she would stew for a while and be more forthcoming when they returned. In the meantime, the police forensic team was going through the house. Tapes were found and had to be played. They were recordings of the “Goon Show” and speeches by Churchill and people talking. Superintendant Talbot was going through a tartan photo album. It was all innocent stuff, days out, picnics, Myra with the dogs.

Ian Brady arrest photo
Ian Brady arrest photo

Ian was charged with suspicion of murder, and Ian sat calmly. Myra sat waiting, she wanted to see Ian. The police took samples from Myra, including pubic hair, which Myra thought was outrageous. With no reason to think that Myra had any part in the murder, they let her go.

The next morning, she came back, hoping to see Ian as he was led in to the court. He was brought up and their eyes met. Ian asked an officer if he and Myra could share solicitors. It was a slip, he didn’t know that Myra had not been charged with anything. The officer made a note of it. Ian was formally charged, and Myra was brought back in for questioning. Again, she refused to answer questions other than that neither Ian nor she had done it.

She was let go again, there was nothing to hold her on. On the Saturday, Myra dropped into Millwards. No one was around, so she crossed to Ian’s office and went through the disused filing cabinet. Ian knew no one looked in there, and so he kept details of his body disposal plans in a file. Myra took them out and burned them.

Back at the police station on Monday, October 11, Myra was charged with being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Edward Evans. She was led down to another room where her photograph was taken, a photograph which has since become iconic.

Among the things found at Wardle Brook Avenue was an exercise book. There were doodles, notes, scrawled names, drawings. Talbot looked through it all. The scrawled names seemed uninteresting, just things written down, Alec Guineas, a play on the actors name, John Gilbert, another actor, Frank Wilson, Jim Idiot, John Kilbride, John Birch, Jim Sloan. Talbot paused. John Kilbride. That was the name of the young boy that disappeared.

Back at the station, Talbot put a call through to Detective Chief Inspector Joe Mounsey at Ashton-under-Lyne. Mounsey had been involved in the hunt for the missing boy, and was a regular visitor to the Kilbride home, keeping them informed, making sure they knew that he would never give up. Kilbride had become known as “Mounsey’s lad.”’ Talbot told him about the name in the book. Mounsey said he’d be there in the morning.

Another officer had also turned up. Detective Chief Inspector Tyrell from Manchester CID. He had heard about the arrest. He was also looking for a missing child, from Ancoats, name of Lesley Ann Downey.

 

Photographs

Saddleworth Moor
Saddleworth Moor

The next day, Mounsey arrived and began looking through the evidence taken from Wardle Brook. Mounsey was fascinated by the photographs in the tartan album. Some of them seemed innocent enough, but why were there photographs of empty stretches of the moor and areas that didn’t seem to have any particular interest for a photographer.

David Smith had mentioned that Ian and Myra talked about the bodies on the moor. The photographs now became important. These stretches of the moor were not just photographs, they were mementoes, these were places where the bodies were buried. Mounsey asks for any negatives to be printed up, they knew that they would have to dig up the moors, and they needed to narrow the area down.

In the meantime, the detectives began looking for suitcases Smith had said were taken to left luggage. They found them on Friday, October 15, and they were brought back to the station. Inside were spools of audio tape, all of which had to be listened to. It was the usual stuff, speeches, the “Goon Show, the police listened to them all. But other stuff found in the suitcase confirmed that Edward was not the first victim. There were nine photographs. The police officers stared down at them, a little girl, naked, gagged with a scarf, her limbs arranged in a series of pornographic poses, a little girl that was so easily identified as Lesley Ann Downey.

The tapes were played, the officers listened. A BBC announcer, some music, speeches. Another tape put on, “This is track four,” announced a man’s voice. Then more from the man, doors banging, some more noise, footsteps, then the sound of a child screaming “Don’t . Mum-Ah.” A woman told her to “Come on” and then “Shut up!” The child pleaded “Oh, please,” then “Oh,” then, fainter, “Help, oh.” A pause, then the child again, “Help – oh,” and the woman “Shut up. Shut UP!”

The police, those who could stand it, those who have not run out of the room, listened in silence as the minutes ticked on. “Shut up or I’ll forget myself and hit you,” said the woman. The child was whimpering. There was a retching noise as a gag is put on the child’s mouth. More minutes passed, and the child’s voice, “Will you take your hands off me?” and moments later “Please, God.” More minutes, “What are you going to do with me?” said the child, and the man replied, “I just want some photographs, that’s all.”

Minutes later the child said “It hurts me. I want to see Mummy, honest to God.” A few more minutes, “Put it in your mouth, right in,” said the man. “I’m not going to do owt,” the child replies. The man answered, “If you don’t keep that hand down, I’ll slit your neck.” More minutes, “What’s your name?” asked the man. The child replied, “Lesley.” “Lesley what?” “Ann.”  The tape went on a few more minutes then ended with the Little Drummer Boy being played to a fade out. 

The tape lasted just over 13 minutes, but the officers memories would last a lifetime.

 

Searching the Moors

Saddleworth Moor
Saddleworth Moor

On October 16, 1965, the search of Saddleworth Moor began. The police, using tamping rods, long sticks that are pushed into the ground and then smelled at the ends to detect remains, started walking the moor, pushing the sticks into depressions, patches of ground, and any other areas that looked as though it may be a grave.

Just before 4 p.m., one constable wandered a little further off, needing to relieve himself before taking the long drive back to town. He saw something sticking up from the ground, something white. He looked closer, it was a bone. He called the others over and they began to excavate. Soon, what remained of Lesley Ann Downey was uncovered.

The police photographer, Ray Gelder, took photos and realized that the background was the same as what appeared in the photographs taken by Brady. The Brady photographs were of the locations of bodies.

Back at the police station, Myra was interviewed by Superintendent Arthur Benfield. He showed her the black wig that had been found in the suitcase, he laid out the photographs of Lesley Ann, and he played the tape of Lesley Ann pleading with the couple. Myra didn’t say a word, just sat emotionless.

Myra Hindley and Puppet at John Kilbrides grave
Myra Hindley and Puppet at John Kilbrides grave

In one photograph, Myra is seen crouching down, holding her dog, Puppet. She seems to be looking at the dog, but Gelder thought otherwise. Upon closer examination, they saw that he was right. Although to a quick look, it did seem that she was looking at the top of Puppet’s head, if you looked closer, you realized that she was looking past the dog. She was looking at the ground. She was looking at another grave.

On Thursday October 21, 1965, Detective Constable Peter Mascheder, who had developed some of the photographs, was on the moors. It was about 11 a.m. In his hand was the photograph of Myra and Puppet. He looked at the hills, then back at the photo, trying to line them up so that he could pinpoint where Myra was crouching. Finally, he was successful. This was the spot at which Myra was staring. Detective Inspector John Chaddock pushed a tamping rod into the ground. There was the unmistakable smell of a decomposing body. Officers started to scrape away the peat. Several inches down, they came upon a shoe. John Kilbride had been found.

Myra's iconic arrest  photograph
Myra's iconic arrest  photograph

That same day, both Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were charged with the murders of Edward Evans and Lesley Ann Downey.

The police were certain that Brady and Hindley were responsible for other disappearances, particularly Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, but there is absolutely no proof, and the moors stretch out for miles. There was far too much ground to cover, they couldn’t possibly search it all. Reluctantly, they abandoned the search.

To get an idea of when the photograph of Myra crouched over John’s grave was taken, they needed to know how old Puppet was. To determine the dogs age, they took him to a vet, where he was anaesthetized so they could run tests. But something went wrong. Puppet didn’t wake up. When Myra was told that Puppet was dead, she went into a rage, and screamed that the police were murderers and they would rot in hell for what they did.

 

The Trial

The trial began on April 19, 1966 at Chester Assizes, a venue that had been refurbished to include security screens, just in case someone tried to assassinate the defendants, a not unlikely fear given the hatred that had grown against them. They pleaded not guilty to all the charges. On the Edward Evans murder, Brady said that it was partly Smith’s idea,  that they had planned to “roll a queer.” Smith denied this vehemently.

As for Lesley Ann’s murder, both said that she had been brought to them by two men in a car expressly for the purpose of taking pornographic pictures. Once they were done, Lesley Ann left with the two men and was never seen again. Myra, having had plenty of time to come up with a story, said that she was hardly in the room when all this was going on. While Lesley Ann was being undressed, Myra was downstairs, and when Lesley Ann was forced into some of her poses, Myra was looking out the window at something, and when she was being strangled, Myra was in the bathroom running a bath.

Each of these assertions contradicted the story that two men took Lesley Ann away alive and well.

Myra was also asked why she had told the girl to shut up, and that she would get a slap. Myra, remorseful, said that it was unforgivable and cruel. But no one was fooled by her act of contrition, and the obvious lies. Myra had maintained the pretence of innocence from the beginning, but her voice was clear on the tape.

When Brady was questioned about Lesley Ann, he made a slip-up, one which was brought up again by the Judge Fenton-Atkinson. Asked what happened after the photographs were taken, Brady answered, “We all got dressed and went downstairs.” Not “we both.” We all. Myra had to be naked and taking part as well.

If either of them had any hope that there would be an acquittal, the tape put an end to that. The 13 minute tape of Lesley Ann pleading for her life was played in court, and at that point it was clear that after hearing that, no one in Britain would allow this pair to walk free.

The question became how long would they get. Ian was certain that his sentence would be long, but there was hope, in their eyes, for Myra. Maybe a couple of years for her, and she would be out, and Ian could then live his life through her.

 

The Verdict and Sentencing

Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror

The verdict came in. Brady was found guilty of all three murders. Myra was found guilty of the murders of Edward Evans and Lesley Ann Downey, but not guilty of the murder of John Kilbride. She was found guilty of harboring Ian Brady after the death of John Kilbride. Neither of them had anything to say.

The judge then passed sentence, and it was one no one was happy with, including the judge. “Ian Brady, these were three calculated, cruel, cold-blooded murders. In your case I pass the only sentences which the law now allows, which is three concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. Put him down.”

The wording “now allows” clearly indicated a reflection of regret that hanging had just been abolished.

“In your case, Hindley, you have been found guilty of two equally horrible murders, and in the third as an accessory after the fact. On the murders the sentence is two concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. And on the charge of being an accessory after the fact to the death of Kilbride, a concurrent sentence of seven years imprisonment. Put her down.”

There were many protests from people who wanted to bring back hanging, even if it was just for Brady and Hindley.

 

Prison

Myra in prison
Myra in prison

Brady was sent to Durham, and Hindley to Holloway. The other inmates recognized Hindley immediately, and although some turned away, others stared at her with hatred. Myra was still convinced that she would be out in a few years. Ian, it seemed, had accepted his fate.

In 1968, Myra got a visitor. Francis Aungier Pakenham, the 7th Earl of Longford. For a long time he had been a social reformer who had campaigned successfully to get some prisoners released back into the public. He took on Myra Hindley’s case, and she asked him to lobby for inter-prison visits, so she could, at least partially, be reunited with Brady. He agreed. It was unsuccessful, but Lord Longford believed that Myra should be released.

He told her of his conversion to Catholicism and said that she should be praying. Once Longford’s involvement reached the press, he found himself ridiculed at every opportunity. Nicknamed “Lord Wrongford” and frequently referred to as “Looney” Lord Longford, he had a reputation for eccentricity, and was derided in the press for his earlier anti-pornography campaign in which he spent a great deal of time visiting sex establishments both in Britain and Copenhagen. This, along with his opposition to gay rights, led to frequent accusations of hypocrisy.

Lord Longford
Lord Longford

But Longford was determined to get Hindley released, and dedicated himself to the task.

In the 1970’s, Myra began an affair with one of the prison officers, Patricia Cairns. When news of the affair reached Brady, he was furious. His hold over Myra, even from prison, had begun to slip away. Finally, the break with Ian came, and with that, the prison governor, Dorothy Wing, felt that Myra could be rehabilitated.

Wing, as she had done with other prisoners whom she felt could go back to society, took Myra out of the prison for a walk, which lasted two hours. Someone informed the press, who rushed to the prison in hopes of getting photographs of Hindley on her excursion. They were unlucky, having missed her by minutes. But the news was splashed across the papers the next day, leading the Home Secretary Robert Carr to officially reprimand Wing for her actions.

Longford stepped up his campaign to get Myra released, claiming that she was “a good girl and a devout Catholic.” A view that was not shared by a majority of people in Britain.

Myra was becoming frustrated. She wanted to spend a life with Patricia, not just snatched moments here and there. Another inmate, Maxine Croft, came up with a solution: Escape. The plan was simple. A ladder would get them over the prison wall where a car would be waiting, and they would drive to Heathrow to catch the 11 p.m. flight to Rio de Janiero. Maxine knew people on the outside who could get a forged passport for Myra. Once in Rio, they would enquire about missionary work.

Maxine and Patricia made plaster of Paris impressions of the keys needed for the escape, and it was agreed that the impressions would be left in a locker to be picked up by the forger. But the plans were changed, and the impressions sent direct to the forger, who owned a garage. When the package arrived, the garage owner was suspicious of it, he’d not been expecting it. With IRA bombs being discovered almost constantly, he asked one of his customers what he thought. The customer ripped open the package and found the key impressions, along with a note from Maxine. The customer happened to be a Detective Inspector who was off duty.

Maxine was questioned and Patricia and Myra were caught, despite Patricia rushing to her flat and getting rid of as much evidence as she could. Patricia was charged with conspiring to effect the escape of a prisoner and was sentenced to six years in jail, and ended up serving just over four years.

On the tenth anniversary of the Moors Murders, the News Of The World printed a rehash of the story. In prison, the article stirred up old feelings. One inmate, Josie O’Dwyer, had a violent temper, and she had hated Hindley from the beginning, though she got on well with child murderer Mary Bell. With the story back in the papers, O’Dwyer attacked Hindley. Myra took a kick full in the face and her leg was stamped on, before O’Dwyer was dragged off. Hindley suffered a torn cartilage in the knee and her nose was smashed. She had been rescued just in time, O’Dwyer was attempting to throw Myra over the railings to the concrete 20 feet below.

Myra needed a series of operations and she was later moved to Durham Prison. Lord Longford renewed his calls for her release, and the BBC program “Brass Tacks” had a televised debate on whether she should be freed. On Myra’s side was her sister, Maureen, and on the other was Ann West, Lesley Ann’s mother. A shouting match developed, and Maureen was demolished. They couldn’t get past the fact that Myra was responsible for the murder of three children, possibly more.

On October 3, 1980, Myra was devastated by Maureen’s sudden death at the age of 34. Myra was given permission to see her, but couldn’t get there in time.

 

Ian Rats Out Myra 

In 1983, Myra was transferred to Cookham Wood Prison, in Kent. Brady, his anger increasing, was fully aware of Myra’s attempts to be released, and he knew that it was an act. Ian wanted revenge for what he saw as a betrayal by her, and he knew how to get it.

A reporter for the Today newspaper, Fred Harrison, had begun a relationship with Brady. Harrison was writing a book about the murders, and was interviewing Brady when he gave Harrison some information. There were two more bodies buried on the Moor.

Myra denied any knowledge of the bodies, or at least tried to, but no one believed her, the damage was done. If she was repentant, why did she not reveal the other bodies’ existence.

When Chief Inspector Peter Topping, head of Greater Manchester Police CID, visited Hindley, he was surprised to find that Hindley wanted to help. Her silence over the years had not helped, and thanks to Brady’s revelation, had actually backfired. The hope now was that her helping the police would allow her to be seen in a new light, and it would help her chances of parole.

She was taken to the moors in the hope that she would be able to identify the location of the graves. It was supposed to be done in secret, but on a radio program, Home Office Minister David Mellor inadvertently gave away the plans. The media swarmed up to the moors. Myra, along with others, wore a balaclava. This would make it difficult for any of the newspaper photographers to get a clear shot at her. The same applied to any assassins that may take the opportunity to kill her.

 

Myra Confesses

Nothing was found, and for several weeks Myra thought about what to do. It was clear that the press would never leave her alone, and that her chances of freedom were hindered by the attention. The only way to end it would be to confess, and she did in February, 1987.

Many of Myra’s friends and supporters were shocked, and realized that for all this time, they had been lied to. Almost all of them dropped away from her. Longford stayed, believing still that she was a good girl, and he continued to be ridiculed in the press. Worst of all, Maureen’s second husband, Bill, cut off all communication with Sharon, Maureen’s daughter with Bill.

 

Finding Pauline Reade

On July 8, 1987, the search of the moors proved successful. After almost a quarter of a century, Pauline Reade was found.

The funeral of Pauline Reade was on the news, and Lord Longford didn’t miss the opportunity to press for Myra’s release in front of the gathered media. He told the cameras that Myra should now be released as she had done the right thing. But Myra had not done the right thing. She was only helping because Ian had backed her into a corner by revealing the existence of more graves, and Myra still had not informed the police that some of the photographs showed where Keith was buried.

Ian had also decided to help, and was taken up to the moors, but he seemed to be confused and said that everything was different, that things had moved. Whether this was a serious attempt is unknown, but it was possibly a way for Brady to regain some control.

It was impossible to know where Keith was buried, and once again, the search was abandoned.

 

Myra’s Bids for Parole

Several times during her time in prison, Myra had come up for a parole hearing. The original sentencing would have meant that Myra could have been freed from jail in 1992. However, the only person who could issue a release for her was the Home Secretary. Over the years, five Home Secretary’s had refused to parole her. No Home Secretary wanted commit political suicide and go down in the history books as the one who released Myra Hindley.

The families of the victims also made it hard for her. They spent the rest of their lives making certain that Myra Hindley never got out, that she would die in jail. Most vociferous was Ann West, who sat in court the day the tape of her daughter pleading for her life was played.

Lord Longford didn’t help. In 1986, he reportedly told Ann West that unless she forgave Hindley and Brady, she would not go to heaven when she died. This unbelievable harshness toward a mother of a victim, especially a high profile victim, would not get Myra any sympathy. And Longford was living up to his nickname of “Loony” as the public wondered why this man who thought gay rights were evil, homosexuals were handicapped, and strip clubs were abominations, should seem to feel that the rape, torture, and murder of children was okay. To say that he was misguided would be an understatement.

But Myra herself was her own worst enemy. It seemed that there was always something about her in the newspapers, many times through her own actions in trying to get released. Even when it was not her fault, she appeared in the newspapers. When she was in Cookham, the warden had allowed the inmates to have pony rides. When this was found out, the Sun, a newspaper always ready with a witty headline, printed a front page that read “TROT IN HELL.” As always, Myra’s iconic arrest photograph accompanied each story.

Her lies over the years also worked against her. It was clearly her voice on the Lesley Ann Downey tape. She was clearly involved in the murder of Edward Evans. She was clearly involved in the kidnapping of the children, dressed in her black wig and enticing them into the car. Ian possibly could have kidnapped the kids, but most kids would not go with a strange man, but a strange woman was different.

Her constant claims of either innocence, or that she did it because Ian forced her were blatantly unbelievable. If Myra was horrified by what Ian was planning, she had plenty of opportunity to get out. At the time of the planning of the first perfect murder, she willingly went around with him researching the kids. If she was not willing, however infatuated she may have been, she would have got out there and then. This is fairly good proof of the lie that she was forced into doing what she did.

Myra eventually came to realize that she needed to get out of the public eye, and get the case resolved. She stopped seeing Lord Longford, and, after being contacted by Alan Bennett, Keith’s brother, she agreed to go through the tartan album in the hope that something would trigger a memory in her and lead them to Keith’s grave.

Before she could see the album, Myra suffered a cerebral aneurysm. She was rushed to hospital where an operation saved her life, but she took six months to recover and when she did, she decided not to go through the album.

But there was hope for her. Britain had decided to adopt the European Convention on Human Rights, and it would take away the responsibility of deciding the fate of prisoners in jail for life away from the Home Secretary and give the decision to the judges. Myra’s case would be heard at the end of 2002.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, went into a panic. How could they keep this woman in jail? Blunkett contacted Greater Manchester CID to see if fresh charges could be brought against her, hoping that, as she had not been charged with the murders of Pauline and Keith, she could be charged now.

But it was not to be. He was informed that it would be an “abuse of process” after what had happened 15 years before. When Myra confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, and the subsequent discovery of Pauline’s body, the families sought a new trial. The Director of Public Prosecutions opposed the trial. It would be a waste of taxpayers’ money to put people on trial when there was no chance of them being released anyway. It would serve no purpose. The courts agreed with this.

This decision could not be reversed. She could not be charged. The prospects looked good for Myra. She could be a free woman. In preparation, another staunch supporter, David Astor, the former editor of the Observer newspaper, had found a convent in New York that would be willing to take her. Once again, the media found out, and the Sun headline read “MYRA TO BE NUN.” The convent took fright and backed off.

 

Death for Myra 

With the time getting shorter, with Blunkett in a panic as to what to do, and the public becoming more incensed at the prospect of having this monster released, fate stepped in. Myra was rushed to hospital and on Friday, November 15, 2002, she died of bronchial pneumonia caused by heart disease. She was 60 years old.

Even in death, Myra could not escape the hatred that she generated. Twenty funeral homes refused to handle her cremation.

On November 25, 2002, less than two weeks after Hindley died, the power to decide how long a criminal spends behind bars was stripped from the Home Secretary and given to the judges.

Myra Hindley was, for the British public, evil personified, and was the most hated woman in Britain from the time of her arrest until the day she died. Had she been released, the chances were extremely high that someone would have killed her. Even her mother felt she should remain in prison, though more out of fear for her daughter’s life. Hindley had always been seen as the more evil of the two, even though it was clear that the instigator was Brady. In 1987, Hindley admitted that her parole plea eight years before were a “pack of lies.”

In her own writings about the murders, she clearly wanted to portray herself as the passive member of the couple, and that the violence was performed by Brady. But psychiatrists have said that she had to have played an active part in the rapes and murders. Clearly she was in the room when Lesley Ann was raped and killed. And, as the psychiatrists pointed out, this was part of the pattern, meaning if she was present and active for one, then she was present and active for all.

 

Postscript

Brady escaped the hatred of the public by not trying to get out. For the first 19 years of his life sentence, he was in the general prison system before being found criminally insane in 1985 and  moved to the high-security Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital in Liverpool. He has no desire to be released, and has been on a hunger strike since 2001, with the authorities having to force feed him through a tube. That same year, he published a book, The Gates of Janus, an analysis of serial killing, which got mixed reviews.

In June of 2013, his appeal to be returned to regular prison was denied by a medical tribunal. Brady, then 75, said he wanted to return to prison so he could commit suicide.

The tribunal held in Manchester was an open affair, as dictated by UK law, and drew large crowds who were able to watch the hearing in an adjacent building via a live TV link. The meeting room itself was besieged by legal professionals and reporters from around the world.

Brady, who's voice had not been heard by the British public since 1965, remains a tall, slender man, but with his recognisable dark hair now grey, and a feeding tube hanging out of one nostril as a reminder of the seriousness of the proceedings.

During his four hour appearance, he often seemed agitated and furiously scribbled notes. He was also asked by his own representatives to remain quiet on several occasions.

When it was finally time for him to take the stand, he showed no sign of reticence, his Scottish accent still firm, although slightly less forceful than during his trial in 1965.

Although it had been previously agreed that the tribunal would not allow any questions relating to his crimes, Brady made several chilling and often provocative comments regarding the five murders for which he is never to be freed.

When asked what “value” he had got from the murders, he responded “existential experience” which mirrors some of his comments of 48 years ago, in which he claimed that murder and rape are “devine pleasures” and “the ultimate hobbies.”

As for the others in the case, Ann West died from cancer on Tuesday, February 9,

 

1999. She had suffered from nightmares for years since the death of her daughter, and the years of stress had contributed to her illness. She was 69 years old. Two years later, in August 2001, Longford also passed away at the age of 95.

David Smith, despite the fact that it was he who caused the couple to be arrested, was “reviled by the people of Manchester.” During the trial, Maureen, then eight months pregnant, was attacked in the elevator of their building. Their home was vandalized and they received hate mail. In 1969, Smith received a three year prison sentence for stabbing a man during a fight. Maureen divorced him in 1973. In 1972, Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his father, who was dying from incurable cancer. He was sentenced to two days in jail. He moved to Lincolnshire after remarrying.

Winnie Johnson and Keith
Winnie Johnson and Keith

Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, is suffering from cancer of the womb and doesn’t know how long she has left. Her hope is that before she dies, Ian Brady will tell her where her son is buried and she can give him a proper burial. Until then, Keith Bennett will remain lost on the moors. As of 2013, his remains have never been found.

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