Manchester in the 1960s – and children were going missing. But who was responsible for their disappearance?
It was January 1961 when peroxide blonde Myra Hindley, 19, went to work as a secretary at a small chemical firm. And it was here that she met Ian Brady, 26. The pair had a toxic chemistry which would lead to the Moors Murders, as abominable as any crimes this country has ever seen.
First Pauline Reade, 16, disappeared after going to a dance. It was July 1963. Despite a massive search, there was no sign of Pauline and no clue as to who might have harmed her.
The truth was that Pauline never made it to the dance. She was offered a lift by Myra Hindley, who had looked after her as a child. But first Hindley told Pauline she needed her help finding a glove she had lost on the moors. She said it had been given to her by her boyfriend Ian Brady and he’d be angry that she’d lost it. As Hindley drove the unsuspecting teenager to Saddleworth Moor, Brady followed on his motorbike.
What followed was the brutal rape and murder of Pauline Reade. Myra Hindley helped bury her body on the moor, along with the new pair of white stilettos her parents had bought her for the dance.
Then, in November of the same year, 12-year-old John Kilbride seemingly vanished into thin air. He had been last seen around the market in Ashton-Under-Lyne where he often helped out. Hindley used to buy her nylons there, and on that fateful evening John had accepted the offer of a lift from her. He was never seen again.
It was June 1964 when another 12-year-old boy disappeared while on his way to his grandmother’s. His fate was sealed when Hindley had appeared, and on the pretence of needing help loading some boxes into her car, she took Keith and met with Brady at Saddleworth Moor. He, too, was raped, tortured and strangled, his body buried by the evil couple. As with the previous two children who had gone missing, the intensive search for Keith Bennett found no body, no clues.
Then on Boxing Day 1964, Lesley Ann Downey, just 10, didn’t return home from a local fairground. Sickeningly, Hindley and Brady took photos and even tape-recordings of her final moments. In the chilling 13-minute recording she can be heard calling them ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ in a desperate attempt to stop their torture. Hindley can be heard coldly telling the girl to shut up.
Once again, the huge police effort, bolstered by many local volunteers, drew a blank. And the horrific reason it drew a blank, just like the searches for Pauline, John and Keith, was of course that the children had all been murdered and buried on Saddleworth Moor.
The story of how twisted lovers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley came to lure, torture and kill these innocent children, plus how the death of another child, Edward Evans, led to their arrests, is one of the most infamous in British criminal history. The revulsion felt by the public has lasted decades, as has the ongoing search for the truth about where Keith Bennett was buried.
Watch the video above to see how the Moors Murders still manage to haunt the national psyche over half a century on.