Wicked Attraction: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the Moors Murderers

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Murder Most Foul
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It takes a certain kind of evil to corrupt good. Not to destroy it, but to twist it completely to the other side. When a paragon of benevolence falls from his saintly pedestal to the lowest depths of filth, we stare, wonder and shake our heads. How does such compassion turn into depravity? Was the corruption truly that far-reaching? Or was the evil already there, carefully hidden and gift wrapped under layers of saccharine sweet goodness and light? Today we look at the case of two lovers who decided to embark together on a perversely sadistic path of serial sexual murder. For two years they would prey on the children and teenagers of Greater Manchester, England before they were finally brought to justice.

The faces of true evil: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

The faces of pure evil: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, at the time of their arrest in 1965.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the Moors Murderers, would show the world the true meaning of evil.

An Invitation to Murder

6 October, 1965

David’s standing there in the kitchen, admiring several bottles of wine. The labels are vintage; the bottles themselves miniatures. He wonders at how Ian managed to obtain them. The liquid within them is a lovely auburn brown, and he cannot wait to begin tasting, as soon as Myra returns from the living room.

A scream echoes from somewhere within the house, followed by a shout.


It’s Myra.

Disturbed, he rushes from the kitchen to the living room. What he sees will change his life forever.

Ian is straddling a young man, pushing his chest down with his knees, holding down his hands with an iron grip while the young man screams loudly, desperate for someone, anyone, to hear his plea.

“Shut up. Shut up, you fucking bastard,” Ian shouts into his ear and relinquishes his grip on the man before throwing him against the couch. The man falls to the ground like a limp rag doll, groaning in pain.

Myra stands nearby, arms crossed, watching the scene with amusement. She smiles widely, eyes alight with anticipation, as though she were a girl watching a particularly exciting movie.

David has no idea what is going on. Just as he is about to open his mouth to ask, Ian brings out the axe.

Down it goes.



And the man screams no more.

As David stands there, shocked to the bone and sick to his stomach, Ian drops the axe, takes an electrical wire and loops it around the corpse’s neck. He tightens it and pulls on both ends, strangling the young man, all the while cursing him. Eyebrows furrowed, eyes all alight with murderous intention and a sick thrill, a sadistic smile carved on his face.

And finally it’s over. Myra smiles, and retreats to the kitchen to make some tea. Ian puts down the axe, wipes the sweat off his head and grins at David. It is a grin he does not return. Stunned, David follows Ian into the kitchen.

“Did you see the look on his face when the axe came down?” Ian chuckles loudly as he drinks his tea.

“I know! He looked like an idiot!” Myra titters with glee as both of them discuss the man they just murdered.

David sits there, a cold chill running down his spine. He listens to how the two mock and demean the man who now lies cold in the living room, listens as they joke about how Myra nearly got caught disposing of another body, listens as they describe their plans to go “hunting” again.

David knows he has to remain calm and go along with everything. If he becomes frightened or angry, Ian and Myra won’t have to go looking out of their door for any prey.

As though in a blur, he follows their instructions: clean up the blood in the living room, remove all trace that he was ever there. Tie up the body, careful don’t let the blood drip onto the stairs, place the body in the bedroom upstairs.

It’s getting late.

“I-I’ll return in the morning to help dispose of the body…” David says to Myra, trying to keep a straight face.

“Sure you won’t stay for supper…?” Myra smiles sweetly at him.

He shakes his head, trying to conceal his fear.

“Alright then. Give my regards to Maureen then, ” and she turns her back on him. David slowly steps out of their home, putting his shoes on, careful not to show any sign of panic. Inside he can hear Myra switching on the gas and cooking, Ian turning on the the radio and grumbling for Myra to hurry up.

Once David reaches the end of the street, he runs into the night. He keeps running, never looking back until he reaches home where he tells his wife Maureen everything that he has just witnessed. Maureen cannot believe her ears when he speaks of the madness that her sister Myra and her boyfriend Ian are involved in, but the look on David’s face tells her otherwise.

David Smith with his wife Maureen. The former would be instrumental in bringing Myra and Ian to justice.

David Smith with his wife Maureen. The former would be instrumental in bringing Myra and Ian to justice.

The next morning sees the arrest of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and the beginning of an investigation into the nightmare that would become known as the Moors Murders.

But before we delve into their dark world, let us visit their growing years. Could there be any sign that either one or both of them would become sadistic killers in the future?

The Early Years – Ian

“I reached the stage where, whatever came to mind, get out and do it. I led the life that other people could only think about.”
– Ian Brady

Ian Brady was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 2 January 1938. His mother was a 28 year old waitress struggling to make ends meet as his father had died a few months before he was born. Clearly unable to cope with a baby and maintain her job at the same time, she decided to leave him in the care of a couple that she knew, the Sloan family. Ian never knew his real mother – she had relinquished him to the Sloans at the tender age of 4 months, and although she made frequent visits to the house where he lived, she did so under the pretense of a family friend. Eventually these visits became lesser and lesser in frequency until they stopped altogether – by this time his birth mother had married another man and had moved to Manchester, England.

Although the Sloans provided Ian with all the attention and love that he needed, he never seemed to care or to want to reciprocate. A difficult, lonely child who was prone to anger tantrums, he never felt like he belonged in the family. At the primary school he attended, teachers found him to be a bright and intelligent child with one flaw: laziness. Although Ian could have gotten good grades, he never really saw the need to study hard and was often in his own world.

There were also allegations that he enjoyed torturing animals, although Ian would deny that these were true later in his life. Supposedly he enjoyed “breaking the legs of dogs and then setting fire to them.”

A young Ian, sitting  at his home.

A young Ian, sitting in his home.

Even with such an attitude he managed to pass his exams and enter an academy for students with above-average intelligence. Despite being in such an environment, he was beginning to misbehave once more. Smoking, lying, stealing and housebreaking were offenses that quickly began to accumulate on his record. At the age of 16, he finally discovered who his birth mother was and was ordered to move to Manchester to live with her as part of a court order.

Ian did not fit in well. His Scottish accent only served to isolate him socially from the Britons around him, and he became a surly and morose teenager. At this point he did manage to get a job as a porter at the local market. However, the work bored him to tears. Young Ian wanted something more exciting, more riveting, more thrilling. Turning to books as an outlet, he quickly developed a taste for sadistic books like The Kiss of the Whip and The Torture Chamber which described various sadomasochistic acts. Ian was clearly engrossed in this fictional world where pleasure and pain were one.

It wasn’t long before he resorted to crime again, this time stealing from his employers. Ian ended up in a young offenders’ institution for the next few years, and there he picked up criminal skills from his fellow inmates, but also chose to study bookkeeping.

Two years after his release in 1959, at the age of 22, Ian Brady would begin work as a stock clerk in Millwards Merchandising company, where he could put his bookkeeping skills to use.

Barely a year later, a young woman would walk in through the company doors and apply for work as a secretary. Neither would know it then, but their lives would be changed forevermore.

The Early Years – Myra

I know almost everyone describes me as cold and calculating – “evil Myra” – but I ask you to believe that I find all this deeply upsetting.”

-Myra Hindley

If Ian’s childhood and growing years seemed like a recipe for disaster, Myra’s was the complete opposite. She enjoyed a much more “normal” and stable childhood than Ian, and by all accounts was supposed to turn out a well adjusted woman. What exactly happened? This is a central question that we will examine later.

Born on 23 July 1942 in Manchester, Myra grew up as the eldest child of a normal family. Her father was in the army for the first three years of her life, and he was often absent from home. Myra herself did not seem to mind much, for she had the devoted love of her mother. This father-daughter gap would always remain, even when her father returned home.

When her younger sister Maureen was born in 1946, her working parents decided that the stress was too much and decided to send Myra to live with her grandmother. Myra wholeheartedly enjoyed the undivided attention she got from her grandmother, and was otherwise very happy living with her.

Myra excelled in school – she was a straight A student and exhibited talent for creative writing, swimming and poetry and was an excellent swimmer. Teachers found her to be a responsible, mature girl. Kindhearted and generous, she displayed a genuine love and affection for children and was a popular choice for a babysitter in her local area. If you could get Myra Hindley as your babysitter, you did not need to worry about your children.

Myra Hindley (circled) seen in her schooling years. Teachers and her schoolmates all found her to be a delightful girl who was compassionate and kind.

Myra Hindley (circled) in her schooling years. Teachers and her schoolmates all found her to be a delightful girl who was compassionate and kind.

Perhaps the one incident which helps to illustrate Myra as a teenager was when her best friend, 13 year old Michael Higgins, drowned in an accident. 15 year old Myra was devastated; the day before he had invited her to go swimming together but she had turned him down. She believed that as a strong swimmer, she could have saved him if she had been there. The boy had always looked up to Myra as an older sister and she looked after him as best as she could, protecting and guiding him. The grief-stricken girl was inconsolable for several weeks after his death, retreating to her room where she would cry for long periods of time. Her grades started slipping, and although Myra attempted to regain her academic prowess, she was never really the same after that.

Deciding not to take her O-levels, she dropped out of school and worked as a clerk at a nearby firm. In these growing years she began to experiment, dancing at local clubs, listening to rock and roll and smoking. She also began to bleach her hair in an attempt to look older.

But Myra wasn’t satisfied with her life. Just like Ian Brady, she wanted something more. She wanted a thrill, adrenaline to pump through her veins, something which she could be passionate about. Myra considered applying to the army and the navy, but never followed up on it. In January 1961, she found a job as a secretary at a company called Millwards Merchandising.

Opening the doors and entering the building, she would notice a darkly attractive young man sitting by the corner working as a clerk.

Their eyes met, and Myra knew that her life would never be the same again.

A Dark Infatuation

It was a deadly attraction from the very beginning.

Myra, a wide-eyed 18 year old teenager at the time of her first meeting with Ian, was instantly charmed by the man. While others in the office found him to be a surly and dislikeable fellow who kept to himself, Myra instead saw an aloof and distant person, which she thought were characteristics that showed that he was an intelligent and enigmatic person. Drawn to him like a bee to pollen, Myra wrote in her journal over the next year or so of her growing infatuation with Ian. He would only reciprocate her advances the following year, at a Christmas party. Their relationship truly began at that moment, and the couple was off to their first date. It’s believed that Ian took her to watch The Nuremberg Trials, a documentary about the trials of Nazi leadership. Even before he had met Myra he was already becoming fascinated with WWII and the Nazis, even attempting to learn German. Supposedly his most prized book was an autobiography of Hitler. Myra herself discredited this attempt to paint Ian as a pro-Nazi man, recalling that the first film they watched together was in fact of King of Kings, a movie about the re-telling of the story of Jesus  Christ.

Ian and Myra during their time as active serial killers.

Ian and Myra during their time as active serial killers.

Before I proceed any further, we must understand that this was a crucial point in the Moors Murderers case. Supposedly (and this was the main tactic used in the defense of Myra Hindley in the trial after they were apprehended) this is where the 18 year old pure-hearted teenager with affection for children dies, and a monster emerges. It’s argued that the next few years that Myra spent with Ian completely destroyed any remnant of the kind child that was once within her, with a deep darkness filling her up instead. The next few paragraphs will describe the so-called influence he had over her, and I will leave you, discerning reader, to reach your own opinion.

As though she were a child clutching onto every word that her parents told her, Myra clung onto Ian like a lifeboat in a storm. Finally, for the first time in 18 years, she had found what she was looking for. Love, acceptance, and most important of all, a thrilling experience. Here was someone well acquainted with the dangers of the outside world, someone who could be her mentor, someone who could lead her onto a path of excitement and danger, her ultimate craving fulfilled. Ian had his own twisted philosophy (distilled, no doubt, from all his readings of Nazi books and those which described sadistic sex acts), and he wasted no time in passing it down to Myra.

Rape and murder, he said, were completely normal. In fact, murder was a “supreme pleasure”. Myra lapped up his words in their entirety, never stopping to consider if there was any truth to them. When Ian told her that God didn’t exist, she stopped going to church. Along with his dark twisted philosophy, she began conforming to his needs as well. She started dressing in short skirts and long boots and bleached her hair, in an attempt to copy the Germanic style which Ian favoured.

A picture taken by Ian of Myra during one of their dates. By this time she had fallen completely under his spell. Ian enjoyed the command he had over her.

A picture taken by Ian of Myra during one of their dates. By this time she had fallen completely under his spell. Ian enjoyed the command he had over her.

Her personality changed drastically too. Once described as a “kind, sensible girl”, Myra was now a surly, aggressive woman both at work and when with friends. After meeting Ian, she stopped going out for normal social activities and instead chose to spend most of her time either at work or with him. There was no in-between. Ian was her lover, her life, her god.

By 1963, Myra had already become a fully malleable figure in Ian’s eyes. Her mind, body and soul was his. She did whatever he told her to – even allowed him to take pornographic pictures of her while they had sex, and was unquestioningly loyal. It was almost like she was living off every word that came out of his mouth, every breath he took she shared too, and if he ever died she would succumb as well.

Ian was pleased. The perfect murder would begin soon.

The Path of Blood

On the night of 12 July 1963, 16 year old Pauline Reade was on her way to the Railway Workers’ Social Club for a dance event when a van on the street slowed down next to her. Pauline was wary at first, but when she saw it was a woman, and someone she knew at that, she let her guard down. The woman smiled out of the window at her and asked her if she could help search for an expensive glove that she lost on Saddleworth Moor, a nearby uncultivated hill land.

Pauline, ever the amiable girl, agreed. It was an act of kindness that would seal her fate.

Pauline Reade was just 16 years old when her life snuffed out by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

Pauline Reade was just 16 years old when her life was snuffed out by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady.

She got into the van with Myra, and together they drove out of town into Saddleworth Moor. There they met Ian (who had been trailing them on his motorbike), where Myra introduced him to Pauline as her boyfriend, and said that he would be searching for the glove as well. Ian took off with Pauline into the Moors, with Myra staying by the van.

30 minutes would pass before he returned. Myra knew by then that Pauline Reade was already dead. Ian, eager to show Myra his handiwork, took her to the site where he had attacked Pauline.

There she lay, in her prettiest pink party dress, with a pale blue coat and her white high-heeled shoes, slowly dying. Her throat had been slashed. Her “coat was undone and her clothes in a disarray”, and from this Myra guessed that Ian had raped her. Ian told Myra to wait while he took off to fetch a spade. For a moment of time Pauline lay there with Myra standing above her. Only Myra knows how Pauline spent her last few moments. We will never know how much she begged, cried or pleaded in a vain attempt at mercy, but by the time Ian returned with the spade, she was already dead.

The couple started digging in the Moors until a fresh grave was present. Then they callously threw Pauline in, covering her body with the soil before patting the area down. Then they drove home in the van, Ian satisfied and Myra feeling an odd thrill about the whole thing.

Along the way they would pass by Joan and Paul Reade – Pauline’s mother and brother – searching the streets for her, calling out for their lost daughter and sister.

But it was all in vain.The Moors Murderers had tasted blood. And they certainly weren’t going to stop any time soon.

Predator and Prey

The devious couple, unable to slake their thirst for blood, continued their hunt for victims in November.

On 23 November 1963, Myra and Ian approached 12 year old John Kilbride and offered the boy a lift home, saying that his parents would be worried about him being out so late. The trusting boy accepted the lift. As Myra drove to Saddleworth Moor, she mentioned to him about losing a glove somewhere out on the moor.

John Kilbride, 12, was lured by Myra under the pretense of a lost glove.

John Kilbride, 12, was lured by Myra under the pretense of a lost glove.

Just like in Pauline Reade’s case, the same tactic was used. Myra would remain by the van and Ian accompanied young John off into the moor, the latter never to be seen again. After sexually assaulting the terrified child, Ian attempted to slit his throat with a serrated blade before finally fatally strangling him with a piece of string, later thought to be a shoelace, possibly from John’s own shoes. Ian and Myra would then bury the body together, the two of them the only ones privy to this dark secret.

Once again on 16 June 1964, the Moors murderers would snatch their 3rd victim off the streets. 12 year old Keith Bennett was on his way to his grandmother Winnie’s house one evening. He never made it. The tragedy in this instance was that the grandmother’s house was only one mile (about 1.6km) away from his house. His mother even watched him leave the house and cross the road before disappearing from view, never knowing that it would be the last time she saw him.

Myra would later tell investigators that she had lured the 12 year old boy into her van by asking for his help in loading some boxes, promising to drive him to his grandmother’s afterwards. Ian lay in wait at the back of the van.

Lost innocence: 12 year old Keith Bennett was always a jovial, happy child.

Lost innocence: 12 year old Keith Bennett was always a jovial, happy child.

Just like John, Keith trusted Myra.

She drove off to Saddleworth Moor, where Ian would emerge from the back and use the old trick of a lost glove as an excuse to take Keith off to the moors. Just like before, Myra waited a full half hour before Ian returned with a spade. When Myra asked how Ian had killed Keith, he said he had raped him and then strangled him with a string.

It seemed like the Moors Murderers had found their signature killing style. But as Ian and Myra continued to kill, they found their sick tastes quickly spiralling out of control. Both of them wanted to try something new, something even more depraved and debauched than before.

On 26 December 1964, just one day after Christmas, the Moors Murderers committed their most horrifying murder yet.


Lesley Ann Downey was just a young girl of 10 when she had the misfortune of being spotted by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley at a fairground on Boxing Day. The murderous couple approached the little girl and pretended to drop some of their shopping near her, prompting the girl to help them pick up their bags.

Myra then made a suggestion that the girl could perhaps help to carry some of the bags back to their car outside the fair, and then to their home to unload. The innocent Lesley complied with her wishes, seeing nothing wrong with doing a good deed. Like Pauline, John and Keith before her, it was this kind heart of hers that Ian and Myra were betting on. The evil predators sought out kindness in their victims and preyed on it.

Lesley Ann Downey, 10 at the time of her murder. An angelic face coupled with an angelic heart, she made the fatal mistake of following the Moors Murderers home.

Lesley Ann Downey, 10 at the time of her murder. An angelic face coupled with an angelic heart, she made the fatal mistake of following the Moors Murderers home.

When the three of them reached Ian and Myra’s apartment and the doors were bolted shut, they stopped pretending to be the kindly strangers. There they revealed their true selves: disgusting, vile sexual predators.

I will not describe the atrocities they inflicted on Lesley. Any reader interested in the full details can use the internet to their advantage, but I refuse to write such vile things on this blog out of respect for Lesley and her family. Suffice to say the couple gagged and bound the girl before proceeding to commit vile acts on her together. They even forced the girl to take pornographic pictures. But perhaps most ghoulish of all, they taped her pleads and cries onto cassette for a full 13 minutes as she was being threatened and tortured.

Doubtless at this point the reader will be convinced of the full extent of evil that Ian Brady and Myra Hindley possessed. This very same tape, terrible though it might be, would later be crucial as evidence in putting away the duo behind bars.

Myra claims that it was Ian who killed Lesley, saying that she went to fill a bath for the child and came back to find her dead, presumably killed by Ian. But Ian maintains that it was in fact Myra who struck the killing blow. In this case, I am inclined to believe Ian – as will be shown later, Myra was a master of manipulation, using whatever lies she could concoct to her advantage. In fact, according to Ian, Myra enjoyed the sexual assault as much as Ian himself – if not more so.

The following morning, the couple drove to Saddleworth Moor and dumped Lesley’s body into a shallow grave.

Then, just a year later on 6 October 1965, Ian would invite 17 year old Edward Evans, an apprentice engineer at a railway station, into his house.

There he would kill the young man with an axe, while Myra stood by and watched with great interest along with her brother in law.

But what they didn’t know was that the third man watching would also be the one to unravel the entire truth and finally put an end to all the murder and madness.

Delving into Darkness

The day after the death of Edward Evans, David Smith would tell police investigators of the horror that he had witnessed the night before in the Brady/Hindley home.

Arriving at the house early in the morning, police would quickly find the body of Edward Evans upstairs, wrapped in a grey blanket along with the axe used to kill him.

Ian Brady was arrested immediately for the murder. In his statement to the police, he confessed that he had killed Edward, but that it had been a crime of passion, not cold-blooded murder. As an act of revenge, he implicated David, claiming that the young man had been involved in beating up the victim. He maintained that Myra had nothing to do with the murder. The couple must have planned ahead, for when questioned Myra repeated the same story that Ian told the police. She would have almost gotten away with it if police hadn’t remembered to check the car that the couple owned. Inside was a document several pages long handwritten by Myra herself that described how she and Brady planned to execute the murder.

David Smith was an integral part of the investigation and in exposing Myra and Ian as serial killers. He also mentioned to the police the conversation that he heard last night, talk of more bodies buried on Saddleworth Moor. The police followed up on this claim and unearthed a grisly discovery.

Investigators digging up Saddleworth Moor after listening to David's accusations. Lesley and John would soon be brought to rest.

Investigators digging up Saddleworth Moor after listening to David’s accusations. Lesley and John would soon be returned to their families and brought to rest.

On 10 October 1965, barely a year after her passing, officers found Lesley. After a search that involved more digging and pinpointing of the locations that Brady and Hindley were supposed to have frequented, John was discovered as well.

A search of the Brady/Hindley home also turned up the pornographic pictures of Lesley and most damning of all, the tape recording, where both Ian and Myra could clearly be heard. In a heartbreaking moment, police officers had to ask Lesley’s mother to listen to the tape recording in order to identify her daughter. I cannot imagine how any mother would feel listening to their child being tortured, and I can only hope that Mrs. Downey did not have to listen to more than was necessary.

Even when confronted with such incriminating evidence, Ian and Myra continued to protest their innocence. When told about the photos and the tape recording of Lesley, they denied that they had killed her and once again tried to frame David as the true mastermind in all this, saying that they only took the pictures and the tape and that Lesley had left the house with David.

Ian and Myra, faced with 3 charges of murder and sexual assault, obviously did not want to worsen their situation. They kept their silence on the disappearances of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett, and even though investigators had suspicions that they were responsible, they were unable to find any evidence showing a connection.

Pauline would have to wait 12 years before she was found by the police. Keith, to this day, has never been found. Police have combed Saddleworth Moor and turned to Ian Brady (who refused to speak of his crimes at all later in his years), but he still remains out there, somewhere on the Moor.

edited map

A map of where the bodies were found.
1. Lesley Ann Downey
2. John Kilbride
3. Pauline Reade (next to Lesley)
4. General region where Keith Bennett’s body is thought to lie.

But the police had enough to charge Myra and Ian with the murders of John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans.

27 April, 1966, saw the beginning of the trial of two of England’s most hated serial killers.

The Moors Murderers were about to face justice.

Trial and Incarceration

Those who were lucky (or unlucky enough, depending on how you see it) enough to attend the trial would always remember it. Packed to the brim, Britons flocked daily to the courtroom to see the trial of the century. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley even had to be protected by a screen, for fear that the wrath of the public would endanger them.

Throughout the trial both Ian and Myra demonstrated a stubborn resolve; they would settle for nothing less than a full acquittal and kept proclaiming their innocence, continuing to point fingers at David Smith. Such cowardice only caused the general public’s hatred of them to deepen, and at one point the media even branded Myra “the most evil woman in Britain”.

The evidence brought out by the prosecution was perhaps the most shocking part of the trial. Police had discovered several photographs of Myra on the moors, apparently taken by Ian. What angered many was that the couple had the gall to pose for photos on the very same land that they had killed and buried their victims. In some photos Myra could be seen smiling, as though she were on a perfectly normal trip out into the field.

A photo of Myra on the moor. It was taken by Ian in the years between their killings.

A photo of Myra on the moor. It was taken by Ian in the years between their killings. She can clearly be seen smiling.

But the part of the trial that everyone would remember forever was when the last moments of Lesley Ann Downey were played on tape for all to hear. A heavy, uneasy silence fell in the air as judge, jury and spectators alike heard the final pleads of a terrified child, her cries filling the air of the courtroom as Myra and Ian threatened her. I believe that the tape, more than any other piece of evidence brought up, cemented the belief in the public’s mind that Myra and Ian were undoubtedly guilty.

In their defense, Myra admitted that she was “brusque and cruel” towards Lesley, but said that she behaved so because she was afraid someone would hear her cries. Myra also attempted to distance herself from the killing of Lesley, claiming that she was downstairs when Ian started to undress the child. No one was fooled, though. Myra’s voice was clearly audible on tape and speaking directly to the child at that.

I was unsure whether to include a part of the transcript of the tape here, but eventually decided to do so. The horror that happened at the Brady/Hindley house needs to be understood, not avoided. Only by confronting evil can we understand and guard ourselves from it in the future. If you feel uncomfortable reading this next part, please skip to the part of the article that says in bold End of Transcript. I’ve also decreased the size of the font so that viewers who don’t want to read the transcript will not accidentally do so.

Beginning of Transcript

NOTE: This part of the tape does not contain anything sexual. Although the couple would eventually sexually assault Lesley, this was done after the recording. Here in the tape Myra and Ian are trying to get Lesley to put on a gag.

Man – What’s your name?
Child – Lesley.
Man – Lesley what?
Child – Ann.
Man – What’s your second name?
Child – Westford. Westford.
Man – Westford?
Child – I have to get home before 8 o’clock. I got to get –(pause) Or I’ll get killed if I don’t. Honest to God.
Man – Yes.
(Quick footsteps of woman leaving room and going downstairs; then a click; then woman’s footsteps coming upstairs; then eight longer strides)
Man – What is it?
Woman – I’ve left the light on.
Man – You ‘ave?
Woman – So that — (remainder of sentence unreadable)
(Child starts crying)
Child – It hurts me neck.
Man – Hush, put it in your mouth and you’ll be all right.
Woman – Now listen, shurrup crying.
Child – (crying) It hurts on me —
Woman – (interrupting) Hush! Shut up. Now, put it in. Pull that hand away and don’t dally and just keep your mouth shut, please.
Woman – Wait a bit, I’ll put this on again. D’you get me?
Child – (whining) No, I — (remainder of sentence unreadable)
Woman – Sh. Hush. Put that in your mouth. And again, packed more solid.
(whispered sentences, unreadable)
Child – I want to go home. Honest to god. I’ll (further speech muffled but uninterrupted) — before eight o’clock.
Woman – No, it’s all right.

End of Transcript

If there was any doubt in the mind of the jury about the guilt of the couple, it was eradicated after listening to the tape. Barely two hours after the jury was allowed to convene, a unanimous verdict was reached: guilty, on all counts.

As luck would have it, the death penalty had been abolished two months ago. Ian and Myra had dodged death by a hair. The British public was outraged, but the law was the law. The judge, condemning the both of them as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity”, sentenced Ian to three consecutive life sentences and Myra to two.

Deadly duo: Ian and Myra standing trial in 1966. Throughout the trial they were coldly remorseless, denying to the end their involvement in the murders.

Deadly duo: Ian and Myra standing trial in 1966. Throughout the trial they were coldly remorseless, denying to the end their involvement in the murders.

Myra’s defense had done their work: They told the court the story of how Myra came to be under the thumb of Ian. Referencing the completely different girl in her childhood and teenage years, they  told a sordid story of abuse, control and addiction. Ian was depicted as a corrupter, someone who had brainwashed and completely imposed his own will on Myra. She was nothing more than a sad puppet, a mindless automaton who had no will of her own, someone who chose the wrong man to fall in love with. Myra, they argued, was a victim as well. The judge stated that Ian was “wicked beyond belief” and that he saw no possibility of reform. He believed that Myra, once “removed from Brady’s influence”, could possibly do what her lover could not.

Oddly enough, the exact opposite would happen.


Naturally, the two lovers were sent to different prisons to live out their sentences. While Ian would eventually “mellow out” and refuse to be seen in public in any form, Myra would continuously protest her innocence from behind bars.

In 1985, Ian Brady finally confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett. Investigators would once again scour the moors in search of the two victims, but would only succeed in finding Pauline. They would proceed to approach Myra for help in locating Keith, and Keith’s mother even wrote a letter to Myra begging for her help in finding her son. Here is how the letter ends:

” I am a simple woman, I work in the kitchens of Christie’s Hospital. It has taken me five weeks labour to write this letter because it is so important to me that it is understood by you for what it is, a plea for help. Please, Miss Hindley, help me.”

Although Myra refused to state that she had participated in the murder, she agreed to be brought to Saddleworth Moor to the places where she had frequented with Ian. Unfortunately, the visit was in vain; Myra found it “difficult” to connect her memories with what she currently saw. The investigator at the time believed that Myra’s agreement to help was not out of remorse, but rather pure selfishness. Myra believed that Ian was in a “precarious mental state”. Fearing that he would confess and give up every detail, she wanted to ensure that she was the one to benefit from any kind of public approval before he could.

Over the next decade or so, while Ian was content to remain in prison to the point where he gladly accepted that he would die in it (he even told officials that he did not want to be let out), Myra continued her campaign to get out of prison. One of the leaders of the campaign to ensure that Myra was kept behind bars was Ann West, mother of Lesley Ann Downey. Myra wrote a letter to Ann downplaying her role in the murders and even attempted to persuade her that she was remorseful for her crimes. It was clear that all Myra wanted was to stop Ann from campaigning against her release.

The letter sent to Ann West in 1987 by Myra Hindley. It was nothing but a false attempt to garner sympathy and stop Ann from campaigning against her release.

The letter sent to Ann West in 1987 by Myra Hindley. It was nothing but a false attempt to garner sympathy and stop Ann from campaigning against her release.

From the lips of Myra herself:

” I have written to the Home Office and the Parole board to say I do not wish to be considered for parole in 1990, and my own belief is that I shall probably remain prison until I die.”

“…You couldn’t hate me more than I hate myself. I have asked God for His forgiveness, but I couldn’t ask for yours, for how can I ever expect you to forgive me when I cannot forgive yourself. I know everyone describe me as cold and calculating – “evil Myra” – but I ask you to believe that I find this deeply unsettling.”

“Please believe me – not for my sake, but simply in the hope that it will give you even a little peace of mind, that however monstrous and unforgivable the crime was, your child was not tortured to death.”

All lies.

A few years after the note, Myra would once again launch an application to be granted parole, which was (fortunately) refused in 1994. Mrs. West would continue with her campaign to keep the monster who killed her daughter behind bars for the rest of her life. The stress would eventually take its toll on her, however, and in 1999 she passed away, reunited with Lesley at last.

Myra herself died of bronchial pneumonia caused by heart disease in 2002, at the age of 60. A short service was held for her, but none of her relatives attended it. Public outrage against Ian and Myra was still growing strong 40 years after the murders, to the point that about 20 local undertakers refused to handle her funeral. Her ashes would then be scattered in a park near Saddleworth Moor by a former lover that she met in prison.

Ian is still alive to this day. As of 2014, he is 76 years old. In his later years Ian would attempt to commit suicide by refusing to eat; prison officials had no choice but to make him use a feeding tube. Recently, he is said to have contracted dementia. With the death of Myra, fears that Keith Bennett’s body will never be found grows stronger day by day. Any attempts to get Ian to reveal the location of his body have failed. Even at the age of 76 the man still retains a semblance of his sharp intellect; in 2001 he published a book analyzing the works of other serial killers, The Gates of Janus, that caused an outrage in the UK when announced.

The case of the Moors murderers, perhaps, is close to an end.

In Memoriam

Instead of the usual “Final Thoughts” section in an article where I list my opinions on the case, I’d like to dedicate this section instead as a memorial for the five victims of the Moors Murderers. This case was one of the ones that made me quite emotional because of the atrocities done to the children. Throughout all my research, I felt like I really knew them. At the end of it all, I felt like I lost 5 friends.  It’s really forced me to think about a lot of things, and I hope that reading this article has done the same for you too. It is unfair that most people remember the killers more than their victims; Ian Brady and Myra Hindley get lasting notoriety while the victims fade away, only known for being a target of their killers. Just like in every article, I’d like to remind all readers not to remember of the five children and teenagers as bodies, corpses, victims or “kills”. Every one of them should be remembered not because of how they died or who killed them, but because of who they were when they were alive.

That is the least we can do to honour them.

Pauline (1947-1963)

pauline happy

An exceptionally pretty girl with a slim figure, Pauline had dark hair and a brilliance in her eyes.  Considered to be a shy girl, she was just coming out of her shell at the age of 16. After finishing school, she worked alongside her father as a trainee baker. Each morning father and daughter would walk to work together and return home together as well after a long day of baking. A talented baker, Pauline was one of the three winners of a Christmas cake contest in 1962. She even appeared in the papers, much to the joy of her family. Those who knew Pauline found her to be a hardworking, dedicated young woman who always put family first. In her spare time, Pauline enjoyed composing poems and songs, and would enjoy taking turns playing the piano with her family. Her friends knew her as fiercely protective and unswervingly loyal to those who earned her trust. Pauline was the pride and joy of her family, and it’s of no contention that she would have had a successful life ahead of her in the culinary industry.

She would have been 67 this year.

John (1951-1963)

john happy

John was the eldest of his family, the big brother to his 6 other siblings Danny, Pat, Terry, Sheila, Maria and Chris. Well known in his neighbourhood for walking around with his hands in his pockets and whistling, John was a naturally cheerful young boy. He settled in well in his schooling years, and was popular amongst the children and teachers there. A mature and responsible young lad, he ensured that his younger siblings did their household duties everyday and also took care of his elderly grandmother. She looked out for him every morning, “walking along the path at the side of the football ground across the road, in his usual cheerful way.” At the tender age of 12, he decided to take on odd jobs in his spare time, helping the stallholders at a market as a way of earning a little extra pocket money.

He would have been 63 this year.

Keith (1952-1964)

keith happy

Keith was a sweet natured little boy who was always optimistic about his surroundings. On his 12th birthday, he participated in his school’s swimming gala and managed to earn a certificate for swimming a length for the first time in his life, a fact he was very proud of. His mother remembers that he enjoyed nature a lot. Young Keith used to pick up leaves and caterpillars on the way home and bring them back to rear. He was also a devoted coin collector. Keith, a young boy with a happy-go-lucky attitude and a cheeky grin for everyone he met, never felt upset at that the fact that he had to spend most of his time in the same neighbourhood where he was born – he enjoyed street games, marbles and cycling.

He would have been 62 this year.

Lesley (1954-1964)

lesley happy

The only girl in a family full of brothers, Lesley was doted upon and protected by her male siblings. A porcelain-faced girl with black bobby, wavy hair, she was endearing to everyone who met her. Lesley was a very shy child, but she emerged wholly from it when with her family or when asked to sing and dance, her two passions in life. She had gone out with her brother Terry to dance at a church a group of boys were playing music. Bashfully, she admitted to Terry that she had liked one of the boys. Her brother then asked the boy in question for a lock of his hair, which Lesley treasured very much. On occasion when she was in Sunday school in another part of the country, she would feel terribly homesick and would buy a bottle of perfume, to give to her mother when she went home. On Christmas Day, she obtained a delightful present: a mini sewing machine. Lesley was very excited about learning how to sew from her mother. The only sadness in her life at age 10 was the family dog, Rebel, which had to be given away to an uncle for safety reasons. Lesley, ever the tender-hearted little girl, adored the dog and it must have loved her back as well, much like how everyone in her family loved her dearly.

She would have been 60 this year.

Edward (1948-1965)


Edward turned 17 in 1965. A tall young man with a bright, infectious smile, he was a very sociable person and never failed to lighten the atmosphere around him. He found a job as a junior machine operator in an industrial estate. A hard worker by day, he liked to relax with friends from work at the city bars. He also liked to watch the football matches at the stadium nearby, and was an avid supporter of Manchester United. An amiable person who liked to dress smartly and a good conversationalist, Edward was well liked by his friends for his youthful confidence and manner. When his parents were concerned when he went out at night, he would reassure them with a jovial smile, “I can handle any trouble.”

He would have been 66 this year.


In remembrance of Pauline, John, Keith, Lesley and Edward.

Short though your time was in this realm, you brightened the world around you and made it a better place.

We remember and honour you.

Gone, but never forgotten.

Rest in Peace.







http://searchingforkeith.com/    – Admin Carol for all her hard work on the backgrounds of the children and the teenagers.

  1. Mike B says:

    Some glaring factual inaccuracies.

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