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Brady and Hindley photographed at the time of their arrest

The Moors Murders were committed around the Manchester area, England, between 1963 and 1965 by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. The Moors Murders are named as such because four of the victims were buried on Saddleworth Moor near Oldham, Lancashire.

Brady and Hindley's Relationship

Brady and Hindley began their relationship in 1961 while working at Millwards, a chemical factory in Manchester. By virtually all accounts, Hindley was an eager participant in Brady's nefarious activities. She changed her look to match that of his ideal woman: high boots and mini skirts – even dirndls, a word Hindley could never pronounce. She bleached her hair and the whole ensemble was created so that she would appear more German. Brady also urged Hindley to join a shooting club and get a gun licence so they could rob banks. All this was leading up to their spree of infanticide in the Manchester area.


Pauline Reade

Pauline Reade

Their first victim was 16-year-old Pauline Reade, a neighbour of Hindley's, who disappeared on her way to a social club in the Crumpsall district on 12 July, 1963. She got into a car with Hindley while Brady secretly followed behind on his motorbike.

When the van reached Saddleworth Moor, Hindley stopped the van and got out before asking Pauline to help her find a missing glove. They were busy "searching" the moors when Brady pounced upon Pauline and smashed her skull with a shovel. He then subjected her to a savage rape before slitting her throat with a knife, her spinal cord was severed and she was almost decapitated. Brady then buried her body, and it would not be discovered for more than 20 years.

John Kilbride

John Kilbride

On November 23, 1963, Brady and Hindley struck again. This time the victim was 12-year-old John Kilbride. Like many children, he had been warned not to go away with strange men but not about strange women. When he was approached by Hindley at a market in Ashton under Lyne, the little boy agreed to go with her to help carry some boxes.

Brady was sitting in the back of the car. When they reached the moors, he took the child with him while Hindley waited in the car. On the moor, Brady pounced on the boy. He beat John Kilbride, tied him and spanked him, before raping the terrified child. He then attempted to slit his neck with a knife with a six inch serrated blade, but it didn't work, so Brady strangled the crying child to death with a piece of string which may have been a shoelace, and buried his body in a shallow grave. His body was found on 21st October 1965. The body was clothed, but the jeans and underpants that he had been wearing were pulled down to mid-thigh and the underpants appeared to be knotted at the back. There was a shoe missing, lost in the boy's desperate struggle for life. Hindley later told police that Brady had found the shoe after burying the boy, and had burnt it in their home in Hattersley, Manchester.

Keith Bennett

Keith Bennett

The third victim was 12-year-old Keith Bennett who vanished on his way to his grandmother's house in Gorton on June 16, 1964 - 4 days after his 12th birthday. The fair haired boy accepted a lift from Hindley, and she drove to the Moors and asked him to help search for a lost glove. Brady then lured Keith into a ravine, where he tortured and raped the boy. He also took photographs which Hindley destroyed in the days after Brady's arrest, before she herself was taken into custody. Brady then strangled the child to death with a piece of white string, before burying his body. Hindley stood above the ravine and watched the Murder. Keith's body has never been found.

Lesley Ann Downey

Lesley Ann Downey

The fourth victim was 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey who vanished from an Ancoats fairground on Boxing Day, 1964. She had been lured back to Brady and Hindley's house on the Hattersley estate to 'help them carry boxes'. Brady and Hindley enticed Lesley into a bedroom and forced her to undress, before subjecting her to torture and rape. Hindley later described to Peter Topping, the police officer who re-opend the investigation in the 1980's, having seen blood on Lesley's legs, showing that the child had been raped.

They tape-recorded Lesley's screams as she was abused, and took 9 pornographic photographs of the child tied up, gagged and naked; the last one in an attitude of prayer.

The sixteen-minute tape contains the voices of Brady and Hindley relentlessly cajoling and threatening the child, who is heard crying, retching, screaming, and begging to be allowed to return home safe to her mother.

The terrified child was eventually strangled to death with a piece of string by one of the two; Lesley's mother always insisted that Hindley was the Killer, and Brady also said this. Brady and Hindley then dumped Lesley's naked body in a shallow grave on Saddleworth Moor. Moors Tape

Edward Evans

The fifth and final victim was 17-year-old Edward Evans on October 6, 1965, who was lured to Brady and Hindley's house and hacked to death with an axe by Brady. The crime was witnessed by Hindley's 18-year-old brother-in-law David Smith, who had been invited to get involved in the mugging of Evans. Dave Smith walked in on the grim scene of Brady driving an axe into Edward Evans's head. He was then forced to help clean up the murder scene; in fear for his life and whilst still in shock he complied to Myra and Ian's request. After he left the house, Smith returned home, and told his wife Maureen Hindley (Myra's sister) what he had witnessed. They then, armed with a weapon scared that Brady could be waiting for them, called the police from a phone box, bringing an end to the duo's murderous spree.

Arrest and imprisonment

The house was raided soon afterwards. Brady was immediately arrested and charged with the murder of Edward Evans. During questioning he admitted to the murder but lied that David Smith had joined in. Hindley was only arrested several days later, when police found the pair's suitcase full of evidence in a locker at Manchester's Central railway station. Apart from the photographs and tape recording of Lesley's torture, there was also a notebook in which John Kilbride's name was found. Both bodies were soon discovered, and Brady and Hindley were faced with three charges of murder.


On May 6, 1966, at Chester Crown Court, Brady was found guilty of murdering John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey, and Edward Evans. Brady received three concurrent terms of life imprisonment (the death penalty had been abolished a year earlier). Hindley was found guilty of murdering Lesley and Edward and given two life sentences, plus seven years for being an accessory to Brady in the murder of John. The trial judge reccommended that both Hindley and Brady should spend a very long time in prison before being considered for parole. He condemned Brady was 'wicked beyond belief' and felt that there was no reasonable possibility of him ever reforming, although he did not think that the same was true of Hindley once she was removed from Brady's influence.

Brady's imprisonment

Ian Brady spent nineteen years in a mainstream prison before he was declared insane in 1985 and sent to a mental hospital. He subsequently confessed to two more murders in 1987 and has since made it clear that he never wants to be released from prison.

The trial judge had recommended that his life sentence should mean life, and successive Home Secretaries have agreed with that decision. The only person to make a different judgment was Lord Chief Justice Lane who set a 40-year minimum term in 1982. A House of Lords ruling which stripped the Home Secretary of his power to set tariffs on life sentences could lead to Brady being released in 2006, but Brady insists he never wants to be freed.

While incarcerated since 1985 in the high-security Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital, Brady began a hunger strike in 1999 and was subsequently force fed. Brady took ill and was transported to another hospital for tests. He eventually recovered and was considering suing the hospitals for force-feeding him. In early 2006, prison authorities intercepted a package, addressed to Brady from a female friend, containing 50 paracetamol pills hidden within a hollowed out crime novel.

Brady has also written a controversial book on serial killing titled The Gates of Janus.

Other media

  • The Moors murders served partly as the inspiration for Edward Gorey's chilling short story The Loathsome Couple.
  • The Smiths wrote a touching tribute to the victims on their first album in a song called Suffer little children, and in fact make references either directly or indirectly to the Moors Murders in a number of other songs.
  • The Edward Evans murder is recounted in detail in the Throbbing Gristle song, Very Friendly.
  • The satirical program Brass Eye depicts a love song to Hindley by the fictional band Blouse (a clear parody of Pulp).
  • The poet Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem entitled 'The Devil's Wife' about Hindley in her collection 'The World's Wife'.
  • A dramatisation of the crimes and conviction of the Moors murderers was aired on ITV (May 14th & 15th) 2006 called "See No Evil: The Moors Murders" which recounts the events from the perspective of Maureen Hindley.
  • The Sex Pistols have a line in the song 'No-one Is Innocent' which goes "God save Myra Hindley, god save Ian Brady. Even though he's 'orrible and she aint what ya'd call a lady"

See also