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Does Ian Brady's Mystery Letter To Keith Bennett's Mother Reveal His Burial Place?

'To be opened in the event of my death.'

16/05/2017 10:34 | Updated 16 May 2017

Clues as to where the body of tragic Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett rests could lie in a missing letter written by Ian Brady.

Brady died at the age of 79 on Monday, taking with him the secret of the final resting place of the 12-year-old, who he abducted and killed with his accomplice Myra Hindley on June 16, 1964.

Bennett’s mother Winnie Johson, died of cancer five years ago still not knowing where her son is buried, despite years of desperate campaigning.

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Keith Bennett was abducted and killed in 1964

In 2012, Brady’s mental health advocate Jackie Powell told a Channel 4 documentary the murderer gave her a sealed envelope to pass to Johnson, in the event of his death.

She told Cutting Edge: “I received a letter and a sealed envelope which said on the front ‘to be opened in the event of my death.’

“He says he doesn’t wish to take his secrets to the grave and within the sealed envelope is a letter to Winnie Johnson. Within that is the means of her possibly being able to rest.”

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Ian Brady died in Ashworth Hospital on Monday aged 79

The TV production team informed Greater Manchester Police on July 30 2012 and Powell, who was appointed Brady’s mental health advocate in 1999 – though not by Ashworth Hospital or by the independent mental health advocacy service provided there - was detained on August 15 on suspicion of preventing the burial of a body without lawful exercise.

But police sources said Powell claimed she had returned the envelope to Brady at some point between July 30 and her arrest. Powell was later released and no further action was taken.

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Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, died five years ago without knowing where her son's body was buried 

Detectives examined a large number of documents seized from Powell’s home in south Wales found no letter or any evidence to suggest Brady had disclosed the location of Keith’s body. A search of Brady’s cell at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside also failed to uncover the alleged letter.

Martin Bottomley, head of investigative review at Greater Manchester Police’s major and cold case crime unit, at the time confirmed his officers were trying to establish if the letter existed or was “simply a ruse”.

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Police searching Saddleworth Moor in 1965

Speaking in 2013, he added: “As soon as we were made aware of the existence of this alleged letter, we made exhaustive attempts to obtain it to establish whether or not its contents would assist us in finding Keith’s body.

“That resulted in the warrants we carried out in the South Wales area and at Ashworth Hospital in August 2012. However, despite seizing numerous documents and a search of Brady’s cell, no such letter has been recovered.

“That in itself does not prove or disprove the letter’s existence – it might have been destroyed, it might be hidden elsewhere, it may be in someone else’s possession, or it may simply never have existed in the first place and this has been yet more mind-games by Brady.”

In a statement this week, Greater Manchester Police confirmed the case will never be closed while Keith’s body remains missing.

Reuters
Brady's accomplice Myra Hindley died in jail in 2002 

Bottomley said on Tuesday: “A week hardly goes by when we do not receive some information which purports to lead us to Keith but ultimately only two people knew where Keith is.

“I want to stress that our aim, as it always has been, is to find where Keith is buried and give closure to his surviving family members so they can give Keith the proper burial they so desperately want.

“Whilst we are not actively searching Saddleworth Moors, Greater Manchester Police will never close this case. Brady’s death does not change that. We will act on credible and actionable information that will help lead us to him.”

It was not the first time Brady had given hints over the locations of the five victims that he and Hindley murdered between 1963 and 1964 in the Manchester area before burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor.

In 1986, the pair admitted killing Keith and Pauline Reade and were separately taken back to the moor to help police find the remains of the missing victims. However, only Pauline’s body was found.

Pauline, 16, disappeared on her way to a disco on July 12, 1963 and John Kilbride, 12, was snatched in November the same year. Keith was taken after he left home to visit his grandmother; Lesley Ann Downey, 10, was lured away from a funfair on Boxing Day, 1964; and Edward Evans, 17, was killed in October 1965.

Brady was jailed for life at Chester Assizes in 1966 for the murders of John, Lesley Ann and Edward.

Hindley was convicted of killing Lesley Ann and Edward and shielding Brady after John’s murder, and jailed for life. In 1987 the pair finally admitted killing Keith and Pauline. Hindley died in jail in 2002 aged 60.

In August of 1987, Brady also wrote to the BBC describing details of five ‘new’ murders he claimed to have committed.

Saddleworth Moor, which is in the northernmost tip of the Peak District national park, is a barren landscape. Numerous efforts have been made to locate Keith’s remains have been made in the past, by the police, army and even using a US spy satellite, but to no avail.

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