The mother of Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett has died without knowing where her son is buried.
According to her lawyer, Winnie Johnson, 78, finally succumbed to the cancer that she had been suffering from for a number of years, passing away peacefully at a hospice earlier on Saturday.
Her 12-year-son's killer, Ian Brady, has always refused to disclose the location of Keith's body on Saddleworth Moor above Manchester.
Winnie Johnson lighting a candle at Manchester Cathedral during her son's memorial service
Keith was taken by Brady and his partner, Myra Hindley on June 16 1964, after he left home to visit his grandmother.
In a statement, John Ainley, a senior partner at Oldham-based solicitors North Ainley Halliwell, said: "Winnie Johnson, mother of the last missing Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett, has died without discovering her son's whereabouts.
"Winnie aged 78 passed away peacefully at a hospice after she had been diagnosed with cancer some years ago.
"It is a terrible tragedy and I would ask the media to respect Winnie's family's wishes to be left to grieve in private at this distressing time.
Keith Bennett was one of five victims of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
"She will be sadly missed and was much loved by her family and friends."
Mr Ainley had represented her legal interests for the last few years and has reaffirmed her beliefs that Brady still holds the key to the missing child's burial spot.
"Over the years and in all our personal meetings, Winnie has insisted Brady is the only person who could put her mind to rest and give her the chance to give Keith a decent burial before she passed away," he said.
"She was convinced Brady knew where her son was buried and she told me she wanted the search to continue to find Keith.
"Despite her personal appeals directly to Brady and via my office, Brady had persistently ignored the wishes of a grieving mother.
"She has died without knowing Keith's whereabouts and without the opportunity to finally put him at rest in a decent grave.
"It is a truly heartbreaking situation that this opportunity has now been irrevocably lost.
"Winnie's health deteriorated in the last few days. She died not knowing of the letter's possible existence but the steadfast conviction Ian Brady can resolve the situation."
Mr Ainley said she was "a most courageous lady".
He told Sky News: "She certainly was a most courageous lady, never gave up the hope that she would find Keith, and pursued that to the very end. She always thought that she would find Keith but without information from Ian Brady, that became more and more difficult."
Asked if her death would change anything, he said: "I think that any information that's passed over is going to be too little too late, sadly, certainly as far as Winnie's concerned, but having said that, if any information that would identify where Keith's buried, was passed to the police and the family, then certainly they would be able to give Keith a proper family burial, and that would give them some closure."
He said there were other close family members who would obviously continue fighting to find Keith.
On his website, www.searchingforkeith.com, Keith's brother, Alan Bennett, said on behalf of the family: "Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, died this morning at 12.35am, aged 78. She was a much loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and is survived by one younger brother.
"Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial. Although this was not possible during her lifetime, we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith. We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this.
"We would like to express our deep gratitude to all the medical staff who cared for Winnie during her illness, and also the public for their good wishes and support over the years.
"We hope that everyone will understand, however, that we would like to grieve for her in private, both at this time and during her funeral."