Midland team to dig for missing Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett
Forensic specialists are acting on new information in the search for body of 12-year-old victim of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Midland experts are to take part in a new, privately funded search for the body of Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett.
Working with fresh intelligence about where tragic Keith may be buried, forensic, medical and archaeological specialists will start fresh excavation of land where it is believed evil Ian Brady and Myra Hindley buried their fourth victim.
The renewed hunt for Keith’s body will begin on June 16, 50 years to the day he was abducted.
Experts have pinpointed three key sections of Saddleworth Moor worthy of further investigation, following 10 years of painstaking research.
They have hired the rescue team which helped find missing the body of missing British backpacker Gareth Huntley in Malaysia, and victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland for the dig, which is due to begin next week.
It will be led by David Jones, who first visited the Moor with Keith’s mother, Winnie Johnson, in March 2010.
Keith is the only victim of Brady and Hindley whose body has never been found.
The serial killers snatched the sensitive, bespectacled youngster as he made his way to his grandmother’s house in Manchester four days after his 12th birthday on June 16, 1964.
Winnie fought a long campaign to get Brady to reveal the location of her son’s grave – but the sick killer refused to help her.
He had set out to commit the “perfect murder” in which the body was never found, and he cruelly maintained his silence even when Winnie became terminally ill with cancer.
Sadly, two years ago, she died at the age of 78.
Keith’s younger brother, Alan, 58, has continued his mother’s crusade to find Keith’s remains.
But the dig led by David, a former member of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation (OVMRO) based in Wales, is being run independently of Alan’s own investigations.
In the search on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham, David will lead four experts at three specific areas of interest, using high-tech metallic soil probes, and specialised ground scanning radar equipment.
The hand-reared labrador and spaniel sniffer dogs deployed in Malaysia during last week’s search for Gareth Huntley will also be used.
“We had a really good relationship with Keith’s mother, Winnie,” David told the Sunday Mercury.
“She always claimed Brady knew where her son was buried but believed he didn’t want him found. She wanted closure and hoped Keith would be found whilst Brady was still alive, saying it was getting on his goat.
“But she never got the answers she sought.
“We will be going up on the Moor, where we have identified three specific areas to concentrate on.
“We normally work in two groups but it’s such a massive area. We operate a grid system using our own people, our own equipment, and use our own dogs. The terrain is much the same as in Ireland.”
A member of the Rescue Organisation squad for about 40 years, David initially searched Saddleworth Moor years ago as the leader of Global Rescue, but pledged to return when any new information was revealed.
At that time he considered 19 different sections of the Moors.
Now, he says that by process of elimination, and with some new and positive information received, they have been able to reduce their target area to just three key sections. They are also using information gleaned from Keith’s brother, Alan.
The new search for Keith is being privately funded by a number of individuals and companies, who do not wish to be identified.
They claim their finances are limited to cover initial set-up costs and say they intend to appeal for additional funding as the project develops.
A spokesman confirmed: “We want to crack this case and feel we are pretty close to it. Overall, however, dependent upon the time and equipment involved, we probably need between £10,000 and £30,000 to pay for everything.
“We will also be using a lot of experienced volunteers and people with specialist knowledge. It is a science-based examination using hi-tech equipment and reviewing the results of extensive research and investigations over the past decade.”
* The brother of Keith Bennett says he has found a new witness and fresh evidence to help identify where the 12-year-old victim of the Moors Murderers is buried.
Although a new privately-funded search is to begin next week, Alan Bennett hopes his new leads will persuade Greater Manchester Police to re-open an official hunt.
But it could be an uphill battle. He believes the death of his mother in August 2012, and that of key witness David Smith – the brother-in-law of Myra Hindley – put an end to any police interest.
He said: “My hope is to have another search of the precise area where we believe Keith can be found. I would also like access to police files on the case, and to examine the details of previous searches.
“We have produced some compelling evidence. We also have a credible new witness, who is someone who has visited and corresponded with Ian Brady for some time.
“This person was asked by him to photograph certain areas of the moors, and these pictures were taken in the very same area that mirrors information given to us by David Smith.”
Alan says he, himself, met Hindley twice in jail for discussions – and that correspondence between his family, Brady and Hindley adds further substance to his claims of being able to locate Keith’s body.
Keith’s family had to wait 16 months to discover that the police suspected he was a victim of the depraved Moors Murderers.
After he disappeared in June 1964, there was little news until October 1965, when police were called to Ian Brady’s house, where they discovered the body of his final victim Edward Evans in an upstairs bedroom.
The 17-year-old had been savagely murdered with an axe. Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, had witnessed the horrific attack on Edward and told his wife – Hindley’s sister, Maureen – before phoning the police.
Police later recovered a suitcase at Central Station in Manchester, containing pornographic images and a desperate tape recording of his fourth victim, Lesley Ann Downey, who had vanished six months after Keith.
Days later, a neighbour’s child, 12-year-old Pat Hodges, told police that Brady and Hindley had often taken her up to the Moors for picnics – sometimes on her own – and at other times with her pals, Carol and David Waterhouse.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley stand trial for the Moors Murders
Within five days police discovered the bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride.
Detectives then re-visited the Bennett family to say they had reason to believe Brady and Hindley might also have abducted and murdered Keith. As one nightmare ended, another, much worse, scenario was about to begin.
In April 1966 at Chester Assizes, Brady was convicted of the murders of Edward, Lesley Ann and John. He was handed concurrent life sentences.
Hindley was also convicted of the murders of Edward and Lesley Ann, and for shielding Brady after the killing of John. She was given two concurrent life sentences plus an seven years for her role in John’s murder. At that time, there was no evidence to link them with the disappearances of Keith or 16-year old Pauline Read.
It was to be another 23 years before Hindley finally confessed to their murders during a parole board application following a letter from Keith’s mum, Winnie.
When Hindley, and eventually Brady, confessed to these killings, the Home Office demanded a new search for their bodies. In July 1987, police finally located Pauline’s body in another shallow grave. But no trace has yet been found of Keith Bennett.
THIS chilling photograph of child-killer Ian Brady could provide vital new clues to the whereabouts of murdered schoolboy Keith Bennett’s remains, it is hoped
Photo above believed to be taken by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady to mark 12-year-old victim’s grave
The bodies of the murderer’s other victims were all found on Saddleworth Moor, but Brady has always refused to reveal where he disposed of the 12-year-old.
This snap, unearthed as part of a new ITV documentary, shows the sadistic killer on moorland 40 miles away.
It was taken by his partner Myra Hindley.
And it is thought it may indicate the final resting place of tragic youngster Keith.
Experts are now calling on cops to restart the search for his body.
Between Leek towards Buxton lies Ramshaw Rocks in the Peak District National Park.
The calls come as Brady launches a legal battle for the right to die.
The 75-year-old has been on hunger strike in an attempt to die since 1999, but Ashworth maximum security hospital in Merseyside has been – by law – force-feeding him through a tube.
However, prisons do not have to force-feed inmates so he is battling to be declared sane to move from hospital to jail in Scotland.
The twisted child-killer will appear in a rare public hearing this week to try to convince a panel of his sanity – a move fiercely opposed by the family of Keith Bennett.
Keith’s mother Winnie Johnson died last year having never been able to bury her son because Brady refused to say where he put him.
The solicitor who acted for Ms Johnson, John Ainley, said: “She took the view that he did not give her son and the other children any choice and consequently he should not be able to control his own fate.”
Ramshaw Rocks and how it looks today
Author Duncan Staff, an expert on the Moors Murders, said: “For 50 years Brady has enjoyed game-playing. The fact that this case remains unresolved gives him a great sense of satisfaction.
“I can’t say from these photographs that X marks the spot but they are of enough significance to warrant a proper search of Ramshaw Rocks.”
Brady and Hindley’s other victims – all aged between ten and 17 – were Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey, and Edward Evans.
R.I.P: Winnie became terminally ill with cancer and sadly, two years ago, she died at the age of 78
Mrs Winifred Johnson, mother of missing boy Keith Bennett, conducts one of her many searches of Saddleworth Moor, with her son Ian (left) and a volunteer with metal detector (right), August 1988