In Memory of Winnie Johnson

Head and shoulders monochrome photograph of a smiling short-haired young boy wearing spectacles.Today, the funeral of Winnie Johnson takes place at St Chrysostom’s Church, in Victoria Park, Manchester. Winnie was the mother of Keith Bennett (pictured) the, as yet, unfound victim of the infamous Moors Murderers. Keith was just 12 years old when he has lured away by Myra Hindley and subsequently murdered by Ian Brady.

Between 1963 and 1965, the Moors Murderers brutally killed five children aged between 10 – 17 years, burying the bodies on Saddleworth Moor. However, Keith’s is the one body that has never been recovered by police despite persistent effort over the years.

Brady and Hindley’s other victims were Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco on July 12 1963; John Kilbride, 12, who was snatched in November the same year; Lesley Ann Downey, 10, who was lured away from a funfair on Boxing Day 1964, and Edward Evans, 17, who was axed to death in October 1965. – Huffington Post

As a youngster, I remember the uproar and outrage that gripped my parent’s generation when the news first broke as to how they had recorded the torture of their youngest victim Leslie Ann Downey. In later life, I can recall the visits made by Hindley and Brady to Saddleworth Moor to supposedly assist police to locate the bodies of their victims. I remember Lord Longford’s campaign to get Myra Hindley released and I remember the public outcry it caused.

Myra Hindley eventually died in hospital from bronchial pneumonia, aged 60 years. Brady has been on a hunger strike for the past 12 years and is being force-fed because he is considered to be mentally incapable of making the decision to end his own life.

The case, one of the most tragic and horrific in British criminal history, recently hit the news headlines yet again because one of Brady’s long-term prison visitors disclosed that she had received a sealed envelope from him. It had apparently been suggested, by Brady, that the envelope might contain important information regarding the location of Keith’s body. However, the visitor had apparently returned the envelope to Brady before police were able to act.

A recent TV documentary suggested that Brady, a sadistic psychopath, derives a certain pleasure from continuing to withhold the information concerning the location of Keith’s body – the last little bit of control he can still exercise over his victim’s family. Winnie, knowing she was dying of cancer, had written to Brady on two occasions, including just before her death, to plead with him to allow her to bury her son. Sadly, if predictably, it was not to be.

With the death of Winnie, it now falls to the rest of us to ensure that everything possible is done to locate Keith’s remains and ensure they eventually receive a dignified burial. She never gave up hope of locating her son’s body and neither should we.

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Photos courtesy Wikipedia

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