Police hunting the grave of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett based on new claims from a writer today called off their week-long search after finding evidence of human remains on Saddleworth Moor.
The 12-year-old’s body has been missing ever since he was abducted and killed by notorious serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley 58 years ago.
There had been hope of a breakthrough after bones resembling those of a young child were reported to have been found on Saddleworth Moor by an amateur researcher last Thursday, just a few hundred yards from where the remains of Hindley and Brady’s other young victims were . discovered.
But Greater Manchester Police announced today that it had abandoned the search after an ‘exhumation by accredited forensic experts’ found ‘no evidence to indicate the presence of human remains’.
The force said coroners have tested what the author believes are Keith’s bones and “while this has not yet indicated the presence of human remains – more analysis is required”. They also said it ‘could not be ruled out’ that the object is ‘plant-based’.
Between July 1963 and October 1965, Brady and Hindley killed five children aged between 10 and 17 in a two-year killing spree that shocked the nation. Keith was last seen by his mother in the early evening of 16 June 1964 after he left home in Eston Street, Longsight, Manchester, heading to his grandmother’s house nearby.
While two of the victims were discovered on the Moors in 1965, and a third in 1987, Keith was never found, with the location of his grave taken for the grave following the deaths of Hindley and Brady in 2002 and 2017 respectively.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Cheryl Hughes said: ‘The items given to us by a member of the public have been examined by a forensic pathologist and although this has not yet indicated the presence of human remains – further analysis is required .
‘With regard to the photograph, we have sought the help of a forensic pathologist. We now use the knowledge and skills of a forensic imaging expert to put a standard anthropological measurement on the object to aid in identification.
“At this stage, it suggests that it would be considerably smaller than a juvenile jaw, and it cannot be ruled out that it is plant-based.”
Keith Bennett’s body has been missing since he was abducted and killed by notorious serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley 58 years ago
Throughout the week, forensic officers could still be seen searching for clues in the rugged landscape of Saddleworth Moor in Oldham, Manchester
This afternoon Greater Manchester Police said the site was closed following the completion of the excavation by accredited forensic experts
Keith was murdered by Ian Brady (left) and Myra Hindley (right) in 1964. Brady and Hindley murdered a total of five people. Three were later found buried on Saddleworth Moor. Keith’s body was never found
Archaeologists began searching the site last week after author Russell Edwards said he believed he had found the makeshift grave of 12-year-old Keith, who was murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.
Edwards believed he had found the youth’s remains after “extensive soil analysis”.
He began his own excavation – close to where the other Moorish murder victims were found – and uncovered a skull with teeth that independent experts are reported to have concluded is human, it is claimed.
The Cold Case Review Unit, supported by specialists and staff from across Greater Manchester Police as well as experts from accredited partner agencies, has now completed the search of the area of interest on Saddleworth Moor. At present, there is no evidence of the presence of human remains.
The search began on Thursday 29 September 2022 when the force was made aware that a member of the public who had been investigating the murder of Keith Bennett by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964 had found evidence suggesting where his burial occurred.
Brady and Hindley’s victims were: Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco on 12 July 1963; John Kilbride, 12, who was snapped up in November that year; Lesley Ann Downey, 10, who was lured away from a fun fair on Boxing Day 1964; and Edward Evans, 17, who was axed to death in October 1965.
Brady and Hindley were caught after the Edward Evans murder, and Lesley and John’s bodies were recovered from the moor.
They were taken to Saddleworth Moor to help the police find the remains of the other victims, but only Pauline’s body was found. Brady claimed he could not remember where he had buried Keith.
In 2009, police said a covert search operation on the moors, which used a host of scientific experts, also failed to discover any trace of the boy.
Hindley died in prison in 2002 aged 60 and Brady died in a high security hospital in 2017 aged 79.
Forensic teams sift through the ground at Saddleworth Moor on Monday in the search for Keith’s remains
Haunted: Keith’s mother Winnie, who died in 2012 without ever knowing where her son was buried. Pictured with the famous ‘missing’ poster of her son
After Brady’s death, Greater Manchester Police Constable Martin Bottomley said: ‘It is particularly sad for the family of Keith Bennett that his killers did not reveal to the police where Keith’s grave was.
‘Hardly a week goes by when we don’t receive some information which purports to lead us to Keith, but in the end only two people knew where Keith is.
‘Greater Manchester Police will never close this case. Brady’s death doesn’t change that. We will act on credible and actionable information that will help lead us to him.’
In 2012 – 48 years after Keith’s death – his mother, Winnie Johnson, died aged 78 without fulfilling her wish to give him a Christian burial.
Nazi-obsessed Brady, who was officially diagnosed as a psychopath in 1985, mocked Keith’s brother Alan Bennett, now 66, in a sickening letter in 1991.
Brady insisted he would leave ‘special instructions’ on how to find the child’s remains in his will – but the leads never materialised.
At the start of the latest search, Alan took to social media to say there were ‘hundreds of thoughts racing through my mind’.
A roadblock next to where crime scene investigation officers searched Saddleworth Moor for Keith’s body
Before they died, Brady and Hindley were taken to Saddleworth Moor to help the police find the remains of their victims. Brady claimed he could not remember where he had buried Keith. Pictured: Search teams investigate on October 2
However, he expressed his skepticism, writing on Facebook: ‘Besides believing this is the site of Keith and all the previous graves have been shallow, why has nothing been discovered yet if the police were taken to the site?
“I can’t escape the feeling that we’ve been here before.”
Alan wrote: ‘I just get frustrated, annoyed, confused and feel a lot more emotions because there is more to this than meets the eye and I can’t understand why that guy doesn’t seem to have been accurate in his information to the police about Location.
“Surely he can’t have forgotten exactly where it is after his claims about his years of investigations. Just a few of the hundreds of thoughts running through my mind.
‘Just to be clear on this. I’m not saying there’s nothing there, what I’m saying is that I and many others are confused, to say the least.
He added: ‘I’m not saying there’s nothing there, what I’m saying is that I and many others are confused, to say the least.’
Alan said he believed Keith’s remains would not be found at the site being excavated – but ‘no one can rule out otherwise’.
The family of Moorish murder victim Keith Bennett have been hoping in vain that his body would finally be found. Pictured: Brother Alan Bennett