August 18 2012
Winnie Johnson, mother of Moors murders victim Keith Bennett, dies
Mother of 12-year-old boy murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964 dies without knowing where her son is buried
The mother of Moors murders victim Keith Bennett has died without knowing where her son is buried.
Winnie Johnson died in a hospice at 12.35am on Saturday following a long illness and renewed controversy over the location of the grave of her son, who was murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.
Brady’s mental health advocate, Jackie Powell, was arrested after she told Channel 4 that she was aware of a letter from Brady to Johnson in which he tells her where the grave of her son can be found.
She was held on suspicion of preventing the lawful burial of a body but later bailed. Police also searched Brady’s cell at the high security hospital at Ashworth, Merseyside but found no relevant documents.
Keith’s brother, Alan Bennett, issued a family statement about his mother’s death on his website, Searching for Keith. It said: “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.”
Johnson pleaded for years with Brady to be allowed to bury her son and experts suspect Brady has manipulated her and the media by promising information about the grave location and then withholding it.
A new documentary by Paddy Wivell to be shown on Monday on Channel 4 at 9pm, titled Ian Brady: End Games Of A Psychopath, claims Brady may have deceived doctors into believing his extreme psychotic symptoms in order to be transferred from prison to Ashworth hospital.
Ian Brady ‘may have revealed’ Keith Bennett burial place
Moors Murderer Ian Brady may have revealed information about where one of his victims, 12-year-old Keith Bennett, is buried, detectives believe.
Police are investigating whether Brady gave details to a hospital visitor.
A woman arrested in south Wales on suspicion of preventing a lawful burial of a body was named by Press Association sources as his mental health advocate, Jackie Powell.
Brady and Myra Hindley murdered five children between 1963 and 1965.
They kidnapped, tortured and murdered the children, whose bodies were buried on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester.
Keith’s is the only body never found.
He was abducted on his way to visit his grandmother in Manchester on 16 June 1964 and his mother Winnie Johnson, 78, has fought a long campaign to get Brady to reveal the location of her son’s grave.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “On 30 July 2012, Greater Manchester Police received information that led officers to believe that Ian Brady had recently given details of the location of Keith Bennett’s body to one of his long-term visitors.”
Martin Bottomley, from Greater Manchester Police’s Major and Cold Case Crime Unit, said: “I want to be explicitly clear about this: Ian Brady has not revealed to police the location of Keith’s body.
‘Duty to investigate’
“What we are looking at is the possibility, and at this stage it is only a possibility, that he has written a letter to Keith’s mum Winnie Johnson which was not to be opened until after his death.
“We do not know if this is true or simply a ruse but we clearly have a duty to investigate such information on behalf of Keith’s family.”
The police were alerted to the possibility of information about the location of Keith’s remains by the makers of a documentary about Brady, who said Ms Powell had told them she had received letters from the killer, one of which was for Mrs Johnson.
The programme’s editor Emma Cooper said after learning of the documents, she had informed police.
“No-one can verify the contents of the envelope and therefore what information it does or does not contain but given the enormity of the implications as suggested by Brady’s letter, we felt we had a responsibility to inform the family via their family liaison officer,” she said.
Brady, 74, was jailed for life in 1966 at Chester Assizes for the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, 10, John Kilbride, 12, and Edward Evans, 17.
He has spent the past 25 years at the high-security Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside and has been tube-fed since refusing food 12 years ago.
Hindley, who died in prison in November 2002, aged 60, was given a life sentence for the murders of Lesley Ann and Edward and for shielding Brady after John’s murder.
In 1987 they admitted killing Keith and 16-year-old Pauline Reade, whose bodies had not been found. Both were taken back to Saddleworth Moor to help police find the remains of the missing victims but only Pauline’s body was found.
The director of public prosecutions at the time decided prosecuting Brady and Hindley for the final two killings would not be in the public interest.
Police abandoned the hunt for Keith’s body in 2009 and officers said they would need fresh evidence to resume the search.
Greater Manchester Police said warrants were executed at Ashworth Hospital and an address in south Wales on Thursday.
The force said: “A 49-year-old woman has been arrested in south Wales on suspicion of preventing the burial of a body without lawful exercise and remains in police custody for questioning.
“Searches of both locations are ongoing.”
Last month Brady, who was born in Glasgow, was due to go before a mental health tribunal to consider his application to be transferred to a Scottish prison and be allowed to die. But it was postponed when he suffered a seizure.
Last December, Mrs Johnson, from Longsight, Manchester, said she wanted to attend the planned hearing to face Brady, saying she had “never seen him face to face”.
But in the days leading up to the tribunal, before it was called off, she said it would be too traumatic for her to attend.
Mrs Johnson’s solicitor John Ainley said she was not aware of the new developments, but said his client had “always believed that Ian Brady knew where her son was buried”.
“She never thought anything else,” he said.
“He had a dialogue with Winnie some years ago and she was certain that he could have provided information that would have given her closure in this harrowing case.
“Her one and only desire is to give her son a proper family burial during her lifetime.”
“Dear Mr Brady” will be aired on More 4 at 10pm tonight (Monday 23 July)
THE mother of a Moors murder victim has made one last plea to killer Ian Brady to tell her where her son is buried.
Winnie Johnson (78) is now critically ill with cancer and her one last wish is to find the remains of her eldest son, Keith Bennett.
Keith was just 12 years old when he was murdered by Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.
Now, almost 50 years on from Keith’s death, Brady still refuses to say where he buried the youngster’s body — only that it is somewhere on the vast Saddleworth Moor.
But brave Winnie has refused to give up the search to find and bring home her son.
And as a documentary due to be aired on Monday will reveal, she has made one last plea to the killer to tell her the truth about Keith. A spokesman for More 4, which is airing the programme, “Dear Mr Brady”, said: “Out of the five victims of the Moors murderers, only Keith remains buried on Saddleworth Moor.”
Lawyer John Ainley, acting on behalf of Mrs Johnson, said: “Winnie is suffering from cancer and is not in the best of health and has been in hospital.
“There’s only one question she wants answered and that’s where her son Keith is, so she can have a proper family burial during her lifetime.”