May 6, 1966: The Moors Murderers Sentenced to Life in Prison


The Moors Murders refer to 5 murders between July of 1963 and October of 1965 in Manchester, England. The victims ranged from the age of 10 to 17, and at least 4 of them were sexually assaulted. The "Moor" name comes from the burial of the bodies: The killers dug graves for their victims on Saddleworth Moor.

The killers were named Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. They were originally charged with only 3 murders, but Brady had confessed to 2 additional murders. After that, the duo was taken (separately) to the Moor to help find the graves of the remaining 2 children.

The press called Hindlay "the most evil woman in Britain", but despite being so clearly hated, she made many appeals against her life sentence, claiming she was changed and not a danger to society. She died at age 60 in 2002. On the other hand, Brady was diagnosed as a psychopath and confined to a high-security hospital, wishing to never be released and asking repeatedly if he could die. Eventually, he did, at age 79 in 2017.


Ian Brady was born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 2, 1938. His name at birth was Ian Duncan Stewart, and he was born to an unmarried tea room waitress named Peggy Stewart. Peggy claims that his father was a newspaper reporter who died 3 months before Ian was born, but this has never been corroborated. After a few months of trying to raise Ian on her own with little support, she was forced to give up her son to a local family who already had 4 kids of their own. He took their last name, Sloan, but continued to visit his mother.

Some reports say that he abused and tortured animals during his childhood, but Brady denies those accusations. He got into a good private academy for above average students, and had an affinity for the outdoors.

While at Shawlands Academy, his behavior became problematic. He broke into houses and had to appear in court multiple times before leaving the academy at age 15 to take a job as a tea boy. Then, he got a job as a butcher's messenger boy. He got a girlfriend, but she broke up with him after he threatened her with a knife after she went to a dance with another boy. His next court appearance featured 9 charges against him, and he was placed on probation on condition that he stay with his mother. She had moved and married by then to a Patrick Brady, and he took his last name, finally becoming Ian Brady at around age 17.

He was doing better for awhile. Despite a few run-ins with the law, he wanted to better himself and got a bunch of manuals about book-keeping and spent hours studying alone, shocking his parents. He got a clerical job in 1959 where he was described as quiet and punctual, but with a short temper.

Myra Hindley was born on July 23, 1942. Her alcoholic father, Bob, and her apparently excuse-less mother, Nellie, beat her as a young child. She slept in the same room as her parents due to poverty, which worsened when her younger sister was born. When Hindley was 5, she was sent to live with her grandmother.

Her father, a "hard man" who had served during World War II, tried to teach his daughter to stick up for herself, but instead just rewarded her for violent behavior. A forensic psychologists explained that her "relationship with her father brutalized her". Beyond the violence in the home, her father's approval of any out-of-home violence really distorted her understanding of violence.

In 1957, Hindley's closest friend, 13-year-old Michael Higgins, drowned in a reservoir after Hindley had turned down his invitation to join, hanging out with another friend instead. She was deeply upset and felt guilty for his death. She had been baptized Catholic, but after Higgins death, became very deeply involved in the Catholic church, receiving her first Communion and getting confirmed in the church. She took a job as a junior clerk at an electrical engineering firm, running errands and typing. She was well-liked at work, and called off an engagement at the age of 17 because the man was immature and couldn't provide her the life she wanted.

Despite being a relatively well-liked good Catholic girl, her violence was always there. She took judo lessons weekly, but partners were never all that jazzed about training with her because she'd be disconcertingly slow to loosen her grip.

The two met in 1961 when 18-year-old Hindley began working as a typist at the same company where Brady worked. Despite his criminal record, she was infatuated by him. Though she continued dating other men, her journal entries described her interest in Brady, though she wouldn't talk to him for the first time until 6 months after starting her job with him.

They would go on dates to the movies and return to Hindley's house to drink wine. Then, Brady would give her reading material, and often, the couple would spend their lunch breaks reading about Nazi atrocities. Hindley began to bleach her hair and wear thick red lipstick to emulate Aryan perfection. She wrote a letter to a friend once where she mentioned that Brady had once drugged her but she was still obsessed with him, and later asked her friend to destroy the letter. She continued to change her appearance, dressing in my risque outfits, and the pair became quiet and less sociable to the rest of their colleagues.

They frequented the library, checking out books on philosophy, crime and torture. They wanted to rob some banks, but their plans ultimately amounted to nothing. They got into photography and took explicit photos of one another.

She was completely under his spell. In a plea for parole, she wrote: "Within months, he had convinced me that there was no God at all; he could have told me that the earth was flat, that the moon was made of green cheese and the sun rose in the west, I would have believed him."


Brady told Hindley on July 12, 1963 that he wanted to commit a "perfect murder". He told her to drive a van around and he would follow on his motorcycle, blinking his headlight when he saw a good victim. When Brady flashed his headlight, Hindley kept driving because she recognized the girl, and she was only 8. After driving around a bit longer, they spotted 16-year-old Pauline Reade, a classmate of Hindley's sister. She offered to give her a ride.

Once her victim was in the van, she asked her to help search Saddleworth Moor for an expensive lost glove (great cover), and Pauline agreed to help. Brady followed on his motorcycle. Hindley, allegedly, waited in the car while Brady and Pauline were out in the moor, and Brady returned 30 minutes later alone. He took Hindley to the body, where she saw Pauline dying, nearly decapitated by 2 slashes to the throat. When Hindley asked if he had raped Pauline, he said "of course I did".

The accounts of the 2 clash throughout their murder spree, and especially on this one. Brady claims that Hindley had selected Pauline, whereas Hindley claims Brady did. Eventually, Hindley admitted that she was more favorable to Pauline than the 8-year-old girl they chose not to kill because a 16-year-old gone missing wouldn't receive as much attention. Further, Hindley claims she waited in the car during Pauline's murder, whereas Brady claims she not only was present, but participated in sexually assaulting her.

John Kilbride was their next victim on November 13, 1963. The couple offered the 12-year-old a ride home, but then said they needed to make a quick stop to search for a glove in the moor. (Really surprised they went with the missing glove story more than once). Again, Hindley claims to have waited in the car while Brady raped the child and slit his throat, and then strangled him with a shoelace.

12-year-old Keith Bennett was killed on June 16, 1964 after Hindley asked him to help her load some boxes into the car, and then she said she would drive him home. The lost glove ruse worked again and Brady took the child out into the moor and sexually assaulted him before strangling him to death with a piece of string.

The killer couple visited a fairground together on December 26, 1964 and saw a 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey alone. They tricked her into the car by walking past and deliberately dropping items so they could ask her help to carry some things to the car. They took her to Hindley's home. Hindley claims she went to go fill a bath for Lesley (yes, sure, after 3 murdered children this time you're just going to pamper her at home), and when she came back, Brady had killed her. Brady claims Hindley took Lesley's life. Regardless, the couple drove her body to the Moor where they buried the child, naked with her clothes laying at her feet.

The last murder took place on October 6, 1965. They drove to Manchester Central railway station where Hindley waited outside the car while Brady selected a victim. He came back with 17-year-old Edward Evans. He introduced Hindley as his sister, and they drove to their home together and drank wine. In a really strange and kind of confusing turn of events, they got Hindley's brother-in-law, David Smith, involved. Smith was a criminal who was "in awe" of Brady. He witnessed the final murder, and helped carry the body, using his baby's stroller to transport the body to the car.


The morning after the murder of Edward, Smith recounted it to his wife, vomiting. He armed himself with a knife and called the police from a phone booth. A police car picked him up and he told officers what he had witnessed that night. The police went to the Hindley and Brady's home to try to question them on unrelated charges, but eventually arrested Brady on suspicion of murder. Hindley demanded to come to the police station, and she claimed Edward's death was an accident. Eventually, she was arrested as an accessory to Edward's murder on October 11.

When police searched the house, they found an item that belonged to John Kilbride, and began to suspect the couple in the disappearance of him, and some other young kids from the area. Further searches turned up photos of a dead, naked Lesley Ann Downey and a 16-minute tape of her screaming and pleading for help, a recording her mother had to listen to to confirm it was her daughter.

Once they received a tip about the Saddleworth Moor being their dumping grounds, police searched the area and found the arm bone of Lesley.

Further photographs were found, among them being various scenes at the moors, some with Hindley posing with her dog next to the graves of the children. The body of Kilbride was found, badly decomposed, on October 21.

Now, they were facing charges for the murders of Edward Evans, John Kilbride and Lesley Ann Downey. After being presented with the tape of Lesley screaming, Brady insisted that she had been brought to their home by 2 men who then took her away again, alive. Believable. After a hearing on December 6, 1965, Brady was charged with the murders of the 3, while Hindley was charged with Edward and Lesley's murder, and knowledge of John's murder.

Many of the photographs that were taken in their murder cemetery included Hindley's poor puppy, Puppet. Because there was no date on them, detectives had a veterinary surgeon examine the dog so they could help date the images. Puppet did not recover from the surgery and died. Detectives and witnesses claim this was one of the few occasions where Hindley became emotional, writing to her mom that nothing could hurt her more than the loss of her dog. (Perhaps think about being a parent who's 10-year-old was murdered and raped, and then had to listen to a recording of your child screaming for help?)

I'll breeze through the cliifnotes of the trial. David Smith, who had witnessed Edward's murder, was the chief witness of the prosecution. Both Hindley and Brady testified and entered not guilty pleas. The jury hated Brady because he was an asshole, and Hindley claimed that none of the pictures taken of her in the Moor were taken near the graves of the victims, just random Moor photoshoots. The 16-minute tape of Lesley was played, and Hindley claimed that her cruel tone on the recording was just because she was afraid someone would hear her and not because she was a cruel person. She claimed she was downstairs when the photos of her were taken, and running a bath when she was being strangled.

On May 6, the jury found Brady guilty of all 3 murders and Hindley guilty of just 2. They were sentenced to life in prison, Brady with 3 life sentences and Hindley with 2. They were taken to separate prisons. The prosecution team believed that Brady was "wicked beyond belief" and could not be reformed, but believed Hindley may be able to once removed from the influence of Brady.

Brady admitted to the murders of Pauline and Keith in 1985 to a journalist. Police had suspected as much, but weren't able to find the bodies. Though on a later visit Brady denied any involvement in further murders, police resumed their search of the moor to identify their bodies.

Keith's mother wrote a letter to Hindley, which seemed to actually move Hindley. Though she refused involvement in the killings, she did agree to help look at images and maps to help police identify where Brady may have dumped the bodies. So, on December 1986, Hindley went out with police to help search the moor. The street was guarded as to protect the prisoner. Unfortunately, no remains were found.

Hindley confessed her involvement in all 5 murders on February 10, 1987. But her confessions always left out her actual involvement: she was always in the car, in the bathroom, somewhere else. Her statement was 17 hours long, but it seemed more like a "great performance rather than a genuine confession".

After hearing that Hindley confessed, Brady was prepared to, as well, but only if he was given the means to commit suicide right after, a request that authorities couldn't actually follow through with.

Hindley went back to the moor despite the poor turnout of her first visit in March of 1987. She confirmed police were looking in the right place, but couldn't find the exact grave site. In April of the same year, her confession went public. She explained her reasoning for denying her guilt previously, as well as her religious experiences in prison and the moving letters from one of the victim's family. Once she realized she would never get out, she exonerated David Smith from any involvement in the murders, besides Edward.

After 100 days of searching the moor with Hindley's guidance, they found Pauline's body on July 1, 1988. At this point, Brady had been cooperating with police for awhile, and he said he, too, would like to help with the search, but it was called off quickly after he arrived. He was brought out for a second search to find the body of Keith, but it has never been found. A new trial was never given after the couple's further confessions, because they were already serving life sentences.


Because Brady was in a mental institution, he was not allowed to refuse food and was force-fed, despite his wish to die. He asked to be returned to prison in 2012 so he could starve himself, but his application was rejected. He never appealed his convictions, he wanted to die nearly his entire time in jail. He finally died on May 15, 2017. He was cremated without ceremony, and his ashes were dumped in the sea.

Hindley tried to be released on parole, but was unsuccessful. She fell in love with a prison warden, Patricia Cairns, which is super weird. Cairns helped her try to escape, but when the attempt was thwarted, she was sentenced to 6 years in jail.

Whether her various attempts to be released on parole would have eventually worked cannot be known, because at age 60 in 2002, Hindley died on bronchial pneumonia. She was given a small, lowly-attended funeral. Over 20 crematoriums refused to handle her body. Four months after her death, her prison lover Cairns scattered her ashes less than 10 miles from the Saddleworth Moor.

David Smith was hated by the people of Manchester, and his wife (Hindley's sister) Maureen was attacked with 8 months pregnant. Their home was vandalized and they received hate mail often. Smith was eventually sentenced to 3 years in prison for stabbing a man during a fight. Hindley's mother supported her daughter through the trial, and refused to talk to Maureen who had helped put her sister behind bars. Smith eventually remarried a 15 YEAR OLD and somehow got custody of their children. He remarried again after his child bride, but died in 2012. Maureen remarried and had a daughter.

Now reconnected with her mother, Maureen and the family made visits to see Hindley, who adored her niece.

Pauline's mother was admitted to Springfield Mental Hospital, but was able to attend, under heavy sedation, her daughter's funeral in 1987. The Kilbride's divorced 5 years after their son's murder. Lesley's mother levied against Hindley's release for her whole life, claiming she would kill her if she were released. She died in 1999 from cancer. Keith's mother continued to visit Saddleworth Moor, where she believes her son to be buried, until she died in 2012.

The house where Brady and Hindle lived, and where Lesley and Edward were murdered, was demolished.



© 2023 by Train of Thoughts. Proudly created with