true crime

TRUE CRIME: The Moors murders made Ian Brady one of the most infamous serial killers.


WARNING: This post deals with murder and includes graphic details.

As a child, Ian Brady often lost his temper. Living with adoptive parents, he would become uncontrollably angry, and bang his head, hard, against the kitchen floor.

At Camden Street Primary School in Glasgow, Scotland, he was lonely and socially awkward. Despite being exceptionally bright, Brady didn’t perform well academically and on top of that, he wasn’t much good at sport. Before long, he began physically attacking his classmates in the playground.

At 10 years old, Brady killed his first cat, tossing it from the top of an apartment block. This became common practice for Brady, as he stoned dogs, decapitated rabbits, and burnt cats and dogs alive.

Simply, from infancy, Brady exhibited clear signs of psychopathy.

Ian Brady. Image supplied.

As Brady progressed through school, he became increasingly interested in World War II, and more specifically, Nazi Germany. It was the 1950s, and he yearned for the Third Reich that fell when he was six years old. Among his favourite books was Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and he became obsessed with the writing of Marquis de Sade, adopting the belief that murder is "necessary, never criminal."

During adolescence, Brady was charged with housebreaking and burglary three times, and at 16 he moved in with his birth mother and stepfather in Manchester, England. His behaviour, however, did not improve.


In 1957, at 19 years old, he got a job as a stock clerk at Millwards Merchandising. After a few years, he would meet a woman by the name of Myra Hindley - a figure who would come to be known as the most hated woman in Britain.

Hindley was four years younger than Brady, and grew up exceptionally poor. Her father was an alcoholic, who is believed to have regularly beat her.

In a lot of ways, Hindley was unremarkable. Boys didn't find her particularly attractive, and she didn't excel at school. In her teenage years, she was a well known babysitter, loved by children and parents alike.

Myra Hindley. Image supplied.

In 1961, with short, peroxide blonde hair, Hindley began work as a shorthand typist secretary at Millwards Merchandising.

From the moment she laid eyes on Brady, she became infatuated with him. He was the only man she'd ever met who had clean fingernails, she told a friend. Hindley wrote about Brady in her diary frequently, describing the first day they met, "Ian wore a black shirt and looked smashing..." she wrote.

Although she couldn't help but obsess over the dark haired, impeccably groomed and well dressed man she worked alongside, it was six months before they exchanged a word.

Hindley noticed the books he read, so went to her local library and borrowed The Collected Works of Wordsworth. The next day she sat next to Brady during her lunch break, desperately seeking his attention. He looked up, and for the first time, acknowledged her.


It was a long year of obsession for Hindley. She wrote in her diary, "Am in a bad mood because he hasn't spoken to me today," with another entry reading, "months now since Ian and I spoke."

But a year on from when Hindley began Millwards, Brady offered to walk her home after the Christmas party. As she kissed him goodbye, he asked her out on a date.

LISTEN: The Pettingill's: A Family Born of Crime, on Australian True Crime. Post continues below...

Hindley fell deeply and quickly in love. They enjoyed going to the movies and drinking red wine together. Hindley lost her virginity to Brady on her grandmother's couch, and neighbours disapproved of the pair spending nights together. Brady taught her about Nazism, and explored his Sadean philosophies that rape and murder were morally ambiguous.

Before long, Hindley began altering her appearance to look strikingly like Eva Braun. She continued to bleach her hair blonde, wore dark red lipstick, and dressed in short skirts with long boots. She had been of Catholic faith, but Brady convinced her that there was no god. “He is cruel and selfish," Hindley wrote of Brady in her diary. "...and I love him.”

Brady was sexually adventurous, with the pair often role playing and engaging in sex games. Hindley wrote in her diary that Brady would bite her during sex, until her body was covered in burst blood vessels. He also began taking pornographic pictures of Hindley, documenting the marks he left on her. As they became closer, Brady introduced themes of rape, incest and paedophilia into what he called their "adventures".


Hindley did not ever challenge Brady, instead completely enamoured by his distrust of authority and ideas which she found "exciting". His philosophies were increasingly outrageous, until he declared that murder and rape were the "supreme pleasure".

Myra Hindley referred to Brady as her 'god'. Image supplied.

Pauline Reade, 16.

In July 1963, when the couple had been together for a little over a year, Brady started talking about committing the perfect murder.

They spoke hypothetically about abducting and murdering a child, and it became inextricably tied to their sexual fantasies.

But on the 12th of that month, it was no longer just a fantasy.

Brady and Hindley had a plan. She was to drive around the local area, while he followed closely behind on his motorcycle. When Brady spotted their victim, he would flash his headlights, and Hindley was to offer them a lift to wherever they were going.

The first time Brady flashed his lights, Hindley ignored him. The young girl was a neighbour of her mothers. But the next girl walking the streets, just after 8pm, was not so lucky.

Pauline Reade, 16, was wearing a pale blue coat and white high-heeled shoes. She was on her way to a dance, and was meeting friends there. Hindley immediately recognised her, too, as a friend of her younger sisters.


Hindley stopped next to her, and asked if she wanted to be dropped at the dance instead. Once in the car, Hindley complained that she had lost an expensive glove at Saddleworth Moor, and would Reade mind helping her search for it. Reade was more than happy to help.

Pauline Reade. Image supplied.

When they arrived at the moor, Hindley introduced Reade to Brady, who had followed them there. The details vary about what precisely happened next, and it's unclear if both Hindley and Brady were involved in the unimaginably brutal attack.

Reade was beaten, raped, murdered and buried.

John Kilbride, 12.

In the early evening of 23 November of the same year, at a market in Lancashire, a 12-year-old boy named John Kilbride was about to head home, worried his parents would get him in trouble if he returned after dark.

In the same market place, was Hindley and Brady.

Hindley approached the boy and asked if he would like a lift home, given his parents would be worried about him. She then added the incentive that they'd give him a bottle of sherry, but the catch was they'd have to drop by their house to collect it. He agreed.

Once he was in the car, they recited the same story about a lost glove, and asked him to help them find it.

They drove him to the moor, and Brady sexually assaulted Kilbride, before committing a gruesome murder. His body, too, was buried on the moor.

John Kilbride. Image supplied.

Keith Bennett, 12.

Keith Bennett, who had turned 12 only four days prior, was walking to his grandmother's house in Manchester in the early evening of July 16, 1964.

Hindley spotted him on the footpath, from a mini pick-up van she had hired in preparation. Brady was sitting in the backseat.

She stopped and asked if Bennett would help her load some boxes, and offered him a lift home. But once Bennett was in the car, they recited the same story about the lost, expensive glove.

Once they arrived at the Saddleworth Moor, Brady took Bennett, and disappeared for about 30 minutes.

When he returned, Brady told Hindley  that he had sexually assaulted and then strangled the victim, before burying him in the moor.



Lesley Ann Downey, 10.

Brady and Hindley visited a fair on Boxing Day, 1964, deliberately in search of their next victim.

Beside one of the rides, they noticed 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey, who was standing alone.

The pair approached, and pretended to drop their shopping bags. When Downey came to assist them, they asked if she would mind helping them carry their bags to their car. She happily agreed.

Once they were at their car, Hindley and Brady asked if Downey would mind helping them unload the packages at their place- after which they would drop her home. Downey obliged. But she would never reach home.

When they arrived at their house, the pair undressed Downey and gagged her, forcing her to pose for pornographic photos. She was then raped and strangled with a piece of string.

In a tape recording taken by Hindley and Brady of her last moments, Downey can be heard pleading, "Let me go," and "I want to see mummy."

The following day, the pair took Downey's body to Saddleworth Moor, where they buried her in a shallow grave.

Lesley Ann Downey. Image supplied.

Edward Evans, 17.

A little less than a year later, on the 6th of October, 1965, Brady struck up a conversation with apprentice engineer Edwards Evans at Manchester Central railway station. He was well-dressed and interested in men, hence why Brady was the perfect bait.

Evans was returning from a Manchester United game and had had a few drinks, but the surrounding pubs were closed for the night. Brady invited Evans back to his home for a drink.

It's important to note here, that Brady was extremely proud of his murders, and had begun to gloat about them to David Smith, Hindley's sister's husband.

Brady had made offhanded remarks about how he had killed before, and Smith dismissed the comments, knowing Brady to be unusual and hyperbolic.

But on this particular night, Brady wanted a spectator. He wanted to prove how powerful he was.

With Evans at his home, Brady called Smith and demanded he come over for a drink. He did.

In the front room of his home, Brady bludgeoned Evans with an axe. Following the murder, Brady turned to Hindley with a smile and said, “That’s it, it’s the messiest yet.”

Edward Evans. Image supplied.

Throughout the course of the night, Brady told Smith about the moor, and the bodies that were buried there. Smith helped him clean up the mess, and take the body upstairs. In the early hours of the morning, Smith said he better be heading home.


The following day, he reported the murder to the police.


Today, Ian Brady died at Ashworth High Security Hospital, at 79 years of age.

He died knowing the location of Keith Bennett's body, which he has never divulged to police or to the family.

Myra Hindley died in jail in 2002, as Britain's longest serving female prisoner. She desperately tried to negotiate an early release by helping police find the missing body of Bennett, but it was determined she was of no use. After her arrest and imprisonment, Hindley maintained that she was complicit in the murders only because she was controlled by psychopathic Brady.

When she was cremated, a banner was left outside the building that read "Burn in hell".

Trial judge, Mr Justice Fenton Atkinson,  delivered the closing remarks on Brady and Hindley's case, stating that the pair were, "two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity."

Today, Lesley Ann Downey's brother, Terry West, poured himself a glass of wine when he heard Brady had died.

"It's closure for our family," he said.

To find out more about the Moors murders, I highly recommend the three part series on Casefile: True Crime Podcast, Case 49. You can find it here.