Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder on the Moors: The Ian Brady and Myra Hindley Story

Myra Hindley Dies

"Notorious Child Killer Dies"

The headline said it all, Moors murderer Myra Hindley dead at age 60. According to the November 16 story on BBC News Online, Hindley died from respiratory failure arising from a serious chest infection after a suspected heart attack just two weeks before.

Hindley, who had previously suffered from angina and osteoporosis, died at approximately 5.00 PM GMT having received the last rites from a Catholic priest. A Prison Service spokesman said Hindley's next of kin had been informed of her death. Although the official cause of death has already been determined, a routine coroner's inquest will be held as Hindley was still officially in custody at the time of her death.

Prior to her death, Hindley had launched a series of legal challenges to win her freedom but had been informed that she would never be released from prison.

In a statement to the press following the death, Hindley's attorney, Taylor Nichol, said that his client had "truly repented" for her crimes but was "acutely aware" that she would not be forgiven for them. "Myra was deeply aware of the terrible crimes she had committed and of the suffering caused to those who died and to their relatives," the statement said. The statement also said Hindley left friends, family and an elderly mother "all of whom had supported her throughout".

Winnie Johnson, the mother of 12-year-old Keith Bennett, one of Hindley and Brady's victims, said she feared her son's body would never be found. "I always hoped she would be able to tell me at least something of what I wanted to know and I've never given up that hope. Whatever happens, I'll never give up looking for Keith and I'll keep asking Brady. "I have no sympathy for her even in death. The pair of them have made my heart very hard and really I just hope she goes to hell."

In a statement issued after Hindley's death, Greater Manchester Police said the investigation into "issues arising out of the Moors murders case" was ongoing. "We would always investigate any fresh evidence that might lead us to the location of the body of Keith Bennett," it said.

The officer in charge of the 1980s investigation, former Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Topping, said he did not want Mrs Johnson to give up. He told BBC News Online: "There's always hope but it does become more difficult as time goes on. I feel that the families of the victims will find some relief in the fact that (Hindley) has passed on. The families of the victims were tormented by the idea of her ever being released. The fact that she has passed on in prison and has served the sentence as given... I think they will find a little solace in that."

Terry Kilbride, brother of 12-year-old victim John Kilbride, said his family had never got over the killing. "It's like a dagger. It digs in and it will still dig in even though she is dead."

In contrast, Minister Peter Timms, a former governor of Maidstone jail, said: "Her part in the business has always been one of complete remorse and complete regret, she's always done everything she can to help the police."

Hindley's biographer Carol Ann Davies blamed Brady's influence on Hindley for her crimes stating that Hindley was just a "child-loving babysitter" before meeting him. "The parents were happy to leave her for hours with their children," she said.

Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, who spent three hours with Hindley in her cell at Durham jail in 1997, disagrees saying: "There was no remorse whatsoever."

Hindley's partner in crime, Ian Brady, now 64, is currently being held at the high security Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside, where he is on a continual hunger strike and being force fed through a plastic tube after failing in several legal attempts to be allowed to starve himself to death.

Close to Freedom?

Following the official announcement of Hindley's death, the Manchester Gaurdian reported that she had died within weeks of a decision by the House of Lords which was "likely to have led to her release." A ruling on an appeal brought by double murderer Anthony Anderson, who is challenging the power of politicians, rather than judges, to set the lengths of murderers' prison sentences, was imminent and was expected to succeed.

The Gaurdian further described how a ruling in favour of Anderson's appeal would have left the British home secretary, David Blunkett, facing a new challenge from Hindley as she was one of 70 prisoners who had already served longer than the recommended sentence and had planned to apply to Lord Woolf, the lord chief justice, for her release.

In 1985, Woolf's predecessor, Lord Lane, recommended that Hindley should serve no more than 25 years, but subsequent home secretaries fixed her tariff first at 30 years and then at "whole life", meaning she would never be released. Mr Blunkett had already promised to pass a new law to keep high-profile killers such as Hindley behind bars if the current system was declared illegal.



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