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I reached the stage where, whatever came to mind, get out and do it. I led the life that other people could only think about.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, a.k.a. "The Moors Murderers", were a young couple of serial killers who killed five together in the 1960s.


Ian Brady[]

Brady was born Ian Duncan Stewart in Glasgow, Scotland. His mother was Maggie Stewart, a 28-year-old tearoom waitress. The identity of his father is uncertain, though his mother claimed that he was a reporter who died a few months before Ian was born. Unable to afford to care for a child, she left him in the care of a local couple, John and Mary Sloan. She frequently visited him at first but did so less frequently as he grew up. When he was twelve, she moved to Manchester with her new husband, Patrick Brady. As a child, Brady enjoyed torturing and killing animals, once even setting a dog on fire, and later started attacking children as well. At his primary school, Camden Street Primary School, he was considered an underachiever and kept to himself. He later studied at the Shawlands Academy, a school for above-average students, but still wouldn't apply himself. At this time, Brady became interested in World War II and the Nazis and even tried to learn the German language. Among his favorite books were Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Marquis de Sade's Justine and less well-known books about sadism. Between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, he was charged with housebreaking and burglary three times. After the third time, he moved in with his mother and stepfather in Manchester, where he took up crime again, spending time in two juvenile centers. In 1957, having learned bookkeeping while institutionalized, he got a job as a stock clerk at Millwards Merchandising, where he met Hindley a year later.

Myra Hindley[]

Hindley was born in Manchester and had a comparatively much more "normal" childhood than Brady did. She was raised in Gorton, a working-class neighborhood. Her parents were Bob, a laborer who was doing military service during her first years, and Nellie Hindley, a machinist. Bob was also an alcoholic who physically abused Hindley. He also taught her how to fight and stand up for herself. In one incident when Hindley was eight years old, a boy scratched her cheek deeply. When her father told her to fight back, she sought him out and knocked him down. When the Hindleys' second child, Maureen, was born in August of 1946, Myra was sent to live with her maternal grandmother, Ellen. Throughout her early school studies, she had a poor attendance record because her grandmother tended to keep her at home for even the slightest reasons. She did however have excellent grades, enjoyed sports and was a very good swimmer. She wasn't considered very feminine and was nicknamed "Square Arse" because of her broad hips. In her teens, she was a popular babysitter.

When she was fifteen, a friend of hers, Michael Higgins, drowned in an accident and she became very traumatized; she had turned down an offer to go swimming with him that day and thought she could have saved him if she had joined him. She also started bleaching her hair. Not long afterwards, she left school and got a job as a junior clerk at an electrical engineering firm. When she was seventeen, she was briefly engaged to a local boy named Ronnie Sinclair, but broke it off because the idea of married life didn't appeal to her. In 1961, Hindley, then eighteen years old and four years younger than Brady, got a job as a typist at Millwards Merchandising. She fell in love with him instantly, but it took him a year to reciprocate. After a Christmas party, he offered to walk her home. Outside her home, he asked her out on a date. They started going steady, usually going to the movies and then to Hindley's house to drink German wine. Brady taught her about Hitler and the Nazis, talked about Marquis de Sade and shared his belief that rape and murder was not wrong. Devoted to him, Hindley started dressing in short skirts and long boots, continued bleaching her hair and even stopped going to church when he told her there was no god.

Killings, Arrests, and Deaths[]

In July 1963, Hindley later claimed, Brady started talking about committing the perfect murder. On the twelfth, they claimed their first victim, abducting and killing sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade. In November the same year, they abducted a young boy, twelve-year-old John Kilbride. After raping him, Hindley claimed that Brady tried to slit his throat with a knife, but ended up strangling him with a piece of string instead. Brady claimed that he strangled him with his bare hands.

On June 16, 1964, they abducted twelve-year-old Keith Bennett while he was on his way to his grandmother and killed him. He was never seen again. On December 26, Boxing Day, the same year, they visited a fairground and abducted ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey by asking her to help carry some packages they were carrying. They brought her to their home, undressed her and forced her to pose nude for photos. She was then raped and killed by one of them, the torture being recorded on tape, and buried on the Saddleworth Moor. Her body wasn't found until ten months later. On October 6, 1965, Brady and Hindley invited seventeen-year-old Edward Evans to her apartment, 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, and killed him with an axe. David Smith, the husband of Hindley's younger sister, Maureen, was present, but was allowed to live. After helping them clean up, he went home to his wife and they called the police. They investigated the apartment immediately and found Evans' body wrapped in a blanket and the axe used to kill him.

Saddleworth Moor search

Search conducted at Saddleworth Moor in November 1986.

Brady was arrested and tried to blame Smith. When the apartment was searched again on October 15, the police found the photos of Lesley Ann Downey and the tape recording, which had Brady and Hindley's voices on it as well as Downey's, as well as a notebook with John Kilbride's name in it and a photograph of Hindley standing on his grave. As evidence against them piled up, Brady and Hindley kept trying to place the blame on David Smith.

Their trial began on April 27, 1966 and ended with both of them being found guilty of murder (Brady for all three counts, Hindley for two counts and then guilty of accessory to murder in the case of John Kilbride). Luckily for them, England had abolished capital punishment just a few weeks before their arrest and they were sentenced to life in prison. In 1985, Brady confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett and the investigation was reopened. Both were taken to the Moor by the searchers to show where the bodies had been buried. On July 1, 1987, Pauline Reade's body was found not far from where Lesley Ann Downey had been buried. Keith Bennett's body, however, has never been found. In 2002, Hindley died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 60. In 2017, Brady died of unspecified chest and lung conditions at the age of 79.

Modus Operandi[]

Brady and Hindley abducted their victims, who were boys and girls aged 10-17, with simple ruses. After forcing them into their car, Brady would rape them (with the exception of their last victim, Edward Evans) and then kill them, either by strangling them with a piece of string (possibly a shoelace) or by slashing their throats. The bodies were then buried on the Saddleworth Moor. Before killing Lesley Ann Downey, they forced her to pose for photos and even tape-recorded her torture. When they killed Edward Evans, Brady beat him to death with an ax and then strangled him with an electrical cord post-mortem.

Known Victims[]

Brady and Hindley's victims: Pauline Reade (16), John Kilbride (12), Keith Bennett (12), Lesley Ann Downey (10) and Edward Evans (17)

Brady and Hindley's victims.

  • 1963:
    • July 12: Pauline Reade, 16 (raped, strangled, beaten, struck in the head with a shovel, and her throat slashed nearly to the point of decapitation)
    • November 23: John Kilbride, 12 (raped and fatally strangled)
  • 1964:
    • June 16: Keith Bennett, 12 (raped and strangled like the previous victim; his body was never found)
    • December 26: Lesley Ann Downey, 10 (raped, tortured, and either strangled, suffocated or smothered to death)
  • October 6, 1965: Edward Evans, 17 (fatally beaten with an axe, then strangled with an electrical cord to accelerate the speed of death)

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Season Two
    • "The Perfect Storm" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, the Moore Murderers appear to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsubs, The Canardos - Both teams consisted of a male and a female, had at least one member who was a psychopathic sadist, the males of the group were given away as children by their mothers, while the females were abused, both targeted young women (although Brady and Hindley also targeted boys), used ruses on their victims before forcing them into their vehicles, the males would rape them, would record their murders (though Brady and Hindley only did this once), and killed their victims by strangulation (though Amber may have also killed her boyfriend by other means, while Brady and Hindley also used other means).
  • Novels
    • Jump Cut - Brady and Hindley were mentioned as an example of killing teams.