Moors Murders: Police start digging for victim Keith Bennett as skull unearthed after 57 years

Moors Murders: Police start digging for victim Keith Bennett as skull unearthed after 57 years
Keith Bennett (inset) was one of five children killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the early 1960s (Keystone & Hulton Archives/Getty Images)

GREATER MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: Authorities are reportedly searching for the remains of Moors murders victim Keith Bennett after a skull was found 57 years after he went missing.

The impressive breakthrough comes after investigators carried out multiple searches in an attempt to find the twelve-year-old's remains. Keith was one of five children killed by Ian Brady and his partner Myra Hindley in the early 1960s. Authorities revealed on Friday, September 30, that a skull believed to be that of a child aged around 12 had been unearthed on Saddleworth Moor. Detectives are now preparing to exhume a particular area where the skeletal remains have been found, including what appears to be a child's upper jaw with a full set of teeth.

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Keith was kidnapped while on his way to visit his grandmother in Manchester on June 16, 1964. Winnie Johnson, his mother, died in 2012 aged 78 without knowing what happened to her son's body. According to the Daily Mail, forensic anthropologists from Greater Manchester Police are examining potential samples of body tissue taken from the area hoping to extract DNA that could finally bring the case to its logical conclusion. Detectives were also examining a small sample of material thought to be clothing that was found buried 3ft underground beside the skull.

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Winnie Johnson, the mother of Saddleworth Moor murder victim Twelve-year-old Keith Bennett, is consoled by her friend Elizabeth Bond, as she watches TV coverage of Greater Manchester Police announcing that the search for his body is now entering a dormant phase on July 1, 2009 in Manchester, England. The 12-year-old was killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964. Greater Manchester Police said that intense scientific and manual searches of Saddleworth Moor for Keith have yielded no results and the operation has now entered a dormant stage until further evidence arises.
Winnie Johnson, the mother of Saddleworth Moor murder victim Twelve-year-old Keith Bennett, is consoled by her friend Elizabeth Bond, as she watches TV coverage of Greater Manchester Police announcing that the search for his body is now entering a dormant phase on July 1, 2009, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

This comes after author Russell Edwards brought together a team of experts to solve the mystery of Keith's whereabouts. Hindley is said to have lured the youngster into a van by asking him to help with some boxes. Her lover Brady reportedly sat watching from the back seat. The pair murdered five children between July 1963 and October 1965, before Brady was caught red-handed with the body of 17-year-old Edward Evans, their final victim.

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Myra Hindley (1942 - 2002), left, who in 1966 was convicted on two counts of murder in conjunction with her partner Ian Brady.
circa 1965: Myra Hindley (1942 - 2002), left, who in 1966 was convicted on two counts of murder in conjunction with her partner Ian Brady. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The bodies of Pauline Reade, 16, John Kilbride, 12, and Lesley Ann Downey, 10, were eventually found after rounds of extensive searces of the Moors. However, Keith's body was never located. Edwards believed that he had finally found Keith's grave just a few hundred yards from the site where the infamous duo buried their other victims. The author confirmed the presence of human remains after conducting extensive soil analysis and started a dig under the guidance of a geologist and expert archaeologist. During the process, he discovered a skull that experts believe is that of a child aged around 11-12 based on the teeth present. According to the Daily Mail, three independent experts have now concluded remains at the site as being human. 

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Just hours after receiving information from Edwards about his findings, Greater Manchester Police dispatched a team of officers and forensic experts to Saddleworth Moor on Thursday night, September 29. Dawn Keen, a forensic archaeologist who specializes in the study of human remains, supervised the "grave cut" remotely. “I do believe there are human remains there," she told the newspaper. "They [police] have got to look. From the photographs, I saw the teeth, I could see the canines, I could see the incisors, I could see the first molar. It is the left side of an upper jaw. There is no way that it is an animal.”

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Ian Brady in police custody prior to his court appearance for the Moors Murders for which he was later convicted.   (Photo by William H Alden/Getty Images)
Ian Brady in police custody prior to his court appearance for the Moors Murders for which he was later convicted. (Photo by William H Alden/Getty Images)

Lesley Dunlop, a geologist who also carried out soil analysis at the site, concluded human remains were present after the analysis revealed high levels of calcium and phosphorus that indicated bones were in the soil. The soil also had nickel, which is usually found in zips and fastenings, as well as cobalt, which is found in clothing dye -- all suggesting that it wasn't animal remains. “From my analysis and from my visual impression, I would say that this area has had human remains in it," Dunlop told the Daily Mail. “I cannot think of another explanation other than it being human remains.”  

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Edwards recalled the moment he made the discovery. "The smell hit me about 2ft down," he said. "Like a sewer, like ammonia. It was on my clothes. I stank of it. The soil reeked. I worked as a gravedigger when I was 19. That hits you, that smell of death. It is distinctive. Then we found blue and white striped material. Then I stopped. I put everything back as I found it." The author said he's convinced it is the youngster's body. “This is about peace for Keith and closure for the family," he added.  

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Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.

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