An insight into Britain's most infamous female serial killer. Did something cause the Moors Murderer to commit her crimes, or was she born to kill?
Britain's best known killer?
Britain's best known killer?
The female child sex serial killer"I hope he loves me, and will marry me some day."Myra Hindley diary entry about BradyMyra Hindley was the first child of Nellie and Bob Hindley. Myra was born on 23 July 1942 in Crumpsall, a Manchester suburb with slum elements. Her father was away for her first three years because of the Second World War. He served in the Parachute Regiment in North Africa campaign. So Nellie’s mother lived with Myra and her grandmother helped raise her.When Bob returned home, grandmother moved out and round the corner. Bob went from being a Para to doing menial labouring work. He started to drink heavily. He also started to beat up his wife. But Myra’s mother gave as good as she got and fought back.
Often Myra’s grandmother would have to break the two apart.After the birth of Myra’s sister, Maureen, it was Myra who was sent to live with her grandmother. Myra was just four years old. One thing her father did teach her was how to fight. And so like her mother, Myra learnt how to defend herself against males her own age. And when she beat a boy in a street fight, her father gave her the attention and approval she craved.And she used her new found street fighting reputation to protect not only herself, but also her little sister Maureen.
It’s thought that in a tragic irony, she also protected one of Maureen’s friends, Pauline Reed. A decade later, Pauline would be the Moors Murderer’s first victim.
Despite her chaotic upbringing, this ‘bold and brash’ girl was considered a sensible, if not exactly scholastic, child. Myra’s capable nature made her a popular babysitter in her teens. She was liked equally by the children and their parents.
At 13, she was unremarkable. Her tomboy past didn’t endear her to most boys. They didn’t think her attractive and she was called ‘Square Arse’.Myra attended communion lessons at the local Catholic church. She liked playing rounders and loved reading. Her favourite authors were Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton. Their escapist novels helped take Myra away from her average working class childhood into a world of adventure. Friends noticed that something about Myra was different:“She had no empathy for anybody else. If somebody hurt themselves, It wouldn’t upset her.”Susan Carter, Myra’s school friendAged 15, Myra liked to go swimming with one of her few close male friends, Michael Higgins. But on one occasion she didn’t go with him. Michael drowned. Myra was devastated. When his body was laid out, Myra was fascinated. Michael’s mother took the rosary beads from her dead son’s hand, and handed it to Myra.
She left school shortly after. She also converted to Roman Catholicism.She became obsessed by sights from which others would recoil: a decapitated dog by a railway track; a cat torn in half by two dogs; a boy bleeding to death after being crushed by a lorry.
At 17, Myra became engaged to a local boy. Maureen, Myra’s younger sister also had a boyfriend, David Smith. David was a bad boy with both convictions and a reputation for violence. And yet it would be David that would ultimately end the madness of the Moors Murderers.Myra’s father had since suffered a stroke. But as an invalid he was even more embittered and meaner to Myra’s mother. When Myra discovered his treatment of her mother, she reversed their childhood roles, and proceeded to beat and humiliate her disabled father.Despite this, Myra considered following in his footsteps by joining the army, or the navy. She even considered escaping to America to work as an au pair. She did work in London. But nothing captivated her.
Falling in with the Wrong crowd
Falling in with the Wrong crowd
January 1961 the 19-year-old peroxide blonde started work as a shorthand typist secretary in a small chemical firm. It was there that she met Ian Brady.
Everything about him was different:“She once said that he was the only man she’d ever met who had clean fingernails.”Jean Richie, AuthorMyra was instantly smitten. When she walked home that night she looked through the windows of the surrounding suburban streets and saw only banality and boredom.She eventually called off her engagement to her shocked fiancé.Brady was the only man for her. Where others saw aloofness, she saw a smouldering romantic intelligence. She was very impressed when Brady read Hitler’s autobiography, the turgid ‘Mein Kampf’, in its original German. But Brady remained seemingly indifferent to her. The only times he showed emotion was when he exploded into sudden rages, often when his bookmaker rang with a bad result. These violent outbursts mirrored her father’s behaviour.
This would have been both repulsive to her, but also familiar.Hindley poured out her intense feelings for Brady in her diary for over a year. Myra took out a book of poetry by Wordsworth. Finally, Brady noticed her.At the December Christmas party, the couple danced together. When he walked her home, he tried to kiss her. He bruised her with his teeth. It was obvious that he had never kissed anyone before.When on their first date he took her to the film ‘The Nuremburg Trials’ she knew she would never be bored again. She eagerly followed his suggested reading list. The Catholic girl devoured the works of Nietzche, the philosopher who berated Christianity for smothering humanity’s potential with its belief in good and evil. When Brady told Myra there was no God, she stopped going to Church.
As she became a woman, he encouraged her to read the works of the sexual sadist, the Marquis De Sade.Brady was her first lover. He bit and beat her as he took her virginity:“Myra... was able to enter into this world partly because of her childhood because she saw in Brady a mirror image of her father. So her father had beaten her from a young age, Ian...beat her during sex.
Her childhood had in sense prepared her to enter this world.”Duncan Staff, journalist who inherited all Myra’s papersMyra was soon moulding herself in Brady’s image. Whatever his fantasy, she would indulge him. She posed for pornographic pictures. When Brady told her that the ‘supreme pleasure’ was the rape and murder of another, she was ready to believe him.The couple got drunk on wine, a flashy drink for a working class couple.
They often picnicked on the Saddleworth Moor near Oldham. Myra looked happy in the many photos Brady took of her. To the casual observer, she seemed normal:“I thought she was a smashing girl. A bit hard, but any promises she made, she always kept.”Hindley neighbourBut family and friends noticed the cumulative effect that Brady had on her. To them, she became increasingly surly, secretive and submissive.
When Brady tested her by pretending to plan a bank robbery, she never questioned him. In 1963 she learnt to drive in order to be his getaway driver. She also purchased two guns. Brady knew she was ready to do whatever he asked. And her new driving skills would be useful for what he had in mind.In Myra’s account, there was one last action that pushed her from acting out fantasies, however sick, into committing real life atrocities.
She awoke one morning to find herself drugged, raped and bitten. Ian had taken her grandmother’s sleeping tablets, drugged Myra and then abused her. He also photographed her during the process. Myra was now so brutalised and brainwashed that what followed would no longer be abhorrent.
“He is cruel and selfish, and I love him.”-Hindley diary entry