“In character she is essentially a chameleon, adopting whatever camouflage will suit and voicing whatever she believes the individual wishes to hear. This subliminal soft sell lured the innocent and naive.”
Brady on Hindley
Hindley was the camouflage Brady needed to kill. Children and teenagers instinctively trusted a woman. Without her, Brady might not have been able to rape and murder in the way he did. One survivor claimed that it was simply an offer of bread and jam by a Hindley that persuaded him to follow the couple to their home. Once inside, however, the boy realised something was wrong and exited through a window. Hindley’s years of babysitting and childminding meant she could reassure and entice children in a way few adults could.
WILLING PARTNER IN CRIME
On the night of 12 July 1963, 16-year-old Pauline Reade became their first victim. Her parents had bought her brand new white stilettos for the local dance. She never danced in them. Instead, she met Hindley.
Pauline should have been with three girlfriends but their parents had stopped them going on learning that alcohol would be available at the dance. Hindley targeted the teenager believing there’d be less fuss than over a missing child; some might believe Pauline had run off with a bloke. Also, as Hindley had looked after Pauline as a child, she would be less suspicious of her former protector.
Hindley first said she’d give Pauline a lift to the dance. Once in the car, Hindley asked her to help her find a glove she’d lost on the Moors saying it was a present from Brady and he’d be mad if she’d lost it.
Hindley then drove her up to Saddleworth Moor, in the Pennines. Brady followed on his motorbike. According to Hindley, she remained in the car as Brady went off with Pauline.
Over the next 20 minutes, Pauline was raped, beaten, stabbed and virtually decapitated. Hindley helped bury the body and her stilettos:
“...many, many, many years later, those white stilettos were found, and inside them you could still see the gold writing of the manufacturer, because they were so new – that’s heartbreaking.”
Jean Richie, Author
A massive search took place to find some trace of the vanished Pauline. Police and public alike found nothing. Suspicion inevitably fell on her family, friends and neighbours.
One of those questioned was the boyfriend of Hindley’s sister, 15-year-old David Smith. An ex-boyfriend of Pauline’s, and living only two doors away from her, he was an obvious suspect. He also had a history of violence. When he was 11 he was involved in a stabbing. He’d also punched a head teacher in the face. David was eventually discounted from the investigation. It would not be the last time he would be accused of crimes committed by Brady and Hindley.
As the police investigation went cold, Brady cooled his relationship with Hindley. She had expected the murder to lock them together. Instead, Brady explored his homosexual side. The distraught Hindley found comfort in the arms, of all people, a policeman, Norman Sutton. When Brady discovered the profession of her new lover, he was amused.
Hindley had multiple occasions to tell her police lover what Brady had done and stop any future killings. She didn’t.
When Brady asked Hindley round to listen to a music record, she dutifully went. He drew her back in by saying he wanted to kill again.
This time Hindley would be better prepared. She lined the boot of their car with polythene to save cleaning. She packed a shovel, a serrated knife, and a cord. She also bought a black wig to cover her conspicuous blonde hair.
Four months after Pauline, 12-year-old John Kilbride disappeared. He’d last been seen around the market in Ashton-Under-Lyne. John used to earn pocket money helping stallholders there. Hindley used to buy her nylons there.
On 23 November 1963, as it became dark, Hindley asked John if he wanted a lift. He was never seen again.
And again, a major search for a missing child was carried out and again no trace was found. And again, suspicion fell on family and friends. At one time, the police investigated whether John’s father was behind his son’s disappearance.
On Tuesday 16 June 1964, 12-year-old Keith Bennett disappeared whilst on the way to his grandmother’s house. As her house was only a mile away, he’d walk it alone. His bespectacled smiling face would come to be inextricably linked with the Moors Murders. But that day, his NHS glasses were broken.
His disappearance wasn’t noted until the next day, and a massive police search revealed no clues. Hindley had in fact lured him into her car with a request for assistance in loading some boxes. They’d then rendezvoused with Brady on Saddleworth Moor. Hindley said that Brady took Keith to a gully next to a stream. Over the next half hour, he raped, tortured and strangled the 12-year-old boy. They both buried his body there.
But Brady, the wannabe master-criminal intent on committing the perfect murder, was taking more and more trophies from his kills. This need to relive the murders through photos and objects would ultimately be the killer’s downfall.
In September 1964, Hindley and her grandmother were allocated a new house, 16 Wardle Brook Avenue. Brady moved in with them.
On the afternoon of Boxing Day, 1964, ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey disappeared on the way from a local fairground in Manchester. Photos of her show a smiling girl with huge dark hair tied back with the style of hair-band fashionable then. Hindley and Brady took their own sick photos of her in her last moments. They also then took photos of each other over her buried body. Their photos were in effect grave markers.
Later Hindley would confess in great detail to the other murders. But with Lesley, Hindley was evasive. This is because Brady tape recorded the girl’s final moments. Lesley tried to stop the pair torturing her to death by calling them ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. Hindley can be clearly and coldly heard telling her to shut up. With 13 minutes of Lesley’s final moments caught on tape, Hindley couldn’t pretend she wasn’t there.
She later said that she was running a bath, in order to remove any fibres from Lesley, when Brady strangled her. Brady stated it was Hindley that did the strangling and that she used a cord to do it. And he added that for some time afterwards, Hindley would like to go out in public and play with the cord as if she was flaunting her secret.
When Lesley’s family realised she was gone, there was again a huge police effort. It was bolstered by countless volunteers. But again it unearthed no clues as to her whereabouts:
“I didn’t think anyone would harm her. Because she wasn’t a child that would cheek anybody to be of harm.”
Anne, mother of Lesley Ann Downey
There seemed nothing to connect the disappearances of John Kilbride and Lesley Downey. They were different sexes and the locations were five miles apart. And there was nothing to connect the last two with the missing Pauline Reade or Keith Bennett.
7 October 1965 proved the turning point for the police. Myra Hindley’s 17-year-old brother-in-law, David Smith, arrived at Hyde Police station with a horrific tale of violence.
The previous night Hindley visited her sister Maureen and husband David. Hindley said to David that she was afraid to walk home alone at night so he agreed to walk her back. When they arrived at 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, she invited him with the promise of some miniature wine bottles.
She gave him some wine and then left. David heard a long, loud scream. Hindley shouted for David to come. David came into their living room to find Brady holding a young man. Brady let him fall to the floor and hit him repeatedly with an axe and then strangled him.
Afterwards, Hindley made them all tea.
She joked with Brady about the look on Evan’s face when Brady first struck him.
Hindley and Brady joked about the mess, and also told David of other victims buried on the Moors. Concealing his horror for fear of meeting a similar fate, David assisted them with the clean up:
“Hindley was projecting herself as a laughing, gay busy housewife, tidying up a normal domestic scene. She normalised what was grossly abnormal...it helped her to distance herself from the reality and horror of what she was engaging with.”
Dr David Holmes, Criminologist and Forensic Profiler
David walked down the street fearful that the killer couple were watching his exit. As soon as he turned the corner, he ran home to tell his wife and alert the police.