Manchester’s Vilest: Moors Murderers Part 1: Myra Hindley

On the morning of 7th October 1965, infamous child killer Ian Brady would be arrested by police as his pretty, fragile girlfriend, Myra Hindley watched on in disbelief.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 30 March 2020

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Manchester was ready to accept that a man was behind such heinous crimes, but no one would ever be prepared to learn the truth about unsuspecting Myra’s dark secret. She wasn’t just an accessory; she too lured, tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered five beautiful children on Saddleworth Moor in a killing spree that would haunt the world forever.

Myra Hindley, watching from the front steps of the couple’s terraced Hattersley home, would have struggled to mask a smirk; little did they know she was actually Brady’s accomplice.

Early Years

Raised in Gorton, Hindley got off to a bad start in life as her father Bob, an aggressive alcoholic, was said to be physically abusive to Myra, encouraging her to use violence as a way to resolve disputes. As a child she did not shy away from confrontation and earned herself a frosty reputation that soon stuck.

Many of her peers described how she completely ‘lacked empathy towards anyone’, with the exception of the heartbreak Myra experienced with the tragic death of her close friend, Michael Higgins, who drowned in lake when Myra was 15 years old.

On the surface, the young teen was distraught, traumatised, and heartbroken – but according to those that knew her better, Myra’s emotional response to Michael’s death was more disturbing than met the eye.

At Michael’s funeral mourners noticed that Myra was openly more fascinated by her friend’s cold, lifeless body as opposed to grappling with the loss of her dear friend – an eerie foreshadowing perhaps, of what was to come.

Following a brief engagement at the age of 18 and no real future prospects, Myra was restless. She had no ambition and nothing seemed to captivate her. She feared becoming like her mother; terrified of ending up as a lonely, miserable housewife.

Myra wanted to experience something exciting, dangerous and thrilling- so when a chance encounter with a colleague offered an alternative, her dreams would become a sinister reality.

Deadly Attraction

In 1961, at the cusp of adulthood, 18 year old Myra got a job as a typist at Millwards Merchandising. It was here, working in her hometown of Gorton, where she instantly fell in love with the mysterious and enigmatic Ian Brady.

In her diary she wrote about her failed attempts to catch his eye but after a year of advances, her efforts would finally pay off. It was the classic love story; after walking her home from the staff Christmas party, Brady planted a kiss on Myra’s lips… sealing the fates of not only their lives, but the lives of five innocent families the pair would pull apart.

From that moment on, the couple were inseparable, and Myra, blinded by her obsession, did anything she could to please sadistic Brady. Unfazed Hindley had no problem with Brady’s confiding in her his beliefs that rape and murder were not wrong and of his admiration towards Adolf Hitler.

The Victims

On the 12th of January 1963, 16-year-old Pauline Reade made her way to dance class when she was stopped by her friendly neighbour, Myra, who expressed her dismay having lost an expensive glove on Saddleworth Moor. With time to spare, Pauline offered to help Myra’s search for the glove but little did she know, it would be the last good deed she would ever commit.

Later that day, after being trapped by Hindley and Brady, Pauline was sexually assaulted and murdered. When questioned Myra Hindley always insisted she had nothing to do with the killing itself and simply waited in the car as sadistic Brady carried out the crime.

11 months later on the 23rd November, a 12-year-old boy named John Kilbride went missing and would be found two years later buried on the Moor, his body too showing evidence of sexual assault and murder. Myra also claimed to have waited in the car while these horrific acts took place.

Targeted next was 12-year-old Keith Bennett, who remains the only victim whose body is still yet to be found. He vanished on the 16th June 1964 on the way to his grandmother’s house when he was lured by Myra and Brady to the Moor, sexually assaulted and strangled.

Once again, Myra claims that she had no physical involvement in the murder, but the same cannot be said for their next victim – 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey who was undressed, gagged, raped and murdered in their home on the 16th June 1964.

Myra always maintained that she went to run a bath for Downey and returned to find her dead, but video footage later obtained by the Police would show Myra laughing and sniggering while they tortured the poor girl. It was her mother, Ann Downey, who was burdened with the unthinkable task of identifying her voice by listening to a 16-minute long tape of her daughter screaming and pleading for her life.

The Moors Murderers’ final murder was that of 17-year-old Edward Evans who was killed using an axe in the couple’s home. As a sick ‘rite of passage’, Myra’s brother-in-law, David Smith, was forced to watch the murder and even helped move the body upstairs. In fear of his own life, Smith followed Brady’s orders, but immediately went to police when he left the house. A brave and risky move that finally ended their hellish massacre in Manchester.

Although Myra was not arrested at first, video footage and various other items of evidence which linked Myra to the crimes were later recovered from their house, and a case was built up against her by police.

Despite not ever knowing for sure, without a confession from Hindley, the evidence against her stands alone. After a gruelling court case Myra was only convicted of the murder of Edward Evans and Lesley Ann Downey and was sentenced to life in prison, while Brady was charged with all five murders.

Was Myra Hindley a victim?

Are we ever to know whether Myra was really a victim too; a young woman too afraid of disappointing her disturbed lover, living in fear of retaliation? This is not a narrative we are unfamiliar with, however with Hindley – suspicions are rife.

On the 15th November 2002, aged 60, Myra Hindley released private documents to her lawyer documenting the physical, mental and sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of Brady. Hours later, she died from Bronchial pneumonia.

Were these the words of an innocent woman who was simply a puppet in the hands of a psychopath or a last-ditched attempt to manipulate the world’s perception of her one last time?

The way I see it, Myra Hindley was not Ian Brady’s victim – she was a malevolent, depraved serial killer who enjoyed watching the life fade from innocent children’s’ eyes. The world was, and still is to an extent, captivated by the cruel and twisted lives of Brady and Hindley, with some struggling to believe that a woman could neglect her natural maternal instinct and commit such atrocious crimes, but I disagree.

Myra Hindley was never destined to be like the rest of us – she was born wicked, and all it took was a chance meeting with the wrong man to unleash Britain’s most evil woman.