Ian Brady and Myra Hindley: The Moors Murderers

The most notorious killers in British history still cast a long shadow over the bleak Northern moors where they buried their victims half a century ago.

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Even in an age where the gory details of seemingly every murder are played out in graphic detail in the daily pages of our newspapers, TV screens and websites, a special category of horror is still reserved for those who murder children.

The infamy of the Moors Murders is such that they still cast a pall over the bleak, beautiful moorlands outside Manchester - and the names of Brady and Hindley are high in the annals of the city's infamy.

Even 50 years on from his crimes Brady held a spell over the nation's media from within the walls of Ashworth Hospital and remained unrepentant - even celebratory - about his crimes, refusing to co-operate with investigators looking to find the remaining bodies of his victims and even authoring a book on the nature of murder. His death in 2017 was celebrated throughout the country, but failed to bring closure to the relatives of his victims.

But it is perhaps Hindley's name that still inspires the most horror -perhaps because the link in most people's minds between women and motherly love makes it incomprehensible that a woman could be involved in the sexual torture and murder of a child. Hindley died in 2002 and despite her claims to be a reformed character the image most closely associated with the murders is her 1964 mugshot - her bleach blonde hair and dead eyes being one of the most iconic photographs in British criminal history.

Ian Brady: A troubled youth

Brady was born into trouble. The Glasgow slums of the thirties and forties were no Elyssian fields  - especially for a boy who never knew his father and was given up for adoption by his mother at just 4 months old. Despite continuing to visit him until he was 12, she never even admitted that she was his mother.

His adoptive parents did what they could for the boy, but from an early age he displayed disturbing trends - with violent tantrums and seeming lack of interest in forging friendships with his peers. By age 16 he was already fascinated with Nazism and Neitzsche and had fallen into burglary and other petty crimes.

By 17 he was already experiencing detention at her majesty's pleasure and immersed in the works of the Marquis de Sade. Prison taught him nothing other than a rudimentary set of book-keeping skills, and he drifted through the early sixties from manual job to manual job, before finding something more stable in the form of a job as a stock clerk.

It was here that he met the woman with whom he would forge a legacy of horror to match any other: Myra Hindley.

Myra Hindley - a girl gone wrong?

Myra Hindley was, by all accounts, the very opposite of Brady. Loved and trusted by her family, a popular babysitter and a convert to Catholicism followed the death of a close friend. Nothing in her past hinted at the horror in which she would become involved.

But as she entered her late teens, a yearning for adventure and excitement seemed to come over her. She called off her engagement and looked into joining the armed forces or going to the USA to work as an au pair - even moving briefly to London to find work. But nothing she found seemed to strike a chord within her until she found herself working alongside Brady.

The truculent, ex-convict with the sharp face and dangerously aloof and intellectual aura seemed to hint at the excitement she yearned for and before long, fatefully, she fell in with him.

Descent into hell

Brady, despite his general remoteness from other people, was evidently tickled by the attention shown to him by Hindley. Soon he was introducing her to his secret philosophical world - their first date was to see The Nuremburg Trials on film - and encouraging her to read the works of De Sade, Hitler and Neitzsche. The introduction to a thrilling philosophical world where conventional morality was turned on its head was apparently just the thing Hindley had been unknowingly seeking.

History is now divided on whether this represented extreme manipulation of an innocent girl, or whether these exciting, illicit thoughts woke something latent in Hindley. Later, the two would tell conflicting tales of her involvement in what was to follow, but it is clear that the two were locked step-in-step on the path that led to Saddleworth Moor within a short time of meeting.

Brady dressed sex up with Nazi regalia and overtones of masochism. Hindley posed for pornographic pictures. The more time they spent together, the more Brady would give vent to increasingly wild postulations - eventually claiming that rape and murder were the ultimate pleasures.

To the malleable Hindley, this distorted, fantastical view of reality soon become the prism through which she viewed the world alongside Brady. Perhaps given the extreme nature of their shared folly, it was inevitable that they pushed each other to some degree to the inevitable outcome: murder.

Poor Pauline Reade became the first signpost on the road on which Brady and Hindley had irrevocably decided to travel.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 11th January 2018 | © Weird Island 2010-2021


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