When Myra Hindley was 8 years old, a neighborhood boy approached her on the street and viciously scratched both sides of her face. His fingernails were sharp enough to draw blood, and Myra ran home crying. Upon her arrival, she was greeted by her father, Bob Hindley. He was angry. His indignation was not a result of the young boy’s treatment of Myra. Bob Hindley was disappointed in Myra’s reaction to the attack. He was known as a tough man, and he expected his daughter to be equally as strong. He had taught her how to fight, and he demanded that she go find the boy and stick up for herself. “Go and punch him, because if you don’t I’ll leather you!” he told his daughter.

Myra did as she was told. She found the boy who had assaulted her, and hit him repeatedly until he fell to the ground.

Approximately ten years later, Myra Hindley met Ian Brady. She quickly became infatuated with Brady. Soon, they were dating. Two years after that, in the summer of 1963, Hindley and Brady murdered their first victim, a 16-year-old girl. Four months later they killed again, this time a young boy. Over the next two years the couple murdered five children total, aged between 10-17. At least four of the children were sexually assaulted.

Three of the bodies were found buried in graves dug by the couple on Saddlewood Moor in northern England. The body of their last victim was found in their home. Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, had witnessed the murder and called the police. The discovery was made hours before Brady was going to bring the body to its final resting place at Saddlewood Moor.

However, the body of 12-year-old Keith Bennett has never been found. Bennett has been missing since June 16, 1964, four days after his twelfth birthday. Brady confessed to sexually assaulting the boy and strangling him with a piece of string before burying him on the moor, but neither Hindley nor Brady have been able to assist authorities in finding the grave.

On October 1, 1986, Keith Bennett’s mother, Winnie Johnson, wrote the following letter to Hindley, who was incarcerated at the time:

Dear Miss Hindley,

I am sure I am one of the last people you would ever (have) expected to receive a letter from. I am the mother of Keith Bennett who went missing, no-one knows where, on June 16, 1964. As a woman I am sure you can envisage the nightmare I have lived with day and night, 24 hours a day, since then. Not knowing whether my son is alive or dead, whether he ran away or was taken away, is literally a living hell, something which you no doubt have experienced during your many, many years locked in prison.

My letter to you is written out of desperation and faint hope, desperation because I know that for so many years neither you nor Ian Brady has ever admitted knowing anything about my son’s disappearance, and hope that Christianity has softened your soul so much that you would never any longer knowingly condemn someone to permanent purgatory. Please I beg of you, tell me what happened to Keith. My heart tells me you know and I am on bended knees begging you to end this torture and finally put my mind at rest. Besides asking for your pity, the only other thing I can say is that by helping me you will doubtless help yourself because those people who have harboured so much hate against you and prevented your being released a long time ago would have no reason left to harbour their hate. By telling me what happened to Keith you would be announcing loudly to the world that you really have turned into the kind, caring, warm person that Lord Longford speaks of. I am a simple woman, I work in the kitchens of Christie’s Hospital, it has taken me five weeks labour to write this letter because it is so important to me that it is understood by you for what it is, a plea for help.

Please Miss Hindley help me.

Mrs W Johnson.

Hindley appeared to be incredibly moved by the letter, but Winnie Johnson later said that she believed Hindley was trying to manipulate the media and law enforcement into feeling sympathy for her as she claimed to be reformed.

Hindley and Brady wrote letters to each other from prison until 1971 when Hindley ended the relationship. She died on November 15, 2002. Six people attended her funeral service, none of which were relatives. The house in which Brady and Hindley lived was demolished by the local council.

English artist and painter Marcus Harvey created a portrait of Myra Hindley painted entirely from the hand prints of children. The piece was included in the 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London. “Unless you tell me it’s withdrawn, I’m coming round to the academy and I’m going to stab the first person I see,” was one of the many threats received by the Royal Academy concerning Myra.

“I just thought that the handprint was one of the most dignified images that I could find. The most simple image of innocence absorbed in all that pain,” Harvey said about his controversial work.

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Myra, by Marcus Harvey

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