Mom of Moors murderer victim dies unsure

2012-08-18 20:55
Winnie Johnson digging with her 23-year old son Joey, digging to try and find her son Keith Bennett on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester, England, in this file photo dated 14 July 1988. (AP, File)

Winnie Johnson digging with her 23-year old son Joey, digging to try and find her son Keith Bennett on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester, England, in this file photo dated 14 July 1988. (AP, File)

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London - The mother of a boy murdered 48 years ago by jailed British serial killer, Moors murderer Ian Brady, died on Saturday without ever knowing where her 12-year old son was buried, her lawyer said.

The death of Winnie Johnson at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer came just a day after it was revealed that Brady may have disclosed the location of Keith Bennett's body in a sealed letter.

In a statement issued on Saturday, John Ainley, a senior partner at the law firm representing Bennett's mother, said: "Winnie Johnson, mother of the last missing Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett, has died without discovering her son's whereabouts.

"Winnie, aged 78 passed away peacefully at a hospice after she had been diagnosed with cancer some years ago."

Between 1963 and 1965, Brady and his partner Myra Hindley lured five children and teenagers to their deaths, burying four of them on remote moorland near the city of Manchester, northwest England.

Although Brady, aged 74, confessed to killing Bennett and burying him on Saddleworth Moor, he has never given the exact location of the body, despite tireless campaigning by Johnson and her family for him to do so.

Fighting to die

Several searches meanwhile failed to locate the remains hidden beneath the vast moorland.

Brady, referred to as the Moors murderer by Britain's media, has been tube-fed for the past 12 years after refusing food and is battling to be transferred to prison from a secure hospital and to be allowed to die.

Hindley died in prison in 2002, aged 60.

It was meanwhile revealed on Friday that police were scouring documents seized from the house of Brady's mental health advocate after she said he may have revealed the location of Bennett's body.

A woman identified by the BBC and other media as Jackie Powell, aged 49, was arrested on Thursday and has been bailed on suspicion of "preventing the burial of a body without lawful exercise".

She had told a television documentary that Brady had given her a sealed envelope to be handed to Bennett's mother in the event of his own death.

Search to continue

But police played down the significance of the claim, with Martin Bottomley of the Greater Manchester Police saying: "We do not know if this is true or simply a ruse."

Ainley said Johnson had not been informed about the supposed letter, while her family said the search for Bennett would continue.

"Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial," the family said in a statement issued on Saturday.

"Although this was not possible during her lifetime, we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith. We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this."

Bennett was abducted on 16 June, 1964, after he left home to visit his grandmother.

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