Moors murderer may have written letter to victim's mother telling her where her son is buried a DECADE ago
- Twisted killer may finally have disclosed where 12-year-old's body is hidden
- Jackie Powell, 49, arrested in South Wales for preventing burial of a body
- She told a documentary that she had a letter that could help find Keith
- But Ms Powell has allegedly claimed she gave it back to the killer
- His mother, Winnie Johnson, has not yet been given the letter
- Greater Manchester Police tell MailOnline that Winnie knows about the development, but fear it is another 'ruse' by the serial killer
- Brady and Myra Hindley buried victims on Saddleworth Moor, near Oldham
- Keith is the only one of the five victims whose body has never been found
By Sam Greenhill, Liz Hull and Keith Gladdis
PUBLISHED: 18:09 EST, 16 August 2012 | UPDATED: 02:32 EST, 18 August 2012
Confidante: Jackie Powell pictured leaving her home yesterday, where police have taken some documents that could include a crucial letter from her client Ian Brady
A bombshell letter by Ian Brady that supposedly reveals where he and Myra Hindley buried 12-year-old Keith Bennett in 1964 could have been written a decade ago, it was claimed last night.
The sealed ‘confession’ could end 48 years of torment for Keith’s family, who are in a desperate race to find his remains before his frail mother Winnie Johnson dies.
Detectives have spent nearly two days searching in vain for the note among the belongings of one of the Moors Murderer’s closest confidantes, Jackie Powell.
Last night Miss Powell's ex-husband claimed she had known about the existence of the letter for at least ten years.
Police arrested Miss Powell – Brady’s ‘mental health advocate’ – on Thursday on suspicion of preventing the lawful burial of a body.
Addressed to Keith’s terminally ill mother, the letter supposedly contains information that will bring her ‘peace’ in her final days.
But there are suspicions it could be yet another twisted stunt by the serial killer, who for decades has enjoyed taunting his victims’ families.
Mrs Johnson’s solicitor said last night the letter could be ‘the last tragic act of a truly harrowing story’.Brady and Hindley’s 1960s killing spree claimed five child victims but Keith Bennett is the only one whose body has never been found.
The letter’s existence has been revealed by a Channel 4 documentary team who interviewed Miss Powell, 49.
She said sadistic Brady, 74, had entrusted her with three sealed notes, one to Mrs Johnson, to be delivered upon his death.
Since the notes have never been opened, no one knows if they do indeed pinpoint the hidden grave, or merely contain some final insult.
With 78-year-old Mrs Johnson gravely ill, with perhaps just days to live, Channel 4 decided to pass the information to police ahead of its Cutting Edge documentary being broadcast on Monday. Detectives then visited Miss Powell at her home in South Wales and demanded to see the crucial letter.
When she claimed she had handed it back to Brady, they checked his room at Ashworth psychiatric hospital, on Merseyside, to no avail.
Miss Powell then became ‘vague’ and refused to cooperate, according to police sources, so they arrested her on her doorstep and embarked on a search of her three-bed semi in Llangennech village, near Llanelli.
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Killer: Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley went on a killing spree but the location of one of their victims, Keith Bennett, right, has never been found
A police source said: ‘We took everything from her house that wasn’t nailed down but so far we have not found this letter.’
Miss Powell returned home on Thursday evening on police bail but refused to clear up the mystery.
After earlier claiming her words had been ‘blown out of all proportion’, she later responded to inquiries by slamming her front door and saying: ‘Just leave me alone – I don’t want to know.’
One police source suggested Miss Powell might have returned the envelope to Brady only after Channel 4 alerted her that police were being told of its existence.
Murderous couple: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Jackie Powell's house in South Wales (right) was searched yesterday by police looking for the letter
Another added: ‘The sad reality is that Winnie probably has days, rather than weeks, to live, and Brady will be in control right to the end. The likelihood is this whole episode may well come to nothing and only serve to cause heartache for the family.’
Last night Miss Powell’s ex-husband Steven Powell claimed she had known about the existence of the letter for at least ten years and that the authorities had been notified at the time.
It is understood cancer-stricken Mrs Johnson is too ill to have been told of the developments.
In the documentary, Miss Powell said: ‘He says that he doesn’t wish to take secrets to his grave and that within the sealed envelope is a letter to Winnie Johnson and that within that is the means to her possibly being able to rest. Clearly there’s something within the letter that may be able to find her son, I would suggest.’
She claimed she had not felt able to open the envelope for ‘professional’ reasons, and when asked why she did not give the information to the authorities, she ended the interview.
Miss Powell is an executor of Brady’s will and she is his mental health advocate, which means she can speak on his behalf to hospital authorities.
Tragic: Winnie Johnson, mother of missing Keith Bennett, on Saddleworth Moor where her son is believed to be buried
Paddy Wivell, director of the documentary, said he was made aware of the existence of the letter during the interview with Miss Powell on July 20 but did not go to the police until July 30.
He said yesterday: ‘In the interview, I pressed Jackie to take the envelope to the authorities, but at that time she felt in a terrible dilemma because of her obligations to Ian Brady as a mental health advocate and executor of his will. I felt she should have taken it to the authorities straight away.’
Last night Mrs Johnson’s solicitor John Ainley said: ‘The family will be concerned and distressed if it emerges that there was information available which should have been passed to the authorities which wasn’t.’
Missing: Toys and tributes left by the family of Moors murder victm Keith Bennett are seen here and below today tied to a fence on Saddleworth Moor, near where they believe his body is
TRANSCRIPT OF WHAT JACKIE POWELL TOLD C4 DOCUMENTARY
Jackie Powell: I received a letter and a sealed envelope which said on the front of it, 'to be opened in the event of my death'. He says that he doesn't wish to take secrets to his grave and that within the sealed envelope is a letter to Winnie Johnson and that within that is the means to her possibly being able to rest. And that's paraphrase that's not verbatim.
Paddy Wivell, director of 'Ian Brady: Endgames of a Psychopath: What does he mean by that?
Jackie Powell: Well clearly there's something within the letter that may be able to find her son I would suggest.
Martin Bottomley, of Greater Manchester Police, said of the letter: ‘We do not know if this is true or simply a ruse but we clearly have a duty to investigate such information on behalf of Keith’s family.’
Brady, who has been on hunger strike for 12 years, wants to be moved from Ashworth psychiatric hospital to a Scottish prison so the authorities will no longer have the power to force-feed him and he can starve himself to death.
Brady and Hindley murdered five youngsters in the 1960s, sexually torturing their victims before burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor near Oldham.
They were jailed for life in 1966 over
the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, ten, John Kilbride, 12, and Edward
They did not admit to killing Keith and another victim, Pauline Reade, 16, until 1987.
Hindley died in prison in 2002, aged 60.
Trying everything: Mrs Johnson with her other sons David (left), Joe (second left) and psychic Teresa Walsh in an attempt to find Keith's body in 1996
Hunt: Police officers search Saddleworth Moor for the bodies of the children killed by Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley
Brutal killers: Policemen digging at the scene where the body of Moors murder victim Lesley Downey was found in the 1960s
Hard work: Teams of searchers at Doctor's Gate at Snake Pass, between Manchester and Sheffield, searching for graves after the Moors Murders, and the search for one of the victims continues to this day
Killer: Ian Brady in police custody prior to his court appearance for the Moors Murders for which he was later convicted
HORRORS THAT SHOCKED THE NATION: A TIMELINE OF MOORS MURDERS
July 12, 1963 - Pauline Reade, 16, right, disappears on her way to a disco.
Nov 23, 1963 - John Kilbride, 12, below right is snatched by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, sexually assaulted and murdered.
June 16, 1964 - Keith Bennett is snatched after he leaves home to visit his grandmother.
December 26, 1964 - Lesley Ann Downey, 10, is lured away from a funfair and killed.
October 6, 1965 - Brady kills Edward Evans, 17.
May 6, 1966 - Brady given life at Chester Assizes in 1966 for the murders of John, Lesley Ann and Edward.
Hindley was convicted of killing Lesley Ann and Edward and shielding Brady after John's murder, and also jailed for life.
1985 - Brady is moved to the Ashworth psychiatric hospital in Merseyside.
1987 - The pair finally admit killing Keith and Pauline and are taken back to Saddleworth Moor to help police find the remains of the missing victims. Only Pauline's body is found.
September 1999 - Brady goes on hunger strike after complaining about being forcibly removed from his room at the hospital to a new ward because of security concerns sparked by a patient on his old ward. He has been fed by a tube ever since.
November 15, 2002 - Hindley dies in jail aged 60.
September 13, 2009 - Brady begins campaign to be moved to a Scottish prison so he will be allowed to die.
March 27, 2010 - A privately-funded search for Keith Bennett's grave begins. His mother, Winnie Johnson, 76, said she hopes to find her son and bury him before she and Brady die.
July 3, 2012 - Brady suffers a seizure and spends several nights in hospital. A mental health tribunal that would look at his application to be transferred to Scotland is delayed as a result.
Prolonging the agony of Keith's mother is all part of his game
COMMENTARY BY CHRIS COWLEY - A PSYCHIATRIST WHO SPENT SEVEN YEARS IN CONTACT WITH BRADY
Almost half a century after he was jailed for a gruesome series of child-killings, Ian Brady still retains the power to grip the public’s imagination.
This latest episode is further evidence of his continuing ability to weave a mesmerising web, even while he languishes inside a high-security mental hospital.
BRADY SNUBBED POLICE PROBE TO FIND KEITH NINE YEARS AGO
Murderer Ian Brady refused to co-operate with police when they launched
a covert operation in 2003 to find the body of Keith Bennett.
the killer saw officers arrive on the ward at Ashworth High Security
Hospital in Merseyside, he waved them away without uttering a single
at Greater Manchester Police considered in 2003 whether they had pursued
every possible angle in attempting to find the remains of Keith.
secret investigation was launched, designed to avoid the glare of
intensive media coverage which could disrupt the evidence-gathering
A small team of
detectives were assigned to the case and as a starting point looked at
the one obvious possible source of information - Brady.
He was approached via his solicitor but refused point blank to co-operate.
were convinced the clue to finding Keith's body - likely to still be
preserved in the peat of Saddleworth Moor - were photographs that Brady
took of Hindley at the crime scenes.
were effectively souvenirs designed to act as signposts if they ever
wished to retrace the path which led to their chilling deeds.
A remote area known as Shiny Brook, stretching up to five square miles, was identified from the photographs and was notable because it was up to a mile away from the burial sites of the other bodies.
But nothing was found.
July 2009, Detective Superintendent Steve Heywood, said the operation's
team was satisfied it had explored and exhausted every possible avenue
open to them.
As well as
Greater Manchester Police officers, the investigation called on the
support and resources of clinical psychologists, imagery experts, search
advisers, geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, archaeologists and
Heywood dismissed theories that Brady would not know the location of
Keith's body because of the passage of time, or fears that the moorland
peat would have shifted over the decades and moved its location.
was confident that Saddleworth Moor remained as much in place as it did
in the 1960s when Brady and Hindley committed the murders.
'If you look back at all the victims they were triangulated so that he could come back,' he said.
'Serial killers will generally try to use some sort of landmark - a way of coming back to a particular spot.
'They will revisit their activities on a daily basis. That is what they live for.'
He added: 'People like Brady know what they are doing. They will have planned everything.
'He will have rehearsed daily what he did.
'It is my personal opinion that he knows where the body is.'
case was not closed but it could only progress if there was a
scientific breakthrough - or if Brady revealed where he had buried
Keith, he said.
would not allow the psychotic killer to return to the Moors, fearing it
could feed his twisted ego, but said he could assist by identifying the
location using 3D maps of the area.
'If he (Brady) wants to take the opportunity to do the decent thing then we will listen, but there will be no deals,' said Mr Heywood.
If he has written a letter disclosing where the body of Keith Bennett lies, such information might at last bring closure for Keith’s mother Winnie.
Yet, so typical of Brady’s scheming manner, we still do not know the truth about this letter – or even if it really exists. It may all be a hoax, another instance of Brady’s capacity for manipulation – and of his iron-willed determination to exert control over those around him.
This was the very force that turned him into a child-killer, as he picked on the vulnerable to strengthen his feelings of power.
I gained some insight into Brady’s mind when I established contact with him eight years ago. Though he holds most psychiatrists in contempt – as with the rest of the human race – he invited me to visit him after an initial exchange of correspondence in 2004.
Given that he is force-fed through a drip every day because he refuses to eat, I had expected to see an emaciated, broken geriatric when I first turned up to see him in Ashworth Hospital. Indeed, the staff warned me beforehand: ‘He probably won’t speak to you. He’ll just mutter.’
But his appearance confounded my expectations. Though thin, he was tall and healthy-looking, with thick black hair swept back from his forehead. And he was lucid and articulate. Despite a denial that he read the newspapers, he was better-informed about current affairs than I was.
But sitting in a room with him was also a profoundly disturbing experience. For I have never met anyone who exuded such remorseless negativity.
All our conversations, and the thousands of words he poured out to me in his letters, were infused with a deep hatred of mankind. It was like he was growling in permanent rage at the world. Utterly embittered, he lacked a shred of empathy.
His black outlook also came out in his macabre sense of humour. A heavy smoker, he once said to me: ‘Smoking kills, say the cigarette packets. Well, the Government should be charged under the Trades Description Act. I’m still here.’
Another time, in reference to the Columbine High School shootings in the US, he morbidly commented: ‘At least America’s still got some backbone.’
He never showed any remorse for his crimes, only regret that the consequences had ruined his life. In fact, he never liked to talk openly about the murders, but instead discussed them obliquely, referring to himself only in the third person as ‘the man’.
I also sensed that, despite the fact that she had turned against him, Brady still held a torch for his accomplice Myra Hindley – never saying a word against her.
His lack of frankness about the killings was part of his strategy of manipulation. He carefully hoarded his knowledge about the crimes, using snippets of information to retain his influence.
I sense that, with all this new speculation about the letter, he is like a gambler who still has a few chips left and is eager to use them to maximum effect. Prolonging the agony for Keith’s mother is just another part of the game.
A few years ago, Winnie wrote to him having been diagnosed with cancer, begging that he reveal the whereabouts of her son’s remains. Brady wrote back, without disclosing the details as she’d asked – only later telling me that he simply felt he’d achieved ‘closure’ with the letter.
Brady is also an expert at using people for his own ends, so it is possible that he has exploited his legal advocate Jackie Powell, just as serial killer Fred West notoriously charmed the ‘appropriate adult’ in his case, Janet Leach, after his arrest, and Myra Hindley did with Lord Longford.
Those who fall under the spell of these murderers are often described as ‘collateral victims’ or ‘shadow victims’ because they, too, become part of the human fallout from the crimes. Perhaps that’s what faces Jackie Powell now.
Since Brady can no longer use his body to terrorise and kill, he seeks to use his mind to manipulate the emotions of others.
His constant talk of killing himself is, I believe, just another manipulative game, a vehicle for his obsessive attention-seeking.
If he really wanted to commit suicide, he would have done so by now. He just does not have the guts. After all, both Fred West and Harold Shipman managed to kill themselves while they were under surveillance awaiting trial.
His extreme narcissism can also be seen in his boasting about his intellectual prowess, and his delusional self-belief that he was some sort of major gangster. It amazed me that he would talk of himself in the same breath as figures like Ronnie Biggs or the Krays. But Brady has his own perverted form of morality.
When referring to the Moors Murders, he once said: ‘Blair and Bush killed far more people.’
'Sitting in a room with him was a profoundly disturbing experience. I have never met anyone who exuded such remorseless negativity. '
Kept in his concrete room at Ashworth, Brady now lives a life of unremitting boredom. The highlight of his day is the two hours when he is force-fed. That is the time when he indulges in his fevered correspondence – many of the letters I received from him were spattered with the yellow liquid that is pumped through a drip in his nose.
Now 74, he longs to end his days in a prison in his native Scotland. In fact, he told me that his dreams at night usually consist of long journeys and memories of the Scottish countryside. But his hopes are unlikely to be fulfilled. No prison in Britain would have him, not least because of the threat from other inmates.
For me, I was glad our awkward relationship finished after I published a book about Brady last year. All correspondence and visits ceased after that.
In truth, it was a relief to escape from his dark orbit. But others, like Winnie Johnson, are not so fortunate. Once more, she finds her hopes raised. And once more, Ian Brady has the nation gazing upon him in horrified fascination.
■ Dr Cowley is the author of Face To Face With Evil: Conversations With Ian Brady
VIDEO: Police are treating the letter with 'suspicion'...
VIDEO: Police searching Saddleworth Moor in 1986...
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