Before the world heard of Charles Manson or John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer, there was a serial killer in Britain named Ian Brady who struck fear and horror into the hearts of millions of people.
Brady, now 74 years old, has been taken to a hospital in Liverpool after suffering a seizure. He has been incarcerated in prisons and psychiatric facilities for the past 46 years.
He, along with his former partner in crime, Myra Hindley, will forever be known as the “Moors Murderers” for a series of gruesome, sadistic murders committed against children and teenagers outside of Manchester.
In a spate of acts that shocked all of Britain in the early 1960s, Brady and his girlfriend Hindley would lure the children, torture them to death and then bury their mangled bodies in Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester.
The five victims were Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans (four of the kids were also sexually assaulted). The torture and killing of Downey was even photographed and tape-recorded by the murderers.
Apprehended by police in late 1965, Brady and Hindley were jailed for life the following year.
By 1985, Brady was declared criminally insane and committed to the high-security Ashworth Hospital for mental patients.
Hindley died in prison in November 2002.
While Britain has witnessed a number of horrific mass killers over the years, the Brady-Hindley tandem struck a special chord of fear in the public – the fact that innocent children could be snatched in public and brutally murdered for no reason presented a kind of nightmarish horror that few could comprehend.
Like many serial murderers, Brady, who was from Scotland, gleefully tortured animals as a child, before graduating to hurting people younger than himself. After a troubled adolescence and some brushes with the law, he met Hindley in 1961. She came from a violent home, a daughter of alcoholics in Manchester.
The two became a couple – at some point Brady became infatuated with Nazism and historical accounts of torture, including the works of the Marquis de Sade.
Reportedly inspired by written accounts of the infamous Leopold and Loeb murders of Chicago in the 1920s, Brady sought to commit the “perfect crime,” i.e, the murder of children.
With Hindley as his conspirator, Brady then went on a grisly killing spree over a period of two years that has haunted the region around Manchester ever since.
One person who could not get over the Moors Murders was Morrissey, the Manchester native who grew up to be the lead singer and songwriter for The Smiths rock group. One of his songs, “Suffer Little Children,” was explicitly about the Brady-Hindley killings and he has often referred to the killings in interviews and essays.
Perhaps the most disturbing question surrounding the whole nightmarish saga was how many other unknown victims there might have been.