It’s a summer evening in Manchester, and Pauline Reade is dressed up for a night out. Wearing high heels and a pink and gold dress, she makes her way to a local club. However, something happens along the way, and Pauline subsequently vanishes into the night. For more than two decades, her disappearance remains a mystery – until police make a heartbreaking discovery on nearby Saddleworth Moor.
The story began in January 1961 when Myra Hindley, 18, took a job as a typist at Millwards, a chemical distribution company in Manchester, England. Hindley had grown up in the area, where she had experienced a traumatic and often violent childhood at the hands of her father, an alcoholic former soldier.
At Millwards, Hindley subsequently met 23-year-old Ian Brady, who worked in a clerical position at the firm. Growing up in Glasgow, Brady had often been in trouble with the law, spending much of his youth in an out of detention centers around the country.
Soon after joining Millwards, Hindley became infatuated with Brady, detailing her obsession in a diary. As a result, by the end of the year the pair had become a couple. Over time, they stopped socializing with their colleagues, preferring to spend time in each other’s company.
Then, on July 12, 1963, tragedy struck the neighborhood when 16-year-old Reade disappeared on her way to a dance. Although her mother Joan and brother Paul combed the streets, no trace of the teenager was found. What’s more, four months later another youngster went missing.
In fact, between 1963 and 1965 five youngsters disappeared in mysterious circumstances in the Manchester area. However, it wasn’t until David Smith, Hindley’s brother-in-law, made a call to the police that the chilling truth began to be revealed.
On the evening of October 6, 1965, Smith returned home from Brady’s house in Hattersley, Manchester, with a shocking tale to tell. Apparently, he informed his wife Maureen that he’d witnessed Brady attacking 17-year-old Edward Evans with an axe, before strangling him with a piece of electrical cord.
In the early hours of the morning, Smith telephoned the authorities to report what he had witnessed. Shortly afterwards, Bob Talbot, a superintendent with the Cheshire Police, arrived at Brady’s home. Evans’s body was subsequently discovered in an upstairs room, and Brady was arrested on the spot.
While being questioned, Brady told police that he and Smith had killed Evans during a fight. Meanwhile, Hindley was arrested on suspicion of acting as an accessory to the murder. However, although the pair were now in jail, the full extent of their crimes was yet to be revealed.
After Smith told police that Brady had an interest in railway stations, police began searching the region’s left-luggage facilities to see if any suitcases could be traced back to the murderer. Finally, on October 15 they found what they had been looking for. Inside a suitcase belonging to Brady that had been left at Manchester Central station, they found several pornographic photographs of a young girl in distress, as well as a tape recording of her terrified pleas for mercy.
Around the same time, police searching Brady’s house also discovered an exercise book marked with the name John Kilbride. Knowing that 12-year-old Kilbride had gone missing two years previously, police began to suspect that Brady and Hindley may have been involved in his disappearance as well.
In addition to the book, police also recovered a stash of photographs taken on Saddleworth Moor, some 12 miles from Brady’s home. Suspecting that there might be a connection, officers consequently began to search the area. Eventually, they found a body buried in the peat – that of Lesley Ann Downey, a ten-year-old girl who had gone missing in 1964.
Then, five days later police also discovered Kilbride’s remains on the moor. While the search for more bodies continued, further charges were brought against Brady and Hindley. Finally, beginning on April 19, 1966, the pair stood trial for the three murders. After being found guilty, they were both sentenced to life in prison.
For nearly two decades, Brady and Hindley remained in jail, and the families of their victims were left to grieve in peace. However, in 1985 there came a new revelation. Apparently, Brady had confessed to a journalist that he and Hindley had been responsible for other murders.
For a long time, police had suspected that the pair, now dubbed the Moors Murderers, may have been involved in the disappearances of Reade as well as Keith Bennett, a 12-year-old boy who vanished in 1964. In the wake of Brady’s alleged confession, the authorities subsequently resumed their search of Saddleworth Moor.
After receiving a letter from Bennett’s mother begging to know what happened to her son, Hindley consequently began to cooperate with police. Although she denied involvement in his murder, she spent time reviewing photographs and maps of the area. Finally, in 1986 police brought Hindley to the moor, but no additional bodies were recovered during their search.
The following February Hindley confessed to her role in each of the five murders. By studying her statements, police were able to narrow their search to an area of the moor close to where Downey’s body had been discovered. Finally, on July 1, 1987, they made a gruesome discovery.
Nearly 24 years after she had disappeared, police found Reade’s body – still sporting her party dress – buried three feet underground. However, although the Reade family were finally able to have some closure, Bennett’s mother Winnie was not. Tragically, she died in 2012 with her son’s body having never been found.
Over the years, Hindley made a number of attempts to get her life sentence reduced. Although she claimed to be reformed, having returned to her Catholic faith while in prison, none of her appeals were granted. On November 15, 2002, Hindley died of bronchial pneumonia. Her ashes were scattered in Stalybridge Country Park, just 10 miles from Saddleworth Moor.
Brady, meanwhile, was diagnosed as a psychopath and transferred to Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital in Merseyside, England. Unlike Hindley, he expressed no interest in securing his release. Instead, Brady perceived his existence as an ordeal from which he was desperate to escape. Finally, on May 15, 2017, he got his wish, dying from restrictive pulmonary disease aged 79.