In the early ‘60s, two kids in their late teens fell madly in love with each other. When Myra Hindley was 18, she met 19-year-old Brady, and her life was changed forever. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those fairytales that ends with true love’s kiss. It was more like the kiss of death. These two weren’t just lovers; they were partners in crime.
These cold-blooded criminals weren’t messing around. This wasn’t burglary or some of that Bonnie and Clyde baby stuff. Money wasn’t their motive; in fact, they didn’t seem to have a motive. They just lured kids into their home and tortured them for the thrill of it. It was far too late for a knight in shining armor to swoop in and save the day; Myra was in too deep. She stood by her man and helped him commit these vile crimes against young kids. Instead of happily ever after, this tragic story ends with the death of five innocent children.
Known as the most evil woman in Britain, Myra Hindley helped her boyfriend Ian Brady sexually assault, physically torture, and brutally murder five children, which would eventually be dubbed as the Moors murders. Myra Hindley maintained that Brady made her do it and that she was just another one of his victims. Is there any truth to this? Or was she trying to make her crimes appear less heinous?
Between 1963 and 1965, Myra Hindley and her lover, Ian Brady, lured children into their car: Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, and Lesley Ann Downy entered their car under the pretense that they were getting a ride home. Instead, they went to Saddleworth Moor, a secluded area not far from Manchester.
Once they got there, Myra would pretend that she had misplaced an expensive glove and asked the victim to help her look for it. This plan actually worked. All the kids agreed to help, following Brady into the reeds, in search of the missing garment.
A safe distance away from the main road, Brady assaulted each child and then slit their throat. Then, the couple buried the bodies in the moor. To this day, more than half a century later, not all the remains were found. After killing their fifth victim, Edward Evans, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were finally caught red-handed.
Cambridge is known as a peaceful and pretty boring place. Without much going on there, many people don’t know that the idyllic university city has a dark and chilling secret: It’s where Myra Hindley, one of the most notorious female serial killers in history, was cremated.
Myra Hindley teamed up with psychopath Ian Brady, and the twisted lovers committed horrific acts against innocent children. It’s crazy enough that two people this terrible even exist, but the fact that they met was a recipe for disaster. This takes Bonnie and Clyde’s “ride or die” love story to a whole new level of evil.
Contrary to popular belief, Bonnie and Clyde were bank robbers – not murderers (although they did kill when they thought it was necessary). But the couple’s occasional killings were collateral damage due to their life of crime, not because they are cold-hearted killers.
There is no excuse for murder, and I am certainly not defending Bonnie and Clyde here, but their motive was never to kill. Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were terrible psychopaths with dark, wicked souls. It’s no wonder Myra was dubbed “the most evil woman in Britain.”
In what is now known as the Moors murders, the chilling couple was responsible for putting five children through sickening torture and abuse before gruesomely taking their young lives. In 2002, after spending 36 years behind bars for murder, Myra’s body was cremated on a wet November night in a controversial ceremony.
Her body was brought over to the Cambridge Crematorium by a hearse with police escorts warning the public not to attend the service. Only 12 people were there in total – none of whom were Myra’s family members.
After sexually abusing 12-year-old Keith Bennet on June 16, 1964, the couple strangled him to death. In a final act of spite, Brady and Hindley refused to say where they buried the young boy’s remains. Tragically, his body was never found.
Even more disturbing, Keith Bennet was just one of five children that the psychotic couple murdered in the Manchester area between 1963 and 1965. One sick person doing something like this is horrific enough, but finding a partner in crime is extremely rare. Having these sick actions validated and encouraged is a tragedy waiting to happen.
Myra Hindley was welcomed into the world in Manchester on July 23, 1942, but she didn’t have it easy. Her parents would physically abuse her all the time, so she moved in with her grandmother. When she was 15, one of her best friends died by drowning in a local reservoir. He invited her to go, but she decided not to – something that apparently upset her deeply.
Three years later, she met her future accomplice and disturbingly perfect match. Myra and Brady connected over German literature and N*zi atrocities. This sounds like the start of a healthy relationship…
So, what the heck is going on here? And more importantly, how did these two lovebirds even meet? In her book, Myra Hindley: Inside the Mind of a Murderess, Jean Ritchie explains that Hindley was raised in a repressive, impoverished home, where she was beaten up constantly by her father, who taught her to use violence to solve conflicts.
In 1961, 18-year-old Myra Hindley got a job as a typist and met Brady. She was aware of Brady’s criminal record and that he had a history of burglaries, but she was smitten. She was obsessed with Brady.
Myra Hindley even described her obsession with Brady in a letter: “Within months, he [Brady] had convinced me that there was no God at all: He could have told me the earth was flat, the moon was made of green cheese, and the sun rose in the West, I would have believed him. Such was his power of persuasion.”
This was the first red flag and a possible clue pointing to manipulation. Was Ian Brady brainwashing Myra Brady? Was she a victim as well? Or is she truly just a terrible person with no heart?
For their first date, Brady took Myra to see a movie about the Nuremberg trials; he was fascinated by N*zis, enjoyed reading about N*zi criminals, and once Myra became his girlfriend, the two would spend their lunch breaks reading a book about N*zi atrocities to each other.
Then, Myra changed her appearance to look more like the Aryan ideal, wearing dark red lipstick and bleaching her hair super blonde. Like most couples, the pair had many similar interests. You know the usual stuff people connect over, talking about committing crimes together and plot robberies that would make them rich.
But as we mentioned, they were no Bonnie and Clyde. Daydreaming about burglary was fun at first, but they quickly realized petty crimes weren’t their thing. They decided that their style was murder and had full intentions to fulfill their sick fantasies.
In 1963, they took their first victim: 16-year-old Pauline Reade. It was July 12th and Paulina was on her way to a dance when Hindley tricked her into her car and drove the teenager to the moor. Sadly, when her body was recovered two decades later, Pauline was still wearing her party dress and a blue coat.
Throughout that following year, they took two more children to satisfy their disturbing murder fantasy: Keith Bennet and John Kilbride. The two boys suffered the same fate as Paulina Reade, but the couple would commit their most heinous crime in December 1964.
Lesley Anne Downey was alone at the fair when Hindley and Brady found her. They convinced the 10-year-old to help them with some groceries in their car, and at that moment, the little girl’s fate was sealed. They took her to Hindley’s grandmother’s home, where they tortured her.
When they got inside the house, they took all of Downey’s clothes off, gagged her, and tied her up. They forced her to pose for pictures and recorded her begging and pleading for help for 13 minutes straight. But her cries didn’t faze the couple.
Then, Brady raped Downey and strangled her. The brutal killing spree ended when Brady moved into Hindley’s grandmother’s house with her in 1965. Three of the victims’ bodies were found in Saddleworth Moor, which is why Myra Hindley and Ian Brady’s crimes became known as the Moors murders.
The couple became close with Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith. One night, Brady asked Smith to go into the house to pick up some bottles of wine. While he was casually waiting for the wine, Smith heard Brady beating up a young boy to death with an axe. His latest victim was 17-year-old Edward Evans.
At first, Smith agreed to help hide the body. But when he got home, his wife, Hindley’s little sister Maureen, talked some sense into him. Instead of being an accessory to murder, Smith and his wife decided to call the police and report the crime.
The couple was arrested on October 7, each of them maintaining their innocence. But Smith gave law enforcement a tip that led them to a suitcase in a railway station that had photographs and even the chilling audio recording of Downey’s torture.
While searching Myra Hindley’s home, detectives found a notebook with the name “John Kilbride” doodled on the pages. Police also found a picture of the lovebirds on Saddleworth Moor, which is why they conducted a search of that area. Downey and Kilbride’s bodies were both found there, and Hindley and Brady were charged with three counts of murder.
The trial took two weeks, but it only took the jury two hours to reach a verdict. Brady was given three life sentences, and Hindley got two. The trial was headed by Justice Fenton Atkinson, who described the murders as “truly horrible” and called them “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity.”
Brady was described as “wicked beyond belief,” and the judge said he saw no possibility of reform on Brady’s part. He described Hindley as “a quiet, controlled, impassive witness who lied remorselessly.” While locked up, the police linked Reade and Bennett’s murders to the couple (both bodies still not found).
In 1998, over 30 years later, Hindley finally spoke out about the abuse she claimed Brady put her through: “People think that I am the archvillain in this, the instigator, the perpetrator. I just want people to know what was going on… [to] help people understand how I got involved and why I stayed involved,” she said.
“I was under duress and abuse before the offenses, after and during them, and all the time I was with him. He used to threaten me and rape me and whip me and cane me… he threatened to kill my family. He dominated me completely.”
She even went as far as to say she felt great remorse after torturing and murdering innocent children. She was even “shaking and crying” when she saw a personal ad placed by Pauline Reade’s parents in the desperate search for their daughter.
Almost two years later, Myra Hindley joined police to the moor, where she accompanied them to Reade’s body. Although she led police to the little girl’s body, Bennett’s remains were never recovered. Unfortunately, the police had no choice but to stop looking for his body. As of right now, they don’t plan on resuming the search.
Although she claims that she was a victim, a psychological assessment of Myra Hindley that was conducted at an earlier time was released to England’s national archive in 2002, following her death in prison. It revealed that she did feel worse than Brady:
“I knew the difference between right and wrong… I didn’t have a compulsion to kill… I wasn’t in charge… but in some ways, I was more culpable because I knew better.” Myra Hindley spent the rest of her life behind bars – where she belonged. She was never let out on parole but insisted that she did not kill Lesley Anne Downey.
Myra said this is what really happened. She was simply running a bath for little Lesley, and when she returned, Brady had already murdered the child. But in the book Face to Face with Evil: Confessions with Ian Brady, he asserted that it was Hindley who murdered the girl.
I don’t consider child murderers reliable sources, so it comes down to “he said, she said,” and I don’t care who said what. They were both involved in the gruesome torture and killing of children. Since neither of them prevented it or called the cops, they are both responsible in my eyes.
While serving her prison sentence, Hindley earned a degree from Open University, started going back to church (I guess in prison?), and completely cut out all contact with Ian Brady. He was being held at a high-security psychiatric hospital in northwest England until his death in March 2017.
It sounds like Hindley really was a victim in a way. I mean, her apparent quest to become a better person and her continuous statements of how Brady brainwashed her may prove that Myra Hindley was manipulated into it.
But does it really matter? Charles Manson manipulated his followers into the killing, and that doesn’t make it okay either. Five innocent children were kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered on her watch. I don’t really care if she was brainwashed.
It’s not like Brady peer pressured her into doing drugs. This is the murder of children we were talking about here. There had had to be some psychotic, heartless gene in there already. Brady just brought it out of her. Would Myra Handley have still become a child killer if she never met Ian Brady? Would she still hold the title of “Britain’s most evil woman?” I guess we’ll never know.
But what we do know is that once she was locked up, Myra Hindley fell in love with the prison warden, Patricia Cairns, who plotted Hindley’s jail escape. The lesbian lovers had big plans to run away together and start a new life.
Unfortunately, when you murder five children in cold blood, you don’t get to live a free life. Naturally, the break-out-of-jail plot was discovered and so was their forbidden relationship. Patricia ended up serving jail time, charged for conspiring to help Hindley escape Holloway prison in London, where she worked.
Ironically, the child killer’s final resting place is not far from Saddleworth Moor – where she and Brady dumped their victims’ bodies. Although only four bodies were found, there is evidence that the pair buried another boy at that location. As we mentioned, Keith Bennet’s remains were never discovered.
Patricia Cairns has been going by a secret name but is still the same woman who stood trial at the Old Bailey in 1974 for her crimes. She was also one of the mere dozen people who showed up to Hindley’s funeral. But more on this crazy relationship soon. First, let’s talk about Brady and Hindley’s almost sixth victim, Tommy Rhattigan.
Timothy Rhattigan was an innocent seven-year-old schoolboy living in Manchester when he was lured into the Moors Murderers’ home in 1963 when the couple promised him bread and jam. In a new book, Tommy discusses the abuse of a starving young boy living in poverty.
Growing up in poverty, he also had to deal with the crippling anxiety of how he nearly became Myra Hindley and Ian Brady’s sixth victim. Little Tommy sat on a park swing alone on a dark, rainy Manchester evening; as usual, his stomach was growling with hunger.
Tommy knew there was no point in going home for food since his useless parents spent all their money and his 12 siblings begged strangers for alcohol instead of food. So, when a beautiful young woman with blonde hair, a friendly smile, and a sweet voice told him to come over for jam, the hungry seven-year-old didn’t hesitate.
He wasn’t even bothered by the less-friendly-looking man standing behind her silently with his coat collar turned up and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. What’s the worst that could happen? He just wanted some jam.
“The woman seemed no different to others I’d met while out begging with my brothers and sisters,” according to 61-year-old Tommy. He explained that some people felt so bad for them that they would bring them home, feed them, and send them off with a snack or two.
So, of course, he went with the nice lady who offered him bread and jam. “But that could have been the last meal I ever ate. I had no idea then, but I was walking between two monsters… Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley,” he said. “I was on my way to becoming their sixth victim.”
Tommy lived on a street stuck inside the slums and grinding poverty of Manchester that ultimately saved his life. In his book, 1963: A Slice of Bread and Jam, Tommy tells the story of how he managed to escape those evil, child-killing monsters.
He explains how he jumped out of a window and then played it off as just another escape in his daily struggle to survive. Although he was traumatized, Tommy brushed it off, not realizing he was in the home of two horrendous people who had every intention of murdering him.
But as he got older, Tommy’s encounter with Hindley and Brady, who murdered their young victims and hid their bodies on Saddleworth Moor from 1963 to 1965, continued to haunt him. Tommy has since made contact with 20 other lucky people who also crossed paths with the killers.
“They are all genuine people and have been affected in different ways,” says the father-of-four author. “Brady and Hindley must have approached other youngsters – they couldn’t have snared all their victims easily. I also believe they killed more too – kids like me whose parents would barely have noticed there was a missing child.”
Tommy’s book is certainly telling, but also a heartwarming snapshot of a year in the life of a young boy growing up in poverty. He didn’t shy away from anything in the book and discussed his poor, Irish traveler family with an abusive, alcoholic father.
His drunken, neglectful mother wasn’t exactly the nurturing type either. The 12 kids had to beg and steal and were left alone scavenging for food. The siblings had multiple run-ins with the law but never asked for help, even when little Timmy escaped the rape and torture by the strangers.
Despite his instability at home and the hardships he and his siblings found themselves in, Tommy landed the nickname Monkey because he was a really good climber. He said that the best part of his childhood were his years in Hulme before the family was ripped apart and he was taken into foster care.
“Much of my childhood was miserable, but I was the happiest in Manchester – because I was free. I hated my parents. I was never shown any affection, and we never knew when the next drunken row or beating was coming our way or the next meal,” said Tommy. “We just got up each day and got on with our lives.”
But hunger almost cost Tommy his life. This wasn’t a time of “stranger danger” where kids were warned not to get into a car with strangers offering them candy. Luring in victims with the promise of a tasty treat is the oldest one in the book, and kids don’t really fall for it anymore.
But back then, it worked. Tommy was always hungry, so when someone offered him food, he couldn’t say no. When Hindley and Brady noticed Tommy, he was waiting for his brother and sister in the park. “The woman reminded me of my eldest sister, Rosemary,” he recalled.
“She asked how old I was and why I was out so late, then asked if I was hungry. She’d come right up and had her hand on the swing’s chain. I could smell a heavy mixture of her perfume and hairspray,” he remembered.
“‘How about jam buttie? Then we’ll get you straight home?’ She raised her dark eyebrows enticingly. I nodded and followed her back through the dark streets to a house in Gorton.” Can you imagine being a small, hungry child and tricked into a dangerous home with the promise of some food? It truly breaks my heart.
“She opened the front door, beckoning me with her gloved hand. Ian Brady appeared from nowhere beside me, his hand on my shoulder, guiding me inside. I looked up at his distant, unsmiling eyes, but he turned his gaze away and closed the front door.
He walked into the kitchen without saying a word while I sat in the back room with Myra Hindley, who lit a cigarette,” Tommy recalled. “I liked her smile, which made her blue eyes light up. She slipped off her coat to reveal her knee-length black boots, black shirt, and black top.”
Tommy probably felt safer with Myra because she was a woman. Unfortunately, she was missing the motherly gene of compassion, nurture, and strength to stand up for innocent children. But Tommy was a smart boy.
As soon as she walked into the kitchen with Brady, Tommy “heard her speak sharply before lowering her voice.” Tommy had a gut feeling: “I felt unsettled – something wasn’t right!” He explained how she brought in a lot of jam and bread, telling him to hurry up and eat so they could take him home.
“I smelled alcohol on her breath, and she wasn’t as talkative or cocksure as before. Her hand trembled slightly… her tone seemed harsher,” he noticed. By this point, Tommy was getting worried. Remember, he was only seven years old, but he knew something was up.
“The atmosphere had changed. I started to feel cold – a coldness that seemed to creep inside my skin. I had an overwhelming sense of panic, down in the pit of my stomach, and almost felt like vomiting. I had a frantic urge to leave the house.”
Meanwhile, Tommy heard whispers in the kitchen, and “then Brady snapped at her, ‘f*cking wait!’ I got to my feet quietly and tried to open the sash window. It got stuck – I felt sick and thought I might faint,” he said. “Then it shot up making a loud noise, and Hindley cried ‘Little sh*t’s out the window!”
“I heard someone running; then I felt a hand grab at my right foot, which got tangled around the curtain. But momentum kept me going forwards, and I dropped to the ground on the other side, just as I heard the bolt from the back door as Brady came after me.”
But Tommy managed to hop over the back wall and ran through dumpsters and alleyways where he hid behind bomb-damaged homes for a few hours before going home. Wow! That sounds like quite a wild night! It kind of reminds me of that movie Baby’s Day Out.
This was much scarier since it was real life. Tommy said: “Next time I saw those faces were on the TV news when their chilling acts had been uncovered. I was living in a children’s home then and told a staff member, ‘she took me to her house for bread and jam!’ They just laughed.”
Fortunately for Tommy, he was too young to grasp the severity of the situation: “I was a teenager before I could truly comprehend the evil inflicted by Brady and Hindley. It was a lucky escape that has haunted me all my life.” Tommy went on to mention that he believes Brady and Hindley had more victims.
Then, Tommy was taken into care by social services and lived in a home for the rest of his childhood. He met his wife Jill when he was 19, and they built a beautiful life together. However, he didn’t tell her about his encounter with Brady and Hindley until decades later, when they watched a news special covering the evil couple.
After that, Tommy tried to make contact with Brady at Ashworth high-security hospital, Merseyside, and wrote him a letter. Tommy explained: “I wrote asking if he remembered the time a little boy came back with him and Myra for tea. I was stunned when I got a reply two weeks later. He said I was very much mistaken and that he got letters like mine all the time.”
But then Brady said something a little unsettling. “What really chilled me was his insistence that he and Hindley were not monsters. He wrote, ‘We were quite ordinary and not dripping with blood.” Umm… define ordinary?!
Tommy has been able to move on from his traumatic experience with the murderous couple, but “the names of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady always evoke strong emotions.” Tommy just hopes that remembering those monsters will at the very least keep the memory of their victims alive.
“I was lucky. I followed them like a lamb to the slaughter that day in 1963, but somehow, I sensed the evil and got away. Writing my book has helped me come to terms with the lingering demons,” Tommy said. He concluded with, “It is hard to imagine how Brady will ever rest in peace.”
Although she should have been rotting in jail, Myra Hindley managed to find underserved happiness behind bars when she fell in love with ex-nun turned prison officer Patricia Cairns, who plotted Hindley’s jail escape. If things had gone according to plan, Patricia Cairns would have fled the country and spent her life on the run with the child killer.
In their dream, the lesbian lovers would become missionaries in Sao Paulo and be free from Hindley’s past. Their wish was to be able to spend the rest of their days together – freely. Unfortunately for these love birds, that dream was an impossible fantasy.
In the early 1960s, back when the Moors murders were taking place, Patricia Cairns was a Carmelite nun living on the outskirts of Manchester. She and Hindley both grew up with the Roman Catholic faith. One turned to God and selflessness, while the other turned to violence and murder.
The pair met in Holloway in 1970 and proclaimed their love to each other through a spyhole in Hindley’s cell door. The murderer had hidden photos of the jail guard and would press them onto her skin intimately, which is quite disturbing.
As they should have predicted, their break-out-of-jail plan didn’t work. But having the most “evil woman in Britain” outside, living free in society, is a scary thought. I mean, what if she escaped and got a job working with children? Yikes! Well, they never made it to Brazil.
They were overconfident about something as risky as breaking out of jail. Once her plan was discovered, Patricia Cairns ended up with a six-year jail sentence. Patricia Cairns has since taken on a new identity. Hindley appropriately died in prison. But what about her prison warden lover?
Patricia Cairns has become known as the prison warden who fell in love with a murderer. With such an honorable reputation, it’s no wonder she changed her identity. Throughout their secret love affair, Patricia showered Myra with love letters and tried plotting her jail escape – before getting caught.
Furthermore, the former prison guard was one of the only people to attend Myra Hindley’s funeral over three decades later. Patricia prayed at the service and is now living in a secluded area near the spot where Hindley’s ashes were scattered.
Patricia Cairns spoke with writer and filmmaker Duncan Staff, and throughout the interviews, she insisted that she initially how no clue why Hadley was in jail. It sounds like a pretty bold claim if you ask me, even for someone who lived in seclusion at the time.
In Staff’s book about the Moors murder, The Lost Boy, he tells the story of their forbidden love affair. Patricia had no problem cooperating with the author, who never disclosed her new name or location. In the book, she says: “She told me after a few months. I was upset when I found out it was children. But it was beyond my control by then. I was just in love with her.”
She added that Hindley was in a hopeless situation, and she “longed to help her.” But after that break-out attempt fiasco, the two were not allowed to see each other or have any form of contact. But don’t worry about Hindley; she managed to form other lesbian relationships in the slammer.
Patricia Cairn’s crime may have wiped out her career in the crime-stopping industry, but it never erased her memory of the killer she fell in love with. As an authoritative figure, Patricia tried using her power for her own benefit, and it came back to bite her with jail time.
In 2002, she slipped through the Cambridge crematorium back door for Hindley’s funeral. Afterward, she was described as a “freedom campaigner.” Obviously, that was the unpopular opinion. A woman had quite the alternative view, holding up a sign that read: “burn in hell.”
But her life now paints a different picture. Decades after her twisted love affair, Patricia Cairns spends her time walking the dog, driving around in her new car (that she got when The Lost Boy hit the bookshelves). Staff described her as a quiet lady wearing scruffy jeans and baggy shirts who keeps a low profile.
I know what you must be thinking. It’s unlikely enough for ordinary people to fall in love with locked-up serial killers, but it’s even more rare for a prison warden to fall for that kind of sh*t. Maybe it’s Myra Hindley that brings out the worst in people.
Since she is still going by a fake identity, it’s unclear exactly what Patricia has been up to since she last spoke to Duncan Staff. The last thing she told the author before shutting the door was, “Myra Hindley has been dead for some time now. Everything else should die with her.”