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Police kept Moors Murders victim's body parts for 30 years

Pauline Reade's body was found in 1987 following a search of Saddleworth Moors. Photo: MEN Syndication

Body parts from a Moors Murders victim have been kept by police for 30 years without her family’s knowledge.

Pauline Reade was murdered by notorious killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley at the age of 16. Her body was discovered 24 years later in 1987 following a search of Saddleworth Moors.

Pauline’s family believed they had finally laid her to rest after a funeral at Gorton cemetery. But following the death of Ian Brady in May this year an audit was carried out and some of her remains were discovered at Leeds University where they had been kept on behalf of GMP.

Pauline Reade was murdered when she was 16-years-old. Credit: MEN Syndication

It is understood the body parts held include her jaw bone and hair samples. Her family now face having to stage a second funeral.

Jackie Reade, Pauline’s niece was told about the body parts in a call from Greater Manchester Police.

Pauline disappeared before Jackie was born but she was 13 when her body was found and remembers her family’s pain. Each week Jackie went with Pauline’s mum Joan to lay a single rose on her grave.

This week GMP delivered a wooden casket holding Pauline’s remains to Jackie’s solicitors.

Pauline’s niece, Jackie, was told about the body parts in a call from Greater Manchester Police. Credit: MEN Syndication

Jackie, 44, said: “I am devastated. It has brought it all back. I am disgusted that part of Pauline could be kept like this.

“I was 13 when Pauline was found. I remember the day very clearly. My nana and grandad, (Pauline’s parents) Joan and Amos, were still alive at the time.

"My nana couldn’t believe that they had found her. The family were so relieved. My nana had been very ill from day one of her disappearance with all the stress of it.

“It was peace of a kind for us, that at last she had been laid to rest, and we had some closure.

“My nana held my hand at the funeral. We would take my nana every week to the grave. She would always lay a single rose, every week until she passed away. We had got her back, and knew where she was.

“The police called me in the middle of August and said they had ‘stumbled’ across some stuff. They came to see me. They said now Ian Brady had died they have found items. I thought it was going to be Pauline’s gold necklace.

“They said it was a piece of her jaw bone and I couldn’t believe it. It was heartbreaking. We thought she was all there together. They asked what I wanted to do with the jaw bone. Did I want it donated to science, or cremated? I said no way. These parts should not have been separated from her.

“They knew who she was. They had identified the body, yet they kept them. I just can’t believe it.

“The family had no idea. This family has been through enough. It is mind boggling.

“It has brought it all back. I feel angry. When the police sent me a letter they said I was Pauline’s auntie - they couldn’t even get that right.

“The police just said they had been kept for evidence. But they knew who she was there was no need for them keep them. There was no need for them to keep the jawbone. It is awful.”

Pauline's family want to put all the parts back with Pauline, "where they should be". Credit: MEN Syndication

Pauline’s grave is a family plot and her mother, Joan, father, Amos, and brother, Paul, who all died after her, all lie in the same place. It means that to bury Pauline’s remains four licences will be required from the Ministry of Justice to move the bodies of all the family members.

Jackie said: “As a family we want to put all the parts back with Pauline, where they should be. But to do that we will have to disturb all four graves. I think I should get an apology from the police. We will hold second funerals for all of them.”

Peter Hall, head of civil litigation for Tranters Solicitors of Stockport, who is representing Jackie, said:”For Jackie to receive news that parts of Pauline’s body had been retained for no good reason was devastating.

“It has created great distress and there has been no explanation or apology from GMP. Jackie’s wish is that all of Pauline’s remains are buried together as it should have been all along.

“Unfortunately, three other graves will be affected in returning the body parts to Pauline’s grave so that applications have to be made for each grave to the Secretary of State for the appropriate licences to avoid breaches of the Burial Act 1857. When I have the applicable licences, Jackie will be able to proceed with the reburial in respect of her father, grand father,grand mother and of course Pauline.

“I know Jackie wants to invite a number of family members and others who have provided support over the years to the ceremony.

“It is an utterly bizarre and disturbing case and I can see no reason why such materials needed to be kept from the family for over 30 years and by doing so it has created great upset and anger that was totally avoidable."

We recently became aware that human tissue belonging to Pauline Reade had been stored in external premises on behalf of GMP.

The samples had originally been kept for investigative purposes.

As soon as we became aware of this, we contacted Pauline’s family to make arrangements so that the samples could be laid to rest in whichever way they felt most fitting.

This is a deeply sensitive matter and understandably it has caused some upset with the family however, we felt contacting them was the right thing to do and we have given them a number of options, all of which GMP will pay for.

The Moors Murders was one of the most evil acts that happened in this country in the 20th century and although those responsible were brought to justice, we will continue to provide support to the families of the victims in any way that we can.

– Martin Bottomley, Cold Case Unit, Greater Manchester Police

Pauline was murdered by Brady and Hindley on July 12th 1963. The pair went on to kill another four children aged 10 to 17. Her body was not found until 1987 after a three-month search of Saddleworth Moor. It was discovered just inches below the surface in peat, 250 yards from a main road on July 1st.

An appeal has been launched through crowd funding to help Jackie with the costs of the reburial.