Mum of Moors victim dies

Winnie Johnson, the mother of the Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett, has died at the age of 78, her lawyer has confirmed.

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Ian Brady documentary to be broadcast tonight

A TV documentary about Moors murderer Ian Brady will air tonight with the approval of Winnie Johnson's family, Channel 4 has confirmed.

Mrs Johnson, 78, whose son Keith Bennett was killed by Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964, died on Saturday without ever finding out where the 12-year-old was buried.

Moors murderer Ian Brady
Moors murderer Ian Brady Credit: PA/PA Wire

Her death came just hours after it emerged that police are investigating whether a letter exists in which Brady, 74, apparently discloses the location of Keith's body.

Brady's mental health advocate, Jackie Powell, told the documentary that Brady gave her a sealed envelope containing a letter to pass to Mrs Johnson in the event of his death.

That information was passed to police and Ms Powell, 49, was arrested on Thursday at her home in Llangennech, South Wales, on suspicion of preventing the burial of a body without lawful exercise.

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Brother's plea after Winnie Johnson's death

Keith Bennett will remain "in the possession" of Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley until his body is found, the victim's brother has said.

Alan Bennett said the death of his mother, Winnie must not be seen as closure to the case as the family vowed to continue the fight to locate the remains of the 12-year-old.

Keith Bennett's body is still yet to be found. Credit: Press Association

Brady, who is 74, has been urged by police to "at last do the decent thing" and finally tell them where he buried him on Saddleworth Moor above Manchester so Keith can be given a Christian burial.

Writing on his website, www.searchingforkeith.com, Mr Bennett, who was nine when his brother was taken off the street by Brady and the late Hindley, said: "As far as I am concerned, until Keith is found then he is still in the possession of Brady and Hindley.

"Our fear as a family is that now my mother is no longer with us, this may be seen by the police and the media as some sort of closure to the case.

"This must not be allowed to happen both out of respect for Keith and my mother's memory and for those of us who loved them both."

Winnie Johnson's Brady fear realised

Winnie Johnson said in her final interview that she feared Moors Murderer Ian Brady would never reveal the whereabouts of her 12-year-old son's body in a "final sick twist".

Winnie Johnson died on Saturday, aged 78. Credit: Press Association

In an interview with The Sun, conducted from her hospital bed, she had said: "I don't know now if Brady will ever tell me where my Keith is buried.

"He could take it to the grave with him. I suppose that would be his final sick twist. Or he could give me hope like he has done before and then nothing would come of it."

She added that she would make her feel "on top of the world" to know where her son's body was, and added: "It would mean my dying wish had come true and we had finally got Keith home.

"I don't give a s*** about Brady any more. I am running out of time and just want to bring my son home.

"But I feel in my heart he won't ever tell me."

Police pay tribute to 'tenacious' and 'courageous' Winnie

Martin Bottomley, head of investigative review of Greater Manchester Police's major and cold case crime unit, has paid tribute to Winnie Johnson.

He said: "Our thoughts are with Winnie's family at this very difficult and sad time. Winnie spent the majority of her life courageously fighting to get justice for Keith.

Winnie Johnson attends a memorial service for her son Keith Bennett. Credit: Press Association

"All she wanted was to know where Keith was buried so she could lay him to rest."Sadly, almost all of her life, she has had to live with the knowledge that Ian Brady refused to show compassion and do the right thing and disclose where he had buried her little boy.

"Winnie was a tenacious and courageous woman and I wish that in her lifetime she could have found where Keith was buried."The only comfort we can take is that she is now at peace with the little boy she missed so much.

"We are continuing to examine the documentation we seized to establish whether or not this letter even exists.

"Notwithstanding that, there is only one person who knows where Keith is buried and that is Ian Brady himself. I would implore him at this extremely sad time and knowing that Winnie has died not knowing where Keith is buried to at last do the decent thing and tell us where he is."

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Winnie's lawyer: 'She always believed Brady held the key'

In a statement, John Ainley, Winnie Johnson's solicitor, said: "It is a terrible tragedy and I would ask the media to respect Winnie's family's wishes to be left to grieve in private at this distressing time.

"She will be sadly missed and was much loved by her family and friends."

Winnie Johnson digging with her 23 year old son Joey, on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester in 1988. Credit: Press Association

Mr Ainley had represented her legal interests for the last few years and has reaffirmed her beliefs that Brady still holds the key to her son's burial spot.

"Over the years and in all our personal meetings, Winnie has insisted Brady is the only person who could put her mind to rest and give her the chance to give Keith a decent burial before she passed away," he said.

"She was convinced Brady knew where her son was buried and she told me she wanted the search to continue to find Keith.

"Despite her personal appeals directly to Brady and via my office, Brady had persistently ignored the wishes of a grieving mother.

"She has died without knowing Keith's whereabouts and without the opportunity to finally put him at rest in a decent grave.

"It is a truly heartbreaking situation that this opportunity has now been irrevocably lost.

"Winnie's health deteriorated in the last few days. She died not knowing of the letter's possible existence but the steadfast conviction Ian Brady can resolve the situation."

Winnie Johnson dies not knowing location of son's body

The mother of Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett has died without knowing where her son is buried.

Winnie Johnson, who was 78, had been suffering from cancer for a number of years and passed away peacefully at a hospice earlier today, her solicitor said.

Winnie Johnson, lighting a memorial candle at Manchester Cathedral during her son's memorial service. Credit: Press Association

Her 12-year-son's killer, Ian Brady, has always refused to disclose the location of Keith's body on Saddleworth Moor above Manchester.Keith was taken by Brady and his partner, Myra Hindley on June 16 1964, after he left home to visit his grandmother.

Winnie's family: 'We will continue to fight for her and Keith'

A statement posted on Winnie Johnson's family website 'Searching for Keith' confirmed her death this morning.

Winnie Johnson, the mother of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett, has died aged 78. Credit: Press Association

The statement reads: "Winnie Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, died this morning at 12.35am, aged 78. She was a much loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and is survived by one younger brother. Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial.

"Although this was not possible during her lifetime, we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith. We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this.

"We would like to express our deep gratitude to all the medical staff who cared for Winnie during her illness, and also the public for their good wishes and support over the years.

"We hope that everyone will understand, however, that we would like to grieve for her in private, both at this time and during her funeral."

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