Police end search on Saddleworth Moor for Keith Bennett's body stating no evidence of remains

Video report by Rob Smith

The investigation scene on Saddleworth Moor has been closed after police said there is no evidence to indicate the presence of human remains.

The area was excavated after investigator Russell Edwards claimed to found human remains while researching the Moors Murders.

The author said he was "totally convinced" they belong to Keith Bennett, prompting a large search on the Moors.

But, after a week, Greater Manchester Police say a search by accredited forensic experts search concluded there was no evidence to indicate the presence of human remains.

Officers from Greater Manchester Police searching Saddleworth Moor on Monday Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hughes said: "In response to the report made on Thursday September 29, officers met with the member of the public who later provided us with samples and copies of the photographs he had taken.

"He also took officers to the location from which he had obtained these and provided grid references.

“In the days since, independent accredited forensic archaeologists and certified forensic anthropologists, together with GMP’s crime scene investigators, have completed a methodical forensic archaeological excavation and examination of the identified area and beyond.

“An accredited forensic geologist also took a number of soil samples – analysis of which is ongoing.

“The items given to us by the member of the public have been examined by a forensic scientist and though this hasn’t yet indicated the presence of human remains – more analysis is required.

“With regards to the photograph, we have sought the assistance of a forensic botanist.

“We are now utilising the knowledge and skills of a forensic image expert to put a standard anthropological measurement to the object to assist with identification.

“At this stage, the indications are that it would be considerably smaller than a juvenile jaw and it cannot be ruled out that it is plant-based.

“The excavation and examination at the site is complete and, to reiterate, we have found no evidence that this is the burial location of Keith Bennett.”

Mr Edwards says he made the 'discovery' while out on the Moors looking for the potential burial place of Keith.

It is said Mr Edwards started his own search and uncovered a skull with teeth present which independent experts are reported to have concluded is human.

After extensive research using drones and "extensive soil analysis" Russell and his team discovered what they thought to be the 12-year-old's remains, in the youngster’s makeshift grave.

Despite searches by police, no remains were found.

In a statement Mr Edwards said the decision by the police was "disappointing, but unsurprising", adding he had "evidence enough to prove I did find the grave of Keith Bennett".

He added: "My own team of specialist archaeologists, including Dawn Keen, confirmed that I did find part of an upper jawbone, several teeth, including one molar, all in the correct positions, adipose tissue, and fragments of material, all visible (under magnification) in photographs taken at the site.

"The geochemist from Northumbria University, Lesley Dunlop, who extracted the soil from the site, confirmed today that the very high levels of calcium could only be derived from human bones, which after 58 years in peat have chemically been broken down.

"She retains those soil samples and some of the adipose tissue.

"I don't believe the police have sifted the soil painstakingly enough, or they would have found the evidence.

"The site itself is now thoroughly compromised and destroyed, but I have evidence enough to prove I did find the grave of Keith Bennett."

The Moors murders were carried out by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady between July 1963 and October 1965, in and around Manchester, England.

12-year-old Keith Bennett was snatched by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley 58 years ago in south Manchester in June 1964, but his remains have never been found.

Brady ignored repeated requests from Keith's late mother, Winnie Johnson, over several decades to identify the location of his makeshift grave so she could give her son a proper Christian burial.

She died in 2012, and Keith's brother Alan Bennett - who police are keeping updated with any developments - has continued the hunt for his body.

Brady claimed he could not remember where he had buried Keith.

In 2009, police said a covert search operation on the moor, which used a wealth of scientific experts, had also failed to discover any trace of the boy.

Hindley died in 2002 in prison. Brady went on hunger strike in 1999 and, after several failed attempts to be moved to a prison, he died in Ashworth Hospital in May 2017, aged 79.

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