Search for Moors murder victim Keith Bennett continuing ‘for foreseeable future’

Police have said the search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett will continue for the foreseeable future despite no human remains yet being identified.

The 12-year-old was one of five victims of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, with three later found buried on Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District.

The schoolboy’s body was never found after his disappearance in 1964, and 48 years later his mother, Winnie Johnson, died aged 78 without fulfilling her wish to give him a Christian burial.

Keith Bennett search
Greater Manchester Police continue a search on Saddleworth Moor (Danny Lawson/PA)

Fresh hopes were raised on Friday when the Daily Mail revealed that author Russell Edwards believes he has located the youngster’s makeshift grave after “extensive soil analysis”.

After the reported discovery of a skull, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) began excavating an area on the Moors.

Mr Edwards is said to have previously started his own dig, close to where the other Moors Murders victims were found, and uncovered remains including teeth which independent experts reportedly concluded were human.

But in a statement on Saturday, GMP said photographs of the site showing what had been interpreted as a human jawbone had not led to physical evidence being examined.

Keith Bennett search
An officer carries an evidence bag (Danny Lawson/PA)

In an update on Sunday, senior investigating officer Cheryl Hughes said: “Following information received which indicated that potential human remains had been found on the Moors, specialist officers from GMP have today again resumed excavation of a site identified to the force.

“We have not found any identifiable human remains but work to excavate the site is continuing and will do so for the foreseeable time.”

Keith was last seen by his mother in the early evening of June 16 1964 after he left home in Eston Street, Longsight, Manchester, on his way to his grandmother’s house nearby.

Brady and Hindley’s other victims were: Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco on July 12 1963; John Kilbride, 12, who was snatched in November the same year; Lesley Ann Downey, 10, who was lured away from a funfair on Boxing Day 1964; and Edward Evans, 17, who was axed to death in October 1965.

Keith Bennett search
Police launch a drone over Saddleworth Moor (Danny Lawson/PA)

The killers were caught after the Edward Evans murder and Lesley and John’s bodies were recovered from the moor.

Brady and Hindley were taken to Saddleworth Moor to help police find the remains of the other victims, but only Pauline’s body was recovered.

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, also failed to discover any trace of the boy.

Hindley died in jail in 2002 at the age of 60 and Brady died in a high-security hospital in 2017 aged 79.