Police end search for Moors murder victim Keith Bennett after failing to find human remains

7 October 2022, 14:19 | Updated: 7 October 2022, 15:56

Police call off the search for remains of Keith Bennett (l)
Police call off the search for remains of Keith Bennett (l). Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

Police have closed the investigation site where they were searching for the body of Moors murders victim Keith Bennett.

Forensic experts had scoured the site on Saddleworth Moor after an author claimed to have found evidence of the possible burial site of the 12-yer-old boy who went missing in 1964 and has never been found.

Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson said: "Our actions in the last week or so are a highly visible example of what that response looks like, with the force utilising the knowledge and skills of accredited experts, specialist officers and staff.

"It is these accredited experts and specialists who have brought us to a position from where we can say that, despite a thorough search of the scene and ongoing analysis of samples taken both by ourselves and a third party, there is currently no evidence of the presence of human remains at, or surrounding, the identified site on Saddleworth Moor.

"However, I want to make it clear that our investigation to find answers for Keith’s family is not over."

Police searching Saddleworth Moor for Keith Bennett
Police searching Saddleworth Moor for Keith Bennett. Picture: Alamy

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Brady and Hindley murdered five people in total, and three were later found buried on Saddleworth Moor.

The 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.

Brady and Hindley were caught after Edward’s murder and Lesley and John’s bodies were recovered from the moor.

Hindley died in jail in 2002 at the age of 60 and Brady died in a high-security hospital in 2017 aged 79.In 2012 – 48 years after Keith’s death – his mother Winnie Johnson died aged 78 without fulfilling her wish to give him a Christian burial.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hughes said today: "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."