In 1964, 22 years prior to her writing the following letter, Winnie Johnson’s 12 year old son went missing as he walked the short distance to his grandmother’s house in Manchester, England. Johnson’s worst fears were confirmed in 1985 – 21 years later – when ‘Moors Murderer‘ Ian Brady confessed to a journalist that he had actually abducted and killed Keith all those years ago, along with four other victims. In November of 1986 a desperate Winnie Johnson wrote to Myra Hindley, Brady’s imprisoned accomplice, and pleaded for an official confession. A few months later Hindley supplied just that to police, with Brady following suit shortly afterwards.
Keith’s body has never been found.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the Telegraph.
Dear Miss Hindley,
I am sure I am one of the last people you would ever expected to receive a letter from. I am the mother of Keith Bennett who went missing, no-one knows where, on June 16, 1964. As a woman I am sure you can envisage the nightmare I have lived with day and night, 24 hours a day, since then. Not knowing whether my son is alive or dead, whether he ran away or was taken away, is literally a living hell, something which you no doubt have experienced during your many, many years locked in prison.
My letter to you is written out of desperation and faint hope, desperation because I know that for so many years neither you nor Ian Brady has ever admitted knowing anything about my son’s disappearance, and hope that Christianity has softened your soul so much that you would never any longer knowingly condemn someone to permanent purgatory. Please I beg of you, tell me what happened to Keith. My heart tells me you know and I am on bended knees begging you to end this torture and finally put my mind at rest. Besides asking for your pity, the only other thing I can say is that by helping me you will doubtless help yourself because those people who have harboured so much hate against you and prevented your being released a long time ago would have no reason left to harbour their hate. By telling me what happened to Keith you would be announcing loudly to the world that you really have turned into the kind, caring, warm person that Lord Longford speaks of.
I am a simple woman, I work in the kitchens of Christie’s Hospital, it has taken me five weeks labour to write this letter because it is so important to me that it is understood by you for what it is, a plea for help.
Please Miss Hindley help me.
Mrs W. Johnson.