Police are digging on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester after a skull was reportedly found that could belong to Moors murder victim Keith Bennett.
Keith was murdered 58 years ago at the age of 12 by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, but his body has never been found. Brady died in 2017 and Hindley in 2002.
Greater Manchester police were alerted to the discovery on Thursday morning, which was made by a group of amateurs searching for Keith’s body.
While police said it was too early to confirm whether human remains have been found, they have informed Keith’s closest surviving family member, his brother Alan.
Forensic teams were forced to halt the crime scene work at about 4.45pm on Friday due to bad weather. Wind and sleet battered the moor, uprooting the two blue forensics tents.
The site has been covered with a tarpaulin and work will restart on Saturday morning.
If the remains are identified as Keith’s, it will prove especially tragic as the crime scene is only a few hundred metres away from where his mother, Winnie Johnson, was regularly pictured, having returned to Saddleworth Moor often before her death in August 2012.
Author Russell Edwards, who has spent years trying to find the schoolboy’s remains, contacted detectives after digging in an area with soil that appeared to have been disturbed and finding what he believed to be Keith’s body.
On Thursday night, he directed police to the area and specialist officers are now digging in the area.
Detectives are analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, MailOnline said.
Greater Manchester police said: “At around 11.25am on Thursday 29 September 2022, Greater Manchester police was contacted by the representative of an author who has been researching the murder of Keith Bennett, a victim of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
“Following direct contact with the author, we were informed that he had discovered what he believes are potential human remains in a remote location on the Moors and he agreed to meet with officers yesterday afternoon to elaborate on his find and direct us to a site of interest.
“The site was assessed late last night and, this morning, specialist officers have begun initial exploration activity. We are in the very early stages of assessing the information which has been brought to our attention but have made the decision to act on it in line with a normal response to a report of this kind.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been discovered and this is expected to take some time.
“We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family. As such, we have informed his brother of the potential development – he does not wish to be contacted at this time and asks that his privacy is respected.”
Recalling the discovery of the skull, Edwards told MailOnline: “The smell hit me about 2ft down. Like a sewer, like ammonia.
“I worked as a gravedigger when I was 19. That hits you, that smell of death. It is distinctive.”
Keith was last seen by his mother in the early evening of 16 June 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, who were killed in and around Manchester, were Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco on 12 July 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.
The killers were caught after the Evans murder, and Lesley and John’s bodies were recovered from the moors.
Both Brady and Hindley were taken back to Saddleworth Moor to help police find the remains of the outstanding victims, but only Pauline’s body was recovered. Brady claimed he could not remember where he had buried Keith.
Keith’s is the only body that has still not been found.