Winnie Johnson has spent the last 40 years searching and praying that she will, one day, find the remains of her son Keith Bennett.
On June 16th 1964 Keith was on his way to visit his Nan, Winnie had crossed him over the main road, it was to be the last time she ever saw her son. Keith was the third child to go missing from the local area over the past year, with two more disappearing afterwards.
In the late months of 1965 Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were investigated and consequently arrested for killing 3 children and burying them on Saddleworth Moor in Manchester, they were not however charged with Keith’s murder. Both had denied any knowledge of who Keith was or his whereabouts on the night he went missing.
It was at this point Winnie began her long fight for justice; she wrote hundreds of letters and even took to searching the moors herself. This continued for 20 years, when fresh light was thrown on Keith’s disappearance. In 1987 Hindley and Brady finally confessed to not only his murder, but also that of Pauline Reade who had disappeared around the same time. Saddleworth Moor was sealed off and a new search began, with the police being assisted in pinpointing the grave by Brady and Hindley. The body of 16-year-old Pauline Reade was discovered during that search but sadly Keith’s remains were not found and have not been to this day.
Winnie has continued to fight for the rights of her son and each time the case is brought up in the press she has to relive her ordeal. Brady and Hindley were never charged with killing Pauline and Keith as they were already serving life for the murders of Edward Evans, John Kilbride and Lesley-Anne Downey.
In 1997 a controversial portrait of Myra Hindley, constructed using the handprints of children, was displayed at the Royal Academy as part of their ‘Sensations’ exhibition. Winnie stood outside in the cold for three days and campaigned for its removal with members of MAMAA. The Royal Academy refused to take it down, however when the same exhibition opened at New York Museum, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani stopped the funding to the Museum until it was removed. Lyn Costello and Winnie were contacted by the Mayor’s office and took part in a news programme with him, where Winnie thanked him for making a stand for her son and the other murdered children.
Winnie has worked with and supported MAMAA for a number of years and speaks out on our behalf and that of others families. When MAMAA did a sponsored walk from Dunblane to London she was there at the beginning to support us and met us again at the end in Trafalgar Square. Winnie has travelled extensively throughout the country on behalf of other victims to support their families.