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Subject: Myra Hindley, 'Moors Murderer'

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Date Posted: November 16, 2002 2:07:00 EDT

Myra Hindley, who became one of Britain's most hated women because of her involvement in a string of child killings in the 1960's, died today, the Prison Service said. She was 60.

She died of respiratory failure in West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St. Edmunds in eastern England, the Prison Service said. She had been taken to the hospital from her prison cell on Tuesday.

Ms. Hindley and her boyfriend, Ian Brady, were sentenced to life in prison in 1966 for the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17.

Mr. Brady was also found guilty of killing John Kilbride, 12, and Ms. Hindley was convicted for sheltering her lover after that killing. The pair confessed in 1987 to killing two other teenagers.

The killings from July 1963 to October 1965 horrified Britain. The victims had simply vanished; Pauline Reade, one of the teenagers, was abducted on her way to a disco, and Lesley Ann, the pair's youngest victim, was lured from a fairground.

Some of the victims were beaten, tortured and sexually abused before being killed and buried on a desolate moor in northwestern England, earning their killers the nickname "moors murderers."

Ms. Hindley always maintained that her role was to abduct the children and that she had not taken part in the killings or sex attacks. Once in jail, she said Mr. Brady had beaten and blackmailed her, threatening to kill her relatives if she did not help him.

Britain's tabloid newspapers splashed her glowering picture on front pages every time she came up for parole. The fact that she was a woman seemed to make her even more of a target, with many expressing shock that a woman could be involved in such grisly violence against children.

The killing of Lesley Ann was perhaps the pair's most notorious. Ms. Hindley lured her away from a fairground the day after Christmas 1964. The girl was sexually abused, tortured and forced to pose for pornographic photos.

Ms. Hindley recorded the abuse on an audiotape, which was played in court. Jurors listened to the girl calling out for her mother and asking God to help her before she was killed.

"Nothing in criminal behavior before or since has penetrated my heart with quite the same paralyzing intensity," John Stalker, then a detective sergeant in nearby Greater Manchester, said later.

Ms. Hindley and Mr. Brady were caught in 1965, after they forced Ms. Hindley's brother-in-law, David Smith, to watch as they killed Edward Evans. Mr. Smith fled and called the police.

The trial judge, Fenton Atkinson, said more of the blame lay with Mr. Brady than with Ms. Hindley. "Though I believe that Brady is wicked beyond belief without hope of redemption, I cannot feel the same is necessarily true of Hindley once she is removed from his influence," he said.

Ms. Hindley, who became a practicing Roman Catholic and received a humanities degree while in prison, admitted that "my conscience will follow me to my dying day." But she insisted that she had paid her debt to society and yearned to be released.

"I know I could be out one week before someone assassinated me," she said. "But at least I would have had a week of freedom."

Mr. Brady remains in prison.

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