UK & World News
Moors Murders: Mother Winnie Johnson Dies
The mother of Moors murder victim Keith Bennett has died without ever finding where her son was buried.
Winnie Johnson, 78, lost her fight against bowel cancer at a Greater Manchester hospice in the early hours of Saturday.
She had spent the 48 years since her son's death looking for his grave so she could properly lay him to rest.
Her death comes in the same week as the mental health advocate for Moors murderer Ian Brady was arrested for allegedly failing to reveal information about where the boy was buried.
Weeks ago, Mrs Johnson, who was a single mother, made a final plea to Brady to tell her where her son's makeshift grave was.
Mrs Johnson was described as "a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother" in a statement on her son Alan Bennett's website searchingforkeith.com.
"Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial," the statement said.
"Although this was not possible during her lifetime we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith.
"We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this.
"We would like to express our deep gratitude to all the medical staff who cared for Winnie during her illness, and also the public for their good wishes and support over the years.
"We hope that everyone will understand, however, that we would like to grieve for her in private, both at this time and during her funeral."
Mrs Johnson's lawyer John Ainley told Sky News: "She certainly was a most courageous lady, never gave up the hope that she would find Keith, and pursued that to the very end.
"She always thought that she would find Keith but without information from Ian Brady, that became more and more difficult."
Asked if her death would change anything, he said: "I think that any information that's passed over is going to be too little too late, sadly, certainly as far as Winnie's concerned, but having said that, if any information that would identify where Keith's buried, was passed to the police and the family, then certainly they would be able to give Keith a proper family burial, and that would give them some closure."
Sky's Mike McCarthy said: "It's a tragedy for Winnie Johnson, it's a tragedy for her family. She was a feisty woman, very, very charming in one way, and very blunt and direct as well.
"She took on Ian Brady in a psychological way, she refused to be cowed by him.
"She refused to be afraid of him in one sense, and she on more than occasion appealed directly to him to give her what she waited 48 years for - and that is the location of her son Keith Bennett's body."
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with Winnie Johnson's family at this difficult and sad time."
On Friday, Jackie Powell, 49, was arrested at her home in South Wales on suspicion of preventing the burial of a body.
Ms Powell reportedly told a Channel 4 documentary that Brady gave her a sealed envelope containing a letter to Mrs Johnson, with strict orders it was only to be opened after his death - leading to speculation that it may contain the location of the boy's grave.
Mrs Johnson's lawyer said on Friday that there were no plans to tell her about the possible existence of the letter due to her ill health.
Keith was kidnapped on June 16, 1964, after he left home to visit his grandmother.
He was killed by Brady and accomplice Myra Hindley - who were responsible for the murders of five youngsters in the 1960s.
The pair lured children and teenagers to their deaths, sexually torturing them before burying their bodies on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester.
Pauline Reade, 16, disappeared on her way to a disco on July 12, 1963, and John Kilbride, 12, was snatched in November the same year.
Lesley Ann Downey, 10, was lured away from a funfair on Boxing Day, 1964, and Edward Evans, 17, was killed in October 1965.