Yesterday in the UK a man who committed heinous and terrible acts alongside his partner died.
Quite rightly people are remembering the victims, many doing so rather than mentioning the man’s name, what I want to talk about today is the ones who are commenting about the fact he should have been killed years ago, that he should never have been allowed to live this long and then I wonder how many have actually read the articles over the years and understand the complexities of the situation.
You see while I myself may personally agree in the idea of the death penalty being reinstated there is the question of the families to be considered. This man has wanted to die for decades, for him incarceration was a far worse punishment than death, but the families of the victims have been some of the most vocal in their pleas that he not be allowed to. While some have their children home to rest in peace, one remains missing, the suggestion he may one day reveal the poor boys final resting place was enough to make it worth suffering him to exist for those who had the most reason to wish him dead. Over the years various members of victims families have begged him to let the boy come home and be laid to rest with his loved ones, trips to the moors have been taken, we will never know if he was just taking the p*** or if the movement of the land meant the remains were no longer where he thought they were. Recently some guns were found belonging to the man, perhaps yet another clue, and his letters written behind bars are to be kept from the public in the hope that their may be clues hidden in those but the question is, did he only take the one secret to his grave with him?
I am a huge true crime fan, I read books, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows and films and last year I listened to an audiobook, One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley by Carol Ann Lee, and recently I was drawn to listen to it again after listening to a podcast, we know that there were four victims of the moors murderers but the question that keeps coming back to me is, were there more?
When Pauline Reade’s Body was found one of the officers says they had eight case files which they thought could be potential victims, the four victims were all included but it is never said what happened about the other four, you have to wonder if up there on the moors more than one body remains, the man himself has hinted at times there may have been more but never given facts. The woman, his accomplice, down played her own part in the murders and I doubt would ever have admitted more existed, but more than that we know they travelled to length of the country at numerous times over this time period, who is to say there are not other children missing across the country who may have crossed there path. The children’s murders happened 6 month apart but there was then an eight month gap to the murder which would see them arrested.
You see for me this is the thing, I have only seen one suggestion of a potential victim who got away, the four victims all had fairly well established time lines which in some ways makes it easier to put together a story for what might have happened but what if there are others not in the immediate vicinity, children who were not as well cared for who no one was sure when they disappeared or where they disappeared from? The only two people who know if they did more, are both now dead, the family of Keith Bennett may never know where he is, the families of Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans, may find some measure of peace. He claimed to have killed four other people, the police say the investigated looking for the crimes he claimed to have admitted to, but he was a liar! This was a manipulative, sadistic person who enjoyed playing power games with other people, who can rule out that the number he gave could be right but the details wrong, time has passed since the crimes and generations of families passed away, but you wonder if those with missing children wondered if their child could have fallen prey to this cruel pair, because there is no evidence of other victims that does not necessarily mean they do not exist, only that the pair kept no trophy from that kill, left no paper-trail that led back to them.
In keeping this man alive so long authorities denied him the freedom of death, then denied him his wish to die and they honoured the families wishes that he be forced to live in the hope of revelations, if the death penalty had been imposed there may very well still be four bodies laying in the cold desolate moors rather than one, because with nothing gain I do not believe they would ever revealed anything. While as a society we may feel anger and hatred towards this pair and their actions, it sometimes requires a more logical and less emotional view to see the bigger picture or maybe it is the fact we personally have nothing to gain or lose that makes us simply want to rid the world of this type of evil. We would love to believe this type of evil exists only rarely but somewhere round the world even as I type this a predator is stalking their prey, while we may very well wish to rid ourselves of the rabid dogs, we owe it to their victims to discover how they became what the did, learn how they cover their tracks, where potential opportunities to stop them were missed, we should only destroy them once we can be sure there is nothing left to learn from them. History will grant them infamy, we have to ensure the names of their victims are spoken as loudly as those of the criminals and sometimes real justice and retribution come in forms that we would not automatically choose.