Here I am in Southern Cemetery four miles from the city centre on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The sunshine and cheeping birds belied the sorry sickening saga behind the grave I visited. Itís that of Edward Evans who was the fifth and last victim of the so-called Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. They had already murdered four children and buried them on Saddleworth Moor (Keith Bennett is still missing) but Edward wasnít. He was murdered in the front room of their house in Hattersley (since demolished.)
He was selected at random in the early evening on Wednesday 6th October 1965. Hindley drove her lover Brady down to Manchester central railway station to find someone to kill. There would be lots of people around as Manchester United had been playing football that afternoon. She sat in the car and waited for Brady who soon returned with 17-year-old Edward, a smartly-dressed apprentice engineer (and gay - normally Hindley enticed the victims into the car.) Brady lied and said Hindley was his sister and they drove him their home eleven miles away where they opened a bottle of wine and relaxed. At some point Brady told Hindley to fetch her brother-in-law David Smith who was a violent man with many convictions. He knew Smith was awe of him and wanted to show off. When Edward came round Brady violently murdered Edward by bludgeoning him with an axe. He screamed for his mum but after fourteen blows to his skull he was soon dead or close to it. He was strangled with some electrical cord. Brady had been so engrossed he hadnít noticed he sprained an ankle badly. For affect he said to Hindley, ďThatís it. Itís the messiest yet.Ē
Though David Smith was a violent man with many convictions he was terrified and helped Brady scrub away the blood. In fear of his own life he agreed to put the corpse in the boot of the car and take it up to the moors. It was too heavy for Brady to carry with a sprained ankle and Edward was wrapped in a plastic sheet and dumped in the spare bedroom. Smith sat with Brady and Hindley for hours while they had a meal and only when he thought it safe did he leave. He sprinted home and relayed the events of evening to his wife who insisted he ring the police. They walked to the nearby phone box taking a screwdriver and knife should Brady confront them.
More children may have been murdered but bringing David Smith around to show off brought the end of the murder spree. The day after the murder a policeman called at 16 Wardle Brook Avenue. Hindley opened the door to the policeman who said he was investigating "an act of violence involving guns." She denied it and allowed the policeman to search the house (Brady was still dressing.) The policeman found the door of the spare bedroom locked and asked for the key. When Hindley claimed it was at her workplace the policeman said another policeman would drive her to work to fetch it Brady knew this was the end. He told Hindley to hand over the key. Brady claimed he and Edward had argued and when it escalated heíd killed him.
Brady was arrested and driven to the police station. Hindley insisted on going with them with their dog called Puppet. The police considered her innocent and allowed her to go home. However she was soon arrested when they found a luggage ticket in her prayer book. It led them to suitcases stored at the railway station which contained photographs of a young naked girl and a haunting 13-minute tape recording of a screaming girl. It was ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey pleading for her mum moments before she was murdered. Lesley had disappeared from a fairground ten months earlier and was one of four children who had seemingly evaporated from that zone of Greater Manchester. When the police found photographs of Brady and Hindley posing on Saddleworth Moor they searched it. An arm bone sticking out of the peat lead to the decomposed remains of Lesley Ann-Downey. At this point they instinctively knew the two people in custody had murdered the four children who had gone missing over the last two years and three months.
I took some photos of the grave as usual (never comfortable doing these murder victims.) Edward's buried here with his parents and, looking at the dates, his dad didn't live for more than two years after the murder. There were some kids on bikes watching me and they stopped talking to one another to watch more intently. A West family grave is nearby - Tommy West who was Lesley Ann Downey's brother is buried there. Southern Cemetery is the largest municipal cemetery in Britain so I don't know if this is a coincidence. I'd only visited this cemetery a few weeks ago to find the grave of one of Peter Sutcliffe's victims who had been killed on some allotments across the field.
The kids on bikes kept watching as I got back in the car. It was a hot day and a few magpies were lying on the grass with their wings slightly spread to absorb the sun. As it was too hot I parked up in the shade of some trees in the older section of the cemetery and had a sandwich next to the grave of painter LS Lowry. It was good to see the stone had been cleaned up.
Thanks to David C for telling me of this grave's exact location.
David Smith who witnessed Edward's murder...
He was murdered here at 16, Wardle Brook Avenue in Hattersley...
...it has been demolished...
Tommy West who was Lesley Ann Downey's brother is buried within touching distance of Edward Evans.