John Kilbride (15th May 1951 to 23rd November 1963)


Here I am at Hurst Cemetery in Ashton-Under-Lyne to find the grave of another moors murder victim. I had just done some shopping at Ashton market about two miles away and it was from here on Saturday 23rd November 1963 that John Kilbride was taken away and murdered. He’d been with his friends helping market stall holders packed up their goods for some pocket money. Early in the evening Ian Brady and Myra Hindley approached the 12-year-old lad who was by a carpet stall munching crisps (Hindley was wearing a black wig over her blonde peroxide hair.) They said his mum and dad would be worried about him and they could take him back in their car. They also said they had a bottle of sherry and he could try some. He readily got in the Ford Anglia car and may have well got into a coffin his life was as good as over. Brady and Hindley knew exactly what they were doing and had hired a car to help facilitate murdering someone.


In the car Brady told John said his girlfriend had lost a glove on the moors and it would be nice if helped them look for it. He drove up to Saddleworth moor and pulled over. Hindley waited in the car as Brady led John across moorland. He raped the little lad and tried to cut his throat with a six-inch serrated blade. Whether it was to blunt is unknown but Brady used a piece of string (probably a shoe lace) to strangle the poor kid. A hole was dug and John was buried. On a later trip to the Brady took a photograph of Hindley and her dog Puppet stood directly over John’s body.


The police thought this was just another case of a child who’d gone missing and he’d be back home soon. What nobody knew then was John had become the second victim of one of the most horrific killing sprees in British history. Much later - after more murders - when the police searched Brady and Hindley’s home on Wardle Brook Avenue in Hattersley they found an old exercise book with "John Kilbride" scribbled in it. This was the name of one of the children who had gone missing recently. In the house the police found a large collection of photographs taken on Saddleworth Moor. These were used when one hundred and fifty officers were drafted to search land off the A628 road. Oddly an 11-year-old neighbour of the killers had been taken up onto the moor a few times and she went with the police to point out their favourite parts of the moor (along the A635 road.) They thought they’d found John when on an arm bone was found sticking out of the peat but it was another victim called Lesley Ann Downey. Five days later on the other side of the road they found a badly decomposed body. It looked like John and a winklepicker shoe with a piece of cardboard plugging a hole in the sole was taken back to his parent’s living room to be identified. That same day Brady and Hindley appeared at Hyde Magistrate’s Court charged with the murder of Lesley Ann Downey. John had lain on the moors for two years.


In total Brady and Hindley ended five young lives before they were finally jailed for life 50 years in May 1966. If they’d been caught after John’s death they would have hanged as the death penalty was still in place. John’s dad Patrick died a broken man in 1999 and his mum Sheila died in 2002 – the same year as Myra Hindley.


I found the headstone in about fifteen minutes due to its distinctive shape. As I walked toward it I saw a splash of flowers and knew this had to be it. I had to return to the car for about twenty minutes though. A Land Rover turned up and parked near the grave and a family built some railings around another grave nearby. It was cold and the heater in the car didn’t work so I got a blanket out and sat under it for twenty minutes having a sandwich. As I got out someone else appeared to visit another grave. I got back in the cold car and had to wait again. Eventually I was able to take my flask and a Mars up to the grave and take some photos while having a coffee. John was only twelve when he died. I went to read some war graves nearby and some lads had lived a bit longer – 19 and 17 years (see photo.)



Looking looking













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John was found up here…


On the photo above I was on the peak shown. The murderers probably parked here…


They probably parked on the left and took John out on the right…


Police search Saddleworth Moor for the victims of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady


Police search Saddleworth Moor


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Brady and Hindley took their puppy to the moors with them to check on John and Pauline’s graves. Myra Hindley is pictured holding the dog by the grave of John Kilbride on Saddleworth Moor