THE tearful mother of “lost” Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett has paid tribute to her son at a special memorial service in Manchester.
Nearly five decades after the 12-year-old was abducted and murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, he is the only one of their five victims whose body has never been recovered from Saddleworth Moor, high above Holmfirth.
Winnie Johnson, now 76, spoke at Manchester Cathedral during the hour-long service, in front of a large painting of her son based on the famous black and white photo of the smiling, bespectacled youngster.
“I’m Keith’s mother...” she said, breaking into tears. “He’s there on the Moors, I want him back.
“It’s very hard to do what I have done. In a way I’m proud of myself because I know each of you people are hoping for Keith to be found but nobody more than me wants him found. I will still fight forever more until I find him and I hope I find him before I’m dead. I do wish one day he will be found.”
Keith, the congregation heard, was a cheerful child, and, in a time when children’s experiences were confined to the neighbourhood where they were born, he enjoyed street games, marbles and cycling.
He was a young boy with a “happy-go-lucky attitude and a cheeky grin”, who kept leaves in a scrapbook, collected coins and loved football. The ceremony started with music, Till There Was You, a pop song by a then-emerging Liverpool band, The Beatles, whom Keith, like millions of other youngsters in the 1960s, had begun to follow.
Norie Miles, a friend of the Johnson family, told the congregation of around 300: “He had a huge heart. He was happy, wondrous, caring... a truly lovely Manchester boy.”
The public memorial service was in lieu of a funeral and came after police, who have spent five decades searching, made one last massive effort two years ago using the latest technology to scour the Moors above Manchester.
But they failed to locate Keith’s remains and declared last July that, without significant new information coming to light, the search was at an end.
Hindley died in 2002, aged 60. Brady remains at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside.