Murdered Keith Bennett’s remains are still missing decades after he was killed by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. In 2012 Keith’s mother Winnie Johnson passed away which generated a lot of press coverage of the cold case. Her tireless attempts to discover the final resting place of her son, and the refusal of Ian Brady to tell anyone touched and angered most who heard the story. When Winnie sadly passed away not knowing where her son was buried I told my brother that I doubted it’d be too long before ghost hunters and psychics descended onto the Moors, claiming to know something that others have never known. I didn’t think it’d happen so soon.
The founder of Worsley Paranormal Group – Erica Gregory – claims she has found a spade that could be linked to the Keith’s murder. She told the press
“I had a feeling to search in a specific spot. The detector made a noise and we found the spade covered in grass … I’m convinced it could be linked to Keith.”
Steve Kershaw, who is a senior lecturer in forensic analytical science at Manchester Metropolitan University, has apparently been examining the spade and told the Daily Mail he has been unable to trace its history and that
‘It is very, very corroded. The metal in it appears to be a reasonable steel that pre-dates the start of recycling. ‘There was some vegetation attached to it and was found in an area of peat. ‘The handle had been broken off, but even if we had lots more time, and even if we had established that it was a spade from the 60s or pre-dated the 60s, we would not have necessarily established if it was anything to do with Ian Brady. The only way we would have been able to tell is if it had DNA on it and that is harder to tell with the handle gone, with it being so corroded. Although some vegetation has survived, there is very little chance of DNA having survived.’
The Daily Mail also reported that Kershaw said the spade has now been returned to its finders, members of Worsley Paranormal Group, who had been searching the area for signs of where Keith’s remains lie on the moor outside Manchester, and that the Bennett’s family lawyer said of the find:
‘As far as I was concerned it was going to be subject to forensic tests and until we know whether or not it is relevant there is no comment from me or the family. ‘We are keeping an open mind until the results of the tests are revealed.’
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said it did not have any information about the spade.
I was quite shocked by this because when I initially read that the spade had been discovered by paranormal researchers who thought it could be linked to the cold case of Keith Bennett I presumed they’d handed it straight to the police as potential evidence – a bit like psychics do after having a vision about a police case. However it seems they are still in possession of the spade and I have no idea what they think they’re doing. If they genuinely believed it to be linked to the murder case they should have handed it straight to the police, and Kershaw had no business testing it himself. If their aim truly was to help with the discovery of Keith Bennett they shouldn’t have even removed the spade from the scene and should have left it exactly where it was while calling the police and they had no business contacting the Bennett family directly or through their lawyer. That is down to the police who investigate tip off’s on cold cases. I’ve written before about the unethical implications that the actions of paranormal researchers can have. I believe the Worsley Paranormal Group probably had the best intentions at heart, but because they were keen to help without thinking about their actions rationally and responsibly, they’ve acted unethically.
Unfortunately the Worsley Paranormal Group wont have been the first ghost hunters to have acted in this way, and they certainly wont be the last. In fact, rumour has it that my least favourite ghost hunter – Don Philips, who you can read about here, here and here – already has his sights on the Moors.
I guess it’s some consolation that the Bennett family are used to false leads, but still, sometimes ghost hunters should let sleeping ghosts sleep and mind their own business.
This quote is from Keith’s brother, on the ‘Searching for Keith’ website
It should be a matter for the police alone. Therefore, we are also strongly against and wish to discourage anyone, however well-meaning, from attempting their own search of the moor, since more harm than good may well be done. We know this from experience – in the past, damage has been done by people who didn’t have the necessary training to conduct such a search. There have also been many paranormal investigations into the location of Keith’s grave but none have proved remotely useful.
06/07/2013: I have today received an email from Erica Gregory claiming that this post is “stupid” and should be removed. I have written a response here.
update 01/01/2017: I have today received an email from Erica Gregory demanding I remove this blog post. The email reads:
‘I would like the stupid comments about me taken down from your site .. You have no idea who I am and what I am doing and that I work with detectives and ex police on the Moors Case.. you are looking a fool in the Paranormal field .. My work is still ongoing and I have far more on this case now, so much so Brady himself is taking my work and research.. the finds in an area are just part of a bigger circle of finds and victim’s also , I have full support from friends and family of the victims including John Kilbride and Lesley Ann , and friends of Mrs Johnson , just because Alan acts like he does , well I know he has reasons .,, hes a bitter man towards many not just us.. latest finds show our area is still a very high possibility for Keith and if hes not here, then there will be others, what I don’t like about your comments.. is that you make out you know the world of the Paranormal , what experiences have you had within this ? .. I have many contacts within the field and far more evidence than most out there with my work ,.. It has taken me 5 years so far on this case and the do what I have no other psychologist or criminologists and Brady’s Doctors also have taken my work for their research also .. Maybe if you joined my page of the work and also my side in the Paranormal as well you will see what I do.. and for the police to give me the go ahead with this after finding the shotgun and blades and glove and polythene and everything else we have to keep .. and also why others were involved like David Smith who kept police away from the area also , you would stop and thinks about your comments… get the facts from all sides first and do your research before putting out what you do it very unprofessional ,, What you have added is wrong .. thanks you Erica Gregory Paranormal Investigator and Researcher’
Disturbing. I will not remove this blog post mainly because of the insult levelled at Alan Bennet. I have today contacted Greater Manchester Police on Social Media to see if Gregory’s claims about working with detectives is true.