Unethical ghost hunters play detective

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.

About Hayley Stevens 442 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

22 Comments on Unethical ghost hunters play detective

  1. Where were all of these well menaing psychics in the lonely years when the publicity was to be elsewhere and the Bennett family were on the moors searching alone ?

    I also wonder where they will be when the publicity moves on again. Not on the moors is my guess, because without the fame the wind and rain can be very disheartening.

  2. Arrr bless Don, he is just trying to help and has nothing to do with his new show coming up. And seeing as he denies ever being involved in these kind of cases (because of how offended he was when I asked if he had made similar claims about Madeline Mccann) it is clear his account has been hacked.

  3. ??? have you actually read the story?

    Steve Kershaw of Manchester Metropolitan University examined the find – HE IS NOT THE PARTNER OF FINDER ERICA GREGORY.

    Erica, the alleged psychic, is married to her husband Paul.

    Stephen Kershaw, a forensic lecturer, spoke to the cold case police, and has indicated that even if they could prove the spade came from the right time period, they really need DNA and that is not likely to be found on the artefact.

    You really should do some research before going off half-cocked just because you see ‘woo’ mentioned.

    Proves again that it is not your age that gets people’s backs up but your shoddy researched, immature, emotional and biased commentary.

    • Thank you for politely pointing out I had misread the article. I confused The Sun article which mentions Erica’s partner, with the Daily Mail one that mentioned Steve. I did do research, I simply made a mistake.

      It isn’t my age that gets people’s backs up, it isn’t my “shoddy research” or immature, emotional and biased commentary either – it’s because I’m right. People use those other things to try and discredit what I’m saying. Poor form, Sir.

    • Kenneth, I followed the link to the Daily Mail page immediately on reading this post. This was soon after Hayley posted it as I get email alerts. I have to say that the present Daily Mail page seems quite different from the one I saw and read.

      For a start, like Hayley, I too read that the forensic scientist was the partner of the paranormal group founder. I don’t believe Hayley made a mistake but that the Daily Mail did and has since edited the page …. “PUBLISHED: 22:07, 1 September 2012 | UPDATED: 15:59, 2 September 2012”

      I also recall seeing a colour picture of the spade which has since been removed. As I didn’t look at any other webpages I am quite certain of these details.

      I think Hayley deserves an apology.

  4. The reason so called ghost hunters don’t like Hayley is because she DOES do her research and has the guts to asks questions that the gullible followers of these groups are so missguided to ask. She is never rude or aggressive even when people throw abuse at her. If anything she is very open minded and very literate in her blogs with a great level of professionalism. The reactions of the people she questions is just proof that they are hiding something and can’t take it when they are exposed. If these people have nothing to hide then why do they always kick off the way they do??

  5. Hear, hear Chris!
    With reference to Don Philips, I had some interesting comments from him on my Facebook page where he completely denied having made any comment regarding his thoughts on locating Keith Bennett’s body. Considering the fact it was seen by so many and suggested it was all but a vicious rumour!? Addingto his ignorance, he private messaged me twice, both times insulting me…. what for? These kind of people do tend to kick off when caught out!
    Hayley, I enjoy reading your blogs. 🙂

  6. Well actually Sheena know he didn’t deny any such thing!!(as you know) what he did deny is saying he knew where Keith was and had decided to withhold information, a rumour started by a fool( slight difference there) but as always the shit spreader is out again. Driven by those who are not in possession of the actual facts. Final note on the matter believe as you wish as many always do. FINAL COMMENT on the matter. Thank you

    • Don – While you’re visiting perhaps you could give me some information. Simple stuff without all the razzmatazz of web-pages, videos and the like…. just things I’m curious about.

      You’ve been talking to ‘Becky’ for quite a while now so you should have a very good idea of what “life” (if you can call it that) on “the other side” is like.

      Perhaps you could tell us all whether these spirits age at all. Do they wear clothes and if so why … and do they change them or just have the one set they died in. Can they move about really fast? Like if I took a train from London to Birmingham could the ghost of my mother follow me … if so would that be on the train or just instantaneous? Would my grandmother’s ghost be likely to watch me in bed with a woman or would she just have a quick look, get embarrassed, and go somewhere else …. and if so, where is that somewhere else? Could a ‘spirit’ go and visit a relative of mine abroad and then come back and tell me what book they were reading?

      You must have asked these sort of questions (& if not – why not?): So can we have some answers please?

  7. I just found your forum on us, what gives you the right to contradict us for finding something which is by the way still with us becaise the police gave it us back to get tested. When we found the shovel back in November 2011, the shovel was taken to Cold case at Ashton by CID at Oldham, who we went to with our findings. That shovel is still not dismissed as evidence, we have the testing pots that Mr Kershaw at MMU, prepared for anyone to do. This testing would cost in the region of £15,000. Anyone wishing to do this feel free. Cold Case do not act on evidence unless its DNA. We have been to told to log all we find, which is much since then, and keep for them until they need. What we have to find is bone. Human bine and then they will act. What we have done since the shovel find, is go on to prove that the area we are in has never been searched by police, and we we have many locals incluiding the farmer who is helping us. So please dont come on here and give us all this rubbish you are saying. Ian Brady knows all, and so does the hospital at Ashworth. I write to him and send him all we have found and how I now know that I have a good possibility for the story they created for Keith. Yes Stories, using books and films they created realsim, visual Art using his cameras, photography and the tapes. We also have much been given to us, from others that have re-searched. Read JANUS then if you are clever eough , de-crypt it as I have, its taken me 6 months to do, so have a go, Its full of clues to where he is, and all the items we have discovered, in that area and other areas, we have worked from his book and the quotes that they both , especially Myra often stated to the police and its all in the books of others. Topping got the wrong area but he was clever enough to see they acted out. His book gave me much, as did Carol Ann Lees book. And before you say does the family know yes, and dont expect any welcome from AB if you are a medium or paranormal in any way, because he really just hates them. By the way MYRAS Map fits to the exact spot of the area we found it in, but we didnt realise this until we had found m0re items down there. Including a map carved in stone. We are in the area working, and we have full permission to do so, from the farmer, and we have an archeologist and members of the Kibride family helping us. So before you all call us for the story about the shovel you really need to get the facts before you do so again, Thanks Erica Gregory EVP researcher and PI in Paranormal Investigation.

  8. AND no the forensic had nothing to do with the group Mr Kershaw I found on the internet, he works independently and offered to help us. The police knew all of what we were doing. I keep all emails form them all letters and all communication,

  9. The family of Keith Bennett do not support you or your activities in any way at all, so please do not pretend otherwise.
    I see you are still keeping Brady amused with your letters and ‘discoveries.’
    Unethical….to say the very least!
    There are other words to describe your activities but I will keep this polite and not lower myself to your level. You know EXACTLY how I/we as Keith’s family feel about your attitude and publicity stunts, forced on us so soon after the death of my mother. No shame, no morals, no compassion………..and no real clue about anything!

    • I’m so sorry these vultures are using your family’s tragedy for their own gain. I think it’s like a mystery puzzle for them, but they’ve got to understand that they’re causing hurt and upset to real people with real connections to the victim. Please accept my best wishes to you and yours.

  10. Thank you for you for that, Emrysmyrddin. There have been so may of those sort of people over the years and it has led to absolutely nothing but misery and anger to us and self-publicity and some sort of sick ego boost for themselves. Shame on them and their lack of decency.
    If they wanted to do something that was decent and honest they could sign this: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40262

    Maybe that is too much to ask or expect from such people.

    Thank you again.

  11. Hello again Hayley,

    I wish this bunch of oddballs would stop using Keith’s name and stop linking him with their ‘findings.’
    I have repeatedly asked them to stop using Keith’s name and have some decency and respect for the way Keith’s family feels about all this nonsense. They just ignore these requests and carry on using and abusing Keith’s memory and causing anguish to his family.
    They care about nothing but themselves and their insane game with Brady!

    How do they sleep? Then again, I suppose having no conscience, respect or morals makes it easy for them.

  12. And so 6 months on from Worsley paranormals response to your article, it is interesting that a documentary was aired tonight strongly suggesting that Keith’s remains are not on Saddleworth but possibly in Yorkshire. One would assume that if Worsley paranormal have such a connection to the next world, then maybe this ladies “feeling” would have hinted at this possibility?
    Furthermore I find it outrageous the suggestion that Worsley paranormal group are claiming to have a better psychological insight to Brady’s writings, and correspondence than trained medical professionals.
    Worsley, employ common sense and decency – Respect Keith’s families wishes, and stop deluding yourself that you are trying to gain anything for anyone but yourselves.
    A good exposure on this appalling group of fame seekers, and I shall be checking the link A.Bennett kindly supplied us with to sign the petition.

  13. i am very pleased you found the spade it is very possible that the spade was the spade that ian brady used to berry his victim s on saddle worth moor and i know the police said when you phoned up and said tag it and leave it there and some one will pick it up like you just reprted a lost bike that had gone missing what you have done is prove that keith bennett is berried on saddle worth moor s and not in the other location the police should of i think searched around the area where the spade was found so don t let people knock you for it you where only trying to help as we all our but the police need to find keith bennett s remain s i am a medium a real one and keith bennett would only remmember what happend to him before he died he would not know where ian brady berried him medium s are just as i describe myself as human mobile telephones with a built in television medium s are not clever the spirit guides are the clever one s we are just the messenger s so any medium think s she s something special is deluding them selves where just ordinary people like anybody else it s just that guides give us information through vision s or talk to us and we pass the message on and where not holy either im just a scouser from liverpool living in runcorn cheshire

  14. Andrea, did you not read the above request made by A. Bennett ? I suggest you read it please and digest the words, the fact you say you are a medium is not necessary information considering the request. Respect is paramount !

  15. Interesting to see that Erica Gregory has decided to wake this story up over 3 years down the line.

    She signed off her earlier call to have the article removed by saying “Keep the stupid items on and it will be you who will be shown up when all is revealed shortly”.

    Personally I’d have assumed a period of ‘shortly’ would be somewhat less than 3 years. Maybe the slamdunk evidence alluded to is finally ready for a big reveal?

    What is really a shame is that families who have already had a huge trauma to deal with then have these bloody idiots dragging it all up again.

    Erica – if you have some credible evidence to support a genuine line of enquiry, can you please get on and present it? That would surely be the best way of shutting down criticism of your investigations.

    If you are unable to do that, however, then that would indicate that the criticisms are well founded. In that case you’re better advised to keep your head down. Continued exchanges simply increase search results that don’t exactly show you in a great light.

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Evelyn Störzner: Ein weiterer Fall der „Vermisstenhellseherin“ – und Gegenbeispiele zur Warnung @ gwup | die skeptiker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger