POLICE have formally ended their search for human remains that may have been connected to Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett – after nothing was found.
Author Russell Edwards claims bones were uncovered at a site on Saddleworth Moor, above Dove Stone and Yeoman Hey reservoirs.
But after an eight-day dig by specialist officers raised hopes the 12-year-old’s body may have been located after 58 years, Greater Manchester Police has formally ended the latest probe.
The force’s Cold Case Review Unit, supported by specialist officers and staff as well as experts from accredited partner agencies, worked from Thursday, September 29 to establish whether the claims of bones being discovered were correct.
It said it, ‘was made aware that a member of the public, who had been researching the murder of Keith Bennett by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964, had found evidence suggesting the location of his burial.’
But after extensive operations in the area, nothing has been located.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson, GMP’s portfolio holder for crime, said: “Since 1964, Greater Manchester Police has remained committed to finding answers for Keith Bennett’s family.
“Keith’s family is central to any action we take in relation to this case and the thoughts of everyone involved remain with them.
“Dedicated officers remain in regular liaison with them to ensure they are updated on any progress we make.
“We have always said that we would respond, in a timely and appropriate manner, to any credible information which may lead us towards finding Keith.
“Our actions in the last week or so are a highly visible example of what that response looks like, with the force utilising the knowledge and skills of accredited experts, specialist officers and staff.
“It is these accredited experts and specialists who have brought us to a position from where we can say that, despite a thorough search of the scene and ongoing analysis of samples taken both by ourselves and a third party, there is currently no evidence of the presence of human remains at, or surrounding, the identified site on Saddleworth Moor.
“However, I want to make it clear that our investigation to find answers for Keith’s family is not over.
“We understand how our communities in Greater Manchester feel about this case, the renewed interest in it and the shared desire to find Keith.
“Much of Saddleworth Moor is private land so we would ask that members of the public, in the first instance, report any perceived intelligence to their local police service.
“The discovery of suspected human remains must be reported immediately to enable the use of specialist resources to investigate appropriately.”
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hughes talked through the process that led to the dig.
She also revealed early results, particularly surrounding the ‘jaw bone’ that was claimed to have been found.
She added: “In response to the report, officers met with the member of the public who later provided us with samples and copies of the photographs he had taken.
“He also took officers to the location from which he had obtained these and provided grid references.
“In the days since, independent accredited forensic archaeologists and certified forensic anthropologists, together with GMP’s Crime Scene Investigators, have completed a methodical forensic archaeological excavation and examination of the identified area and beyond.
“An accredited forensic geologist also took a number of soil samples – analysis of which is ongoing.
“The items given to us by the member of the public have been examined by a forensic scientist and though this hasn’t yet indicated the presence of human remains – more analysis is required.
“With regards to the photograph, we have sought the assistance of a forensic botanist.
“We are now utilising the knowledge and skills of a forensic image expert to put a standard anthropological measurement to the object to assist with identification.
“At this stage, the indications are that it would be considerably smaller than a juvenile jaw and it cannot be ruled out that it is plant-based.
“The investigation into Keith’s disappearance and murder has remained open since 1964 and it will not be closed until we have found the answers his family have deserved for so many years.
“We are thankful for their continued support of our ongoing enquiries. This has been a distressing time for them and we ask that their privacy is respected.
“We understand the confusion which may have been caused to Keith’s family and communities across Greater Manchester by reports to the contrary.
“We hope that by giving this detailed update, we provide reassurance that GMP are committed to finding accurate answers for Keith’s family.
“The excavation and examination at the site is complete and, to reiterate, we have found no evidence that this is the burial location of Keith Bennett.”