By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - British detectives are investigating if one of the country's most notorious and sadistic serial killers, "Moors murderer" Ian Brady, has finally revealed the burial place of one of his child victims after nearly 50 years, police said on Friday.
Brady with his lover and accomplice Myra Hindley abducted, tortured, sexually abused and then murdered five children before burying the youngsters on a bleak moor in northern England during a two-year reign of terror in the 1960s.
To this day, their crimes remain among the most infamous ever committed in Britain and haunt the area around the northern city of Manchester from where they snatched their victims.
Brady, 74, who is serving a life sentence in at the top-security Ashworth psychiatric hospital, has never revealed the burial place of one of the children, 12-year-old Keith Bennett whom they abducted on his way to visit his grandmother in 1964.
However, detectives said that they were now looking into claims that Brady, who has been on intermittent hunger strike in a bid to end his life, had now disclosed the location to a long-time visitor at the hospital, said by media to be his mental health advocate Jackie Powell.
The allegations involve a letter he might have written to Bennett's mother Winnie Johnson which was to be opened after his death.
Police, who ended attempts to locate Bennett in 2009, said they had arrested a 49-year-old woman on suspicion of preventing the burial of a body without lawful exercise and carried out searches at her home in South Wales and at the hospital.
"What we are looking at is the possibility, and at this stage it is only a possibility, that he has written a letter to Keith's mum Winnie Johnson which was not to be opened until after his death," said Martin Bottomley from Greater Manchester Police.
"We do not know if this is true or simply a ruse but we clearly have a duty to investigate such information on behalf of Keith's family."
Johnson, 78, has battled for 47 years to lay her son to rest and in July, she pleaded with Brady to tell her where her son was buried as she fears she may soon die from cancer.
Brady and Hindley were jailed for life in 1966 over three murders and in the 1980s admitted two more killings, including that of Bennett.
During their trial, the court heard tape recordings made by the couple of their victims pleading for mercy before they were tortured and killed, and the revulsion and hatred that caused has little diminished over the years.
Hindley was Britain's longest serving female prisoner when she died in 2002 after successive governments refused to release her despite her assertions that she was driven to commit the murders by the psychopathic Brady.
He insisted she was as much to blame. When Hindley was cremated, a banner which read "Burn in hell" was left outside the building.
"The Moors murders cast a long and dark shadow over the history of our region," Bottomley said.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jon Hemming)