When you are young, sometimes tragedies strike you in a deeper place than when you are an adult. However, the impact can stick with you well into your adulthood. Whether or not the tragedy happens to you or is a news story, it can place itself deep in your psyche. If you are a creative person, they might manifest themselves into your work at some point. Such was the case with Morrissey when he wrote “Suffer Little Children” for The Smiths 1984 self-titled debut. The song tells the story of the Moors Murders that took place in Manchester, England between 1963 and 1965 during Morrissey’s youth. Children only a few years older than Morrissey were raped and then murdered by a pair of swastika-crossed lovers, and he couldn’t help but be shaken by this the entirety of his life as it happened proverbially in his backyard.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are the notorious perpetrators of the Moors Murders in question. They are a peculiar case study in misguided love and irrepressible evil. They met in 1961 while working together but for months, Brady didn’t give Hindley the time of day. When he finally did, so started a sick obsession as he brought her further into his world. Brady was a deep believer in the righteousness of Nazis and the Aryan race. So much so that after a few months of dating Brady, Hindley dyed her hair blonde and always had her lips adorned in bright red lipstick. They indulged in bondage fantasies, read aloud to each other about Nazi atrocities and drank German wine. Brady had steadily molded Myra Hindley into his ideal woman. Later on in years, during a plea for parole, Hindley was quoted as saying, “Within months he [Brady] had convinced me that there was no God at all: he could have told me that the earth was flat, the moon was made of green cheese and the sun rose in the west, I would have believed him, such was his power of persuasion.”
In no time at all, Hindley had gone from a dour, mild mannered typist to a woman on the verge of desperate acts to satiate the man she loved. It was in July of 1963 that Brady first started spinning tales of committing “the perfect crime”. By mid-July 1963, the pair had murdered their first victim. Pauline Reade was only 16 years old when Brady and Hindley killed her on the Saddleworth Moors. Although she was the first to be killed she was one of the last that the couple confessed to killing. This is the reason why there is no mention of her in The Smiths’ song. Reade was raped and her throat slit before being buried there where she died.
Their second victim was 12 year old, John Kilbride. Morrissey so simply points out “Oh John, you’ll never be a man, and you’ll never see your home again”. He had been picked up by Brady and Hindley, driven out to the Moors, raped and then strangled before being buried in a shallow grave.
Their next victim, also 12 years old, Keith Bennett, murdered in the same exact matter. His remains have never been recovered.
Their fourth victim was perhaps treated the most reprehensibly. Lesley- Anne Downey was only 10 years old when the couple abducted her on her way home from a Fair. They took pictures of the young girl naked, and sometimes bound and gagged. They hoped to sell the pictures on the black market. They then broke out a tape recorder and for an excruciating 17 minutes as they tortured her they recorded her screams as she begged to be released. The little girl was heard pleading in various clips, “Let me go”, “Don’t undress me will you?” and “I want to see my mummy” repeatedly.