The owner of the land at the centre of a fresh police search for Keith Bennett hopes he is found after promising the schoolboy’s dying mother that he would never stop looking for him.
Chris Crowther is hoping the body of the Moors murder victim will be recovered after Greater Manchester Police began digging on his land on Friday.
Keith was just 12 years old when he was snatched by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley on the way to his grandmother’s house in June 1964.
He was then assaulted and strangled to death by Brady, and the pair have never revealed where Keith was buried.
Chris, 65, says he promised Keith’s late mother Winnie that he would keep searching for her son when she visited him while she was ill with cancer shortly before her death in 2012.
The latest search was sparked when author Russell Edwards, who is researching the Moors murders, contacted police to say he thought he had found partial human remains in a remote part of Saddleworth Moor.
The Crowthers have owned the 5,000 acres of lands where Brady and Hindley buried the bodies for generations and Chris’ grandfather helped locate John Kilbride’s remains in 1965.
Farmer Chris subscribes to the theory that serial killer Brady would have buried Keith on the same side of the A635 as John, with his female victims all hidden on the other side of the road.
Between July 1963 and October 1965 Hindley and Brady murdered five children.
Hindley died in 2002 and Brady in 2017 without revealing the location of Bennett’s body.
Chris said in quotes reported by the Daily Mail: “I’ll be pleased if they find Keith because Winnie came up to see me when she was pretty poorly with cancer. She came up for a cup of coffee and asked me to carry on looking for Keith.
“She said, ‘When you are gathering sheep, keep looking, keep looking Chris, will you promise me you will keep looking?’ I said, ‘Yeah every time I go out there, I’ll look and see what I can see’.
“I have always been looking ever since, just for something that was a clue to where Keith was. I’ve been looking for decades.
“I always said Keith will not be so far away from John Kilbride. He’ll have them both together somewhere. He put the girls together and he’ll [have] put the lads together.”
Police have deployed a drone as they continue to investigate the scene.
Forensics teams have set up a tent on Saddleworth Moor and will continue searching the spot “for the foreseeable time”.