LONDON — Ian Brady, whose murders of five children in the company of his lover horrified Britons and were viewed by generations as the distillate of evil, died on Monday night at a high-security psychiatric hospital in Liverpool, England. He was 79.
Julie Crompton, a spokeswoman for the facility, Ashworth Hospital, confirmed his death there. No cause was given. The Associated Press reported that at a court hearing in February, lawyers said Mr. Brady had been bedridden for the last couple of years and that it was “fair to say” he was terminally ill with emphysema and other ailments.
His accomplice, Myra Hindley, died at 60 in a hospital in November 2002. Despite appeals for parole, she was never released from prison.
Mr. Brady, who went on a hunger strike in 1999 and was force-fed on the orders of judges who had ruled him mentally ill, never expressed remorse for the killings, some of them involving beatings, torture and sexual abuse. He had been held at the psychiatric hospital since 1985.
Jailed for life in 1966, the couple were known as the Moors Murderers, a headline writers’ sobriquet derived from their practice of burying their victims on Saddleworth Moor, a remote and hilly area near Manchester, in northwest England. The BBC once called them “British society’s benchmark for evil.”
At the time of their arrest, in 1965, only three bodies had been found. One murder in particular, that of 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey, evoked rage and revulsion when it was discovered that the killers had made a tape-recording of her pleading for her life and photographed her naked, bound and gagged. Her body was found in a shallow grave with her clothes at her feet. The recording was played in court.
The pair preyed on unaccompanied young people from July 1963 to October 1965, abducting them near a dance hall, from an open market and from a fairground. Their trial judge, Fenton Atkinson, described Mr. Brady as “wicked beyond belief, without hope of redemption.”
Even from prison the couple exerted a strong fascination, she with her attempts to depict herself as a remorseful reborn Christian, he with his hunger strike, tirades against normal society and abiding demands for the right to euthanasia.
In 2001 Mr. Brady published a book about serial killers, titled “The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis,” after a high court judge, to much protest from the relatives of the dead, lifted a ban on its publication.
Addressing readers in the book, Mr. Brady wrote: “You will presently discover that this work is not an apologia. Why should it? To whom should I apologize, and what difference would it make to anyone? You contain me till death in a concrete box that measures only eight by ten and you expect remorse as well? Remorse is a purely personal matter, not a circus performance.”
Ian Brady was born on Jan. 2, 1938, in a hardscrabble slum area of Glasgow, Scotland, called the Gorbals. His unmarried mother, Margaret Stewart, was a waitress, and his father, whom she never identified by name, was a local journalist who died shortly before Mr. Brady was born.
While he initially went by the surname Stewart, he changed it to Brady when he moved from Scotland to Manchester to live with his mother and a stepfather, Patrick Brady. As a child he was described by teachers as having above-average intelligence but as lazy and prone to misbehavior.
His teenage years were marked by a series of brushes with the law on charges of house breaking and burglary, leading to his detention both in prison and in young offenders’ facilities. There he developed a close and abiding interest in the works of Hitler and the Marquis de Sade.
Mr. Brady and Ms. Hindley met when they were both working at a small chemicals company in Manchester, she as a typist and he as a stock clerk. Ms. Hindley later depicted herself as having been in thrall to Mr. Brady, who, she said after they were sentenced, had beaten and blackmailed her.
Writing from prison in 2000, he disputed that version of their relationship. “Myra is a chameleon, who simply reflects whatever she believes will please the person she is addressing,” he wrote in a letter to Liverpool-based journalists, after seeing a BBC program in which Ms. Hindley said she had been “overwhelmed by Brady’s powerful personality.”
“She can kill in cold blood or rage,” Mr. Brady said. “In that respect we were an inexorable force.”
Their first-known victim was Pauline Reade, 16, whom the pair lured onto the moors and killed in July 1963. Four months later they abducted John Kilbride, 12, from a marketplace in the town of Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester.
On the day after Christmas in 1964, they took Lesley Ann Downey from a fairground, sexually abused her and killed her. One year later, in 1965, they sought to implicate Ms. Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, by making him watch as they murdered Edward Evans, 17, with an ax. But Mr. Smith reported them to the police, bringing their killing spree to an end.
At trial, they claimed innocence. Mr. Brady was found guilty of killing John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans. Ms. Hindley was found guilty of murdering Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans. She was also convicted of sheltering Mr. Brady after the killing of John Kilbride.
The couple later confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade, whose body was found on Saddleworth Moor, and Keith Bennett, 12, whose remains have never been found; Mr. Brady ignored calls by the boy’s family to reveal where the body was buried.
British newspapers reported his death with grim satisfaction. “Burn in hell Brady,” The Daily Mirror said on its Tuesday front page.