A day after her 11th birthday, Mary Bell strangled a 4-year-old boy to death in an abandoned home near Scotswood in Newcastle.
She left a sloppy, handwritten note nearby, which said: “I murder so that I may come back.”
Two months later, on July 31 1968, another child, 3-year-old Brian Howe, was strangled and killed in the same area.
He was found with an “M” carved into his abdomen, with his hair cut off and his legs and genitals mutilated.
Mary Bell killed Brian and told her friend Norma Bell, no relation. She reportedly laughed and took Norma to his body.
The pair were soon spotted acting strangely in the area.
When interviewed by detectives, Mary claimed she saw a young boy playing with scissors and hitting Brian, according to reports.
The problem was, nobody knew that scissors were involved in the brutal murder. Mary Bell had implicated herself in the killing.
The day after Brian was buried Mary was standing outside the Howe home and was seen by a detective laughing and rubbing her hands together.
Norma told police that Mary killed Brian and showed her his body in an abandoned home.
Mary remained silent, according to reports, but eventually admit to being present at the death – but blamed Nora.
Both girls were arrested and charged with murder.
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Prior to the trial new evidence came to light that linked Mary with her first killing of Martin Brown.
A nursery near the crime scene had been broken into and scissors stolen.
A note was left that said: “We did murder Martin Brown.”
Police also heard testimonies from other children that suggested Mary had gloated about her twisted crimes.
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Norma was acquitted of both charges and Mary was eventually convicted of manslaughter in 1968 due to diminished responsibility in psychological assessments.
The daughter of a prostitute, Mary was assaulted as a young girl and the victim of several attempted murder attempts by her own mother.
Mary spent nine years in jail, before escaping briefly.
She was caught and returned to prison – and was finally released in 1980 after two more years.
Mary was given lifelong anonymity to start a new life. She had a daughter and a granddaughter.
Her daughter was granted a court order protecting her own identity and the identity of her daughter in 2003.
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