The Murders of Young Mary Bell
If you spend enough time reading up on killers, you will quickly see that they target the vulnerable, those that society perceives as weak. Unfortunately, this means that children are often the victims of terrible crimes. However, there is still a thrill of horror that occurs when the world realizes that children can murder as well.
The case of Mary Bell is one that shocked and horrified the UK. Mary Bell was only 11 when she committed her murders, and circumstances surrounding them left the nation torn.
Bell’s life was one that began in strife and pain. Her mother was a sex worker who never knew who Bell’s father was. It was guessed that her father was a convict named Billy Bell, but there might be some question as to the veracity of this claim. Bell was sexually abused starting from the age of four years old, something that would stay with her for her entire life.
On top of that, there is evidence that suggests that Bell was nearly killed twice by her mother. Once she accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills. A neighbor saw that her mother had just previously given her the pills as sweets. On another occasion, Bell fell out of the window, though later police reports showed that it was unlikely for a child to fall out of a window like the one indicated. It is more likely that she was pushed.
On May 25th, 1968, just a single day before she turned 11, Bell lured a four-year-old named Martin Brown into a derelict house in their neighborhood. She strangled him before leaving him for dead. A few weeks later, she and a friend named Norma Jean Bell broke into a nursery school. They vandalized it and left notes everywhere claiming that they had committed the murder. The police investigated, but they shortly dismissed the vandalized nursery as a prank.
On the last day of July, just a few months later, Bell and Norma Jean killed together. This time, a three year old by the name of Brian Howe was the victim. They strangled him and left him in the woods in the same area where Bell had killed Martin Brown. As Howe was not discovered for a few days, Bell returned to mutilate the body. When the police found the body, she had carved an “M” into his stomach, cut his hair scratched his legs and cut at his genitals.
In a strange twist, Howe was not thought to be a murder at first. Mary’s hands were so light that they had not bruised the boy’s throat when she strangled him. The mutilation of his corpse and the death of Brown were still under investigation, however. The police began to suspect juvenile offendersl and they interviewed some 1,200 children. During this investigation, they discovered that Norma Jean Bell and Mary Bell gave conflicting answers and kept changing their stories. In a short amount of time, they drew confessions from both girls. When Mary was told she would be charged with manslaughter, she responded that that was all right by her.
Mary would spend the next twelve years in prison, though she was given a life sentence. When she was released, it was under an order of anonymity, where she was given a new identity by the government. Three times, she and her daughter have been discovered by the press, fleeing with police underneath the protection of bed sheets.
Today, Mary Bell is a grandmother who supposedly lives a quiet life, but her murders at such a young age are still routinely discussed when young murderers are brought up.