LONDON -- Ian Brady, a killer of five children whose role in the 1960s "Moors Murders" made him one of Britain's most reviled criminals, died Monday. He was 79.
Health officials said Brady died at a high-security psychiatric hospital in northwestern England.
No cause of death was immediately given. At a court hearing in February, lawyers said Brady had been bedridden for the last couple of years and it was "fair to say" he was terminally ill, with emphysema among his ailments.
Brady and his girlfriend, Myra Hindley, were convicted and sentenced to life in 1966 for the vicious murders of 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and 17-year-old Edward Evans. Brady was also found guilty of killing John Kilbride, 12.
The pair confessed in 1987 to murdering two more children, Pauline Reade, 16, and Keith Bennett, 12.
Some of the victims were beaten, tortured and sexually abused before being killed. Their bodies were eventually buried on desolate Saddleworth Moor in northwestern England.
Hindley and Brady were caught in 1965, after they forced Hindley's brother-in-law, David Smith, to watch as they killed Evans. After they lured Evans away from a gay bar, Brady attacked him with an ax, smothered him with a cushion and bound him with an electrical cable.
Smith fled and called police, who eventually found Kilbride and Downey's bodies buried on the moor.
The abuse of Downey, snatched by the couple from a fairground the day after Christmas in 1964, had been recorded on audio tape and was played to the court at the couple's trial.
"Nothing in criminal behaviour before or since has penetrated my heart with quite the same paralyzing intensity," John Stalker, then a police detective sergeant, said later.
Britain has never forgotten the horror of the crimes. Hindley in particular became a hate figure, her face plastered across newspaper pages every time she applied unsuccessfully for parole. She died in prison in 2002.
The trial judge, Fenton Atkinson, said most of the blame for the killings lay with Brady, calling him "wicked beyond belief without hope of redemption."
In 1985 Brady was moved from prison to a psychiatric institution, where for many years he resisted treatment and fought unsuccessfully to be sent back to prison.
Hindley and Brady were taken back to Saddleworth Moor in the 1980s to help find the bodies of Reade and Bennett. Reade's was uncovered but Bennett's grave has never been found.
For years Brady ignored calls by the boy's family to reveal the location of his remains.
British newspapers greeted news of his death with grim satisfaction. "Monster Brady is dead," said the front page of The Sun. "Burn in hell Brady," said the Daily Mirror.