While girls of her age were playing with dolls and having a cup of tea in their dollhouse, Mary Bell was killing for fun. During her trial, Mary Bell told one policewoman, “Murder isn’t that bad. We all die sometime anyway.”
Mary Flora Bell killed two young boys in 1968 when she was just 10 years of age. She was released from prison after serving a 12-year sentence. Did Mary Bell kill again after getting out at a young age? Where is Mary Bell now? Read more to find out.
Beginning of child killer Mary Bell
Mary Bell was born to Betty, a sex worker who was often absent from the family home and reportedly told doctors to “take that thing away from me” when she saw her daughter.
Mary was Betty’s first child, born when she was 17 years of age. Betty was often away from home, traveling to Glasgow to work. But things were good for Mary when her mother was not around her, according to several incidents her family members strongly suggests that Betty wanted to end Mary’s life.
The family grew suspicious when Mary “fell” from the window, and a few days later she “accidentally” consumed sleeping pills. One of the family members saw Betty feeding pills to her daughters as sweets. Betty’s own sister saw her trying to give Mary away to a woman who was unsuccessful in trying to adopt, but her sister quickly intervened and saved Mary.
Mary suffered brain damage as a result of the fall and had damaged her prefrontal cortex, an area which is associated with voluntary movements and decision-making.
What happened to Mary Bell might’ve led her into becoming a cold-hearted killer just at the age of 10.
Murder of Martin Brown
A few weeks before her first murder, Mary Bell had been acting strangely. Mary was playing with a three-year-old boy, and he was badly injured after a fall from the top of an air raid shelter, the boy’s parents thought it was an accident.
On May 24, the day before she turned 11, Mary Bell strangled a four-year-old Martin Brown in a derelict house. Mary left Martin’s dead body and returned after a while with a friend, 13-year-old Norma Bell(no relation).
Police were puzzled as there was not much evidence on the crime scene, besides a little blood and saliva on Martin’s face. However, there was a bottle of empty painkillers on the floor near the body. Police assumed that Martin had swallowed the pills and the death of Martin Brown was ruled as an accident.
Mary Bell was by no means done with Martin Brown and his family, she showed up on their doorstep and asked to see him. Martin’s mother explained to her that Martin was dead, but Mary said she knows that; she wanted to see his body in the coffin. Martin’s mother angered by her answer, slammed the door in her face.
Mary had the reputation of a liar and a show-off in the school which prevented her from getting caught and from anyone suspecting her because she told her classmates that she had killed Martin Brown, her classmates didn’t pay much attention to what she said.
Mary Bell kills again
On July 31, nine weeks after the murder of Martin Brown, Mary Bell and her friend Norma Bell killed a three-year-old Brian Howe on wasteland in the same Scotswood area. This time the murder was more severe, as Mary mutilated the body with scissors, scratched the thighs, and butchered his genitals.
When 3-year-old Brian’s sister went looking for him, Brain’s killers offered to help. Mary and Norma searched the neighborhood with Brian’s sister and after a while, Mary pointed out the location where she hid Brian’s body, but Norma told them she looked there and nothing is there, so they all moved on and search around.
The neighborhood was shocked when Brian’s body was found, 3-year-old Brian was murdered to death, 2 dead boys in 2 months, police interviewed local children in hopes to find something that would lead them to the suspect.
Mary was spotted on the day of Brian’s burial, she was spotted lurking outside the house, Mary laughed and rubbed her hands together when she saw Brian’s coffin.
Soon after the coroner’s report came out, police learned that someone used a razor blade to draw the letter “M” into the boy’s abdomen, which came to light after Brian’s blood turned cold.
Even though the letter M scared the police, it gave them a hint about the killer, the lack of force used in the attack, and the mark “M” suggested that Brian’s killer might’ve been a child.
When police investigated Mary and Norma, both acted strangely, Norma was excited and Mary was evasive when police pointed out the fact that she had been seen with Brian Howe on the day of his death.
A few days later Mary and Norma were called for a second interview, to try and save herself, Mary made up a story about having seen an eight-year-old boy hitting Brian the day he died. She told the police that the boy had been carrying a pair of broken scissors.
Mary did her best to save herself, but her made up story had one problem, the mutilation of the body with the scissors had been kept from the press and the public, the detail was only known to the coroner’s office, the investigator and Brian Howe’s killer.
Both the girls broke down when questioned further, Norma started cooperating with the police and told them that Mary had taken her to show her Brian’s body. Police took her to the scene, where Norma laid in the same spot and position, that Brian had been found, assuring the police that she had seen Brian after his death.
However, police didn’t believe that Norma wasn’t involved in the murder of Brian Howe, and after further investigation, they linked the murder of Martin Brown and Brian Howe, both the girls were charged, and a trial date was set.
Trial of Mary Bell and Normal Bell
At the trial, the prosecutor told the court that the young girls murdered Martin Brown and Brian Howe “solely for the pleasure and excitement of killing,” and also how they had harassed the mourning family with gruesome questions (Mary Bell asking Martin Crown’s mother, she wants to seem him in his coffin).
Forensic pathologists testified that the gray fibers from Mary Bell’s dress were found on the body of both Martin Brown and Brian Howe, and fiber from Norma’s skirt was discovered on Brian’s shoes.
When Mary Bell was called to the witness box, and unlike Norma, she showed no fear or discomfiture but appeared self-confident.
On the night of December 16, a day before the jury decided Mary Bell’s fate, she asked one of the policewomen guarding her, “What would be the worst that could happen to me? Would they hang me?”
The five women and seven men jury took less than four hours to return a verdict. The Jury found Mary Bell guilty of Manslaughter in Marin Brown’s and Brian Howe’s murder because of diminished responsibility.
Mary Bell was found guilty of Manslaughter, not murder, as court psychiatrists had convinced the jury that Mary Bell could not be held fully responsible for her own actions as she showed “classic symptoms of psychopathy.” One of the press described Mary Bell as a child who had been “born evil,” a “demon” and a “monster.”
On the other hand Norma Bell was acquitted, she was given three years probation and placed under psychiatric care. Norma was regarded as an unwilling accomplice who had fallen under a bad influence.
The detectives who arrested Mary Bell did not feel the same way, they felt sorry for her, and given her upbringing, she never stood a chance to be a normal child.
The judge concluded that Mary Bell was a grave risk to other children if she is not closely watched. She was sentenced to be imprisoned “at Her Majesty’s pleasure,” a legal term that means that the person’s position can be considered from time to time and if it becomes safe to release that person can be released.
Mary Bell Today
Mary Bell was released in 1980, at the age of 23, from Askham Grange open prison after serving 12 years. Mary Bell was given anonymity which allowed her to start her new life.
Mary did start a new life, four years after getting out of prison, Mary bell had a daughter, who was born on Mary’s own birthday. Her daughter had no idea about her mother’s past until she was 14 years of age, as their location was discovered by the reporters. As a result, Mary and his daughter left the house, covering their heads in bedsheets.
Since 1998, Mary and her family have been forced to move home several times, when finally in 2003, the courts ordered that Mary’s daughter should also have anonymity for life.
In 1998, Mary Bell was paid a reported £50,000 for collaborating with author Gitta Sereny’s book, Cries Unheard, the book detailed her life.
In 2009, Mary bell became a grandmother, and now Mary Bell would be in her 60s. Today, Mary is in protective custody at a secret address, both Mary and her daughter remain anonymous and are protected under court order.
Some feel that Mary Bell shouldn’t be protected because of the crimes she committed. June Richardson, the mother of martin Brown told the media, It’s all about her and how had to be protected. “As victims are not given the same right as killers.”