Mary Bell was but a child when she committed her first murder. It was shocking that such a small child could be capable of such malice, not once, but twice.
Mary Bell would turn 11 on May 25, 1968. On the day before her birthday, she lured 4-year-old Martin Brown into an abandoned home. When the two were alone, she wrapped her hands around little Martin’s throat and squeezed until he stopped moving. Martin’s death was initially ruled accidental. Mary would confess to the crime via vandalism shorty thereafter. She and her friend, 13-year-old Norma Bell, broke into a nursery and wrote notes talking about how they had killed Martin. The police did not believe the notes.
On July 31 of that same year, Norma joined Mary on one of her killing adventures. They took 3-year-old Brian Howe into a remote area, where Mary strangled him. Mary then mutilated the child’s body with a pair of scissors, carving her first initial, an M, into his stomach. The motive for Mary’s crimes was said simply to be the excitement of the kill.
By August, the two girls were arrested and charged. Norma was acquitted. She testified that she had tried to stop Mary from hurting Brian, but when Mary ignored her, she left the two alone. She said she later spotted Mary with Brian’s dog.
Mary was found to be suffering from diminished responsibility. It was believed that Mary was most likely a psychopath and a danger to other children. Mary spent her childhood in a series of facilities until her release at age 23, upon which she was allowed to change her name and start her life over. Mary eventually had a daughter and would spend most of her life in hiding, never quite able to escape her evil childhood deeds. Here current whereabouts are unknown, but in 2009, it was said that Mary became a grandmother. June Richardson, the mother of Martin Bell, said that a child was a blessing. “She took my blessing away and left me with grief for the rest of my life. I hope when she looks at this child, she remembers the two she murdered,” Richardson said.
Mary’s childhood was expounded upon in Gitta Sereny’s The Case of Mary Bell and Cries Unheard: the story of Mary Bell. In the latter novel, it was revealed the Mary had been abused by her mother, who worked as a prostitute and dominatrix.