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Mary Bell: 11 years old killer of children


When it comes to child killers it’s impossible not to mention Mary Bell, who at the age of 11 strangled two children aged 3 and 4.

After being arrested and spent 23 years in jail, she came out and had a daughter and is now a happy grandmother protected along with her daughter by the new identity the police provided her with.

Why did Mary Bell kill?

Before describing the murders, it seems fair to tell something about Mary’s brief childhood

Her mother had her when she was just 17 and a prostitute. Often she went to Glasgow to work, leaving Mary with some relatives or strangers.

We do not know who the father of Mary Bell was, but when she was still an infant her mother married Billy Bell, who gave his name to the child although not being the natural father.

Unfortunately, Billy was a criminal and ended up being arrested for armed robbery.

Mary’s mother did not hide her profession to herdaughter; indeed, Mary will testify later that she let her being abused by her clients at the age of 4.

Some relatives also affirmed that Mary’s mother had tried several times to kill her daughter, like when she said that Mary was “falling from the window,” or when she “swallowed sleeping pills thinking they were candies.”

Then, as often happens in cases of serial killers, Mary’s childhood was marked by poverty, degradation and abuse.

The first attempted murders

Her first murder took place May 25, 1968, one day before her eleventh birthday, but before that day she had already tried to kill other children.

On May 11 of that year, in fact, a 3 year old child was found with a head injury. Mary, when questioned about why she was playing with him, will say that they were playing on a shelter used for air raids during the war and that the child had fallen accidentally.

The next dayshe tried to strangle some little girls, before their mothers realized what was happening and intervened. The mothers denounced the fact to the police, that did not do much about it. 

Mary was questioned and then was simply asked not to do that ever again. Nobody thought that just 13 days later, Mary Bell would kill.

The first murder of Mary Bell: Martin Brown

On May 25, 1968 Mary unleashed her murderous instincts. She saw Martin Brown, a 4 year old, playing alone. She took him to an abandoned house and strangled him.

A few days later Mary Bell went to a kindergarten, vandalizing it, along with a friend of 13 years named Norma Joyce Bell. Despite having the same surname, the two were not relatives but only neighbors.

In addition to vandalizing the Asylum, they also leave messages: one of which claimed responsibility for the murder of little Martin.

The little body of the child was found by two boys on the same day of the murder: the police, finding an empty medicine bottle next to the body, thought of an accidental ingestion of drugs.

They did not think of a murder because on Martin’s neck there wasn’t any bruising, but that was due to the weakness of Mary.

The same day she vandalized the asylum, Mary tried to strangle her sister Norma, of 11. The girl’s father, however, fortunately, saw her, slapped her and sent her home.

Mary eventually went to the house of her little victim and asks her mother to see him. His mother tells her that his young son is dead, to which Mary responds:

Oh. I know he’s dead. I just wanted to see him in the coffin.

This reminded me Cayetanos Santos Godino, who went to see one of his young victims in the coffin.

The second murder of Mary Bell: Brian Howe

Mary killed a second time 31 July 1968, two months after she got away with the first murder.

This time in the crime scene there were are both Mary and Norma, but Mary is the one to killed Brian by strangling him.

After that, the two of them left, but Mary returned to the scene of the murder and engraved an “M” on the child’s belly. Then she madesome cuts on his arms and legs, cut a strip of hair and partially mutilated his penis.

When the older sister of Brian started to look for him, Mary helped her find him by indicating the point where the body was.

This time it was clear it was a murder, and the scant traces on Brian’s neck suggested the police that the author may be a child.

They then interrogated children and adolescents up to 15, 1200 in total. Among those, the ones that gave more evasive answers and were confused were Mary and Norma.

It was soon clear that Mary was the leader, with an expertise that defines a psychopath, and is condemned, while Norma is cleared of suspicion.

Prison and release

Mary was condemned to remain in an institute because the prison was considered too hard for a child.

In 1970 she fled with other guys, but was found two days after.

Surprisingly, she was released at the age of 23 years because she was no longer considered a danger for society.

She began a new life under a new name, and four years later gave birth to a girl. A few years later a journalist discovered her true identity and Mary was forced to flee with her daughter.

She obtained a new identity for herself and her daughter. Her daughter would have benefited from the new identity only up to 18 years, but Mary is against it, sued and won the cause.

Now the law that protects the identity of a criminal life in Britain is called “Mary Bell Order”.

We know that Mary is now free and became a grandmother.



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