Mary Bell Now: What Happened To The Child Serial Killer

Mary Bell shocked all of England when her story became public in the 1960s. The citizens of Scotswood, England could hardly believe that a child would kill others so mercilessly.

Mary Bell, or The Tyneside Strangler, became quite a sensation because of her actions, especially since she displayed no remorse.

That had not been all, the details of the murder were chilling, resembling assassinations. But it was somewhat unbelievable that an 11-year-old girl could be responsible for those.

Years passed, and Mary finished serving her sentence in 1980. But where is the infamous child serial killer now? Here is everything that we know about Mary Bell.

Where Is Mary Bell Now?

Mary Bell
Mary Bell / Public Domain

Mary Bell, the child serial killer is now living under a series of pseudonyms. The anonymity she was offered after her release from jail has been extended to her daughter and granddaughter as well. Bell was released from custody in 1980, at the age of 23, and allowed to change her name when starting a new life.

As a young adult, Bell led a quiet life till she was found by reporters. Taking an interest in her story, they began to wonder where she was now, sniffing for a scoop.

In the Guardian, it was stated that Bell was being hounded by reporters out of her seaside home, where she lived with her 14-year-old daughter.

Said interest was caused by a biography, 1998 Cries Unheard: The Story of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny. Bell received residuals from the book, a fact no one appreciated. Sereny defended her actions by saying that she felt bound to give her the money, and not exploit her story like everyone else.

What Does Mary Bell Look Like Now?

Mary Bell was released in 1980 and had her daughter in 1984. The mother-daughter duo had been able to have anonymity for a while. But the 1998 biography changed all that, and they became the focus of a media frenzy. It took a while for the attention to wane, but when they applied for anonymity again in 2002, they were granted so.

How Long Was Mary Bell Jailed?

Mary Bell served a 12-year sentence for the murder of 2 toddlers when she was 11 years old. She was sentenced to prison in 1968 for the deaths of four-year-old Martin Brown & three-year-old Brian Howe.

Bell’s Upbringing

Mary Bell’s upbringing had not been smooth. She came from a disruptive home, made intolerable by an abusive mother. Bell’s mother had never wanted the child, resisting the attempts to have Bell placed in her arms after birth.

Her mother’s abuse went on for years, as the lady had also sold Bell once to a mentally unstable woman who couldn’t have children. In Sereny’s biography, Bell claims that her mother had once attempted to kill her. Bell also said that she went through sexual abuse at the hands of different men, all because of her mother.

Bell’s mother died in 1995, after which she opened up about her experience and struggles. But even if as a child she had not been remorseful of her actions, she was not so now. Sereny insists that Bell suffers from guilt, knowing that her abuse did not absolve her of the responsibility for her crimes.

Life Of Anonymity

Mary served her sentence and was released in 1980. Due to the delicacy of the case, she was granted full anonymity, which was extended to her only child. In fact, till the release of the biography, the daughter had no idea of her mother’s sordid past.

But soon after, the reporters started camping outside their homes, forcing them to move to a new location as soon as the attention waned. In 2002, Mary went to court again, seeking a lifelong anonymity order.

Their defense was, through this new order they would be free of the media intruding on their lives. Neither would they become a victim of retaliatory attacks. The presiding judge, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss felt that their case was valid and granted Mary and her daughter life-long anonymity. The anonymity was also ented towards mary’s granddaughter after her birth, making sure that the family could not be tracked down.

Bell’s Crimes

Mary Bell’s Crimes
Mary Bell’s Notes / Public Domain

Mary’s first victim was Martin Brown, who was found in an abandoned house. Right next to his body was a bottle of pills, indicating that he died of an overdose. His manner of death was a puzzle to the police, who made little to no progress on the case.

Bell’s next victim was Brian Howe, a young boy found among the dirt and rubble. His body had shown signs of no struggle, making the experts think that the murderer could be a child. The first hint the authorities had were some notes in childish handwriting, claiming that the murder happened “so that I may come back”.

In the meantime, Mary and her friend Norma were boasting about murdering a boy in the playground. The trial evidence did lead to Mary and Norma later, but Mary’s father refused to let the authorities talk to her.

In the end, it was another child’s words that brought the truth forward. The boy had witnessed Mary convince young Brian that she could help his sore throat by massaging it. She began her supposed treatment but tightened her hold to the point that Brian died of suffocation.

Now that the police had enough evidence to detain Bell, she was taken into custody. After nine days of trial, she was found guilty of manslaughter, but on grounds of diminished responsibility. Norma was acquitted as it was clear that she was under Mary’s influence.

After being found guilty, it became difficult for the authorities to place Bell in custody, because of her age. But in the end, she was sent to a secure facility called Red Bank where she spent 6 years of her life. She was later removed to Moore Court Open Prison to finish the rest of her sentence.

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Bottom Line

Mary Bell, the child serial killer is now living a life of anonymity, along with her daughter and granddaughter. But for a brief period after the release of the 1998 biography, their life had been disrupted.

However, they were allowed to reenter a quiet life with different names after the court ruled in favor of it.