Suspected human remains have been found in the search for the final victim of the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
The remains were found during an independent search and then reported to Greater Manchester Police.
Martin Bottomley, its review officer, confirmed that the force was investigating.
He said officers had been contacted on Thursday by a representative of an author who had been researching the murder of Keith Bennett, who went missing in 1964 and whose body has never been found.
He said: “Following direct contact with the author, we were informed that he had discovered what he believes are potential human remains in a remote location on the Moors and he agreed to meet with officers yesterday afternoon to elaborate on his find and direct us to a site of interest.
“The site was assessed late last night and, this morning, specialist officers have begun initial exploration activity. We are in the very early stages of assessing the information which has been brought to our attention but have made the decision to act on it in line with a normal response to a report of this kind.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been discovered and this is expected to take some time.”
It could be a major breakthrough in a case that has been open since the early 1960s.
The final, undiscovered, victim
Brady tortured and murdered five children in the 1960s alongside Hindley, his accomplice.
She died in prison in 2002 and Brady in 2017.
The victims of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Brady and Hindley’s bitter war of words revealed
Brady and Hindley were convicted of luring children and teenagers to their deaths. Their victims were sexually tortured before being buried on the moor in the south Pennines.
Keith was taken on 16 June 1964, after going to visit his grandmother. The 12-year-old was the only victim whose body has never been found.
Brady died at Ashworth High-Security Hospital in Maghull, Merseyside, where he had been locked up since 1985.
He died without revealing where Keith was buried.
48 years fighting for justice
Keith’s mother, Winnie Johnson, spent the rest of her life tirelessly fighting for justice and the right to give her son a Christian burial.
But the former hospital worker and mother-of-nine died of bowel cancer in 2012 without ever knowing what had happened to him.
Mrs Johnson, who was a single mother, made a final plea to Brady in the weeks before her death to tell her where her son’s body was.
My lucky escape from Ian Brady and Myra Hindley’s clutches
Speaking after her death, her friend Pam Ayres said: “She never gave up, I expect to her dying breath she wouldn’t have given up. Certainly, with every bit of her spirit and her will, she wouldn’t rescind that power to those people who took him.”
Mrs Johnson’s lawyer John Ainley also told Sky News: “She certainly was a most courageous lady, never gave up the hope that she would find Keith, and pursued that to the very end.
“She always thought that she would find Keith but without information from Ian Brady, that became more and more difficult.”