Mary Flora Bell was an 11-year-old British child who slew two young boys and harmed several other children in 1968 before finally being imprisoned for her entire adolescence. The public was shocked and found it incredible that a young child could be such a monster. On the other hand, was Bell actually a victim herself? Or was she just a manipulative and cold-hearted child who was coincidentally saddled with a call girl mother, an unknown father, and an extremely tumultuous childhood? Perhaps she was re-enacting the maltreatment she experienced in her early life.
Regardless, Mary Bell has since been released from prison and has spent the last several decades shrouded behind a veil of mystery; her identity has been kept secret for all of these years. She has not re-offended since her childhood and some say that she is very repentant. The world may never know if she is truly sorry for what she has done - or just sorry enough to keep the limelight off her adult life.
On May 25, 1968, the body of 4-year-old Martin Brown was found in an abandoned home. The toddler had been strangled by Mary Bell and her 13-year-old friend Norma Bell, who was no relation to Mary but reportedly had a mental handicap. The police had no leads, but several days later, the two girls broke into a nursery school and left several notes on the wall, indicating that they had been involved in Brown's demise.
One message read: "WE did murder Martin Brown, F*ckof you BAstArd." The notes were so strange that the police assumed it had been a hoax.
Two months after authorities found Martin Brown's body, 3-year-old Brian Howe was discovered strangled on a playground with puncture wounds, mutilated genitals, and an "M" carved into his abdomen. Ripped-out hair lay scattered about. Since the incident took place on a playground, the police interviewed the local children. Two of the children seemed to be acting very strangely: Mary Bell and her friend Norma.
The two seemed to be reacting to the news differently than the rest of the children, more interested and eagerly, tinged with amusement. In addition, the coroner suspected that a child might be responsible - his conclusion was the result of how little force was used.
As a child, Bell reportedly often partook in violent interactions with other children, including attempting to strangle a little girl on a playground, stubbing out a cigarette on another girl's cheek, even trying to strangle her friend Norma Bell until she was interrupted by Norma's father. Her detachment and coldness towards others were evident after Brown's passing.
Bell showed up on the doorstep of Brown's home and asked his mother if she could see him. When Brown's mother replied that he had passed away and was in a coffin, Bell reiterated her desire to see him - in the coffin.
Betty Bell was only 17 herself when she gave birth to Mary. She was not prepared for motherhood and reportedly didn't want to be saddled with a child. At the time of Mary's birth, Betty Bell reportedly exclaimed: "Take that thing away from me!" She later told her daughter point-blank that she was "the devil's spawn." Bell also claimed that her mother attempted to end her many times throughout her youth, using various methods.
Psychiatrists believe that Bell's mother suffered from Munchausen's by proxy, a disease in which you ideate illnesses onto someone else in order to have attention for yourself. Although her father is unknown, Mary took the surname Bell after one of her mother's boyfriends, Billy Bell. Betty was a life-long streetwalker and allegedly shared her daughter with her clients, allowing them to have relations with Bell when she was as young as 4.