How Notorious Child Killer Mary Bell Lived Full Happy Life After Prison

Little girls are often thought to be quite sweet, but not all children are good. Mary Bell was not yet a teenager when she killed two little boys. This shocking crime shook her English hometown because it just made no sense. How could a little girl so badly harm two little boys? What could drive a ten-year-old child to commit such grueling acts? Most countries don’t have many effective ways to prosecute this kind of behavior in a child, which led to some interesting results here.

mary bell child killer 1

A Most Disturbing Set of Crimes

Mary Bell was not a normal child. She did not receive a normal or healthy childhood and did not know how to behave in a safe manner. After years of abuse, Mary decided to abuse someone of her own. Her first kill was Martin Brown, a four-year-old in the neighborhood. He was reportedly strangled to death, and police quickly began to search for a killer but had no leads. Of course, who would suspect the young neighbor girl down the street? What about two of them?

martin brown murder victim mary bell
Martin Brown, 4 was the first victim of child-killer Mary Bell.

For her next crime, Mary recruited a friend. Norma Bell was another child in the neighborhood. For reasons that are beyond comprehension, Norma Bella agreed to help Mary with her next kill. The two strangled Brian Howe, another local toddler, who was only three at the time. Worse, Mary proceeded to carve up the corpse with a pair of scissors. It is a disturbing sight to imagine.

brian howe victim of mary bell
With the help of a friend, Norma Bell, Mary kills her next victim Brian Howe.

How To Treat A Child?

Given Mary’s age, figuring out a reasonable punishment was difficult. Had she been an adult, she would have simply been locked away in prison for life. Since she was so young, the judge knew that something needed to be looked into. Assuming that no child was simply born evil, the judge requested that she be looked at in a medical facility. After a psychiatric evaluation, it was determined that Mary was a genuine psychopath. Since it was unlikely that she would be able to be trusted in public, she was ordered to be imprisoned for the safety of the public with an endless sentence. The judge feared she would never be safe to return to the public and didn’t want to take any chances.

It was later revealed that Mary had several reasons for her concerning behavior. In her childhood, she had herself been severely abused both physically and sexually. Her mother had little care for her well-being and was apparently a known prostitute in the area. This left Mary in many dangerous circumstances and these events no doubt left their mark on her young mind.

mary bell as a child with mother
Young Mary Bell was physically and sexaully tortured by her own parents. Her mother was also a prostitute.

A Prison Break

Though you would expect to hear more about Mary getting into trouble, the truth is that she was fairly well behaved in prison. She did not commit any violent crimes, but she did partake in a prison break at one point. Other than that, there is no evidence to suggest that Mary created any problems during her stay.

Despite the judge’s indefinite sentencing, it was determined that Mary could handle being set free. Though many were uncomfortable with this reality, the courts made their decision and allowed Mary to take on a new chance at life. She served a total of twelve years in prison, a time span that would be difficult for anyone, particularly from such a young age. Mary was able to leave, but under one condition: she couldn’t be herself.

mary bell women prison newspaper

Mary was too well known and people were very worried about her release. Despite the fact that she had spent half her life in prison, most people did not believe that she should ever be released. They were scared and angry, and this meant that Mary wasn’t safe. To help with this, the courts gave her a new identity and let her head out to start over with a new life. She was only twenty-three and was able to start a somewhat normal life.

Her Family

Given her history of child-killing, the idea of Mary being a mom might make your head spin. Regardless, Mary did have a daughter and enjoyed living with her and raising her. In fact, Mary is now a grandma and has a beautiful granddaughter. Many find this development unimaginable, which is why they continue to hunt her down.

mary bell adult now

The Mary Bell Law

Mary was offered a chance at a new life, but not everyone believed that she deserved one. People continued to seek out her new identity and even began to make trouble for her family. This resulted in a law change that would offer indefinite protections for Mary and her family. The idea was that their identities would be completely protected until they died. Mary defended her new life as best she could and has continued to do so to this day.

BreeAnn is the host and creator of Among the Dirt and Trees—and the team blogger! She grew up with a love of all things spooky while obsessing over Investigation Discovery shows and eventually switched over to podcasts while working a boring office job in Corporate America. She has since left her corporate life behind to spend her days and nights as a freelance writer and podcaster, but she still takes time to listen to podcasts while she works. Talkocast has given her a chance to leverage her B.S. in Psychology and her love of writing to terrify the general public. You can find her writing stories, reading books, playing D&D, or doing yoga when she’s not researching cases filled with unimaginable horrors and scaring people out of their next camping trip.

  • Thanks for your excellent article. 2 quick points –
    1. Are their sources of Bell being abused other than Sereny?
    2. What is the source re Bell’s grand child? I’ve not seen that before.
    Many thanks

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