It’s winter in Newcastle, England, and 11-year-old Mary Bell stands alone in the dock. The daughter of a prostitute, her past has been marred by violence and abuse. Now, the tables have turned, and she finds herself accused of a terrible crime. It’s the start of a horrifying saga that will stalk Mary for the next 50 years.
Mary was born on May 26, 1957, in Newcastle upon Tyne, a city in northern England. Her mother Betty was just 17 when she gave birth. According to records, Betty was a prostitute and often traveled some 150 miles north to Glasgow in order to find work.
When Mary was just a baby, Betty married a local criminal named Billy Bell. But even though Mary spent most of her life believing Billy to be her father, it’s likely that they were not related by blood. Meanwhile, Mary’s early years were marred by trouble in the Bell household. According to those who knew the family, Mary was prone to a worrying number of accidents and injuries.