The family of the mother of Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett has vowed to continue the fight to find his body and give her son a Christian burial.

Winnie Johnson, 78, died in the early hours of Saturday at a hospice following a battle against cancer for a number of years.

Ian Brady, the killer of her 12-year-old son, has always refused to say where he buried him on Saddleworth Moor above Manchester despite decades of pleading from his victim's grieving mother.

She also passed away not knowing about reports on Friday that Brady may have detailed the location of the body in a supposed letter addressed to her to be opened on his death.

Brady, 74, and his partner, Myra Hindley, who died in jail in 2002 aged 60, were responsible for the murders of five youngsters in the 1960s. Most of their victims were sexually tortured before being buried on Saddleworth Moor, with Keith's body the only one yet to be found.

In a statement, Winnie's family said: "She was a much loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and is survived by one younger brother.

"Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial. Although this was not possible during her lifetime, we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith. We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this."

Her lawyer John Ainley said Brady still held the key to finding the burial spot. He said: "She has died without knowing Keith's whereabouts and without the opportunity to finally put him at rest in a decent grave. It is a truly heartbreaking situation that this opportunity has now been irrevocably lost."

Martin Bottomley, head of investigative review of Greater Manchester Police's major and cold case crime unit, paid tribute to Winnie for spending the majority of her life "courageously fighting to get justice for Keith".

Her death comes amid a police investigation into whether a letter exists in which Brady apparently discloses the location of Keith's body.