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Fred West

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For other people with the same name, see Frederick West.
Fred West
Fred and Rosemary in the mid-1980s
Born Frederick Walter Stephen West
(1941-09-29)29 September 1941
Much Marcle, Herefordshire, England
Died 1 January 1995(1995-01-01) (aged 53)
Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, England
Cause of death Suicide by hanging
Criminal penalty (Committed suicide
10 months before murder trial)
Spouse(s) Catherine "Rena" Costello (1962–1971, her death)
Rosemary Letts
(1972-1995, his death)
Conviction(s) Earlier convictions for:
Child molestation
Sexual assault
Victims 12-13+
Span of killings
July 1967–June 1987
Country United Kingdom
Date apprehended
24 February 1994

Frederick Walter Stephen "Fred" West (29 September 1941[1] – 1 January 1995) was an English serial killer known to have committed a minimum of 12 murders between 1967 and 1987 in Gloucestershire, England, the majority of which were committed with his second wife, Rosemary West.

All the murders committed by Fred and Rose West were of young females; the majority of which were committed for sexual gratification and which included the rape, bondage, torture and mutilation of their victims before their dismembered bodies were typically buried in the cellar or garden of their Cromwell Street home (some of this mutilation may have been committed while their victims were alive).[2] In addition, Fred is known to have committed at least two murders before collaborating with Rose, while Rose is known to have murdered Fred's stepdaughter, Charmaine, in 1971. The pair were apprehended and charged in 1994.

Fred West committed suicide by asphyxiating himself while on remand at HM Prison Birmingham on 1 January 1995. At the time of his death, he and his wife had been jointly charged with nine murders, with Fred also facing three additional murder charges.[3] Rosemary West was imprisoned for life with a recommendation that she never be released, in November 1995, after having been found guilty on 10 counts of murder. Their Cromwell Street residence was demolished in 1996 and the space later converted into a landscaped footpath.

Owing to the fact the majority of the Wests' victims' bodies were buried at 25 Cromwell Street, this address has become known as the House of Horrors.

Early life[edit]


Frederick Walter Stephen West was born on 29 September 1941 at Bickerton Cottage, Much Marcle, Herefordshire,[4] the first surviving child born to Walter Stephen West (5 July 1914 – 28 March 1992) and Daisy Hannah Hill (20 May 1922[citation needed] – 6 February 1968).[5] West was born into a poor family of farm workers, with his father being a disciplinarian, and his mother overly protective of her children.[6]

In July 1946, the West family moved to Moorcourt Cottage, where Fred's father obtained employment as a milking herd and a harvest hand upon the ground this residence stood: Moorcourt Farm. The West household had no central heating or electricity, and the sole source of heat came from a fireplace. As such, the West family were extremely close-knit, and would fiercely protect one another.[7] By 1951, West's mother had given birth to eight children, six of whom survived, although Fred would always remain his mother's favourite child.[8] He would earn a reputation among both his peers and his siblings as a mother's boy, and would typically rely on his siblings for companionship. After school, and at weekends, the West children were expected to perform assigned chores, with pocket money only earned if they performed additional chores to those expected of them.[9] Living on a property part of the larger Moorcourt Farm, all six siblings participated in numerous, seasonal farmyard chores: the three sisters would typically pick hops and strawberries; the three brothers would typically harvest wheat and hunt rabbits to supplement the family larder. This requirement to to work to survive or to earn a reward would instill a strong work ethic within Fred; a trait that would remain with him for the remainder of his life.[10] Furthermore, Fred developed a lifelong habit of petty theft, the attitude to which may have been instilled in him by his father, whom Fred freely admitted had told him on many occasions: "Do what you want, just don't get caught doing it."[11]

At school, Fred did not excel academically. Classmates recall him being a scruffy, dim, and lethargic child, regularly in trouble with his teachers. Throughout his life, Fred would remain scarcely literate. Nonetheless, he did display an aptitude for both woodwork and artwork. He left school in December 1956 at age 15,[12] and initially worked as an unskilled labourer at Moorcourt Farm.

West developed an interest in sex at an early age. He would later claim to have been introduced to sex by his own mother at the age of 12, to have engaged in acts of bestiality with animals in his early teens, and that his belief in incest being a normal part of family life stemmed from his own father engaging in incest with his daughters, thus instilling in himself (Fred) these acts were the norm.[13] All these claims were never proven,[14] and would be hotly disputed by Fred's younger brother, Doug, who dismissed these claims as being pure fantasy on Fred's part.[15]


By 1957, Fred and his younger brother, John, would socialise at a youth club in the nearby market town of Ledbury. Here, Fred became regarded as a "country bumpkin" by his urban peers, with whom he seldom socialised. Nonetheless, he developed a reputation for aggressively pestering women and girls, whom he would typically approach and fondle—often without speaking a word being exchanged between them.[16]

Shortly after his 17th birthday, Fred purchased a 125cc James motorcycle. Two months later, on 28 November, while travelling on a country road close to his family home, he crashed this motorcycle into a local girl named Pat Manns, who had been cycling in the opposite direction. Manns was only slightly hurt, whereas Fred suffered serious head injuries, including a fractured skull, and a broken arm and leg. He remained unconscious for seven days, and would be required to walk with the aid of calipers for several months.[17] His family also noted that after this accident, Fred both developed an extreme phobia of hospitals, and became prone to sudden fits of rage. Two years later, he would again sustain a head injury in a fall from a fire escape. In this instance, a girl he attempted to grope at the Ledbury Youth Club as the pair stood upon a fire escape at the premises punched Fred, sending him falling two floors to the ground.[18]

Acquaintance with Catherine Costello[edit]

During 1960, while attending a dance held at the Memorial Hall in Much Marcle, Fred became acquainted with a 16-year-old named Catherine Bernadette Costello, who hailed from Glasgow but had been visiting relatives in England when she met Fred. The couple began a brief courtship, although after several moths, Costello chose to end this relationship and return to Scotland.[19] In June 1961, Fred was arrested for molesting his 13-year-old sister, Kitty, whom he had been abusing since December 1960. This abuse was only discovered when Kitty was forced to inform her mother she was pregnant. Fred was brought to trial at Herefordshire Assizes on 9 November 1961, charged with the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, although at the last minute, Kitty chose to refuse to give evidence against her brother.[20] As such, the trial collapsed.[21]

Although Fred walked free from court, much of his family effectively disowned him.[22] His mother sent him to live with her sister Violet in Much Marcle.


In September 1962, the 21-year-old West became re-acquainted with Catherine Costello. Costello was already pregnant by a Pakistani bus driver, and she and West married in the market town of Ledbury on 17 November. The sole guest at this ceremony was Fred's younger brother, John.[23] The couple initially moved into the family's Moorcourt Cottage home, before announcing their intentions to relocate to Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, where West found employment as an ice cream van driver. Her daughter, Charmaine Carol Mary, was born on 22 March 1963.[24][25] To hide the baby's mixed ancestry (then a social stigma in the United Kingdom), Costello and West concocted a story that she had suffered a miscarriage, and that they had adopted Charmaine. In July 1964, Costello bore West a daughter named Anna Marie.

On 4 November 1965, Fred accidentally ran over and killed a four-year-old boy named Michael O'Keefe with his van.[26] Although cleared of any wrongdoing by police,[27] West feared the hostile reaction and potential reprisal attacks from the locals whom he relied upon to make his living over this accident. As a result, the family, along with Isa McNeill, who looked after the couple's children, and Costello's friend Anne McFall, moved into the Timberland Caravan Park at Bishop's Cleeve, Gloucestershire. (McNeill and McFall both hailed from impoverished backgrounds; both hoped to find work in England.[28])

In 1966, to escape from West's increasingly sadistic sexual demands and domestic violence, Costello and McNeill moved back to Scotland, although Costello would regularly return to Bishop's Cleeve to visit her daughters; McFall, however, had by this stage become infatuated with Fred, who had promised to marry her. As such, she chose to remain with Fred to help him care for the girls. Letters she posted to her family and Isa McNeill in Glasgow indicate she likely believed a relationship with Fred would offer her a better life than that she had experienced in Glasgow.[29]

Murder of Anne McFall[edit]

In July 1967, McFall, aged 18 and either six or seven months pregnant with West's child, vanished. At the time, she had been living alone in a caravan at the Timberland Caravan Park. She was never reported missing, and her dismembered remains would be found buried at the edge of a cornfield between Much Marcle and Kempley in June 1994. Many phalange bones were missing from her body, likely retained as keepsakes, and numerous sections of clothing and sections of curtains were found within two clear plastic bags alongside her remains. Although Fred initially denied he had killed Anne, he would confide to one visitor following his arrest that he had stabbed her to death in her caravan following an argument. Nonetheless, this explanation is inconsistent with the fact Anne's wrists were found with sections of dressing gown cord wrapped around her wrists and coiled beneath her rib bones, suggesting she had been restrained prior to her murder.[30]

The following month, Costello returned to live with West, and although their relationship initially improved, Costello would again leave Fred the following year, again leaving the children in West's care.

Rosemary Letts[edit]

Fred West first encountered Rosemary Letts on 29 November 1968 (her 15th birthday). The pair first met at Cheltenham bus station. Initially, Rose was repulsed by Fred's unkempt appearance, and deduced he was a tramp, although she quickly became flattered by the attention Fred lavished upon her, and agreed to allow him to accompany her home. In their initial conversations, Fred quickly discovered Rose's promiscuity, and also extracted a degree of sympathy from her by claiming he and his two daughters had been abandoned by his wife.[31] Discovering Rose worked in a nearby bakery, a few days after their first encounter, Fred entered these premises and asked her to accompany him on a date that evening, an offer she accepted.[32] Before long, Rose began a relationship with West, becoming a frequent visitor at the Lake House Hotel Caravan Park in Bishops Cleeve, and a willing childminder to Charmaine and Anna Marie, whom she noted were neglected and initially treated with care and affection. Her father disapproved of the relationship, both threatening West directly, and promising to call the social services if he continued to date his daughter.


On her 16th birthday, she moved in with him; a few months later, they moved from the caravan to the ground floor flat of a two-storey house in Midland Road, Gloucester. On 17 October 1970, Rosemary gave birth to their first child: a daughter they named Heather Ann (although speculation remains Heather may have been sired by Rose's own father).[33] Two months later, Fred West was imprisoned for the theft of car tyres and a vehicle tax disc. He would remain imprisoned until 24 June 1971. As he served this six-and-a-half-month sentence, Rose, having just turned 17, looked after the three girls.

According to Anna Marie West, both she and Charmaine were frequently subjected to criticism, beatings, and other forms of punishment throughout the time they lived under Rose's care at Midland Road, but although she (Anna Marie) was generally submissive and prone to display emotion in relation to the physical and mental hardships she and her sister endured, Charmaine repeatedly infuriated Rosemary by her stoic refusal to either cry or display any sign of grief or servitude no matter how severely she was beaten, or to what punishment she was subjected. Despite the years of neglect and abuse she had endured, Charmaine's spirit had not been broken,[34] and she would talk wistfully to Anna Marie of the belief she held her "mummy will come and save me".[35] Anna Marie would later recollect her sister would repeatedly antagonise Rose by making statements such as: "My real mummy wouldn't swear or shout at us" in response to the scathing profanities Rose would hurl at she and her sister.[36] A childhood friend of Charmaine's who had lived in the upper flat of Midland Road named Tracey Giles would later recollect an incident in which she had entered the Wests' flat, unannounced, only to see Charmaine, naked and standing upon a chair, gagged and with her hands bound behind her back with a belt, as Rose stood alongside the child with a large wooden spoon in her hand. According to Tracey, Charmaine had been "calm and unconcerned", whereas Anna Marie had been standing by the door with a blank expression upon her face.[37]

Hospital records reveal Charmaine had received treatment for a severe puncture wound to her left ankle in the casualty unit of the Gloucester Royal Hospital on 28 March 1971. This incident was explained by Rose to have resulted from a household accident.[38]

Murder of Charmaine West[edit]

Rosemary West is believed to have killed Charmaine shortly before Fred West's prison release date of 24 June 1971. She is known to have taken Charmaine, Anna Marie and Heather to visit Fred on 15 June. It is believed to be on or very shortly after this date that Charmaine West was murdered. In addition to forensic odontology confirmation Charmaine had died while Fred was still incarcerated, further testimony from Tracey Giles' mother, Shirley, would corroborate the fact Charmaine had been murdered before Fred had been released on 24 June. In her later testimony at Rose's trial, Mrs. Giles would state she and her family had lived in the upper flat of 25 Midland Road in 1971, and that her two daughters had been playmates of Charmaine and Anna Marie. Mrs. Giles would state that after her family had vacated the upper flat of Midland Road in April 1971, that on one day in June, she had brought her elder daughter, Tracey, to visit her close friend Charmaine, only for Tracey to be told by Rose: "She's gone to live with her mother, and bloody good riddance!"[39] before Tracey began to weep.

As with the Giles family, Rosemary explained Charmaine's disappearance to others who inquired as to her whereabouts by claiming that Catherine Costello had called and taken her eldest daughter to live with her in Bristol, and when Fred was released from prison on 24 June, he succinctly allayed Anna Marie's concerns as to her sister's whereabouts by claiming her mother had collected Charmaine and returned to Scotland. When Anna Marie asked why her mother had collected Charmaine but not her, Fred callously replied: "She wouldn't want you, love. You're the wrong colour."[40]

The body of Charmaine West was initially stowed in the coal cellar of Midland Road until Fred was released from prison. He would later bury Charmaine's body in the yard close to the back door of the flat, and although he remained adamant he had not dismembered this particular victim, a subsequent autopsy suggested Charmaine's body had been severed at the hip. In addition, several bones—particularly patellae, finger, wrist, toe and ankle bones—were missing from her skeleton, leading to the speculation the missing appendages had been retained as keepsakes (this would prove to be a distinctive discovery in all the autopsies of the victims exhumed in 1994).[41]

Murder of Catherine Costello[edit]

Catherine Costello, who maintained sporadic contact with her children following her separation from Fred, is known to have visited Moorcourt Cottage to enquire as to her children's whereabouts sometime in the latter half of August 1971.[42] Fred's sister-in-law, Christine, would later recollect Catherine was both depressed and extremely anxious as to her children's welfare. Being provided with Fred's Midland Road address, Catherine sought to confront Fred—likely to discuss or demand custody of her daughters. This was the final time Catherine Costello was ever seen alive. She is believed to have been murdered by strangulation, possibly in the back seat of Fred's Ford Popular and likely while intoxicated.[43] Her body was extensively dismembered, placed into plastic bags, and buried in Letterbox Field.


On 29 January 1972, Fred and Rosemary wed. The ceremony took place at Gloucester Register Office, with Fred incorrectly describing himself as a bachelor upon the marriage certificate.[44] Several months later, with Rose pregnant with her second child, the couple moved from Midland Road to an address nearby: 25 Cromwell Street. Initially, the home was rented from the council, although Fred would later purchase the property from the council,[45] and many of the upper floor rooms would be converted into bedsits, to supplement the household income as he did so. On 1 June, Rosemary gave birth to a second daughter. Due to the actual date of her birth, Fred and Rose named this child Mae June.[46]

Shortly after giving birth to her second child, and with her husband's encouragement, Rose began to work as a prostitute, operating from an upstairs room at their residence. By 1983, she would give birth to seven children, at least three of whom were conceived by clients to whom she prostituted herself.[47]


The room Rosemary used for prostitution was known throughout the West household as "Rose's Room", and had several peepholes so Fred could watch Rose entertain her clients, and a red light outside the door to warn the children not to enter when she was entertaining her clients. Like West was alleged to be, Rosemary came from a family where incest was common; Rosemary's father, Bill Letts, with Fred's approval, would often visit their home to engage in sex with his daughter.[48]

Initial sexual assaults[edit]

In September 1972, the Wests led eight-year-old Anna Marie to the cellar at 25 Cromwell Street, where the child was ordered to undress, with Rose tearing her dress from her body upon noting the child's hesitation.[49] She was then stripped naked, bound to a mattress and gagged her before Fred raped her[50] as Rose actively encouraged him to do so. After the rape, Rose explained to the child: "Everybody does it to every girl. It's a father's job. Don't worry, and don't say anything to anybody."[51]

Rose would occasionally sexually abuse the girl herself, and would later take extreme gratification in degrading the child with acts such as binding Anna Marie to various items of furniture before encouraging Fred to rape her,[52] and forcing her to perform household chores while wearing sexual devices. From the age of 13, both Fred and Rose forced Anna Marie to prostitute herself within the household, with her clients being informed Anna Marie was 16. Nonetheless, Rose was always present in the room when these acts occurred,[53] to ensure the girl did not reveal her true age.[54]

In October 1972, the Wests hired 17-year-old Caroline Owens as the children's nanny. They had picked up the girl one night on a secluded country road and she told them she wished to escape her cruel step-father; a week later, Owens moved into 25 Cromwell Street to look after the three children then in their household. Rosemary, who had begun prostitution in her bedroom by this time, explained to Owens that she worked as a "masseuse" when the younger woman inquired about the steady stream of men visiting her.[55] According to Caroline, Fred also explained to her he was as skilled abortionist, who would be willing to perform this service should she ever need him to do so. Her suspicious as to his sexual overtones would be further heightened when Fred boasted that many of the women he claimed to have treated were so overjoyed that they would offer him their sexual services as a reward.[55] Owens rejected Fred and Rose's overt sexual advances and left their household a few weeks later.[56]

Knowing Owens' habits of hitchhiking along the A40 between Cinderford and Tewkesbury to visit her boyfriend, the Wests formulated a plan to abduct her for their shared gratification. Fred would later freely admit to police the specific intent of this shared abduction would be the rape and likely murder of Owens, but that his initial incentive was to determine whether his wife would be willing to at least assist him in the abduction of a young girl.[57] On 6 December 1972, Rose lured Owens into their vehicle with an apology for their conduct and the offer of a lift home.[55] Initially, Owens had believed they had been genuinely courteous in what they said in their apology to her and obliged, believing that they had simply mistaken what the job had entailed. Back at 25 Cromwell Street, soon after they made her welcome with the promised cup of tea, Rose started kissing her, bound her heavily with bondage tape, and both Fred and Rose raped her. According to Owens, Fred had remarked that "her vagina was unusual" and that he "would have to change that".[55] When she screamed, Rosemary smothered her with a pillow and she was bound further around the neck. Fred threatened her that they would keep her locked up in the cellar and let some of the black men who "visited" Rosemary "use" her and that when they had finished, they would bury her under the paving stones of Gloucester.[55] Fred boasted that they had killed hundreds of young girls and the police would never find them.[55] Quickly realising that they would kill her, Caroline gave in to them and let them do whatever they wanted without a fight.[55] Fred allowed Owens to leave the next day only after she promised she would return as their nanny. Owens reported the rape to police but withdrew the accusation when the case came to court. The Wests pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of indecent assault and were fined £50.[58]

Domestic violence[edit]

All the West children were required to perform daily chores at 25 Cromwell Street; all were very seldom allowed to socialise outside the household perimeters; and all had to follow strict guidelines imposed by their parents, with severe punishment—almost always physical—being the penalty for not conforming to the household rules. Each lived in fear of being the recipients of violence from their parents, and although this violence was occasionally inflicted by Fred, the vast majority of this violence was inflicted by Rose for any real or imagined breech of conformity. Occasionally, the violence was irrational, indiscreet or even inflicted for Rose's simple gratification. Between 1972 and 1992, the West children would be admitted to the Accident and Emergency departments of local hospitals on 31 occasions, although Fred and Rose excused their children's injuries as having been sustained in various accidents.[59]

On one occasion, as Stephen was mopping the kitchen floor with a cloth, Rose accidentally stepped into the bowl of water he had been using to perform this task. In response, Rose smashed the boy over the head with the bowl, then repeatedly kicked him in the head and chest as she shouted: "You did that on purpose, you little swine!"[60] On another occasion, Rose became hysterical at a missing kitchen utensil, then grabbed a knife she had been using to cut a slab of meat, repeatedly inflicting light scour marks to Mae's chest until her rib cage was covered with light knife wounds. All the while, Mae had screamed, "No, Mum! No, Mum!"[61] as Stephen and Heather stood by, helplessly sobbing. Even Fred occasionally became the recipient of Rose's violence. On one occasion in the late 1970s, Rose chased after Fred with a carving knife in her hand, although Fred was able to slam the room of the door into which he had ran shut as Rose plunged at him with the knife, resulting in the knife embedding itself in the door, and Rose's fingers sliding down the blade, almost severing them from her hand. In response, Rose calmly wrapped her hand in a towel and said: "Look what you done, fella. You've got to take me to the hospital now."[62]


Both Heather and Mae West became the focus of Fred's incestuous[33] sexual attentions after Anna Marie ran away from home in 1979 at age 15,[63] and the frequency of this abuse increased when both girls hit puberty. Fred was both overt and unapologetic in his conduct, and would justify his actions with the simple explanation: "I made you; I can do what I like with you." He would further refer to his intentions to impregnate both his daughters on at least one occasion, and would occasionally force all his children to watch pornography with him. As Heather, Mae and their younger brother Stephen were very close in age, the trio resolved that if their father asked either of the two girls to be alone in a room with him, they would only do so if at least one other member of the trio were present to avoid either girl being raped. Stephen himself was also informed by his father he would have to have sex with his mother by the age of 17 (although his parents would evict him from their home at age 16).[64]

Although both girls were repulsed by their father's antics, Mae—having once endured Fred's throwing a vacuum cleaner at her when she remonstrated against his fondling her—would develop a mechanism whereby she would succinctly tolerate Fred's sexually fondling her before jokingly brushing aside any efforts he made to take the molestation further,[65] whereas Heather, Mae recollected, "was affected quite badly by all of this. [Even] more than me."[66] By the mid-1980s, Heather is known to have developed classic symptoms of the distress felt by victims of child abuse: these included habits of her biting her nails; drinking alcohol; of warily watching her father through the corner of her eye wherever she was sat or standing; expressing nervous fragility whenever in the presence of males; and her repeatedly bouncing back and forth as she sat on any chair.[67] She is also known to have expressed her desires to run away from home and live a nomadic lifestyle in the Forest of Dean, and to never again see any human beings.

Murder of Heather West[edit]

Heather did complain to friends about the abuse she and her siblings endured, and her external signs of psychological distress were noted by several of these individuals. She had pinned her hopes on escaping the household via obtaining a job as a chalet cleaner at a holiday camp in the seaside town of Torquay, although she would receive notification in June this application had been unsuccessful. In response, she crumpled into tears before her siblings Mae and Stephen. That same evening, her whole family heard Heather sobbing aloud as she attempted to sleep,[68] and according to Mae, she "cried all the way through the night."[69] The following morning (on or shortly after 18 June 1987), Heather was "back to her usual self, looking miserable, biting her nails and sitting on the couch bouncing back and forth as she sat"[33] as her siblings left the house to go to school.

When Heather's siblings returned home, they were informed Heather had left home to accept the job she had previously been refused in Torquay, although Rose told an enquiring neighbour that she and Heather had had a "hell of a row", and that Heather had run away from home. Later, to allay their children's concerns as to why Heather failed to contact or visit her siblings, the parents claimed that Heather had actually eloped with a lesbian lover. When Mae and Stephen suggested they report Heather's disappearance to police, Fred changed his story yet again, claiming it would be unwise to initiate a search for Heather as she was involved in credit card fraud.[70] Furthermore, one more than one occasion, Fred and Rose are known to have persuaded an unknown acquaintance to fabricate a phone call from Heather to her parents.

In the years following Heather's disappearance, Fred would occasionally jokingly threaten the children that they would "end up under the patio like Heather" if they misbehaved. Her disappearance, Fred and Rosemary's constantly changing stories as to Heather's whereabouts, and the repeated, mocking references to their other children that they would be buried beneath the patio like their sister if they misbehaved would ultimately lead to inquiries as to Heather's whereabouts, culminating in a search warrant being issued to excavate the Wests' garden in February 1994.[71]

Arrest and release[edit]

In May 1992, West filmed himself raping one of his seven daughters. Over the following weeks, the girl would be raped on three further occasions.[72] She did confide in her mother that she had been raped by Fred, although Rose simply replied, "Oh well. You were asking for it." The girl confided to a close friend what her father had done; this friend would divulge what had happened to her own mother on 4 August. In response, the friend's mother informed the police. On 6 August 1992, the police began an investigation, eventually leading to West being charged with rape, with Rosemary as an accomplice. She was also charged with child cruelty, and the remaining children were placed in foster care.

The rape case against the Wests collapsed when the two main witnesses declined to testify at the court case on 7 June 1993. Nonetheless, by this stage, Anna Marie had contacted police to offer a full statement attesting to the physical and sexual violence she had endured as a child at the hands of her father and stepmother. To garner further evidence, police and social services spoke with Mae, who initially denied she had endured molestation as an adolescent,[73] before attempting to trace Heather. Two months later, Gloucester social services contacted police to stress their concern over the whereabouts of Heather West.


Over the following months, police continued investigating the disappearance of Heather, noting no records existing indicating she was still alive. In retracing Fred's history, police also both Catherine Costello and her daughter Charmaine were missing, but no missing persons reports had ever been filed. After taking statements from social workers, and the children, regarding the recurring family joke of Heather being buried beneath the patio, police obtained a search warrant in February 1994, which allowed them to excavate the garden in search of Heather. They started searching the house and excavating the garden on 24 February 1994.

After West's arrest the following day, the police uncovered human bones.[74] He confessed, retracted and then re-confessed to the murder of his daughter, denying that Rosemary was involved. Rosemary was not arrested until April 1994, initially on sex offences but later charged with murder. Additional bodies were found and, on 4 March 1994, West admitted that he had carried out nine more murders, including that of his first wife, whose body was found on 10 April 1994.

Fred and Rosemary West were brought before a magistrates' court in Gloucester on 30 June 1994; he was charged with 11 murders and she with 10. Immediately afterwards, Fred West was re-arrested on suspicion of murdering Anne McFall, whose body had been found on 7 June 1994. On the evening of 3 July 1994, he was charged with her murder, appearing in court the following morning.


On 1 January 1995, Fred West committed suicide by asphyxiating himself in his cell while on remand at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham.[75] In an apparent suicide note addressed to Rose found in his cell, West had written: "All I have is my life. I will give it to you, my darling. When you are ready, come to me. I will be waiting for you." Beneath this inscription, Fred had drawn a gravestone, in which he had written the inscription: "In loving memory. Fred West. Rose West. Rest in peace where no shadow falls. In perfect peace he waits for Rose, his wife.[76]

Contrary to many contemporary reports, West did not hang himself. Superintendent John Bennett of Gloucestershire Police, who led the murder investigation, would later stress: "Often I read or it's been said that he hanged himself. He didn't hang himself at all. He asphyxiated himself, having over a period of time in a rope [made] out of a blanket. He couldn't really use anything other than the handles on the door and a catchment on the window to bind this piece of rope round. But what he successfully did was bind it round his neck and sink to his knees."


West was cremated in Coventry on 29 March 1995. The service was held with only four family members present, with the entire service lasting just five minutes[77] and was officiated by the Reverend Robert Simpson, who read from the Psalm 23 at this service. His ashes were later scattered at the Welsh seaside resort of Barry Island; a location he had regularly visited both as a child and as an adult with his family.[78]


The evidence against Rosemary was circumstantial; unlike her husband, she did not confess. She was tried in October 1995 at Winchester Crown Court, found guilty of all 10 murders on 22 November and sentenced to life imprisonment.[79] The trial judge recommended that she never be released and nearly two years later the Home Secretary Jack Straw agreed with this recommendation.

On 27 January 1996, the body of the Wests' former friend and housemate, Terrence Crick, was found in his car in Hackness, near Scarborough. Crick had been called as a defence witness for Rosemary during the trial, in an attempt to prove her husband had been working alone. He had reported Fred to the authorities on several occasions after being shown "gruesome images of body parts and surgical instruments" allegedly used during illegal abortions, but believed that this information was not acted on as Fred was a police informant. The stress and guilt led Crick to take his own life; an inquest later recorded a verdict of suicide. In May 2014, his widow put a complaint forward to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.[80][81]

Demolition of Cromwell Street[edit]

In October 1996, the Wests' house in Cromwell Street, which was next to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, along with the adjoining property, was demolished. The site was redeveloped as a landscaped pathway. Every brick was crushed and every timber was burned to discourage souvenir hunters.[82]


Fred and Rose West are known to have committed at least 12 murders between 1967 and 1994, although many individuals connected to the case have publicly stated they believe several other victims whose bodies have never been found. Prior to his suicide, Fred made several cryptic hints he had claimed several other victims, although he refused to divulge further information beyond that one further victim had been 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, whom he had murdered in 1968 and buried on farmland near Bishop's Cleeve. He also claimed to have killed one victim while working on a construction project in the city of Birmingham, and that other bodies had been buried in both Scotland and Herefordshire.[83] To his appropriate adult, Fred claimed there were up to 20 further victims he and his wife had killed, "not in one place but spread around",[84] and he intended to reveal the location of one body per year to investigators.[85]


  • July: Anne McFall, (18). McFall's remains were found 7 June 1994 in Fingerpost Field, Much Marcle. Her body had been place in a rectangular pit and covered with loose topsoil. She had been pregnant with a female child, and her pregnancy had been in its sixth or seventh month.[86]


  • 5 January: Mary Bastholm, (15). A teenage waitress at a cafe Fred is known to have frequented. Bastholm was abducted from a bus stop. Although her remains were never found, Fred did confide to police he had indeed killed her.[87] She is believed to have been buried in Bishop's Cleeve.[88]


  • c. 20 June: Charmaine West, (8). Fred West's stepdaughter. Charmaine is known to have been killed by Rose shortly before his release from Leyhill Prison on 24 June, likely in a fit of domestic violence.[33] Her remains were initially stored in the cellar at Midland Road before Fred buried the child's body in the rear garden of the flat.[89]
  • August: Catherine Costello, (27). Costello is believed to have called on the Wests at 25 Midland Road to either inquire about or obtain custody of her two daughters sometime in late August 1971. It is believed Fred West killed her to avoid any investigation into Charmaine's whereabouts, and is believed to have been strangled to death by Fred before her extensively mutilated body was buried in Letterbox Field.[90]


  • 19 April: Lynda Gough, (19). The first sexually motivated killing the Wests are known to have committed together. Gough was a lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, and is known to have shared lovers with the Rose. Following her disappearance, Gough's mother called at Cromwell Street to enquire as to her daughter's whereabouts, only to note Rosemary had been wearing her daughter's clothes and slippers. She was informed Lynda had moved to find work in Weston-super-Mare. Her remains were buried in an inspection pit beneath the garage, which was later converted into a bathroom.
  • 10 November: Carol Ann Cooper, (15). Cooper had been placed into care following her mother's death in 1966. She was last seen alive by her boyfriend in the suburb of Warndon boarding a bus to her grandmother's home. When her body was found, her skull was bound with surgical tape and her dismembered limbs bound with cord and braiding cloth.[91]
  • 27 December: Lucy Katherine Partington, (21). Partington was a university student and the niece of novelist Martin Amis. She was abducted from a bus stop along the A435. Her precise date of death may have been one week after her disappearance, as Fred West admitted himself into the casualty unit of the Gloucester Royal hospital with a serious laceration of his right-hand on 3 January, likely sustained as he dismembered Partington's body. Her body would be discovered in the cellar of Cromwell Street on 6 March 1994.[92][93]


  • 16 April: Therese Siegenthaler, (21). A sociology student at Greenwich Community College. Siegenthaler was abducted by the Wests as she hitchhiked from South London to Holyhead. Fred mistook Siegenthaler's distinct Swiss accent to be a Dutch one, and always referred to her as "the Dutch girl". She was reported missing to Scotland Yard by her family in Switzerland when communication from their daughter ceased.[94]
  • 15 November: Shirley Hubbard, (15). A foster child abducted from a Droitwich bus stop close to the River Severn as she travelled home from a date.[95] Aged 15 when murdered, Hubbard had been attending work experience in Worcester, and was last seen by her boyfriend, having promised to meet him the next day. When her dismembered remains were found in the basement at Cromwell Street, her head was completely covered in tape with only a three-inch rubber tube inserted into her nasal cavity to enable her to breathe.


  • 12 April: Juanita Mott, (18). Mott had been a former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, but was living with a family friend in Newent when she disappeared. Mott is believed to have been abducted by the Wests as she hitchhiked along the B4215. In his subsequent confessions to police, West would refer to Mott as "the girl from Newent".[96] Following her murder, Fred concreted over the floor of the entire cellar, and converted the basement into a bedroom for his children.[97]


  • 9 May: Shirley Robinson, (18). Another former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, Robinson had been bisexual and had engaged in casual sex with both Fred and Rose. At the time of her disappearance, she had been eight months pregnant with Fred's child. No sexual motive existed for this murder, and the prosecution contended at Rose's trial Robinson had been murdered as her pregnancy threatened the stability of the Wests' relationship. Her baby son had been due to be born on 11 June.[98]


  • 5 August: Alison Chambers, (16). Chambers was a runaway from Jordan's Brook House, from which she repeatedly absconded. She is known to have become acquainted with the Wests in the summer of 1979. Her dismembered body, missing several bones, was buried in the garden of Cromwell Street. This was the final murder where a sexual motive was established.


  • c. 18 June: Heather West, (16). Heather was likely murdered as the Wests considered her efforts to leave the household as a threat. She had complained to friends about the abuse which existed in the West household, and this knowledge is known to have reached Fred and Rose.[33] Fred West claimed he had not meant to kill her, but she had been sneering at him and he "had to take the smirk off her face". The police investigation into the disappearance of Heather West in 1994 led to the arrest of both Fred and Rose West, and the eventual discovery of the bodies of their earlier victims. Heather's body was found beneath the patio that Fred had built over the pond dug by his son Stephen.


  • Heather West's murder in June 1987 was the only known murder committed after the murder of Alison Chambers, which was itself committed almost 15 years prior to their arrest. Nine murders had been committed in the eight years prior to Chambers' murder. Police believe that the couple were responsible for further murders. There were no known murders in 1976 or 1977, or from 1980 to 1986 or from 1988 until their arrest. During questioning after being arrested, Fred West confessed to murdering up to 30 people (which amounted to around 18 unsolved disappearances or murders), but some police believe Mary Bastholm may be the sole additional victim whose body was never found.
  • In addition to the 12 confirmed, police believe West also killed 15-year-old Mary Bastholm in 1968, but to date no body has been found.[14] West's son, Stephen, has said he firmly believed the missing Gloucester teenager was an early victim of his father, as Fred West had reportedly boasted, while on remand in prison during 1994, of committing Bastholm's murder. Nonetheless, police were unable to charge West with this crime as they had no evidence.[99]
  • No forensic evidence linked Fred West to the murder of Anne McFall, and he always denied killing her. The state of the body (missing finger and toe bones) and the dimensions of the grave site match aspects of West's modus operandi.[100]
  • Janet Leach, West's appropriate adult, who also visited him in prison, later wrote in her book that West told her that he and Rose West had been involved in at least 20 murders. Possible other victims (all missing or murdered women or girls) were frequently mentioned in the local and national media, but no further bodies have ever been found.[101]
  • In 2004, one of the Wests' youngest children, Barry, gave a different account on what had actually happened to Heather. Barry, who was just seven at the time, described both parents sexually and physically abusing her, followed by Rosemary West kicking her in the head multiple times until she stopped moving.[102]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Births deaths and marriages for England and Wales - July 1996
  2. ^ Fred & Rose p. 151
  3. ^ Fred & Rose p. 276
  4. ^ Fred & Rose p. 151
  5. ^ Fred West: Born to Kill, Channel 5, 26 July 2012
  6. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 1
  7. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 1
  8. ^ Fred & Rose p. 17
  9. ^ Fred & Rose p. 17
  10. ^ Fred & Rose p. 19
  11. ^ Steven Morris (20 September 2007). "Serial Murder and the Psychology of a Sexual Sadist: Frederick West". New Criminologist. Retrieved 18 January 2009. 
  12. ^ "The Real Story of Fred West's 'Only Friend'". 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2016-10-17. 
  13. ^ "Fred and Rose West – Fred" Retrieved 3 July 2009
  14. ^ a b Real Life Crimes and How They Were Solved. Eaglemoss Publications. 2002. 
  15. ^ Knight, Adam. "Fred West's brother denies incest claims (From Hereford Times)". Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Fred & Rose p. 23
  17. ^ Fred & Rose p. 25
  18. ^ "The Biography Channel" The Biography Retrieved 18 July 2007
  19. ^ Fred & Rose p. 28
  20. ^ Fred & Rose p. 32
  21. ^ "Fred and Rose West – Fred", TruTV, Retrieved 13 July 2007
  22. ^ Sounes, Howard (1995), Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors, London: Warner Books. ISBN 0-7515-1322-9.
  23. ^ Fred & Rose p. 59
  24. ^ Fred & Rose p. 61
  25. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 29
  26. ^ "Fred and Rose West – First blood",, Retrieved 13 July 2007
  27. ^ Fred & Rose p. 68
  28. ^ Fred & Rose p. 69
  29. ^ Fred & Rose p. 72
  30. ^ Fred & Rose p. 76
  31. ^ Fred & Rose p. 88
  32. ^ Fred & Rose p. 87
  33. ^ a b c d e "Rose West: The making of a Monster" by Jane Carter Woodrow
  34. ^ Fred & Rose p. 91
  35. ^ "Out of the Shadows" p. 52
  36. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 50
  37. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 58
  38. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 55
  39. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 58
  40. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 59
  41. ^ Fred & Rose p. 114
  42. ^ Fred & Rose p. 114
  43. ^ Fred & Rose p. 121
  44. ^ Fred & Rose p. 124
  45. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 60
  46. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 60
  47. ^ Fred & Rose p. 174
  48. ^ "Euan Ferguson on the Legacy of Fred West", The Guardian, 15 February 2004
  49. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 68
  50. ^ An Evil Love – Geoffrey Wansell
  51. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 70
  52. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 95
  53. ^ Fred & Rose p. 170
  54. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 79
  55. ^ a b c d e f g Fred and Rose West- The House Of Horrors 3/4 on YouTube
  56. ^ The Lost Girl by Caroline Roberts
  57. ^ Fred & Rose p. 134
  58. ^ "Surviving Fred and Rose". BBC News. 24 February 2004. Retrieved 1 June 2008. 
  59. ^ Fred & Rose p. 344
  60. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 48
  61. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 55
  62. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 98
  63. ^ Sounes, Howard (1995), Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors, London: Warner Books. ISBN 0-7515-1322-9, p.187.
  64. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 75
  65. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street pp. 75-76
  66. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 79
  67. ^ Fred & Rose p. 192
  68. ^ Fred & Rose p. 197
  69. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 86
  70. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 90
  71. ^ Fred & Rose p. 227
  72. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 95
  73. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 99
  74. ^ "Fred and Rose West – House of Horrors" Retrieved 13 July 2007
  75. ^ "1995: Serial killer West found hanged". British Broadcasting Corporation. 1 January 1995. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  76. ^ Fred & Rose" p. 287
  77. ^ "Suicide in Birmingham saw Fred West cheat justice". Birmingham Mail. 16 Feb 2011. Retrieved 14 Oct 2014. 
  78. ^ "There's more to our Barry Island than a TV comedy". Wales Online. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  79. ^ "Fred and Rose West – Endgame" Retrieved 13 July 2007
  80. ^ "Witness in West trial 'killed himself'". The Independent. 23 January 1996. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  81. ^ McCann, Jaymi (7 September 2014). "Fred West police ignored warning from my husband". Terry Crick suicide after Fred West Warning not acted upon by police. The Sunday Express. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  82. ^ "Fred West House to be Demolished". The Independent. 4 October 1996. Retrieved 1 June 2008. 
  83. ^ Fred & Rose p. 270
  84. ^ "How Many More did Fred West Kill?". 2001-09-27. Retrieved 2016-10-24. 
  85. ^ "Fred West 'Confessed to 20 More Killings'". The Wahkiakum County Eagle. November 14, 1995. Retrieved October 23, 2016. 
  86. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 245
  87. ^ "Mary Bastholm Online Petition Launched". Gloucester Live. January 4, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2016. 
  88. ^ "How Many More did Fred West Kill?". 2001-09-27. Retrieved 2016-10-24. 
  89. ^ Fred & Rose p. 114
  90. ^ Fred & Rose p. 119
  91. ^ Fred & Rose pp. 145-146
  92. ^ "Amis pays tribute to victim", The Times, 17 April 1995.
  93. ^ "When Darkness met Light". The Guardian. May 11, 2000. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  94. ^ Fred & Rose p. 154
  95. ^ Fred & Rose p. 156
  96. ^ Fred & Rose p. 160
  97. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 255
  98. ^ Fred & Rose p. 179
  99. ^ "Fred West 'admitted killing waitress', BBC News 25 March 1998". BBC News. 25 March 1998. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  100. ^ Happy Like Murderers, Gordon Burn, pp. 146-147
  101. ^ Scary Bitches: 15 of the Scariest Women You'll Ever Meet! - William Webb - Google Books. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  102. ^ Ferguson, Ian (15 February 2004). "There's nobody home...". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 

Cited works and further reading[edit]

  • Bennett, John (2005). The Cromwell Street Murders: The Detective's Story. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-750-94273-8. 
  • Blundell, Nigel (1996). Encyclopaedia of Serial Killers. Promotional Reprint Company Ltd. ISBN 1-856-48328-2. 
  • Burn, Gordon (1998). Happy Like Murderers. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-19546-6. 
  • Carter Woodrow, Jane (2011). Rose West: The making of a Monster. Hodder & Stoughton (UK). ISBN 978-0-340-99247-0. 
  • Masters, Brian (1996). She Must Have Known: Trial of Rosemary West. London: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-40650-9. 
  • Partington, Marian (2012). If You Sit Very Still. Vala Publishing Co-operative. ISBN 978-1-908-36302-2. 
  • Roberts, Caroline (2005). The Lost Girl: How I Triumphed Over Life at the Mercy of Fred and Rose West. London: Metro Books. ISBN 1-84358-088-8. 
  • Roberts, Caroline; Richards, Stephen (2012). The One That Got Away: My Life Living with Fred and Rose West. London: Metro Books. ISBN 978-1-857-82992-1. 
  • Sounes, Howard (1995). Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors. London: Warner Books. ISBN 0-7515-1322-9. 
  • Wansell, Geoffrey (1996). An Evil Love: The Life of Frederick West. London: Hodder Headline. ISBN 0-7472-1760-2. 
  • West, Anne Marie (1995). Out of the Shadows: Fred West's Daughter Tells Her Harrowing Story of Survival. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-71968-8. 
  • West, Mae; West, Stephen (1995). Inside 25 Cromwell Street: The Terrifying, True Story of Life with Fred and Rose West. The Bath Press. ISBN 1-898-88514-1. 
  • Wilson, Colin (1998). The Corpse Garden. London: True Crime Library. ISBN 1-874358-24-9. 
  • Woodrow, Jane (2011). Rose West: The Making of a Monster. Hodder. ISBN 978-0-340-99248-7. 

External links[edit]