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Fred West

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For other people with the same name, see Frederick West.
Fred West
FredandRoseWest.jpg
Frederick 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 Asphyxia
Criminal penalty Committed suicide prior to conviction
Spouse(s) Catherine Costello (m. 1962; her murder 1971)
Rosemary Letts (m. 1972; his suicide 1995)
Conviction(s) Earlier convictions for:
Actual bodily harm
Child molestation
Deception
Indecent assault
Possession of stolen goods
Sexual assault
Theft
Unpaid fines
Killings
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 who committed at least 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, at least eight of which were committed for their shared sexual gratification and which included the victims' rape, bondage, torture and mutilation 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] Rose West was sentenced to 10 terms of life imprisonment in November 1995, after having been found guilty on 10 counts of murder. She would later be subjected to a whole life tariff.[4]

As most of the Wests' victims' bodies were buried at their home at 25 Cromwell Street, the address acquired the name "the House of Horrors."[5]

Early life[edit]

Childhood[edit]

Frederick Walter Stephen West was born on 29 September 1941 at Bickerton Cottage, Much Marcle, Herefordshire,[6] the first surviving child born to Walter Stephen West (5 July 1914 – 28 March 1992) and Daisy Hannah Hill (20 May 1922 – 6 February 1968).[7][8] Fred was born into a poor family of farm workers, with his father being a disciplinarian, and his mother overly protective of her children.[9]

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.[10] By 1951, Fred's mother had given birth to eight children, six of whom survived, although Fred would always remain his mother's favourite child.[11] 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.[12] 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 work to survive or to earn a reward would instill a strong work ethic within Fred; this was a trait that would remain with him for the remainder of his life.[13] Nonetheless, Fred also developed a lifelong habit of petty theft, the attitude to which may have also 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."[14]

At school, Fred did not excel academically. Classmates recall him being a scruffy, dim, and lethargic child, who was 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,[15] and initially worked as an unskilled labourer at Moorcourt Farm.

Fred developed an interest in sex at an early age, and would later admit his sexual appetite would keep him in an almost permanent state of desire. 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.[16] All these claims were never proven,[17] and would be hotly disputed by Fred's youngest brother, Doug, who dismissed these claims as being nothing more than pure fantasy on Fred's part.[18]

Adolescence[edit]

By 1957, Fred and his younger brother, John, would socialise at a youth club in the nearby market town of Ledbury. Due to his extremely distinct and guttural Herefordshire accent, 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 had by mid-adolescence objectified as sources of pleasure to be used as he saw fit, irrespective of whether they liked him or not. As such, any girl whom Fred liked, he would typically approach and sexually fondle—often without a word being exchanged between them.[19] On the rare occasion a girl acquiesced to Fred's advances, she would find his sexual performance sterile, as despite his high sex drive, Fred's primary desire was self-gratification.[20]

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.[21] His family 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 sustain a further 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.[22]

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 the Glasgow district of Bridgeton but had been visiting a friend in England when she met Fred. The couple began a brief courtship, although after several months, Costello chose to end this relationship and return to Scotland.[23] 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. Disgusted, Fred's mother reported her son to police, who promptly arrested Fred. When questioned by police as to his attitudes towards sex, Fred freely admitted to having molested young girls since his early teens, before innocuously asking officers the question, "Doesn't everybody do it?"[24]

Fred was brought to trial at Herefordshire Assizes on 9 November 1961, charged with the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl. Despite her disgust at her son's actions, Daisy had been prepared to testify as a defence witness. This may have been a factor in Kitty choosing to refuse to give evidence against her brother on the day of the trial.[25] As such, the trial collapsed.[26]

Although Fred walked free from court, much of his family effectively disowned him.[27] His mother banished him from her household, and he moved into the Much Marcle household of his aunt Violet. However, by the summer of 1962, Fred had reconciled with his parents, although the relationship between Fred and most of his immediate family would remain fraught.[28]

Marriage[edit]

In September 1962, the 21-year-old Fred became re-acquainted with Catherine Costello. Costello was already pregnant by a Pakistani bus driver, and speculation remains she had opted to relocate from Glasgow to England due to the mixed ancestry of her child (race mixing was then a social stigma in the United Kingdom). Fred and Costello married in the market town of Ledbury on 17 November, with the sole guest at this ceremony being Fred's younger brother, John.[29] The couple initially moved into his aunt's home, before announcing their intentions to relocate to Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, where Fred soon found employment as an ice cream van driver. Her daughter, Charmaine Carol Mary, was born on 22 March 1963.[30][31] To hide the child's mixed ancestry, Costello and Fred concocted a story that she had suffered a miscarriage, and that they had adopted Charmaine. In July 1964, Costello—having by this stage relocated to Bridgeton—bore Fred a daughter named Anna Marie, who was born at the couple's Savoy Street home. Although Costello did occasionally host drinking parties at this address, she was noted by neighbours as being a "nice young woman struggling to bring up two children", who were observed to be "immaculate" in appearance.[32] In 1965, Costello became acquainted with a young woman named Isa McNeill, whom she and Fred offered employment as their children's nanny. In this employment, McNeill noted that although Costello was generally a considerate mother, Fred treated both children harshly, and was horrified to discover his practice of having the girls sleep in the bottom of a bunk-bed, with bars from a cot securing the space between the bunks, effectively caging the girls inside, and his insistence the children only be allowed out of this confine when he was at work.[33] Shortly thereafter, the Wests became acquainted with McNeill's friend, Anne McFall, then aged 16 and despondent due to the death of her boyfriend in a workplace accident. As such, McFall spent a great deal of time at the Wests' flat.[34]

"I remember giving him a very sore face after he struck the little lassie, Charmaine, for asking for a cone from his ice cream van. Any ordinary man would have given the child some ice cream, but instead he smashed her round the head with his hand. I would not stand for that. It was obvious even than that he was a violent and sadistic bastard who enjoyed beating up women and kids."

John McLachlan, reflecting on Fred West's attitude towards his stepdaughter, Charmaine West as he resided in Glasgow in the 1960s. November, 1995.[35]

Fred later admitted to having engaged in numerous affairs in the early years of his marriage, and is known to have fathered one illegitimate child with a woman from the Gorbals. When Costello discovered her husband's infidelity, she began an affair of her own with a man named John McLachlan. On one occasion, Fred discovered the pair in an embrace. In response, he yelled, "Up to the house!" before punching Costello, making her scream. In response, McLachlan punched Fred, who then drew a knife and grazed McLachlan's stomach. When punched by McLachlan a second time, Fred ceased attempting to defend himself. Years later, McLachlan recollected this incident with the words: "He couldn't tackle a man, but he wasn't so slow in attacking women."[36] He and Costello would continue their affair, and McLachlan would become increasingly aghast the bruises and black eyes he noted upon Costello's body which "would make any man sick". On each occasion it became apparent Fred had beaten his wife, McLachlan would extensively beat Fred.[37] On another occasion, McLachlan witnessed Charmaine—at the time little more than a toddler—ask Fred for an ice cream from his van; in response, Fred struck the child across the head, resulting in McLachlan again beating Fred.[38]

On 4 November 1965, Fred accidentally ran over and killed a four-year-old boy named Michael O'Keefe with his van.[39] Although cleared of any wrongdoing by police,[40] Fred 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, in December, he chose to return to Gloucester with Charmaine and Anna Marie. Shortly thereafter, he found employment driving a lorry for a local abbatoir. Costello did not accompany him, but would do so in February 1966,[41] having been informed by Fred he was now living in a large home, though in actual fact he and his children lived at the Timberland Caravan Park at Bishop's Cleeve, Gloucestershire. Costello was accompanied by both Isa McNeill and Anne McFall, who also moved into Fred's caravan. (McNeill and McFall both hailed from impoverished backgrounds; both hoped to find work in England.[42])

By the spring of 1966, Fred had begun to exhibit dominance and control over all three women. He was also prone to violent mood swings, and although both Costello and McNeill typically bore the brunt of his fury, Fred is also known to have physically attacked his stepdaughter on more than one occasion. He is also reported to have encouraged Costello to turn to prostitution to supplement his meager income.[43]

To escape Fred's increasingly sadistic sexual demands and the domestic violence he inflicted, Costello phoned John McLachlan, begging him to drive to Much Marcle to rescue her, McNeill and her children. Together, McLachlan, Costello, and McNeill devised a plan whereby McLachlan and Isa's boyfriend, John Trotter,[44] would secretly drive to Bishop's Cleeve in McLachlan's Mini and discreetly and whisk Costello, her children and McNeill to Scotland[45] while Fred was at work; however, McFall had by this stage become infatuated with Fred, who had promised to marry her. It is likely she informed Fred of this plan,[46] as not only did Fred arrive at the prescheduled arrival time, but McFall was "oddly calm" as she informed McNeill she intended to remain with Fred to work as the children's nanny. An altercation ensued between Fred and McLachlan, resulting in Fred being struck several times, although he refused to release his grasp on Charmaine and Anna Marie. Police were called to the scene, resulting in McLachlan, Trotter, McNeill, and Costello leaving as Fred hissed a threat to kill Costello should he ever see her again. As McLachlan drove from Bishop's Cleeve, Costello openly sobbed to her friends as she vocalised her concerns as to her daughters' welfare.[47]

To ensure her daughters' well-being, Costello would frequently travel to England to visit Charmaine and Anna Marie while they resided with Fred in his caravan at Bishop's Cleeve,[48] and did briefly reside at the Timberland Caravan Park in the village of Brockworth in order that she could remain close to her daughters. Despite initially maintaining her friendship with McFall, Costello soon began to resent her matriarchal presence around her daughters. On 11 October,[49] in an act of resentment and spite, Costello stole some belongings from Fred's caravan, and returned to Glasgow. She would be arrested the following month and returned to Gloucester to face trial. On 29 November, Costello was sentenced to three years' probation. Fred testified at this hearing; admitting he and McFall were living together, but falsely claiming she (McFall) intended to return to Scotland imminently.[50]

Following the trial, McFall moved into a caravan at the Timberland Caravan Park; Costello alternated between living with Fred and returning to Glasgow. Letters McFall posted to her family and Isa McNeill in Glasgow between 1966 and 1967 indicate she likely believed a relationship with Fred would offer her a better life than that she had experienced in Scotland,[51] and she is known to have tried to persuade Fred to divorce his wife in order that he would marry her.

Murder of Anne McFall[edit]

In July 1967, McFall, aged 18 and either six or seven months pregnant with Fred's child, vanished. 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. Her limbs were carefully disarticulated, and many phalange bones were missing from her body—likely retained as keepsakes. Numerous sections of clothing and sections of curtains were found within two clear plastic bags alongside her remains, and the foetus of her unborn child may have been cut from her womb. 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 them, with this section of cord also coiled beneath her rib bones, suggesting she had been restrained prior to her murder.[52]

The following month, Costello returned to live with Fred, and the couple relocated to the Lake House Caravan Park. Although their relationship initially improved, Costello would again leave Fred the following year; again leaving the children in his care. On the occasions at the Lake House Caravan Park when Fred had no woman to supervise and care for the girls, he would temporarily place the children in the care of Gloucester social services.[53]

Rosemary Letts[edit]

Fred West first encountered Rosemary Letts in early 1969 (shortly after her 15th birthday).[54] 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 continued to lavish upon her over the following days as he invariably sat alongside her at the same bus stop. Reportedly, Rose twice refused to accompany Fred upon a date, although she agreed to allow him to accompany her home. In their initial conversations, Fred quickly discovered that although Rose had never had a boyfriend, she was overtly promiscuous. He also extracted a degree of sympathy from her by claiming he and his two daughters had been abandoned by his wife, and that he wished for more children.[55]

Having discovered Rose worked in a nearby bread shop, a few days after their first encounter, Fred persuaded an unknown woman enter these premises and present her with a gift accompanied by the explanation a "man outside" had asked her to present this gift to her.[56] Minutes later, Fred entered these premises and asked Rose to accompany him on a date that evening; an offer she accepted.[57] Shortly thereafter, Rose began a relationship with Fred, becoming a frequent visitor at the Lake House Caravan Park in Bishops Cleeve, and a willing childminder to Charmaine and Anna Marie, whom she noted were neglected and whom she initially treated with care and affection. On several occasions in the early days of their courtship, Rose would insist she and Fred took the girls on excursions to gather wild flowers.

Within weeks of her first meeting Fred, Rose quit her employment at the bread shop in order to become the nanny to Charmaine and Anna Marie; this decision was made with the agreement Fred would provide her with sufficient money to give to her parents on Fridays to convince them she was still obtaining a salary at the bread shop.[58] Several months later, Rose chose to introduce Fred to her family, who were aghast at their daughter's choice of partner. Rose's mother, Daisy Letts, was unimpressed with Fred's braggadocio, and correctly concluded he was a pathological liar; her father, Bill Letts—a registered schizophrenic—vehemently disapproved of the relationship, both threatening Fred directly, and promising to call the social services if he continued to date his daughter.[59]

Relationship[edit]

Although Rose's parents forbade their daughter from continuing to date Fred, she defied their wishes, prompting them to visit Gloucestershire social services to explain that their 15-year-old daughter was dating an older man, and that in addition, they had heard rumours Rose had begun to engage in prostitution at his caravan.[60] In response, Rose was placed in a home for troubled teenagers in Cheltenham in the summer of 1969, and she was only allowed to leave these premises under controlled conditions. Although allowed to return home to visit her parents at weekends, Rose almost invariably used these opportunities to visit Fred.[61]

On her 16th birthday, Rose left the home for troubled teenagers to return to her parents (Fred at the time serving a 30-day sentence for theft and unpaid fines). Upon Fred's release, Rose left her parents' home to move into the Cheltenham flat Fred then resided in. Shortly thereafter, Fred collected Charmaine and Anna Marie from the social services. Bill Letts did make one final effort to prevent his daughter from seeing Fred, and Rose was examined by a police surgeon in February 1970, who confirmed she was pregnant. In response, Rose was again placed into care, although she would be discharged on 6 March on the understanding she would terminate her pregnancy and return to her family. Instead, Rose opted to live with Fred, resulting in her father forbidding his daughter from ever again setting foot in his household.[62]

Three months later, the couple vacated the Cheltenham flat and relocated to the ground floor flat of a two-storey house in Midland Road, Gloucester. On 17 October 1970, Rose 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).[63] Two months later, Fred 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, with both Charmaine and Anna Marie being informed to refer to Rose as their mother.[64]

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 Rose 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,[65] and she would talk wistfully to Anna Marie of the belief she held her "mummy will come and save me".[66] 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.[67] 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.[68]

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.[69]

Murder of Charmaine West[edit]

Rose 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!"[70] before Tracey began to weep.

As with the Giles family, Rose explained Charmaine's disappearance to others who enquired 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."[71]

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 naked 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 (although this damage may have been caused by building work Fred conducted at the property in 1976). 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).[72]

Murder of Catherine Costello[edit]

Catherine Costello maintained sporadic contact with her children on each occasion she and Fred separated. She is known to have visited Moorcourt Cottage to enquire as to her children's whereabouts sometime in the latter half of August 1971.[73] 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.[74] When her body was discovered, a short length of metal tubing was found with her remains, leaving an equal possibility she had been restrained and subjected to a sexual assault prior to her murder. Costello's body was extensively dismembered, placed into plastic bags, and buried close to a cluster of trees known as Yewtree Coppice at Letterbox Field.[75]

Marriage[edit]

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.[76] 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 three-storey home was rented from the council, although Fred would later purchase the property from the council for £7,000.[77] To facilitate the Wests' purchasing the property from the council, many of the upper floor rooms would initially be converted into bedsits, to supplement the household income. To maintain a degree of privacy for his own family, Fred installed a cooker and a washbasin on the first-floor landing in order that their lodgers need not enter the ground floor where the West family lived, and only he and his family were permitted access to the garden of the property. On 1 June, Rose gave birth to a second daughter. Due to the actual date of her birth, Fred and Rose named this child Mae June.[78]

Prostitution[edit]

Shortly after giving birth to her second child, Rose began to work as a prostitute, operating from an upstairs room at their residence and advertising her services in a local contact magazine, and despite Fred being a known racist,[79] he is known to have encouraged Rose to seek clients in Gloucester's West Indian community through these advertisements. In addition to her prostitution, Rose engaged in sexual relations with several male and female lodgers who either resided in the household, or whom Fred encountered via his work, and she is known to have bragged to several individuals that no man or woman could completely satisfy her.[80] When engaging in sexual relations with women, Rose would gradually increase the level of brutality to which she subjected her partner with acts such as partially suffocating her partner, or inserting increasingly large dildos into her body. If the woman resisted or expressed any pain or fear, this would greatly excite Rose, who would typically ask the question: "Aren't you woman enough to take it?"[81]

To many of these women, it became apparent Rose and her husband (who regularly participated in threesomes with his wife and her lovers) took a particular pleasure from seeking to take women beyond their sexual limits—typically via sessions involving bondage, as the Wests openly admitted to taking a particular pleasure from any form of sex involving a strong measure of dominance, pain and violence. To cater to these fetishes, they would amass a large collection of bondage and restraining devices in addition to material in both magazine and photographic format, and would later expand this collection to include several videos depicting both bestiality, and graphic child sexual abuse.[82]

The household finances of the West household were controlled by Rose, and each wage packet Fred earned would be handed to his wife.[83] The room Rose used for prostitution was known throughout the West household as "Rose's Room", and had several hidden peepholes in order that Fred—having long held an interest in voyeurism—could watch his wife entertain her clients. He would also install a portable baby monitor in the room in order that he could listen to Rose entertain her clients whenever he was elsewhere in the household. The room was fitted with a private bar, and the door outside was fitted with a red light which illuminated whenever Rose was entertaining her clients, and all family members were informed not to disturb Rose whenever this bulb was illuminated. Rose carried the sole key to this room around her neck in order that neither her children or the lodgers could interfere.[84] Furthermore, Fred fitted a separate doorbell to the household which all Rose's clients were instructed to ring whenever they arrived to engage in sex with her. Much of the money earned from Rose's prostitution would be spent on various home improvements.[85]

By 1977 Rose's father had come to tolerate his daughter's marriage, and to develop a grudging respect for Fred. Together, he and Fred opened a café they named The Green Lantern, although this enterprise was short lived, as the business would become bankrupt.[86] Reportedly, when Bill Letts discovered Rose's prostitution, he would also visit their home to engage in sex with his daughter.[87] By 1983, she would give birth to eight children, at least three of whom were conceived by clients to whom she prostituted herself. Fred willingly accepted these children as his own, and would falsely inform them the reason their skin was darker than that of their siblings was because his own great-grandmother was a black woman.[88]

Domestic violence[edit]

When each of the West children reached the age of seven, they were assigned numerous daily chores to perform within their household; all were very seldom allowed to socialise outside the household perimeters unless either Fred or Rose were present, 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 (although Rose would always take great care not to mark the children's faces or hands in these assaults). Both Heather, then her younger brother Stephen (who had been born in August 1973) are known to have ran away from home, although both children returned to Cromwell Street after several weeks of alternately sleeping rough or staying with friends. Both were beaten when they returned home.[89] 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.[90]

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!"[91] 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!"[92] 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 run 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."[93]

One of the many household chores Anna Marie was delegated in the mid-1970s was cleaning the children's playroom (then located in the cellar). As her own childhood had effectively ended at age eight, she would occasionally play with any of the few toys all the West children owned as she performed these chores. When she discovered Heather and Mae did own a few dolls, Anna Marie would occasionally fleetingly play with her sisters' dolls as she tidied their playroom, although if her sisters left any of their dolls naked and with their limbs contorted, she would impulsively straighten the dolls' limbs and dress them, before covering all the dolls with a piece of cloth.[94]

Initial sexual assaults[edit]

Anna Marie West[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.[95] She was then stripped naked, bound to a mattress and gagged before Fred raped her[96] 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."[97] Making clear these sexual assaults would continue, both Fred and Rose then threatened the child she would receive severe beatings if they ever received word she had divulged the sexual abuse she endured at their hands.[98]

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,[99] and forcing her to perform household chores while wearing sexual devices and a mini-skirt. 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,[100] to ensure the girl did not reveal her true age.[101] On one occasion when Anna Marie was aged either 13 or 14, Rose took the girl to a local pub, insisting she drink several glasses of barley wine. Several hours later, Fred arrived at the pub to collect Rose and Anna Marie. Once the trio had left the premises, Anna Marie was bundled into her father's van and beaten by Rose, who asked the girl the question: "Do you think you could be my friend?" before she was sexually abused by both her father and stepmother.[102]

Caroline Owens[edit]

In October 1972, the Wests hired 17-year-old Caroline Owens as their children's nanny. They had picked up the girl one night on a secluded country road as she hitchhiked home from Tewkesbury to her Cinderford home, having visited her boyfriend. Learning the girl held a dislike for her stepfather and was looking for a job, the Wests offered her part-time employment as a nanny to the three children then in their household, with a promise she would be driven home each Tuesday. Several days later, Owens moved into 25 Cromwell Street, sharing a room with Anna Marie, whom Owens noted was "very withdrawn".[103]

Rose, who had begun to engage in prostitution by this time, explained to Owens that she worked as a masseuse when the younger woman enquired about the steady stream of men visiting her.[104] According to Owens, Fred also explained to her he was a skilled abortionist, who would be willing to perform this service should she ever need him to do so. Owens also noted Fred talked about sex almost incessantly; her suspicious as to his sexual overtones would be further heightened when Fred boasted that many of the women he claimed to have performed abortions upon were so overjoyed that they would offer him their sexual services as a reward.[104] When Owens herself became the recipient of the Wests' overt sexual advances, she announced her intentions to leave Cromwell Street and return home.[105]

Knowing Owens' habits of hitchhiking along the A40 between Cinderford and Tewkesbury, 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.[106] On 6 December 1972, the couple lured Owens into their vehicle with an apology for their conduct and the offer of a lift home.[104] Initially, Owens believed the Wests had been sincere in their apologies to her and obliged, believing she had simply mistaken their earlier intentions. Rose joined her in the back seat, with the explanation she wanted a "girls' chat" as Fred drove.

Shortly thereafter, Rose began to fondle the girl, as Fred questioned as to whether she had engaged in sex with her boyfriend that evening.[107] When Owens began to protest, Fred stopped the car, referred to Owens as a "bitch", and punched her into unconsciousness, before he and Rose bound and gagged the girl with a scarf and duct tape.[108] In her subsequent statement to police, Owens stated that, at Cromwell Street, she was given a drugged cup of tea to drink, then again gagged and subjected to a prolonged sexual assault from both individuals. At one stage, Fred remarked that Owens' clitoris was unusual[104] before proceeding to lash her genitals with a leather belt. When Owens screamed, Rose again smothered her with a pillow and further restrained her about the neck, before proceeding to perform cunnilingus upon the girl. Quickly realising the gravity of her situation, Owens ceased resisting their sexual assaults.[104]

The following morning, having noted Owens' screaming when one of his children had knocked on the door of the room in which she was restrained, Fred threatened the girl that he and his wife would keep her locked up in the cellar and allow his "black friends" to abuse her, and that when they had finished, he would bury her body beneath "the paving stones of Gloucester".[104] Fred then claimed he had killed hundreds of young girls,[104] adding that she (Owens) had primarily been brought to the house for "Rose's pleasure". He and Rose then calmly asked Owens whether she would consider returning to work as their nanny. Seeing her escape avenue, Owens agreed, before vacuuming the house to indicate her belief in becoming an extended member of the family. Later that day, Owens escaped from a launderette she and Rose had entered and returned home. Although initially too ashamed to divulge to her mother what had happened, when her mother noted the welts, bruises and exposed subcutaneous tissues on her daughter's body, Owens burst into tears and confided what had happened.[109]

Owens' mother immediately reported her daughter's ordeal to the police, and the Wests were arrested and charged with assault, indecent assault, actual bodily harm, and rape. The case was tried at Gloucester Magistrates Court on 12 January 1973, although by this date, Owens had decided she could not face the ordeal of testifying in court. As such, all charges pertaining to Owens' sexual abuse were dropped, and the Wests agreed to plead guilty to the reduced charges of indecent assault and causing actual bodily harm; each was fined £50, and the couple were allowed to walk free from court.[110] (When Owens heard this news, she attempted to commit suicide.[111])

Murders[edit]

Three months after the Wests walked free from Gloucester Magistrates Court, the couple committed their first known murder. The victim was a 19-year-old named Lynda Gough, with whom Fred and Rose became acquainted through a male lodger in early 1973. Gough regularly visited Cromwell Street, and is known to have engaged in affairs with two male lodgers. On 19 April, she moved into Cromwell Street, although on or about 20 April,[112] other tenants were informed she had been informed to leave the household after she had hit one of their children. This story was repeated to the girl's mother when she contacted the Wests to enquire as to her daughter's whereabouts (although Rose had been wearing Lynda's clothing when she repeated this claim). When Lynda's dismembered body was found, her jaw was completely wrapped in both adhesive and surgical tape to silence her screams, and two small tubes had likely been inserted into her nasal cavities to facilitate breathing. Long sections of string and sections of knotted fabric were also discovered with her remains. Lynda had likely been suspended from holes carved into the wooden beams supporting the ceiling of the cellar Fred would later admit he had devised for the purpose of suspending his victims' bodies, and likely died of strangulation or suffocation.[113] Her dismembered body, missing five cervical vertebrae bones in addition to her patellae and numerous phalange bones, was buried in an inspection pit beneath the garage.[114]

From their later investigations, police and forensic experts concluded all the victims found in the cellar at 25 Cromwell Street had been murdered in this location, and that like Lynda Gough, each had been dismembered in this location.[115] Five victims would be murdered and buried in the cellar at Cromwell Street between November 1973 and April 1975. The first of these five victims, 15-year-old Carol Ann Cooper, was abducted on 10 November 1973. Cooper lived in the Pines Children's Home in Worcester at the time of her abduction, and was abducted after spending the evening at a cinema with her boyfriend. She had been waiting for a bus when she vanished, and was likely dragged into Fred's car,[116] where her face was bound with surgical tape and her arms bound with braiding cloth before she was driven to Cromwell Street. At the Wests' address, Cooper was suspended from the wooden beams of the cellar ceiling before her abuse and murder. As had been the case with Lynda Gough, Carol Cooper either died as a result of strangulation or asphyxiation before her dismembered body was buried in a shallow, cubicle grave in the cellar.

Over the following 17 months, four further victims between the ages of 15 and 21 would suffer a similar fate to that endured by Gough and Cooper, although the disarticulation conducted upon each successive victim, plus the paraphernalia discovered in each shallow grave, suggests each victim was likely subjected to greater depths of depravity, abuse and torture than that endured by previous victims.[117]

Following the murder of 18-year-old Juanita Mott in April 1975, Fred concreted over the floor of the entire cellar. He would later convert this section of the household into a bedroom for his oldest children,[118] and he and his wife are not known to have committed any further murders until May 1978, when Fred—either with or without Rose's participation but certainly with her knowledge—murdered an 18-year-old lodger named Shirley Robinson. Robinson had taken lodgings with the Wests in April 1977, and was heavily pregnant with a baby son at the time of her murder. Although Rose—herself pregnant at the time—is known to have initially boasted to neighbours the child Robinson was carrying was her husband's,[119] she soon developed a deep resentment of Robinson, and the motive for her murder is likely to have been the removal of a threat to the stability of the Wests' relationship. Her body was buried in the garden of 25 Cromwell Street, and although extensively dismembered, no restraining devices were found with Robinson's remains, thus making a sexual motive for this murder unlikely.[120] As had earlier been the case with Charmaine West and Lynda Gough, Fred and Rose allayed the suspicions of anyone who enquired as to Robinson's whereabouts by claiming she had relocated to live with her father in West Germany.[121]

The final murder Fred and Rose are known to have committed with a definite sexual motive occurred on 5 August 1979. The victim was a 16-year-old named Alison Chambers, who had run away from a local children's home to live with the Wests in the summer of 1979. Chambers is believed to have lived within their household for several weeks before her murder, and Rose is known to have promised the impressionable girl she could live at a rural "peaceful farm" she claimed she and Fred owned.[122] Her body was also buried in the garden of Cromwell Street, and although Chambers was likely dismembered, her skeleton was not marked by striations as the earlier victims' bodies had been.[123] In an effort to allay any concerns from Chambers' family (with whom the girl maintained regular correspondence), Fred and Rose later posted a letter penned by Chambers to her mother prior to her murder from a Northamptonshire post box.[124]

Abuse[edit]

Both Heather and Mae West became the focus of Fred's incestuous[63] sexual attentions after Anna Marie ran away from home at age 15 in 1979[125] after enduring a particularly severe beating from Rose to her stomach just days after being discharged from hospital for treatment of an ectopic pregnancy.[126] The frequency of the abuse endured by Heather and Mae 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. In addition, both girls developed a regime whereby they would only shower or undress when their father was either out of the house, or as her sister stood guard at the door. 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).[127]

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,[128] whereas Heather, Mae recollected, "was affected quite badly by all of this. [Even] more than me."[129] A strong suspicion remains that, by 1985 or 1986, Heather had been forced to engage in intercourse with her father,[130] as by the mid-1980s, she 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; her sleep being repeatedly broken by nightmares; and her repeatedly bouncing back and forth as she sat on any chair.[131] This distressful behaviour led to both Fred and Rose suspecting Heather held lesbianic inclinations, and also resulted in the girl becoming the increasing recipient of taunts from her father (who had never particularly held a liking toward Heather) that she was "ugly" and a "bitch".[132]

Heather is also known to have expressed to Mae and Stephen her desire 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. Staff at the Hucclecote Secondary School, which Heather and her siblings attended, are also known to have expressed concern as to why Heather—a studious and obedient pupil—refused to obey orders either to change her clothing into sports attire to participate in sporting activity or to comply with the school regulation that all pupils must take a shower after these sports activities. On one occasion, she was forced to take a shower, resulting in her peers and staff noting her arms, legs and torso were covered in welts and bruises in various stages of healing.[133] Heather attempted to excuse these injuries as having been obtained in fights with her siblings, although she would confide in one close friend that the injuries had been inflicted by her parents, adding that her mother considered her a "little bitch" who deserved her beatings.[134]

By the mid-1980s, rumours of Rose's sex life had reached several of the children's classmates, and although the West children had been instructed never to divulge details of their home lives to their peers, Heather did confide to her friends that many of these rumours were true. The father of one of these classmates was a friend of the Wests; as such, word soon reached Fred and Rose that Heather had divulged details of her home life—including details of her mother's promiscuity—to her classmates. Fred was so concerned by these revelations that he began to escort Heather to and from school.[135]

After Heather left school in the summer of 1987, she applied for numerous jobs in an effort to leave Cromwell Street. By June, 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 this application had been unsuccessful on 18 June. 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,[136] and according to Mae, she "cried all the way through the night." The following morning (19 June),[137] Heather was "back to her usual self, looking miserable, biting her nails and sitting on the couch bouncing back and forth as she sat"[63] 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.[138] Furthermore, on 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 either misbehaved or divulged the mistreatment they endured to anyone outside the household. With Rose's approval, he would later construct a barbecue pit immediately opposite where Heather had been buried, and would deliberately place a pine table atop her grave for the children of the family to sit upon whenever the Wests held family gatherings in their garden.[139]

Heather's disappearance, Fred and Rose's constantly changing stories as to their daughter's whereabouts, plus their 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 police enquiries as to Heather's whereabouts. These enquiries would culminate in a search warrant being issued to excavate the Wests' garden in February 1994.[140]

Arrest[edit]

In May 1992, Fred asked his 13-year-old daughter to bring some bottles to a room on the first floor of their home. Rose was not present in the home at the time. Shortly thereafter, the girl's siblings heard her scream, "No, don't!" Later, Fred returned downstairs. The girl was found by her siblings writhing in pain, sobbing that her father had raped and sodomised her, at one stage partially strangling her.[141] When Rose returned home, the girl confided in her mother that she had been raped by Fred, although Rose simply replied, "Oh well. You were asking for it." Over the following days, the girl would be raped on three further occasions,[142] with Fred filming one of these rapes. Several weeks later, the girl garnered the courage to confide in 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 anonymously informed the police.

On 6 August 1992, the police searched the West household on the pretext of searching for stolen property. Although numerous objects of sexual paraphernalia—including 99 pornographic videos of both home-made and commercial nature—were discovered, police did not find the video depicting the rape of Fred's daughter. Nonetheless, the 13-year-old made a full statement through a specially-trained solicitor, describing her father's actions, the fact the sexual abuse had begun when she was 11, and that her mother had been casually indifferent to her plight. All the children in the household were placed in foster care the following day;[143] each would be subjected to a medical examination. The results of these tests revealed that, in addition to having endured physical abuse, other children within the household had also been the recipient of sexual interference. When questioned as to the physical abuse they had endured, the children revealed the majority of this violence had been inflicted by their mother and that their father had frequently stated that should he ever receive word they had divulged the abuse and violence which existed within the household, they would be "buried under the patio" like their sister Heather.[144]

Investigation[edit]

Police began a full-scale investigation, eventually leading to Fred being charged with three counts of rape, and one of buggery, with Rose as an accomplice. She was also charged with child cruelty, inciting her husband to engage in sex with her daughter,[145] and obstructing the police. Both Fred and Rose were questioned as to the whereabouts of their eldest daughter, and although Fred claimed Heather was "alive and well" and supporting herself via prostitution, Rose initially claimed to have no knowledge as to Heather's whereabouts, or why she had left home. Nonetheless, she would claim on 11 August that she could "remember now" that her daughter had left home at her own persuasion due to her (Rose's) concerns her other children may discover Heather's supposed lesbian inclinations. Rose then added she had also given her daughter £600 to incentivise her to leave the household, before further claiming to have maintained sporadic telephone contact with her daughter over the years.[146] The following day, Rose was granted bail upon the condition she did not maintain contact with her children, her stepdaughter, or her husband prior to her upcoming trial.

As Fred awaited trial, he was held on remand in Birmingham. Upon learning that her father had denied any wrongdoing, Anna Marie also contacted police to offer a full statement as to her experiences as a child. In a statement given to Detective Constable Hazel Savage, Anna Marie recounted the extensive physical, mental and sexual abuse she had endured as a child at the hands of her father and stepmother, before agreeing to testify against both individuals at their upcoming trial. Anna Marie also added she had, for several years, been unsuccessfully attempting to trace her mother and half-sisters. Further enquiries conducted with Anna Marie's husband, Chris Davis, revealed that Heather had confided in him just how unhappy she was shortly before her disappearance, and of her desire to leave home. Davis elaborated that although Heather had not divulged any details as to her enduring any sexual abuse, he had been so concerned as to her welfare he had offered to confront Fred and Rose, although Heather had dissuaded him from doing so, blurting: "For Christ's sake don't, because they'll kill us both!" Davis then suggested they may wish to speak with Heather to garner further details of her abuse.[147]

In their endeavours to gather further evidence, police and social services also spoke with Mae, who, having spoken with her 13-year-old sister and learned the girl did not wish to see her father charged, initially denied she had endured any molestation as an adolescent.[148] Police then focused their attentions on tracing Heather in efforts to corroborate Anna Marie's claims of sexual abuse, although enquiries conducted with the Inland Revenue and the Social Security department held no records attesting to Heather being alive. Two months later, Gloucester social services also contacted police to stress their concern over the whereabouts of Heather.

This case against the Wests would collapse when Anna Marie her 13-year-old half-sister declined to testify at the court case on 7 June 1993, with the child rape victim expressing her desire to return to her family, and Anna Marie choosing to withdraw her statement both because of her noting the misery of her younger siblings, and her fear of Rose's vindictiveness.[149] Nonetheless, shortly thereafter, Anna Marie spoke further with Detective Constable Savage, further emphasising that her mother and half-sister were also missing.

Search warrant[edit]

Although the Wests acquitted of all charges, all their younger children remained in foster care, albeit with permitted supervised visitations to Cromwell Street, and despite claiming to the few relatives with whom they were not already estranged by 1993 that the charges had been fabricated by police, almost all of their remaining family members severed contact with Fred and Rose.[150] Meanwhile, police continued investigating the disappearance of Heather, noting no records existing indicating she was still alive. When Anna Marie was questioned as to the colloquial "family joke" regarding Heather being buried beneath the patio, she confirmed that the sole time she had heard her father recite this claim, he had immediately burst into laughter, leading to her refusing to take this claim seriously.[151]

In retracing Fred's history, police also learned both Catherine Costello and her daughter Charmaine were missing, but no missing persons reports had ever been filed on either individual. Detective Constable Savage and her colleagues were convinced Heather was deceased, and Fred's repeatedly stating to his children her body lay beneath the family patio may indeed be true. On 23 February 1994, Gloucester police successfully applied for a search warrant authorising the search of 25 Cromwell Street to locate the remains of Heather West.

When police displayed this warrant to Rose West on 24 February, informing her of their intentions to search the property, she turned pale, before becoming hysterical and shouting over her shoulder to her eldest son, Stephen, "Get Fred!"[152] Rose became contradictory in her informal questioning as to the circumstances surrounding Heather's disappearance. When reminded of these contradictions, she became uptight and abusive, shouting at the officers: "I can't fucking remember! It's a bloody long time ago! What do you think I am? A bloody computer?"[153]

Fred had been working at a residential household in Stroud at the time; upon hearing of the police's intentions, Fred assured Stephen he would be home immediately (although he would not arrive home until three hours later). Upon arriving home, Fred informed his family of his intentions to voluntarily offer a witness statement to police regarding his daughter's whereabouts.[154] Despite Fred's insistence in this statement that Heather had been "alive and well", albeit involved a drugs cartel, and that the claims he and his wife had made as to Heather being buried beneath the family patio were simply "rubbish", police were unassuaged. Fred abruptly changed tactics, claiming they simply held a grudge against him due to his 1993 acquittal of the rape of his daughter.[155]

That evening, with the search team having left their premises and a uniformed officer remaining at Cromwell Street to guard the excavation site, both Mae and Stephen observed their parents talking in hushed tones as they repeatedly glanced towards the garden from their kitchen window.[156]

Discoveries[edit]

Arrest of Fred West[edit]

In the early hours of the following morning, as his son was about to leave for work, Fred informed him: "Look son, look after mum and sell the house [...] I've done something really bad. I want you to go to the papers and make as much money as you can."[157] Shortly thereafter, police returned to Cromwell Street to continue their search for Heather's body. Upon their arrival, Fred indicated his wish to be arrested for Heather's murder and to be taken to Bearland police station to provide a full confession; he was then arrested and formally cautioned.[158]

At 11:15 that same morning, Fred formally admitted to police he had indeed killed his daughter, albeit in an act of manslaughter, before divulging that he had dismembered Heather's body before storing her remains in a dustbin as he waited for an opportunity to dig her grave. Fred then added the fact the search team had not yet unearthed Heather's remains was because they had been excavating the wrong section of his garden. He then volunteered to accompany police to the house to pinpoint the precise location of Heather's body.[159] Upon receipt of this confession, Fred's solicitor, Howard Ogden, and his appointed appropriate adult, Janet Leach, informed Mae and Stephen West their father had confessed to their sister's murder. In response, Stephen slumped against a wall and began sobbing; Mae entered a state of shock, before stammering that her father had not killed her sister. (Throughout this initial confession, Fred was insistent his wife had no knowledge of her daughter's murder, claiming he had committed this murder as Rose was preoccupied with one of her clients.)

The following day (26 February), police began excavating the section of the garden at Cromwell Street where Fred indicated he had buried his daughter's body, with his insisting police need not look elsewhere on his property. Shortly after 4 p.m., police found a human thigh bone protruding from a section of the garden Fred had insisted police need not look in. Excavating the section of the garden where Fred had indicated he had buried his daughter's body, investigators discovered a mass of jumbled human remains encased in the remnants of a bin bag and intertwined with two lengths of rope. These dismembered remains were taken to the police headquarters for further examination, where the remains were determined to be those of a young woman, although one kneecap and several phalange bones were missing from the remains,[160] and her fingernails were discovered in a pile, suggesting they may have been torn from her fingers as a means of torture. Several hours later, the body was identified via dental records as being that of Heather West. That evening, having been formally charged with his daughter's murder and questioned as to why police had also discovered a third thigh bone, Fred agreed to return to Cromwell Street to reveal the locations of two further sets of human remains he confessed to having buried in his garden; one of whom he named as Shirley Robinson, whom he described as being a former tenant and a lesbian who had been heavily pregnant with his child at the time of her 1978 murder;[161] the other victim he described (incorrectly) as being "Shirley's mate". Both sets of remains would be discovered on 28 February, and Fred was charged with both murders the same evening.[162]

Having discovered three sets of human remains in the garden, a decision was made to thoroughly search the entire property. Rose was placed into a safe house in the nearby town of Dursley, as police searched the property. Informed of this fact, and with the formal interviews conducted by the investigative team by this stage lasting up to 16 hours each day and including questions as to the whereabouts of Charmaine West and Catherine Costello,[163] Fred authorised his solicitor to pass a note he had written to the leader of the murder investigation: Superintendent John Bennett of the Gloucestershire Police. This note read: "I, Frederick West, authorise my solicitor, Howard Ogden, to advise Superintendent Bennett that I wish to admit a further (approx) nine killings, expressly Charmaine, Rena, Lynda Gough and others to be identified. F. West."[164]

Questioned further as to his claims, Fred calmly explained there were a further five bodies buried in his cellar, and a sixth body beneath the ground-floor bathroom. Most of these victims, Fred claimed, had been hitchhikers or girls he had picked up at bus stops, whom he had murdered in the 1970s. Initially, Fred claimed these six victims had been killed when they had threatened to inform Rose of his infidelity with women, and that he had transported their bodies to Cromwell Street to abuse, dismember, and then bury in shallow graves. The actual dismemberment, Fred claimed, had made it easier to bury the remains in shallow, cubicle graves, and although he refused to divulge the whereabouts of the bones missing from each set of remains, he agreed to return to Cromwell Street to indicate precisely where he had buried each victim.[165]

Between 5 and 8 March, police would find six further bodies of young females at 25 Cromwell Street. Each victim had been extensively mutilated, and each body bore evidence of having been subjected to extreme sexual abuse prior to the act of murder. For example, the third set of remains discovered in the cellar was found with a length of cloth wrapped around the skull, and an oval of adhesive tape 16 inches in circumference found with the remains had likely been used to gag this victim, whose ankles and wrists were also bound with a large section of rope.[166] Also found in this grave was a large, serrated knife. The second set of remains was found with a section of tubing twisted into a U-shape alongside her severed limbs, and her skull was found encased in adhesive tape which had been wrapped around the section where her face had been 11 or 12 times, with a narrow plastic tube inserted where the nasal cavities had been in an obvious effort to facilitate her breathing prior to her murder.[167]

Arrest of Rose West[edit]

Although Fred had been insistent his wife held no knowledge of any of the murders,[168] investigators suspected otherwise. Nonetheless, Rose was not arrested until 20 April 1994, initially on offences relating to the rape of an 11-year-old girl, and the physical assault of an eight-year-old boy—both charges dating from the mid-1970s. The following day. she was refused bail, and transferred to Pucklechurch Prison. Despite Rose protesting her innocence, she was questioned more closely about the murders, in particular those of her daughter and Lynda Gough, and on 25 April, she would be formally charged with Gough's murder. By 6 May, both Fred and Rose would be jointly charged with five counts of murder, with Rose simply replying, "I'm innocent" upon hearing each formal charge.[169] (This would prove to be a continuous trait throughout each of the 46 interviews investigators held with Rose prior to her trial.)

By this stage, Fred had further confessed to the murders of his first wife and stepdaughter, and to hold knowledge of where the remains of Anne McFall lay (although he denied actually killing this particular victim). He agreed to escort officers to each burial location, and each set of remains would be unearthed between 10 April and 7 June.[170]

Formal charges[edit]

Fred and Rose West were brought before a magistrates' court in Gloucester on 30 June 1994; he was charged with 11 murders and she with nine. This was the first time the couple had seen each other since Fred's February arrest. Prior to hearing the formal charges against them, Fred leaned toward his wife and gently placed his hand upon her shoulder; in response, Rose—having ignored her husband's presence—visibly winced in discomfort.[171] Both were ordered by the magistrate to be held on remand before an official trial date would be announced.

As police attempted to lead Fred from the hearing, he resisted their efforts, and again attempted to move towards Rose, who again winced and attempted to writhe away from his grasp.[172]

Immediately after this court appearance, Fred was re-arrested on suspicion of murdering Anne McFall, whose body had been found on 7 June but had not been officially identified; he would be formally charged with McFall's murder on 3 July, appearing in court the following morning.[173]

Diversion of culpability[edit]

As he was held on remand at Birmingham's Winson Green Prison in the months following his arrest, Fred became increasingly depressed as to his predicament. This state of depression would further increase following Rose's public rejection of him at Gloucester Magistrates Court on 30 June, her refusal to reply to letters he sent her, and reports leaked to the press in which she (Rose) had assumed the role of a grieving mother who had lost a daughter and stepdaughter to her husband and in which she declared both her innocence of murder, and her hatred of him.

Although Fred would plead with Stephen and Anna Marie (the only children to visit their father while on remand) to convey to Rose that he loved her, Rose never acknowledged these overtures. In response, Fred withdrew his earlier confessions to having acted alone in the murders, and instead accused his wife of almost total culpability in all the murders to which he had been charged, excluding that of Anne McFall, which he claimed had been committed by his first wife.[174]

Death[edit]

On 1 January 1995, Fred West committed suicide by asphyxiating himself in his Winson Green Prison cell. Although he had been subjected to a strict suicide watch rota upon his arrival at the facility (whereby a warder checked his cell every 15 minutes),[175] he was later placed upon a more relaxed regime, whereby his cell was checked at less frequent intervals.[176]

In an apparent suicide note addressed to Rose found in his cell, Fred 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."[177]

Contrary to many contemporary reports, Fred did not hang himself. Superintendent John Bennett 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 made a rope 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."

Five weeks after Fred's suicide, on 6 February, formal committal proceedings against Rose began. She was charged on this date with 10 murders (charges relating to the murder of Charmaine West having been added to the original nine murder charges following Fred's suicide[178]). At a preliminary hearing held at Winchester Crown Court in May, her solicitor, Leo Goatley, declared his intention to plead not guilty, adding that the evidence against his client was entirely circumstantial. Nonetheless, Goatley conceded this circumstantial evidence did indicate Rose's willingness to subject young girls to various forms of sadistic physical and sexual abuse.[179]

Trial of Rose West[edit]

Rosemary West was brought to trial before Judge Charles Mantell at Winchester Crown Court on 3 October 1995, charged with 10 counts of murder, and two counts of rape and indecent assault of young girls—both dating from the 1970s.[180] The prosecution was led by Brian Leveson QC, and the defence by Richard Ferguson QC.

Initial jury selection began on this date, and would be completed by the following day. Upon completion of jury selection, the chosen jurors were excused for the day in order that both counsels could submit legal arguments before Judge Mantell pertaining to the admissibility of evidence pertaining to the sexual mistreatment three women had endured at the joint hands of Fred and Rose West. Defence counsel Richard Ferguson argued this evidence held no place at the trial, as the testimony was disputed. In response, Brian Leveson successfully argued the testimony of these witnesses was tantamount to similar fact evidence, which established a pattern of behaviour repeated in the murders.[181]

The actual trial itself begin on 6 October. On this date, Brian Leveson began his opening statement on behalf of the prosecution by describing the police's discoveries of the bodies buried at both Cromwell Street and Midland Road as being an uncovering of "secrets more terrible than words can express", before adding that for at least seven of the victims, "their last moments on Earth were as [the] objects of the depravity of this woman and her husband now dead".[182] Leveson portrayed both Fred and Rose as being a couple obsessed with sex and sadism, and contended the murders had been committed by both Rose and her husband.

Chronologically recounting the crimes, Leveson first described the 1971 murder of Charmaine West and the fact Fred had been incarcerated at the time of the child's death, before describing the couple's joint abduction, abuse and subsequent release of Caroline Owens. Referring to their subsequent arrest and release in relation to this case, Leveson stated: "The Wests would never be so trusting again",[183] before outlining the nine murders the prosecution contended Rose and her husband had committed together. In reference to the victims buried in the cellar, Leveson described the sequential burial pattern as resembling a "circle of death".[184] In reference to one of the victims discovered in the cellar, 21-year-old Thérèse Siegenthaler, Leveson stated the woman had been gagged with a scarf which had been tied in a bow; this feminine method of binding was atypical of the type of knots either used to gag or restrain any of the other victims in the cellar, or to have been used by Fred in his employment as a builder; therefore, the prosecution contended this knot had been applied by Rose.[185]

Although Leveson conceded the vast majority of the evidence to be introduced was circumstantial or similar fact, he stated the volume of the evidence, plus eyewitness testimony, would prove sufficient as to Rose's participation in or, at the very least, her knowledge of the murders.[186] Leveson then outlined his plan to demonstrate not only Rose's controlling and sexually sadistic character, but also her casual willingness to inflict harm, and her efforts to deflect suspicion pertaining to the whereabouts of several victims.

Witness testimony[edit]

Formal witness testimony began on 9 October, and saw numerous witnesses called on behalf of the prosecution. These included former lodgers, relatives of the murder victims, Rose's mother, Daisy, and sister, Glenys, and individuals who had survived sexual assaults such as Anna Marie West and Caroline Owens, and a woman identified only as "Miss A" who (alongside Anna Marie) had been subjected to a serious sexual assault at the hands of Fred and Rose in 1977, and who described Rose as the primary participant in this assault.[187] Also to testify were neighbours of the Wests such as Shirley Giles, who described Charmaine's 1971 disappearance while Fred was still incarcerated, and Margaretta Dix, who testified on 17 October as to Rose's casual indifference to Heather's disappearance and her tersely remarking she was unconcerned whether Heather was alive or dead.[188]

The case for the defense began on 30 October.[189] In his opening speech to the jury, Richard Ferguson emphasised the fact that Fred is known to have committed at least one murder before he had met Rose, and the manner of the death and disposal of this victim was markedly similar to those for which his wife was now on trial. In reference to the earlier testimony of several of the prosecution witnesses, Ferguson conceded much of this testimony had been "harrowing", but emphasised: "I tell you now, as loudly and clearly as I can, that Rosemary West is not guilty." Ferguson further stressed the prosecution's case was largely based on circumstantial evidence, and contended that Rose had no knowledge of the extent of Fred's sadism, thus making her one of his collateral victims. He also hearkened his hopes the jury would differentiate between Rose's promiscuity and domineering manner with actual murder.

The first witness to testify for the defense—against the advice of her counsel—was Rose herself, who took the stand on 30 October. In her testimony, Rose's mood consistently oscillated between morose and tearful and upbeat and humorous. For example, when she described herself as a victim of child abuse and rape who had naively married a violent and domineering man who had maintained control of her life, she repeatedly wept. However, her mood would rapidly adjust to one of humour when she joked about herself "always being pregnant" or Fred's habit of drinking the vitamin supplement Sanatogen to maintain his virility. On one occasion, when discussing victim Lynda Gough's appearance, she burst out laughing when recollecting the "grandfather glasses" Lynda had worn.[190] She also claimed to have never met five of the victims buried at Cromwell Street, and to recall very little of her assault on Caroline Owens. In reference to her relationship with her eldest child, Rose admitted her relations with Heather were strained, but stated she had loved her daughter, and had no knowledge of her murder. Further questioned as to the contradictory explanations she and Fred had given as to Heather's disappearance, Rose claimed these discrepancies had sourced from telephone conversations she had had with Heather after the girl had left home.[191]

When questioned as to life at Cromwell Street, Rose claimed she and Fred had lived separate lives, although this was inconsistent with the earlier testimony of witnesses who had visited or lodged at their address.[192] When shown photographs of the victims and asked by Brian Leveson whether she recognised any of them, Rose's face turned bright red, and she repeatedly stuttered as she replied, "No, sir."[193]

The final witnesses to testify at Rose's trial was Fred's appointed appropriate adult, Janet Leach, who testified on 7 November that she had spent many hours with Fred, who had seen her as a confidante, and who stated Fred had confided in her that he would take full responsibility for all the murders, although Rose had "played a major part" in them. Leach had been called by the prosecution in rebuttal to the tape recordings or Fred's confession which had been played to the court on 3 November and in which he had confessed to 11 murders and stressed "Rose knew nothing at all" about any of these murders.[194]

Upon cross examination, Leach did concede to Richard Ferguson she had earlier lied under oath about having sold her story to a national newspaper for £100,000, although she was adamant as to the sincerity of the claims. While delivering this testimony, Mrs. Leach collapsed, and the trial was adjourned for six days. Nonetheless, she would return to complete her cross examination on 13 November.[195]

The trial of Rose West lasted seven weeks. Having heard closing arguments delivered by both prosecution and defence between 13 and 15 November, Judge Mantell delivered his final instructions to the jury on 16 November. In this final address, Judge Mantell warned the jurors of the need to set aside any prejudice in their deliberations, before emphasising the legal fact that, if two individuals take part in a murder, then both are equally guilty regardless of which of the two actually kills the victim. He also stated that the lack of any direct evidence did not classify as an obstacle to their reaching a guilty verdict. The jurors began their deliberations on 20 November.[196]

Conviction[edit]

On 21 November, Rose was found guilty of three murders: those of Charmaine and Heather West; and that of Shirley Robinson. She displayed no emotion upon hearing these verdicts, although the aunt of Charmaine West burst into tears of relief and was led from the courtroom, sobbing.[197] The following day, she was found guilty on each of the seven remaining counts of murder.[198] Rose remained expressionless upon hearing these verdicts, and would remain unmoved as Judge Mantell sentenced her to 10 terms of life imprisonment he branded "appalling and depraved". This formal sentencing ended with the words: "If attention is paid to what I think, you will never be released. Take her down."[199] She was then transferred to HM Prison Low Newton in County Durham to begin her sentence.[200][201]

Victims[edit]

Fred and Rose West are known to have committed at least 12 murders between 1967 and 1987, although many individuals connected to the case have publicly stated they believe there are several other victims whose bodies have never been found. Prior to his suicide, police had recorded over 108 hours of tape-recorded interviews with Fred, both when he had claimed to have acted alone in the commission of the murders, and when he had attempted to portray Rose as being the by far more culpable participant. On several occasions, Fred made cryptic hints he had claimed several other victims, although he refused to divulge any 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.[202]

"He said to me: 'Can you remember helping me dig those holes in the garden when you were a kid?' I said I couldn't remember, but he said, 'We did it together, you know.' Then he said: 'That's where the girls were found, in the exact holes'."

Stephen West, recounting an admission made while his father was on remand at Winson Green Prison, 1994.[203]

While on remand, Fred made several admissions as to the fate of the victims buried at Cromwell Street to his son Stephen, and although much of this information was disjointed or told in a third party manner, Fred claimed to have engaged in acts of necrophilia with his victims' bodies, and that although he had extensively tortured the victims, he would only engage in intercourse with their bodies at or shortly after the point of death.[204] In addition, Fred claimed the reason many phalange bones had been missing from the victims' bodies was because the removal of their fingers and toes had been one of the actual forms of torture the victims had endured, and that additional torture methods had included the extraction of their nails, and cigarettes being stubbed out on their bodies.[205] Furthermore, the actual locations of almost all the burial sites of victims—both discovered and undiscovered—was symbolic to Fred, as each had been buried at or very close to the location he had lived in or worked at at the time of the victim's murder. (This claim was later supported by criminal psychologists, who conceded Fred wished to exercise his control over his victims even in death; these experts have also harked towards Fred's extensive history of ensuring total control over all the women in his life, and his willingness to exercise this control by violence if necessary.[206])

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",[207] and he intended to reveal the location of one body per year to investigators.[208][209]

1967[edit]

  • July: Anne McFall, (18). McFall's remains were found 7 June 1994 in Fingerpost Field, Much Marcle. Her body had been placed 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.[210]

1968[edit]

  • 6 January: Mary Bastholm, (15). A teenage waitress at a café Fred is known to have frequented. Bastholm was abducted from a bus stop on Bristol Road, Gloucester. Although her remains were never found, Fred did confide to police he had indeed killed her.[211] She is believed to have been buried in Bishop's Cleeve.[212]

1971[edit]

  • 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.[63] 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.[213]
  • August: Catherine Costello, (27). Costello is believed to have called on the Wests at 25 Midland Road to either enquire about or obtain custody of her two daughters sometime in late August 1971. It is believed Fred killed Costello to avoid any investigation into Charmaine's whereabouts. She is believed to have been strangled to death by Fred before her extensively mutilated body was buried in Letterbox Field.[214]

1973[edit]

  • 20 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 Rose. Following her disappearance, Gough's mother called at Cromwell Street to enquire as to her daughter's whereabouts, only to note Rose 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. Cooper was the final victim unearthed from the cellar. Her skull was bound with surgical tape and her dismembered limbs bound with cord and braiding cloth.[215]
  • 27 December: Lucy Katherine Partington, (21). Partington was a university student and the niece[216] 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.[217][218]

1974[edit]

  • 16 April: Thérèse 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 either "the Dutch girl" or "Tulip". She was reported missing to Scotland Yard by her family in Switzerland when communication from their daughter ceased.[219] Fred would later further conceal Siegenthaler's remains by building a false chimney breast atop her grave.
  • 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.[220] 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 cellar 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.

1975[edit]

  • 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, Fred would refer to Mott as "the girl from Newent".[221]

1978[edit]

  • 10 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, and her baby son had been due to be born on 11 June. No sexual motive existed for this murder, and the prosecution contended at Rose's trial that Robinson had been murdered as her pregnancy threatened the stability of the Wests' relationship.[222]

1979[edit]

  • 5 August: Alison Chambers, (16). Chambers had been placed into foster care at the age of 14, and had repeatedly absconded from Jordan's Brook House. She is known to have become acquainted with the Wests in the summer of 1979. Her dismembered body, missing several bones and with a leather belt looped beneath her jaw and tied at the top of her head, was buried in the garden of Cromwell Street. This was the final murder where a sexual motive was established.

1987[edit]

  • 19 June: Heather West, (16). Heather was likely murdered as the Fred and Rose considered her efforts to leave the household as a threat, as she is known to have divulged to her classmates the extensive physical and sexual abuse which existed at Cromwell Street.[63] Although Fred claimed he had not meant to kill his daughter, carpet fibers found upon two lengths of rope discovered with her remains suggest Heather had been restrained and subjected to a sexual assault prior to her murder. Her body was dismembered with a heavy serrated knife and later buried in a hole in the garden Fred had his own son dig under the pretence he wished to install a fish pond.[223] The 1994 police investigation into Heather's disappearance would lead to the discovery of her body, and the arrest of both her parents.

Footnotes

  • In addition to the 12 confirmed victims, police firmly believe Fred is also responsible for the 1968 disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, but to date no body has been found.[17] West's son, Stephen, has said he firmly believes the missing teenager was an early victim of his father, as Fred had openly boasted of having committed Bastholm's murder while on remand. Nonetheless, police were unable to charge Fred with this crime as they had no evidence.[224]
  • No forensic evidence linked Fred to the murder of Anne McFall, and he always denied killing her. However, the fact her body had been extensively dismembered, and was missing several phalange bones, plus the fact the cubicle dimensions of the grave in which her body was buried match the modus operandi of Fred's later murders.[225]

Possible additional victims[edit]

Police firmly believe the Wests were responsible for further murders. Nine murders had been committed between 1971 and 1979—at least six of which had been committed for sexual purposes. Following the rash of murders between 1973 and 1975, Fred and Rose are not known to have committed any murders until 1978. One further murder was committed in 1979, followed by an eight-year lull until the murder of their own daughter in 1987. Throughout his formal questioning, Fred confessed to murdering up to 30 people, thus indicating up to 18 additional, undiscovered victims.[226]

Fred's remarkably relaxed, emotionally sterile attitude towards all aspects of his crimes had startled many members of the enquiry team. This had prompted Superintendent John Bennett to seek the assistance of a criminal psychologist in order that they obtained an expert opinion as to Fred's state of mind. Through analysing Fred's conduct throughout the extensive 1994 interviews, this psychologist, Paul Britton, advised Superintendent Bennett that Fred's blasé manner indicated he had committed so many offences over such a long period of time that he was now indifferent to the acts of torture, mutilation and murder. Britton further added that although an offender of this nature may decelerate the frequency of his offences, he would be unlikely to cease killing altogether.[227]

One theory which may explain this sudden lull in the frequency of their murders is the fact that by the mid-1970s, the Wests are known to have begun a practice of befriending teenage girls from nearby care homes, many of whom they would sexually abuse, with others reportedly encouraged to engage in prostitution within their home.[228] In addition, the fact the Wests are known to have established acquaintances—including several of their lodgers—willing to partake in their shared fetishes may have satiated the couple to a degree.[229]

Caroline Owens, Anna Marie West, and several other survivors of sexual assaults at the Wests' hands each testified at Rose's trial that she had been by far the more calculating, aggressive and controlling of the two, with Owens also stating that, at one stage in her ordeal, Fred had confided she (Owens) had been abducted primarily for Rose's gratification.[230] It is possible Rose's increasing family size, plus the fact she and her husband had, by the mid-1970s, begun seeking avenues to exploit girls from care homes in addition to acquiring contacts—willing or unwilling—to submit to their fetishes, may have led Fred and Rose to decide that these avenues of control and domination were sufficient for their satisfaction.[231]

Four young girls similar in age and physical characteristics to those Fred was later charged with murdering in Gloucestershire are known to have disappeared during the time Fred lived in Glasgow—one of whom, Margaret McAvoy, he is known to have been acquainted with. Fred is known to have rented a garden allotment adjacent to the property in which he resided and which he frequently visited, although only a small section of this plot was ever cultivated. To one neighbour, Fred is known to have remarked he used the remainder for "something special", although he refused to elaborate. In addition, much of the supposed cultivation of this allotment occurred in the early hours of the morning.[232]

Police were unable to investigate as to whether any further bodies were buried at this location, as these allotments were concreted across in the 1970s as a section of the M8 motorway expansion.[233]

Aftermath[edit]

  • Following the 1994 arrest of their parents, the four youngest West children (born between 1978 and 1983), were given new identities to protect them from the notoriety of their family. Each child remained in foster care.[234]
  • As a direct result of her tenacity in investigating the Wests, Detective Constable Hazel Savage was placed upon the annual New Year's honours list. The following year, she was awarded an OBE.
  • The body of Fred West was cremated in Coventry on 29 March 1995. This service was held with only four family members present. In a five-minute service officiated by the Reverend Robert Simpson, who read from Psalm 23, a solemn reminder was noted that those present must also "remember everyone else who has also suffered because of these tragic events".
  • Fred's 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.[235]
  • The remains of Charmaine West and Catherine Costello were cremated in the town of Kettering. At the insistence of Anna Marie West, both mother and daughter shared the same coffin, and no roses were to be brought to the service by any mourners.[236]
  • The body of the Wests' former friend and housemate, Terrence Crick, was found in his car in the Scarborough district of Hackness in January 1996. He was 48 years old. Crick had become acquainted with Fred while he had resided at the Lake House Caravan Park in 1969; he had reported Fred to the authorities on several occasions[237] after having been shown surgical instruments Fred claimed to have used to perform illegal abortions, and Polaroid images of women's genitals[238] he claimed to have taken immediately after he had performed abortions on the subject, before requesting Crick refer any girls wishing him (Fred) to perform this surgery to him.
  • Crick had believed the information he had provided to police was ignored as Fred was a known police informant.[239] The stress and guilt Crick had felt over the fact the information he had provided had not resulted in charges being brought[240] apparently led him to take his own life; an inquest later recorded a verdict of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. His widow later submitted a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.[241]
  • In March 1996, Rose West announced her intentions to appeal her sentence, contending extensive press coverage had rendered witness testimony unreliable, that no physical evidence existed to attest she had participated in any of the murders, that the final instructions delivered by the judge to the jury had been biased in favour of the prosecution, and that undue weight had been given to the similar fact evidence introduced at her trial.[242] This appeal was rejected by Lord Chief Justice Taylor, who contended Rose West had received both a fair trial and efficient legal representation.
  • In July 1997, then-Home Secretary Jack Straw subjected Rose to a whole life tariff, effectively denying her any possibility of parole.[243]
  • Rose again announced her intentions to appeal her sentence via her solicitor Leo Goatley in October 2000, although in September 2001, she announced her intentions to cancel her appeals, stating she would never feel free, even if released. Nonetheless, Rose maintains her innocence in any of the murders for which she was convicted.[244][245]
  • Fred West's younger brother, John, hanged himself in the garage of his Gloucester home in November 1996. At the time of his suicide, he had been awaiting the jury verdict in his trial for the alleged multiple rapes of his niece, Anna Marie, and another young girl at Cromwell Street in the 1970s.[246]
  • Following her conviction, both of Rose's oldest biological children and her stepdaughter, Anna Marie, initially visited her in prison on a regular basis, although by 2006, she chose to cease contact with them after Mae began asking questions as to her culpability in the murders. Rose chose to justify her decision with the explanation: "I was never a parent and could never be now."[247] The sole visitor Rose continues to receive in prison is Anna Marie West, who later changed her name to Anne Marie as a gesture of independence.[248]
  • Caroline Owens, the teenager who had been abducted and assaulted by the Wests at age 17 in 1972, died of cancer in 2016. She was 61 years old. Owens had testified at the trial of Rose West, and had partaken in numerous interviews in the years since attesting to her survivor's guilt. Owens had repeatedly stated that her biggest regret had been the retrospective knowledge that had she held the courage to testify against the Wests in January 1973, they may not have received a lenient punishment and as such, may not have been able to subsequently progress to sexual torture and murder.[249]
  • In 2004, one of the Wests' youngest children, Barry, claimed to have witnessed the murder of his sister Heather. According to Barry (who was just seven at the time of his sister's murder), both Fred and Rose had restrained, then sexually and physically abused Heather, before Rose had repeatedly stamped upon her head until Heather ceased to move.[250]
  • The Wests' house in Cromwell Street (along with the adjoining property), was demolished in October 1996, with every piece of debris destroyed to discourage potential souvenir hunters.[251] The site was later redeveloped into a public pathway.[252][253]

Media[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • An Evil Love: The Life of Frederick West, written by Geoffrey Wansell. ISBN 0-7472-1760-2
  • Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors, written by Howard Sounes. ISBN 0-7515-1322-9
  • Garden of Bones: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West, written by Kin Cresswell. ISBN 978-0-995-05780-7
  • Happy Like Murderers: The True Story of Fred and Rosemary West, written by Gordon Burn. ISBN 978-0-571-26506-0
  • Inside 25 Cromwell Street: The Terrifying, True Story of Life with Fred and Rose West, written by Stephen and Mae West. ISBN 1-898-88514-1
  • Out of the Shadows: Fred West's Daughter Tells Her Harrowing Story of Survival, written by Anne Marie West. ISBN 0-671-71968-8
  • The Corpse Garden, written by Colin Wilson. ISBN 1-874358-24-9
  • The Cromwell Street Murders: The Detective's Story, written by John Bennett. ISBN 0-750-94273-8
  • The Lost Girl: How I Triumphed Over Life at the Mercy of Fred and Rose West, written by Caroline Roberts. ISBN 1-84358-088-8

Television[edit]

  • Channel 5 have commissioned a documentary series focusing on the murders committed by Fred and Rose West. This series, entitled Fred and Rose: The West Murders, was first broadcast in October 2001. This series includes extensive archive footage, interviews and imagery pertaining to the case. The series would be screened a second time in 2014.[254]
  • Discovery Networks Europe have commissioned a documentary focusing on the West Murders as part of their Crimes that Shook the World series. Entitled Crimes that Shook the World: The Wests, this documentary was released in 2006 and is narrated by Tim Piggott-Smith.[255]
  • The two-part British crime drama television mini-series, Appropriate Adult, was screened in September 2011. Commissioned by ITV and directed by Julian Jarrold, Appropriate Adult focuses on the role of Janet Leach, the woman asked by police to sit in interviews with Fred West as his appropriate adult.
  • A second documentary commissioned by Channel 5 to focus on the West murders, When Fred met Rose, was screened in November 2014. This documentary includes interviews with both family members of Fred West, and survivors of the couple's assaults.[256]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Births deaths and marriages for England and Wales - July 1996
  2. ^ Fred & Rose p. 151
  3. ^ Fred & Rose p. 276
  4. ^ Ford, Richard; Strange, Hannah (26 February 2008). "Bellfield Joins List of those to Die in Jail – Times Online". The Times. UK. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Fred & Rose p. 255
  6. ^ Fred & Rose p. 151
  7. ^ "Daisy H Hill: England and Wales Birth Registration Index". familysearch.org. 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  8. ^ Fred West: Born to Kill, Channel 5, 26 July 2012
  9. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 1
  10. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 1
  11. ^ Fred & Rose p. 17
  12. ^ Fred & Rose p. 17
  13. ^ Fred & Rose p. 19
  14. ^ Steven Morris (20 September 2007). "Serial Murder and the Psychology of a Sexual Sadist: Frederick West". New Criminologist. Retrieved 18 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "The Real Story of Fred West's 'Only Friend'". express.co.uk. 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2016-10-17. 
  16. ^ "Fred and Rose West – Fred" Crimelibrary.com Retrieved 3 July 2009
  17. ^ a b Real Life Crimes and How They Were Solved. Eaglemoss Publications. 2002. 
  18. ^ Knight, Adam. "Fred West's brother denies incest claims (From Hereford Times)". Herefordtimes.com. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Fred & Rose p. 23
  20. ^ "Murder In Mind" (1): 29. ISSN 1364-5803. 
  21. ^ Fred & Rose p. 25
  22. ^ "The Biography Channel" The Biography Channel.com Retrieved 18 July 2007
  23. ^ Fred & Rose p. 28
  24. ^ "Murder In Mind" (1): 7. ISSN 1364-5803. 
  25. ^ Fred & Rose p. 32
  26. ^ "Fred and Rose West – Fred" Crimelibrary.com, TruTV, Retrieved 13 July 2007
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Fred & Rose p. 57
  29. ^ Fred & Rose p. 59
  30. ^ Fred & Rose p. 61
  31. ^ Out of the Shadows p. 29
  32. ^ "Life and Death of a Good Mother". The Herald. November 22, 1995. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  33. ^ The Corpse Garden p. 103
  34. ^ Fred & Rose p. 68
  35. ^ "Inquiries go on After Fred West's Claims of 20 More Murders: Secrets of the Grave". Herald Scotland. UK. 22 November 1995. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  36. ^ Fred & Rose p. 66
  37. ^ "Inquiries go on After Fred West's Claims of 20 More Murders: Secrets of the Grave". Herald Scotland. UK. 22 November 1995. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  38. ^ "Inquiries go on After Fred West's Claims of 20 More Murders: Secrets of the Grave". Herald Scotland. UK. 22 November 1995. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  39. ^ "Fred and Rose West – First blood", Crimelibrary.com, Retrieved 13 July 2007
  40. ^ Fred & Rose p. 68
  41. ^ The Corpse Garden p. 98
  42. ^ Fred & Rose p. 69
  43. ^ "Murder In Mind" (1): 12. ISSN 1364-5803. 
  44. ^ The Corpse Garden p. 97
  45. ^ "Life and Death of a Good Mother". The Herald. November 22, 1995. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  46. ^ Fred & Rose p. 71
  47. ^ Fred & Rose p. 72
  48. ^ "Murder In Mind" (1): 13. ISSN 1364-5803. 
  49. ^ "Murder In Mind" (1): 19. ISSN 1364-5803. 
  50. ^ Fred & Rose p. 74
  51. ^ Fred & Rose p. 72
  52. ^ Fred & Rose p. 76
  53. ^ Fred & Rose p. 92
  54. ^ Inside 25 Cromwell Street p. 5
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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. 
  • Cresswell, Kim (2015). Garden of Bones: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West. KC Publishing. ISBN 978-0-995-05780-7. 
  • 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]