Frederick Walter Stephen 'Fred' West (29
September 1941 – 1 January 1995), was an English serial killer.
Between 1967 and 1987, he and his wife Rosemary
tortured, raped and murdered at least 12 young women and girls, many
at the couple's homes. The majority of the murders occurred between
May 1973 and September 1979 at their home in Gloucester.
Rosemary West also murdered Fred's stepdaughter (his
first wife's biological daughter) Charmaine, while he was serving a
prison sentence for theft.
Fred West was born into a poor family of farm
workers in Bickerton Cottage, Much Marcle, Herefordshire, to Walter
Stephen West (5 July 1914–28 March 1992) and Daisy Hannah Hill (1922-6
February 1968). He was the second of their six children. West would
later claim that his father had incestuous relationships with his
daughters. It has been suggested that incest was an accepted part of
the household, and that his father taught him bestiality from an early
age. West recalled, in police interviews, that his father had said on
many occasions "Do what you want, just don’t get caught doing it". It
is also alleged that his mother Daisy began sexually abusing him from
the age of 12.
At school, West showed an aptitude for woodwork and
artwork, but did not excel academically. He left school at the age of
15 in December 1956, two years later, in November 1958, he suffered a
fractured skull and a broken arm and leg in a motorcycle accident. The
accident put him into an eight-day coma. His family reported that
after the accident he became prone to sudden fits of rage. Two years
later, he was unconscious for 24 hours after hitting his head in a
fall from a fire escape.
At age 20, he was arrested for molesting a 13-year-old
girl. He was convicted, but escaped a sentence of imprisonment. His
family effectively disowned him thereafter.
Marriage to Rena Costello
In September 1962, the 21-year-old West became re-acquainted
with a former girlfriend, Catherine Costello, who was now better known
as Rena from her time working as a prostitute. Costello was already
pregnant by another man, and she and West married on 17 November
before moving to Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. Her daughter, Charmaine
Carol, was born on 22 February 1963. Costello and West claimed they
had adopted Charmaine, whose father was from Pakistan. In July 1964
Costello bore West a daughter named Anne Marie. During this period in
Coatbridge, West worked as an ice cream van driver. On 4 November
1965, he ran over and killed a four-year-old boy with his van.
The family, along with Isa McNeill who looked after
the couple's children and Costello's friend Anne McFall, moved into
the Lakeside caravan park in Bishop's Cleeve Gloucestershire at the
end of 1965 when West feared for his safety following the ice cream
van incident. To escape from West's sadistic sexual demands, Costello
and McNeill moved to Scotland in 1966 while McFall, who had become
infatuated with West, and the two children remained with him. Costello
continued to visit the children every few months. In August 1967
McFall, who was eight months pregnant with West's child, vanished.
McFall was never reported missing and her remains were found in June
In September 1967, Costello returned to live with
West, but left again the following year, putting the children in
Marriage to Rosemary "Rose" Letts
While still married to Costello, 27-year-old West
met his next wife, Rosemary Letts, on 29 November 1968, on her 15th
birthday. On her 16th birthday she moved in with him and a few months
later they moved from the caravan to a two-story house in Midland Road,
Gloucester. On 17 October 1970, Rosemary gave birth to their daughter,
Heather Anne. Fred West was imprisoned for theft on 4 December 1970
and remained so until his release on 24 June 1971.
It is believed that Rosemary killed Charmaine (Fred's
stepdaughter from his first marriage) shortly before West's release in
June 1971. According to Anne Marie, both sisters were subject to
frequent beatings, but Charmaine infuriated Rosemary by her refusal to
cry no matter how severe they got. Charmaine disappeared in mid June,
with Rosemary explaining Costello had called and taken her back to
Scotland. Costello turned up in late August to collect Charmaine, and
On 29 January 1972, Fred and Rosemary West married
in Gloucester, and on 1 June of that year, Rosemary gave birth to
their second daughter, Mae. Around this time West encouraged his wife
into prostitution. Rosemary eventually had seven children, of which
three were mixed race. Needing a bigger house, the family moved to 25
Cromwell St, where West converted the upper floor to bedsits. "Rose's
Room", the room Rosemary used for prostitution had peepholes so he
could watch and a red light outside the door for warning the children
not to enter when she was "busy". Like West, Rosemary came from a
family where incest was common; Rosemary's father, Bill Letts, with
Fred's approval, would often visit their home to have sex with
In October 1972 the Wests hired 17-year-old
Caroline Roberts as the children's nanny. She rejected Fred and
Rosemary's advances into their "sex-circle" and left a few weeks later.
On 6 December 1972 the Wests invited her to their home, where they
both raped her. Fred allowed Roberts to leave the next day only after
she promised she would return as their nanny. Roberts reported the
rape to police but withdrew the accusation when the case came to court.
The Wests pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of indecent assault and
were fined £50.
In early 1973, the Wests took eight-year-old Anne
Marie to the cellar, where they bound and gagged her before West raped
her while Rosemary watched.
In 1979 Anne Marie became pregnant by West, but the
pregnancy was terminated as it was ectopic. Unable to cope with her
father any longer, she left home; West now began abusing Heather, who
disappeared a few years later.
Investigation, arrest and conviction
In May 1992, West filmed himself raping one of his
other daughters, and twice again afterwards. She told friends at
school what had happened. On 4 August one of the friends told her
mother and she went to the police.
On 6 August 1992, the police decided to investigate,
eventually leading to West being charged, with Rosemary as an
accomplice, with rape. She was also charged with child cruelty and the
remaining children were placed in foster care. The rape case against
the Wests collapsed when the two main witnesses declined to testify at
the court case on 7 June 1993. The police continued investigating the
disappearance of their daughter Heather.
After taking statements from social workers about a
joke about "Heather being buried under the patio" and the children
themselves, they obtained a further search warrant in February 1994,
allowing them to excavate the garden in search of Heather. They
started searching the house and excavating the garden on 24 February
After West's arrest the following day, the police
uncovered human bones. He confessed, retracted and then re-confessed
to the murder of his daughter, denying that Rosemary was involved.
Rosemary was not arrested until April 1994, initially on sex offences
but later charged with murder. Further bodies were found and, on 4
March 1994, West admitted that he had carried out nine more murders,
including those of his first wife and Ann McFall.
Fred and Rosemary West were brought before a
magistrates' court in Gloucester on 30 June 1994; he was charged with
11 murders and she with 10. Immediately afterwards, Fred West was re-arrested
on suspicion of murdering Ann McFall, whose body was found on 7 June
1994. On the evening of 3 July 1994, he was charged with her murder.
On 1 January 1995, Fred West hanged himself while
on remand in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. His funeral
was held in Coventry on 29 March 1995. West was cremated with only
three people present.
The evidence against Rosemary was circumstantial;
unlike her husband, she did not confess. She was tried in October 1995
at Winchester Crown Court, found guilty of all 10 murders and
sentenced to life imprisonment. The trial judge recommended that she
should never be released and 18 months later the then serving Home
Secretary Jack Straw agreed with this recommendation.
In October 1996, the Wests' house, along with the
adjoining property, was demolished and the site made into a pathway.
Every brick was crushed and every timber was burned to discourage
In a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose, English
novelist Martin Amis revealed that he was a cousin of the Wests'
victim Lucy Partington, who disappeared in 1973.
Charmaine West (born 22 February 1963):
Killed in June 1971 by Rosemary West while Fred was in prison. No
motive has been put forward.
Catherine Bernadette "Rena" West (born 14
April 1944): Killed August 1971. Rena had called to take
Charmaine away with her and it is believed Fred killed her to avoid
an investigation into Charmaine’s whereabouts.
Lynda Gough (born 1 May 1953): Killed
April 1973. A lodger at 25 Cromwell St, Gough and Rosemary would
share lovers. Following her disappearance Gough’s mother called to
visit and Rosemary, wearing Gough’s clothes, told her she had moved
in order to work in Weston-super-Mare.
Carol Ann Cooper (born 10 April 1958):
Killed November 1973. Cooper was living in a children’s home in
Worcester when she disappeared while walking home from the cinema.
Lucy Katherine Partington (born 4 March 1952):
Killed December 1973. Spent Christmas with her family in Cheltenham
and visited a friend, and disappeared after leaving to catch a bus
home. There is strong evidence that she had been kept alive for at
least several days. A week after she disappeared, Fred went to a
hospital in the early hours of 3 January 1974 to get a serious
laceration stitched. A knife matching the cut was found with
Partington's body and police surmise he sustained the injury while
dismembering the body. Partington, a university student, was the
cousin of novelist Martin Amis.
Theresa Siegenthaler (born 27 November 1952):
Killed in April 1974. A student in South London who left to hitch-hike
to Ireland and disappeared.
Shirley Hubbard (born 26 June 1959):
Killed November 1974. Left a work experience course in Droitwich to
return home but did not arrive. When her remains were found her head
was completely covered in tape with only a three-inch rubber tube
inserted to allow her to breathe.
Juanita Marion Mott (born 1 March 1957):
Killed April 1975. A former lodger at 25 Cromwell St, Mott was
living with a friend of her mother's in Newent when she disappeared.
Shirley Anne Robinson (born 8 October 1959):
Killed May 1978. A lodger at 25 Cromwell St, Robinson was a
prostitute for the Wests. Disappeared after becoming pregnant with
Alison Chambers (born 8 September 1962):
Killed August 1979. Last known sexually-motivated killing.
Heather Ann West (born 17 October 1970)
Killed June 1987. Heather became the focus of Fred’s attentions
after Anne Marie left home. Fred West claimed he had not meant to
kill her but she had been sneering at him and he "had to take the
smirk off her face". Rosemary told an inquiring neighbour the
following day that she and Heather had had a "hell of a row" so it
is believed Rosemary may have initiated her death. The Wests told
their children Heather had left for a job in Devon, but later
changed the story to her having run off with a lesbian lover when
she failed to contact or visit them. Later still Fred would threaten
the children that they would "end up under the patio like Heather"
if they misbehaved. Heather's body was found under the patio that
Fred had inexplicably built over the fishpond his son Stephen had
Their only known victim after 1979 was their
daughter Heather, although the police believe the couple murdered
more. There were no known murders in the years 1976–1977, 1980–1986
and 1988-1992. During questioning after being arrested, Fred West had
confessed to murdering up to 30 people, but the police believed the
pair may have killed only 13. As well as the 12 confirmed they believe
West also killed 15-year-old Mary Bastholm in 1968, but to date no
body has been found. West's son, Stephen, has said he firmly believed
the missing Gloucester teenager was an early victim of his father, as
Fred West had reportedly boasted of committing Miss Bastholme's murder
while on remand in prison during 1994.
Although no forensic evidence linked Fred West to
the murder of Anne McFall, the state of the body (missing finger and
toe bones as was the case with the other bodies) and the dimensions of
the grave site match aspects of West's modus operandi.
Bennett, John (2005).
The Cromwell Street Murders: The Detective's Story. Sutton
Publishing. ISBN 0750942738.
Burn, Gordon (1998).
Happy Like Murderers. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571195466.
(1996). She Must Have Known: Trial of Rosemary West. London:
Doubleday. ISBN 0385406509.
(2005). The Lost Girl: How I Triumphed Over Life at the Mercy of
Fred and Rose West. London: Metro Books. ISBN 1843580888.
(1995). Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and
the Gloucester House of Horrors. London: Warner Books. ISBN 0751513229.
(1996). An Evil Love: The Life of Frederick West. London:
Hodder Headline. ISBN 0747217602.
West, Anne Marie
(1995). Out of the Shadows: Fred West's Daughter Tells Her
Harrowing Story of Survival. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671719688.
Wilson, Colin (1998).
The Corpse Garden. London: True Crime Library. ISBN 1874358249
Fred and Rose West
Crime Case Closed
out of the blue.
February 1994 was a nondescript Thursday afternoon. In the newsroom of
the local evening newspaper, the Gloucester Citizen, reporters were
sitting around trying to come up with story ideas.
from the paper's circulation department came up to the newsroom to
pass on a tit-bit of information.
the newspaper boys had reported seeing policemen digging up the back
garden of a house in a side street not far from the city centre.
journalists swung into action.
discovered that the house in question was number 25 Cromwell Street
and looking it up in the electoral register they found the
householders recorded as Frederick and Rosemary West.
names meant nothing.
someone looked the names up in the paper's conscientiously well-kept
cuttings library. In a small brown envelope a reporter found a single
cutting from a copy of the Citizen dated the previous summer.
referred to the delight of a Gloucester couple, Frederick and Rosemary
West, who had been cleared of sexually assaulting a young girl after
the key witness declined to give evidence. Alarm bells rang in the
why they were digging up the Wests' garden, Gloucestershire Police
would only say they were investigating the disappearance of their
16-year-old daughter. A Citizen reporter dashed to the city's register
office and found a birth certificate belonging to a Heather West, born
Gloucestershire Police confirmed the name but at the time nobody
realised the dig would trigger one of the biggest police inquiries
Britain had ever seen. Heather had disappeared in May 1987, shortly
after leaving school, but had not been reported missing by her
parents. They claimed she had left home to go and work at a holiday
camp in Devon. But an in-joke began to develop among the West
children. They would mutter about Heather being "buried under the
patio" at 25 Cromwell Street.
summer of 1993, when the allegations of sexual impropriety were made
against the Wests, their six youngest children were taken into council
of Heather being "under the patio" reached the ears of Detective
Constable Hazel Savage, a veteran Gloucester police officer who had
dealings with Fred West going back to the late 1960s. She decided to
follow it up.
Savage discovered that Heather's national insurance number had never
been used, indicating that she had never worked or claimed benefit
since her disappearance. She had simply vanished into thin air.
inquiries strengthened Det Con Savage's belief that foul play was
involved and in February 1994 she finally persuaded her superiors to
obtain a search warrant and dig up the Wests' back garden.
Wests' eldest son, 20-year-old Stephen, was at home (it was his day
off) when the police knocked on the door with the search warrant.
book, Stephen West (who had been convinced by his father that his
older sister was living in the Midlands) recalls: "I told one of the
detectives that they were going to end up making fools of themselves
and he just replied 'That's up to us'. "I wanted to know the reasons
why they thought Heather was buried there but they wouldn't tell me."
Stephen and his mother tried frantically to contact his father, who
was working on a building about 20 minutes' drive from Gloucester.
finally got hold of him at 1.50pm and he said he was on his way home,
but he did not arrive until 5.40pm.
never been explained what Fred West did during those four hours. He
himself claimed he pulled over and passed out and blamed fumes from
the painting he had been doing.
several authors and criminologists have speculated that he may have
spent the time disposing of incriminating evidence, including grisly
souvenirs from the bodies of his victims, or even visiting an
as-yet-undiscovered burial ground somewhere in south Gloucestershire.
police officers toiled in their back garden Fred and Rose West stayed
up most of that night discussing what to do.
Geoffrey Wansell, whose book An Evil Love was written after he
obtained exclusive access to 150 hours of Fred West's tapes and other
documents, believes they cooked up a "pact". He says: "Frederick West
would have told her that he would 'sort it out' with the police the
following day, and that she 'had nothing to worry about' as he 'would
take all the blame'."
Wansell says of the pact: "Though he would renege on it during his
bleakest hours in prison, it was to bind him to her for the rest of
February Fred West was taken into Gloucester police station for
questioning. He immediately admitted having killed Heather but told
Det Con Savage: "The thing I'd like to stress is that Rose knew
nothing at all."
that day the police diggers made a discovery which would catapult the
inquiry from one of purely local interest, to one which would
ultimately draw reporters and film crews from all over the world...
unearthed human remains in the garden but Professor Bernard Knight,
the eminent pathologist who had been called on to assist the police,
pointed out there was a third leg bone. It was clear there was more
than one body buried in the garden of 25 Cromwell Street.
West began a damage limitation exercise.
agreed to go back to the garden and point out exactly where he had
buried the two other girls, Shirley Robinson and Alison Chambers, who
had vanished in the late 1970s. But he kept quiet about the six other
bodies buried beneath the cellar and bathroom of 25 Cromwell Street.
seems that his main motive for this silence, was not that he feared
becoming tagged a serial killer, but the idea that his beloved house
would be torn apart by the police. The key to unlocking the true
horror of that house was a middle-aged Gloucestershire housewife who
found herself pushed into the centre of a worldwide media circus.
Leach was a volunteer "appropriate adult" whose job it was to befriend
and assist people, usually juveniles, who were taken into police
custody. But she soon found herself becoming a confidante to a serial
killer. Mrs Leach said the police had not been able to get West to
admit there were other bodies but she was able to get him to reveal
there any more bodies?" she asked.
admitted there were and he went on to sketch a map of the cellar and
bathroom, showing six more bodies.
was unable to identify many of his victims.
described as "Scar Hand", because she had a burn on her hand, another
he referred to as "Tulip" because he thought she was Dutch, in fact
she was Swiss. Later West admitted he had buried another victim, an
eight-year-old girl born to his first wife but fathered by another
man, at another house in Gloucester.
confessed to having dumped two other bodies in fields near his
childhood home at Much Marcle, on the Herefordshire-Gloucestershire
border. They were his first wife, Rena, and a former lover, Ann
McFall, both of whom hailed from Scotland. West's victims were a
mixture of hitch-hikers, lodgers and teenage runaways who had been
either lured to 25 Cromwell Street or abducted.
these was Lucy Partington, a 21-year-old university student from a
respectable middle-class family. Her cousin was the novelist Martin
Amis. She was picked up as she waited for a bus on the outskirts of
Cheltenham one night in December 1973. It is almost certain she would
not have accepted a lift from Fred West on his own. She only accepted
a lift because of the presence of his wife, Rose.
Detectives were convinced from the start that Rose West was involved
in the murders. But she denied everything and feigned shock at her
bailed to a police safe house in Cheltenham, where she lived with
Stephen and her eldest daughter Mae, but remained under suspicion. The
house was bugged by police but she never said anything to implicate
herself. On 18 April 1994 she was finally charged with a sex offence,
the murder charges would come later and taken into custody.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1994 the world's media flocked to
Gloucester to feast on the revelations coming out daily from what
became known as the "House of Horrors". Hugh Worsnip, a veteran
journalist and columnist on the Gloucester Citizen, said: "It had a
tremendous impact on the city.
world's attention was turned to an obscure street in Gloucester.
"American and Japanese film crews were in the city and I was doing
interviews for TV and radio stations all over the world."
the revelations about what had been happening at 25 Cromwell Street
came as a terrible blow to Gloucester's civic pride: "It was regarded
by many people in Gloucester as a sleight on the town."
Worsnip, who began working on the Citizen in the 1960s, said the fact
that a serial killer had been operating in the city for 20 years came
as a huge shock to everyone, journalists included. But he said that,
with the exception of Lucy Partington, West had deliberately chosen
people whose disappearance would not be unduly noticed.
were the type of people who were drifting in society and were not
easily traceable," he said.
case was about to take a turn for the worse...
Year's Day 1995, just as the media hubbub was beginning to die down,
Fred West hanged himself in Birmingham's Winson Green prison, where he
was awaiting his trial on twelve murder charges. His death spawned a
new raft of gruesome revelations, but the full truth could not be
published until Rose West had faced justice.
drama in court
October 1995 she was tried at Winchester Crown Court for ten murders,
those of Rena Costello and Ann McFall pre-dated her appearance on the
scene and must have been committed by Fred alone. It was one of the
most sensational trials of the 20th century.
day witnesses appeared in court with stories to tell which were
shocking, gruesome and as far as Rose West was concerned, absolutely
damning. There were to be many moments of high drama during the trial.
these moments of drama was when Fred West's eldest daughter,
Anne-Marie, fixed her stepmother with a glare across the packed court
before describing how her parents had together embarked on a campaign
of sexual abuse when she was aged eight.
second day of Anne-Marie's evidence was delayed for several hours
after it became clear she had taken an overdose of pills during the
trial was delayed for several days after Mrs Leach, under enormous
stress, fell ill during her testimony.
witness, Caroline Raine, a former beauty queen, told the court of the
night in 1972 when Fred and Rose abducted and sexually assaulted her
as she hitch-hiked across Gloucestershire.
evidence was key. Prosecutor Brian Leveson, QC, suggested to the jury
it was a blueprint for how the Wests were to pick up their victims.
Caroline Raine was allowed to live and the Wests were later prosecuted
and fined over the incident. Clearly they made up their minds that
future victims would not be allowed to live to tell their tales.
end of the trial the jurors had been convinced of Rose West's guilt.
found guilty on all ten counts by unanimous decision and was jailed
for life. The home secretary has since told her that she will never be
October 1996, Gloucester City Council finally demolished 25 Cromwell
were calls for a memorial garden to be built on the spot but there
were fears it would be turned into a ghoulish shrine. Today the spot
where nine bodies were found is simply a landscaped footpath leading
to the city centre.
legacy of the House of Horrors continues to take its toll.
West's brother John hanged himself as he waited to find out if a jury
would find him guilty of raping Anne-Marie. She herself has struggled
to come to terms with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her
father and stepmother.
November 1999 she was rescued after throwing herself into the water
from a bridge near Gloucester in an apparent suicide bid. In January
2002 Stephen West attempted suicide at his home in Bussage, near
Stroud after his girlfriend left him.
chilling echo of the death of his father and uncle, Stephen tried to
hang himself but he survived when the rope snapped.
years after police found the first body there continues to be
speculation that Fred West claimed more victims and buried them
somewhere in Gloucestershire.
Leach said Fred had admitted killing Mary Bastholm, a 15-year-old who
went missing in Gloucester in 1968. She said: "Fred said that there
were two other bodies in shallow graves in the woods but there was no
way they would ever be found.
said there were 20 other bodies spread around and he would give the
police one a year."
was telling the truth, he has taken his secrets to the grave and Rose
West is showing no signs of wanting to reveal any more about the
murders as she serves her life sentences.
- Ann McFall (Scottish nanny and Fred's lover. Was eight months
pregnant with his child). Body found in "letterbox field" near Much
Rena Costello (Fred's first wife, also Scottish). Body found in
"fingerpost field" near Much Marcle.
Charmaine West, 8 (Rena's eldest child). Body found beneath 25
Midland Road, Gloucester.
Linda Gough, 21 (seamstress from Gloucester). Body found
beneath 25 Cromwell Street
Lucy Partington, 21 (university student, from Gotherington, near
Cheltenham). Body found beneath 25 Cromwell Street.
Carol Cooper, 15 (schoolgirl from Worcester). Body found
beneath 25 Cromwell Street.
Juanita Mott, 19 (from Newent, Glos) Body found beneath 25 Cromwell
Shirley Hubbard, 15 (schoolgirl from Worcester). Body found
beneath 25 Cromwell St.
Therese Siegenthaler, 21 (Swiss hitchhiker). Body found beneath 25
Alison Chambers, 17 (originally from Swansea). Body found in garden
of 25 Cromwell St.
Shirley Robinson, 18 (lodger and Fred's lover. Heavily pregnant).
Body found in garden of 25 Cromwell St.
Heather West, 16 (Fred and Rose's eldest daughter). Body found in
garden of 25 Cromwell St.
profile of Fred and Rose West was written by BBC News Online's Chris
Fred & Rose West:
The Gloucester House of Horrors
1994 was the beginning of the end -- the end of the extraordinary
things that had been going on in the ordinary three-story house in
central Gloucester. But it was also the beginning of a discovery as
the layers of secrets hidden at 25 Cromwell Street were slowly peeled
afternoon, the police came to find the owner of the house, Frederick
West. Instead, they found his heavy set, sullen wife Rosemary, who
called her husband the minute they handed her the warrant. "You'd
better get back home," she told Fred when he answered the cellular
phone in his van. "They're going to dig up the garden, looking for
dark-haired, simian-looking man was not worried except that the police
wouldn't clean up the mess they were sure to make lifting up the patio
stones in his garden, looking for the body of their daughter. He
stopped by the police station on his way home from work. He told them
he and Rose had no idea where Heather was, but he was not worried.
"Lots of girls disappear," he explained, "take a different name and go
into prostitution." He said she was a lesbian and had problems with
Rose, who was
interviewed at the house, told a similar story. Heather disappeared at
the age of sixteen, back in 1987. She repeated the story about Heather
being a disagreeable and lazy person and a lesbian to boot.
Fred and Rose stayed up all night and talked. The next morning, he
stepped into the police car. "I killed her," he told Detective
Constable Hazel Savage. When he got to the station, he told the police
in minute detail how he had cut Heather's body into three pieces and
buried them. He kept repeating that Rose had known nothing about the
murder at all.
later he completely denied everything he had just told them.
"Heather's alive and well, right. She's possibly at the moment in
Bahrain working for a drug cartel. She had a Mercedes, a chauffeur and
a new birth certificate." He told the police that they could dig all
they wanted but they wouldn't find Heather.
found three human bones, but they didn't belong to Heather. When Fred
heard that human bones had been found, he confessed once again to
murdering his daughter, but he denied that there were the bones of
anyone else buried there.
Fred told how
it all happened. The argument with the headstrong Heather, slapping
her for her insolence and grabbing her throat to stop her from
laughing at him. He must have grabbed too hard because she turned blue
and stopped breathing. He tried to revive her, but he didn't have the
training, so he dragged her over to the bathtub and ran cold water
over her. He took off her clothes, lifted her out of the tub and dried
her off. Then he tried to put her in the large garbage bin, but she
So it was back
in the bathtub where he knew he would have to make her smaller. But
first, he strangled her with some tights just to make sure that she
was dead. " I didn't want to touch he while she was alive. I mean...if
I'd have started cutting her leg or her throat and she'd have suddenly
Heather's eyes before he dismembered her. "If somebody's sat there
looking at you, you're not going to use a knife on that person are
When he cut
off her head, he found the sound -- a "horrible noise...like
scrunching" -- very unpleasant. But, once her head was off, he started
on her legs, twisting her foot until he heard "one almighty crack and
the leg come loose, like." Cut into pieces, she fit nicely into the
after the remainder of his family was asleep, he buried Heather's body
in the garden, where she lay undiscovered for seven years.
Fred West came
from a long line of Herefordshire farm laborers. He was born in 1941
in the village of Much Marcle, approximately 120 miles west of London,
to Walter and Daisy West. Fred began life as a beautiful baby with
huge piercing blue eyes and blond hair.
war and the poverty in which the Wests lived, they had six more
children, one after another within a ten-year-period. Fred and his
mother enjoyed a very close relationship. He was her pet and did
everything she asked. Fred also had a reasonably good relationship
with his father, who he admired as a role model.
baby grew up into a scruffy-looking boy. His blond hair turned to a
dark brown and became curly and unkempt. He had inherited some of his
mother's less attractive facial features: an overly large mouth and a
gap between his large teeth. He looked distinctly like a Gypsy.
Fred was not a
promising student and was constantly in trouble for which he was
caned. Daisy, seriously overweight and dressed unattractively, would
go to the school to yell at the teacher for disciplining her favorite
son -- an action that made Fred the butt of many jokes. He was a
"mamma's boy." He left school at age fifteen almost illiterate and
went to work as a farm hand.
By the time he
was sixteen, he cleaned himself up enough to be attractive to girls.
He was extremely aggressive with the opposite sex and went after any
girl that caught his fancy.
that his father had sex with his daughters, using the logic, "I made
you so I'm entitled to have you." But then, Fred was a notorious liar.
It's hard to say if his father ever was ever guilty of incest or that
Fred made his sister pregnant as he later claimed.
When Fred was
seventeen, he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident which
left him in a coma for a week and resulted in having a metal plate put
into his head. His leg was broken and was permanently shorter than the
other leg. Some thought that this head injury made him prone to sudden
fits of rage and that he seemed to have lost control over his
recovery from the accident, Fred met the pretty 16-year-old Catherine
Bernadette Costello, nicknamed Rena, who had been in trouble with the
police since early childhood. By the time she met Fred she was an
accomplished and experienced thief. They became lovers almost
immediately, but the affair ended when she went back home a few months
later to Scotland.
turned his attentions elsewhere and stuck his hand up the skirt of a
young woman standing with him on a fire escape at a local youth club.
She was impressed enough with the gesture to knock him off the fire
escape. In the fall, he banged his head and lost consciousness. The
lasting impact on Fred's behavior suggested that between this incident
and the motorcycle accident, he had suffered some brain damage.
In 1961, Fred
and his friend stole a watchstrap and cigarette cases from a jewelry
store and were caught with the merchandise on them. Fred and his
colleague were both fined. This was just the beginning of his
troubles. A few months later, he was accused of impregnating a
13-year-old girl who was a friend of the West family. Fred was
surprisingly uncooperative and didn't see that there was anything
wrong with molesting little girls. "Well, doesn't every one do it?"
and the ensuing scandal caused a serious breach with his family. Fred
was ordered to find somewhere else to live. Distanced now from his
family, he went to work on construction projects. It wasn't long
before he was caught stealing from the construction sites and having
sex with young girls.
trial for having sex with the 13-year-old girl, his physician claimed
that he was suffering from epileptic fits. Consequently, he got off
without a jail sentence, but the die was cast. At age 20, Fred West
was a convicted child molester and petty thief -- and a total disgrace
to his family.
Fred's parents relented and let him come back to live with them at
Much Marcle. That summer, his girlfriend Rena Costello came back from
Scotland and took up with Fred immediately. They seemed well matched.
Rena was not your average girl, but rather an experienced delinquent
that as a teenager had a record for prostitution and burglary. That
Rena was pregnant by an Asian bus driver introduced a complication
into their relationship and to his parents' acceptance of her as his
married in November of that year and moved immediately to Scotland.
His parents believed that the baby she was carrying was Fred's. In
March of 1963, when Charmaine was born, Fred had Rena write to his
mother saying that their baby had died in childbirth and that she had
adopted a mixed-race child.
Rena had been a prostitute at various times, she was not happy to be a
prisoner to the voracious sexual appetite of Fred West. Colin Wilson
in The Corpse Garden tells how Fred's interest in "normal sex" was
minimal. "He wanted oral sex, bondage and...sodomy...at all hours of
the day and night.
Fred drove an
ice cream truck which afforded him unlimited access to many young
women. For someone as highly sexed as Fred, it seemed like paradise.
His politeness, apparent trustworthiness and sincerity, and his
ability to spin interesting tales made him attractive to the teenagers
who flocked around his ice cream truck. His continual seductions
turned Rena and Charmaine into afterthoughts. Despite Fred's almost
daily infidelities, he was very possessive of Rena and Charmaine.
In 1964, Rina
bore Fred's child, a daughter they named Anna Marie. "On again, off
again" characterized their roller coaster marriage for several years.
During that time, Rena and Fred met Anna McFall, whose boyfriend had
been killed in an accident. At that time, Fred was involved in an
accident with the ice cream truck that killed a young boy. While Fred
wasn't at fault, he was concerned that he would lose his job. So, he
and Rena and their two children, plus Anna McFall moved back to
Gloucester. Fred had a job in a slaughterhouse.
sees this job in the slaughterhouse as having a profound affect on
Fred. "One thing is clear: that at some stage, West developed a morbid
obsession with corpses and blood and dismemberment. There is no
evidence that he had shown any such interest so far. It seems, then,
that Fred West's sexual perversion became slowly more obsessive in the
period following his marriage, and the evidence suggests that
necrophilia and desire to mutilate corpses began during his period as
Fred's marriage became increasingly unstable. Rena wanted to take the
two children back with her to Glasgow, but Fred refused, so she went
back to Scotland alone. But she was miserable without her daughters
and, in July of 1966, returned to Gloucester to find Fred and Anna
McFall living together in a trailer.
Constable Hazel Savage that her husband was a sex pervert and unfit to
raise their children. Coincidentally, there were eight sexual assaults
committed in the Gloucester area committed by a man of Fred's
In early 1967,
Anna McFall became pregnant with Fred's child. She was trying
unsuccessfully to get Fred to divorce Rena and marry her. Fred
responded to the stress of her demands by killing her and burying her
near the trailer park sometime in July.
Not only did
he kill his mistress and their unborn child, he slowly and
methodically dismembered her corpse and buried her along with the
fetus. Oddly enough, he cut off her fingers and toes, which were
missing from the gravesite. It would be his ritualistic signature in
very nervous after McFall's disappearance. Then Rena moved back into
the trailer and Fred became his old self again. Fred happily sent Rena
out to earn some pocket money as a prostitute and began to openly
fondle the young Charmaine.
In January of
1968, pretty 15-year-old Mary Bastholm was abducted from a bus stop in
Gloucester. Howard Sounes believes that Fred was responsible because
in later years, he abducted other women in a similar fashion from bus
There were a
number of links between Fred and Mary Bastholm: he was a customer at
the Pop-In [where Mary worked] and Mary often served him tea; Fred had
been employed to do some building work behind the café; Mary had been
seen with a girl fitting the description of Fred's former lover, Anna
McFall; and one witness claims to have seen Mary in Fred's car.
Fred's mother died of complications of a gallbladder operation. He
launched into a series of petty thefts, which caused him to change
jobs frequently. On November 29, 1968, while he was working as a
bakery delivery driver, he met the girl who would become his next wife
and longtime soul mate, Rose Letts.
was born in November 1953 in Devon, England with a less than
auspicious heritage. Her father, Bill Letts was a schizophrenic. Her
mother, Daisy Letts, suffered from severe depression. Bill Letts was a
violent domestic tyrant who demanded unconditional obedience from his
wife and children. He enjoyed disciplining them and seemed to look for
reasons to beat them. Given Bill's psychotic episodes and rigid
Victorian behavior, he was not an ideal employee and drifted through a
series of low-paying, unskilled jobs. The family was always short of
His son Andrew
recalled, " If he felt we were in bed too late, he would throw a
bucket of cold water over us. He would order us to dig the garden, and
that meant the whole garden. Then he would inspect it like an army
officer, and if he was not satisfied, we would have to do it all over
again...We were not allowed to speak and play like normal children. If
we were noisy, he would go for us with a belt or chunk of wood. He
would beat you black and blue until mum got in between us. Then she
would get a good hiding."
birth to three daughters and a son and trying to cope with her violent
husband, Daisy's deepening depression resulted in hospitalization in
1953. She was treated with the controversial electroshock therapy.
Shortly after a number of these treatments, which delivered electric
currents into the brain, Daisy gave birth to Rosemary. The effect of
the electroshock therapy upon the daughter growing in her womb was
Howard Sounes in his book, Fred & Rose, describes how Rose was
different from other children:
a habit of rocking herself in her cot; if she was put in a pram
without the brake on, she rocked so violently that the pram crept
across the room. As she became a little older, Rose only rocked her
head, but she did this for hours on end. It was one of the first
indications that, in the family's words, she was 'a bit slow.'...As
Rose grew from a baby to a toddler to a little girl, she would swing
her head for hours until she seemed to have hypnotized herself into
as she was called, was not very intelligent, but she had very pretty
features: big brown eyes, a clear complexion and attractive brown
hair. As she got older, she developed a tendency towards chubbiness.
Rose was smart
enough, however, to make herself her father's pet, always doing
whatever he wished immediately. Thereby, she alone received paternal
affection and escaped the beatings.
Given her lack
of intellectual gifts, Rose was not a star performer in school. Also,
she was overweight, which made her the butt of cruel jokes by her
peers. She lashed out at them and attacked anyone who teased her.
Consequently, she became known as an ill tempered, aggressive loner.
As a teenager,
Rose showed signs of being sexually precocious, walking around naked
after her baths and climbing into bed with her younger brother and
fondling him sexually. Her father's rules forbade her to date boys her
own age and her heaviness and temperament kept boys from being
interested in her. She focused her interest in sex on the older men of
In January of
1968, Rose and other girls of the community began to fear for their
safety. A fifteen-year-old girl named Mary Bastholm disappeared from a
bus stop in Gloucester. Mary had been on the way to visit her
boyfriend, carrying a Monopoly set. All that the police found at the
bus stop were a few pieces of the Monopoly set. The disappearance was
thought to be linked to several other rapes in the area.
cautious for awhile, but her boredom and loneliness drove her to seek
out male companionship. On one occasion, an older man, who had taken
advantage of her naïveté, raped her.
Early in 1969,
Daisy Letts became tired of being her husband's punching bag, took
fifteen-year-old Rose, and moved in temporarily with her daughter
Glenys and her husband. Without her father watching her, Rose spent a
lot of time out at night. Her brother-in-law, Jim Tyler claimed that
Rose carried on with a number of men much older than she was and that
Rose had even tried to seduce him.
Rose moved back with her father, an action that surprised everyone.
Some said that Rose and her father had an incestuous relationship and
that Bill Letts had a reputation for molesting young girls, but all of
this was unsubstantiated rumor.
Thus in her
early teens, Rose Letts seemed destined for a dull and unhappy life:
she was not very smart and not very pleasant tempered. She was an
underachiever, a rebel against authority and unfocused toward any
productive goal, aside from finding a lover older than herself.
Then she met
limited Bill Letts was as an ideal parent, he saw Fred West as a
completely undesirable boyfriend for Rose. When Bill found that Rose
was sleeping with Fred, he raised a fuss with the Social Services.
When that was ineffective, he showed up at Fred's trailer park and
was sent to prison for various thefts and failure to pay fines for
previous offenses. Rose went back to stay with her father until he
found that she was pregnant with Fred's child. At age 16, Rose left
her father's house to take care of Charmaine and Anna Marie, as well
as deal with Fred, who seemed to always be in trouble with the law.
In 1970, she
gave birth to Heather. With three children to care for, a boyfriend in
jail and constant money problems, Rose's temper flared constantly. She
resented having to take care of Rena's children and treated them
One day in the
summer of 1971, Charmaine was suddenly missing and Rose told her
sister Anna Marie that Rena had come to get her. Colin Wilson believes
that Rose "simply lost her temper, and went further than usual in
beating or throttling her. She was, as Anna Marie said, a woman
entirely without self-control; when she lost her temper, she became a
kind of maniac."
Since Fred was
in jail when Charmaine was murdered, his involvement probably extended
to burying her body under the kitchen floor of their home on Midland
Road where it lay undiscovered for over 20 years. Before he buried
Charmaine, he took off her fingers, toes and kneecaps. Fred would hold
this criminal secret over Rose for the rest of her life.
father came to take her away from Fred, Fred reminded her: "Come on,
Rosie, you know what we've got between us." Bill Letts noticed that
that statement upset Rose. "You don't know him!" she told her parents.
"You don' t know him! There's nothing he wouldn't do -- even murder!"
a large population of West Indians that created entertainment and
extra income for both Rose and Fred. Rose invited many West Indian men
over to their house on Midland Road to have sex with her -- either for
cash or fun. Fred, the voyeur encouraged this behavior and watched
through a peephole. As over-sexed as he was, Fred was not at all
interested in ordinary sex. It had to involve bondage, vibrators, acts
of sadism or lesbianism to get him involved. Fred took erotic photos
of Rose and ran them as ads in magazines for "swingers."
murdered Charmaine, she created both a problem and an opportunity for
Fred regarding his first wife Rena. It was just a matter of time
before Rena came around looking for Charmaine. In fact, in August of
1971, Rena sought out Walter, Fred's father, in hopes that he could
tell her what happened to Charmaine.
Fred saw that
he had no choice but to kill Rena. In all likelihood, he probably got
her very drunk and then strangled her at his house on Midland Road. He
then dismembered her body and mutilated it in the same odd way that he
had Anna McFall's body: he cut off Rena's fingers and toes. Then he
put her remains into bags and buried her in the same general area as
he buried Anna McFall.
year, Fred and Rose became friendly with their new neighbor, Elizabeth
Agius, who babysat for them several times. When Fred and Rose returned
home, Elizabeth asked them where they had been. The surprisingly
candid answer was that they were cruising around looking for young
girls, hopefully young virgins. Fred thought that with Rose in the car
that a young woman would not fear taking a ride with them. Elizabeth
assumed at the time that they were joking. Another time, Agius was
openly propositioned by Fred. And still another time, she was,
according to Colin Wilson, drugged and raped.
In June of
1972, Rose had another daughter by Fred. They named her Mae West. This
time, the child was legitimate, Fred and Rose having married in
January of that year at the Gloucester Registry Office.
Fred and Rose
decided they needed a house to raise their growing family and also
accommodate Rose's prostitution business. Number 25 Cromwell was just
the place. The house was not much to look at on the outside, but the
inside was large and had a garage and a good-sized cellar. They took
in lodgers to help pay the rent.
Fred had plans
for the cellar and told Elizabeth Agius that he was either going to
make it into a place for Rose to entertain her clients or he would
soundproof it and use it as his "torture chamber."
client was his eight-year-old daughter, Anna Marie. He and Rose
undressed her and told her that she was lucky that she had such caring
parents who were making sure that when she got married she would be
able to satisfy her husband. Anna Marie's hands were tied behind her
and a gag put in her mouth.
Rose held the girl down, her father raped her. The pain was so severe
that the girl could not go to school for several days. She was warned
that she would be beaten if she ever told anyone about the rape.
Another time, Anna Marie was strapped down while her father raped her
quickly on his brief lunch hour.
In late 1972,
Fred and Rose picked up a 17-year-old girl named Caroline Owens and
hired her as a nanny. They promised Caroline's family that they would
watch out for her while she lived with them.
very attractive, so much so that Rose and Fred competed with each
other to seduce her. In short order, Caroline found the Wests
repugnant and told them she was leaving. The couple abducted, stripped
and raped her. Fred told her that if she didn't do what he wanted,
"I'll keep you in the cellar and let my black friends have you, and
when we're finished we'll kill you and bury you under the paving
stones of Gloucester." Terrified, she believed him. When her mother
saw her bruises, she got the truth from her and called the police.
There was a
hearing in January of 1973. Fred was thirty-one and Rose a mere
nineteen -- and pregnant once again. Fred was able to con the
magistrate into believing that Caroline was a willing partner. Despite
Fred's criminal record, the magistrate did not believe the Wests were
capable of violence and fined them each.
For some time,
the Wests had been carrying on a friendship with seamstress Lynda
Gough. Eventually, Lynda moved into 25 Cromwell Street to take care of
the children. Something went amiss in the relationship and Lynda was
murdered. Fred dismembered her and buried her in a pit in the garage.
True to his ritual, he removed her fingers, toes and kneecaps. When
Lynda's family came looking for her, they were told that she had
stayed there but had left.
pattern was emerging. Young women would come to stay at 25 Cromwell
either as lodgers or friends or nannies, but so few ever made it out
with their lives. The house was slowly becoming a monument to the
depravity of its inhabitants.
1973 was a
year for the Wests to celebrate. They walked away from Caroline Owens'
rape and abduction charge with only a fine and they murdered Lynda
Gough with no police repercussions at all. Then in August, their first
son, Stephen, was born.
their success, they abducted fifteen-year-old Carol Ann Cooper in
November and amused themselves with her sexually -- that is, until she
outlived her entertainment value and was snuffed out by strangulation
or suffocation, dismembered and buried. She joined the growing city of
the dead at 25 Cromwell Street.
Fred, persistent in his home improvements, had enlarged the cellar and
was demolishing the garage to build an extension to the main house. No
matter that these improvements were done at very strange hours.
A little over
a month later, university student Lucy Partington had gone home to her
mother's house to spend the Christmas holiday. On December 27, she
went to visit her disabled friend and left to catch a bus shortly
after 10 P.M. She had the misfortune to meet up with Fred and Rose,
who probably knocked her out and abducted her. Like Carol Ann Cooper,
she was tortured for approximately a week and then murdered,
dismembered and buried in Fred's construction projects. He cut himself
while dismembering Lucy and had to go to the hospital for stitches on
January 3, 1974.
Carol Ann Cooper, was reported missing, but there was nothing to tie
the two girls to the Wests.
of 1974 and April of 1975, three young women -- Therese Siegenthaler,
21, Shirley Hubbard, 15, and Juanita Mott, 18, met the same fate as
Carol Ann Cooper and Lucy Partington. Their tortured and dismembered
bodies were buried under the cellar floor of the West's house.
becoming a major thrill for Fred and Rose. Shirley's head had been
wrapped entirely with tape and a plastic tube was inserted in her nose
so that she could breathe. Juanita was subjected to even more extreme
gagged with a ligature made from two long, white nylon socks (similar
to those worn by Rose), a brassiere and two pairs of tights, one
within the other. She was then trussed up with lengths of
plastic-covered rope, of the type used for washing line. The rope was
used in a complicated way, with loops tied around her arms and thighs,
both wrists, both ankles and her skull, horizontally and vertically,
backwards and forwards across her body until she could only wriggle
like a trapped animal. Then the Wests produced a seven-foot length of
rope with a slipknot end forming a noose. This was probably used to
suspend Juanita's body from the beams in the cellar. (Sounes)
enough with this charnel house in his cellar, Fred continued to
attract the police with continuous thefts and fencing stolen goods. It
was necessary for Fred to keep stealing to pay for his home
improvement projects. His home improvement projects were necessary to
keep the monstrous habits of his wife and himself covered up with
layers of concrete.
In 1976, the
Wests enticed a young woman, designated as Miss A by the courts, from
a home for wayward girls. At Cromwell Street, Miss A was led into a
room with two naked girls who were prisoners there. She witnessed the
torture of the two girls and was raped by Fred and sexually assaulted
One of the
girls that Miss A saw was probably Anna Marie, Fred's daughter who was
a constant target of the couple's sexual sadism. As if Fred's rape and
torture of his daughter was not enough, he brought home his friends to
have sex with her.
In 1977, the
upstairs of the house had been remodeled to allow for a number of
lodgers. One of them was Shirley Robinson, 18, a former prostitute
with bisexual inclinations. Shirley developed relationships with both
Fred and Rose. Shirley became pregnant with Fred's child after Rose
was pregnant with the child of one of her black clients.
While Fred was
pleased that Rose was carrying a mixed child, Rose was not comfortable
with Shirley carrying Fred's child. Shirley foolishly thought that she
could displace Rose in Fred's life and, in the process, jeopardized
her own existence. Rose made it clear that Shirley had to go.
And go she
did, seven months after Rose gave birth to Tara in December of 1977,
Shirley joined the rest of the girls buried on Cromwell Street. The
cellar being full, Shirley was put in the rear garden along with her
unborn child. This time, Fred dismembered Shirley and their unborn
In November of
1978, Rose and Fred had yet another daughter who they named Louise,
making a total of six children in the bizarre and unwholesome
household. Fred also impregnated his daughter Anna Marie, but the
pregnancy occurred in her fallopian tube and had to be terminated.
In May of
1979, Rose's father died of a lung ailment. Several months later, the
Wests were up to their old tricks and murdered a troubled teenager
named Alison Chambers after they raped and tortured her. Like Shirley,
Alison was buried in the "overflow" cemetery in the rear garden.
were aware of some of the goings on in the home. They knew that Rose
was a prostitute and that Anna Marie was being raped by her father.
When Anna Marie moved out to live with her boyfriend, Fred focused his
sexual advances on Heather and Mae. Heather resisted her father and
was beaten for it.
In June of
1980, Rose gave birth to Barry, Fred's second son. Then again, in
April of 1982, Rose gave birth to Rosemary Junior, who was not Fred's
In July of
1983, Rose gave birth to another daughter who they named Lucyanna. She
was half-black, like Tara and Rosemary Junior. Rose became
increasingly irrational and beat the children without provocation. The
stress of so many children in the household took its toll on Rose's
already bad temper.
probably continued to carry on their sexual abductions, but did not
bury any of these new victims at 25 Cromwell St.
In 1986, the
wall of filial silence that has protected the Wests, was broken.
Heather told her girlfriend about her father's advances, her mother's
affairs and the beatings she received. The girlfriend told her
parents, who were friends of the Wests, and Heather's life was in
parents murdered her, they told the children that she left home. Fred
asked his son Stephen to help him dig a hole in the rear garden, where
Fred later buried Heather's dismembered body.
Rose built up
her prostitution business by advertising in special magazines. She and
Fred were on the lookout for women who they could get to participate
in their various perversions as well as prostitute herself under
Rose's direction. One such woman, Katherine Halliday, became a fixture
in the West household and saw first hand the black bondage suits and
masks that they had collected, plus the whips and chains. With good
reason, Katherine became alarmed and quickly broke off her
relationship with them.
As time went
on, Fred and Rosemary became increasingly concerned about creating a
minimum façade of respectability, not because they cared what people
thought of them, but because they were concerned that knowledge of
what had gone on in their house would jeopardize their freedom.
long run of luck was coming to an end. One of the very young girls
that Fred had raped with Rose's assistance told her girlfriend what
happened. The girlfriend went to the police and the case was assigned
to a very talented and persistent Detective Constable named Hazel
Savage. Hazel knew Fred from his days with Rena and remembered the
stories that Rena had told her about Fred's sexual perversions.
On August 6,
1992, police arrived at 25 Cromwell Street with a search warrant to
look for pornography and evidence of child abuse. They found mountains
of pornography and arrested Rose for assisting in the rape of a minor.
Fred was arrested for rape and sodomy of a minor.
went to work interviewing family members and friends of the Wests.
When she talked to Anna Marie, she heard for the first time the
shocking story about how she had been so severely abused. She also
expressed her concerns about Charmaine, who Hazel had known from her
experiences with Rena.
Hazel had all
she needed to bring child abuse charges, but she needed to further
investigate the disappearance of Charmaine, Rena and Heather. Hazel
was not satisfied that Heather had disappeared without a trace.
Insurance and tax records showed that Heather had not been employed
nor had she visited a doctor in four years. Either she had left the
country or was dead.
children were taken from Rose and put into government care. With Fred
in jail and the police closing in on her, Rose took an overdose of
pills and attempted suicide. Her son Stephen found her and saved her
life. Later, she escaped from her loneliness by stuffing herself with
candy and watching Disney videos.
Fred didn't do
much better in prison. He was very depressed and sorry for himself.
Actually, his luck was holding -- for the time being. The case against
the Wests collapsed when two key witnesses decided not to testify
against them. But the seeds of their discovery had been sown. The
strange, inexplicable disappearance of Heather was firmly implanted in
Hazel Savage's mind.
over the case and launched an inquiry into Heather's whereabouts. When
no sign of the girl was found, Hazel feared that that the rumor was
true that Heather was buried under the patio. The West children were
questioned repeatedly. Fred had threatened them that if they didn't
keep their silence that they would end up under the patio like
Superintendent John Bennett was in charge of the media-sensitive case.
Finally the warrant to search the Cromwell Street house and garden was
signed, but the logistics of digging up a fifteen by sixty-foot garden
were nontrivial. Furthermore, Fred's extension to the house was built
over a portion of the garden. The search would be very expensive and
be certain to attract attention of the media.
improved for the investigation after Fred confessed to killing his
daughter and after human bones other than Heather's were found in the
garden. When Rose was informed of Fred's confession, she claimed that
Fred had sent her out of the house the day Heather disappeared and had
no knowledge of Heather's death.
The police set
about the grim task of digging up the large garden. Fred had been
released temporarily until there was evidence to hold him. But, as
Fred watched the police dig up the garden, he knew it was a matter of
time before they found Heather and the others buried in the rear
Fred told his
son that he had done something really bad and would be going away for
awhile. Steve remembered that "He looked at me so evil and so cold.
That look went right through me."
police found the remains of a young woman, dismembered and
decapitated. Then another victim was found. When the police heard
about the disappearance of Shirley Robinson, the scope of the
Rose, Fred claimed responsibility for the murders himself. He was
charged with the murders of Heather, Shirley Robinson and the as yet
unidentified third woman. Furthermore, an investigation was opened
into the disappearance of Rena and Charmaine. For some reason, Fred
decided to tell the police about the girls buried in his cellar. Fred
admitted to murdering the girls, but not rape. These girls, he
maintained, wanted to have sex with him.
chatted about his murders, the police tried to grapple with the
evidence. Lining up bodies with names was not an easy task. Nine sets
of bones were discovered in the cellar and the police did not know
whose they were. Fred was not much help since he could not remember
the names and details of some of the women he had picked up.
Considering the many women who go missing every year, extensive work
had to be done to match up missing person's reports with the remains.
As the case
developed, Rose abandoned Fred to save herself. She tried to position
herself as the victim of a murderous man, but she was not particularly
convincing. Police worked continuously to tie her in to the crimes.
The bodies of
Rena, Anna McFall and Charmaine were found as Fred continued to
cooperate with the police. On the Mary Bastholm case, Fred decided to
quit cooperating and her body was not found.
At their joint
hearing, Fred attempted to console Rose, but she avoided his touch.
She told the police he made her sick. The great partnership in crime
rejection was devastating to Fred. On December 13, 1994, he was
charged with twelve murders. Again, Rose brushed him off. He had
written to her, "We will always be in love... You will always be Mrs.
West, all over the world. That is important to me and to you."
noon on New Year's Day at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, when the
guards were having lunch, Fred hanged himself with strips of bedsheet.
He had clearly planned his suicide well in advance so that he would
not be discovered.
paucity of direct evidence linking her to the murders, Rose went to
trial on October 3, 1995. A number of witnesses -- including Caroline
Owens, Miss A, and Anna Marie -- testified to Rose's sadistic sexual
assaults on young women.
The goal of
the prosecution, led by Brian Leveson QC, was to construct a tight web
of circumstantial evidence of Rose's guilt. The defense, led by
Richard Ferguson QC, tried to show that evidence of sexual assault was
not the same as evidence of murder. That Rose did not know what Fred
was doing when he murdered the girls and buried them in various
the mistake of putting Rose on the stand. Her defiance came through
very clearly to the jury. Furthermore, the prosecution learned to
extract damaging testimony from her by making her angry. She left the
jury with entrenched beliefs that Rose had treated the children badly
and that she was completely dishonest.
defense played the recordings of Fred West describing how he had
murdered the victims when Rose was out of the house. Unfortunately for
Rose, Fred was shown to be lying on key issues, which threw his entire
statement into doubt.
dramatic evidence was given by Janet Leach, who was called as the
"appropriate adult" (witness) to Fred West's police interviews.
Privately, Fred had told her that Rose was involved in the murders --
and that Rose had murdered Charmaine and Shirley Robinson without him
-- but that he made a deal with his wife to take all the blame on
Janet was so
stressed by this confidential confession that she suffered a stroke.
It was only after Fred's death that she felt that she could tell the
police what he had said to her. After her testimony, she collapsed and
had to be taken to the hospital.
summary, Leveson called Rose the "strategist" and the dominant
partner. "The evidence that Rosemary West knew nothing is not worthy
of belief." Ferguson, in his summary, stressed that the evidence only
pointed to Fred.
The jury took
very little time to find Rose guilty of the murders of Charmaine,
Heather, Shirley Robinson and the other girls buried at the house. The
judge sentenced her to life imprisonment on each of ten counts of
There are at
least four paperback books written on Fred and Rosemary West. None of
these books are readily available outside of the U.K. The Crime
Library recommends the Howard Sounes book as the best overall story of
the complete case. Sounes was a reporter who broke the first major
stories on the case.
Brian, She Must Have Known: The Trial of Rosemary West. London:
Corgi Books, 1996.
Howard, Fred & Rose. London: Warner Books, 1995.
Geoffrey, The Life of Frederick West. London: Headline Book
The Corpse Garden: The Crime of Fred and Rose West.
London: True Crime Library, 1998.
Frederick (1942-95), Rosemary (1953- )
SEX: M/F RACE: W
TYPE: S MOTIVE: Sex./Sad.
MO: Fred killed
three female victims, including a pregnant lover and his first wife,
before meeting Rosemary; together, they sadistically murdered nine
females, including their own daughter, and buried remains at their
home, 1973-87; in custody, Fred boasted of killing 20+ victims never
found by police
hanged himself in jail, Jan. 1, 1995; Rosemary sentenced to life on 10
counts (including a child killed in 1971), 1995.