After Heather left school in 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; she received notification that 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, and according to Mae, she “cried all the way through the night.” The following morning, on 19 June, Heather was “back to her usual self, looking miserable, biting her nails and sitting on the couch bouncing back and forth as she sat” as her siblings left the house to go to school. When Heather’s siblings returned home, they were informed Heather had left 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 answer their children’s questions about why Heather failed to contact or visit her siblings, the parents claimed that Heather had eloped with a lesbian lover. When Mae and Stephen suggested they report Heather’s disappearance to police, Fred changed his story yet again, saying it would be unwise to initiate a search for Heather as she was involved in credit card fraud. On more than one occasion, Fred and Rose persuaded an unknown acquaintance to fake a phone call from Heather to her parents.
In the years following Heather’s disappearance, Fred occasionally jokingly threatened 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 later constructed a barbecue pit immediately opposite where Heather had been buried, and placed a pine table on her grave for the children of the family to sit upon whenever the Wests held family gatherings in their garden. Heather’s disappearance, Fred and Rose’s constantly changing stories about 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, ultimately led to police enquiries as to Heather’s whereabouts. These enquiries culminated in a search warrant being issued to excavate the Wests’ garden in February 1994.
In their efforts 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. Police then focused their attentions on tracing Heather in efforts to corroborate Anna Marie’s claims of sexual abuse, but enquiries to the Inland Revenue and the Social Security department held no records attesting to her 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 collapsed when Anna Marie and 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 because of her noting the misery of her younger siblings, and her fear of Rose’s vindictiveness. Shortly thereafter, Anna Marie spoke further with DC Savage, further emphasising that her mother Rena and half-sister Charmaine were also missing.
Although the Wests were acquitted of all charges, all their younger children remained in foster care, albeit with permitted supervised visitations to Cromwell Street. Despite Fred and Rose 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 them. Meanwhile, police continued investigating the disappearance of Heather, noting no records existed 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. In retracing Fred’s history, police also discovered that although Rena and Charmaine had disappeared in 1971, no missing person report had ever been filed on either of them. DC Savage and her colleagues were convinced Heather was dead, and that Fred’s repeated statement to his children that her body lay beneath the family patio might be true. On 23 February 1994, Gloucester police successfully applied for a search warrant authorising the search of 25 Cromwell Street to locate Heather’s remains.
When police displayed this warrant to Rose on 24 February, she turned pale, before becoming hysterical and shouting over her shoulder to her eldest son, Stephen, “Get Fred!” 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?” Fred had been working in Stroud at the time; upon hearing of the police’s intentions, he assured Stephen he would be home immediately. When Fred arrived three hours later, he informed his family of his intention to voluntarily offer a witness statement to police regarding his daughter’s whereabouts. Despite Fred’s insistence in this statement that Heather had been “alive and well”, albeit involved in 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. In response, Fred abruptly changed tactics, claiming they simply held a grudge against him due to his 1993 acquittal of the rape of his daughter. That evening, with the search team having left their premises and a uniformed officer remaining at Cromwell Street to guard the excavation site, Mae and Stephen observed their parents talking in hushed tones as they repeatedly glanced towards the garden from their kitchen window.
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.” 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. At 11:15 that morning, Fred formally admitted to police he had indeed killed his daughter, albeit in an act of manslaughter. He confessed to strangling Heather in a fit of rage, then dismembering her body in the ground floor bathroom with a heavy serrated knife he normally used for cutting slabs of frozen meat. Her remains had been stored in a dustbin as he waited for an opportunity to dig her grave. 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, adding 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. Upon receipt of this confession, Fred’s solicitor, Howard Ogden, and his appointed appropriate adult, Janet Leach, informed Mae and Stephen 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.
Despite Fred’s insistence that his wife held no knowledge of any of the murders, investigators suspected otherwise. Rose was arrested on 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 to be held in the maximum security wing. Here, she was questioned more closely about the murders, in particular those of her daughter and Lynda Gough, and on 25 April she was formally charged with Gough’s murder. By 6 May, Fred and Rose were jointly charged with five counts of murder, with Rose simply replying, “I’m innocent” upon hearing each formal charge. This proved to be a continuous trait throughout each of the 46 interviews investigators held with Rose prior to her trial. As well as the murders of the victims exhumed from Cromwell Street, Fred had confessed to the murders of his first wife and stepdaughter, and to knowing the location of Anne McFall’s remains (although he always denied killing her). Fred agreed to identify each burial location, and the remains were unearthed between 10 April and 7 June. He was then transferred to Birmingham’s Winson Green Prison, where a strict suicide watch called for his cell to be checked every 15 minutes.
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. Both were ordered held on remand. 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. 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 until this date; he was formally charged with McFall’s murder on 3 July, appearing in court the following morning. As he was held on remand at Winson Green Prison in the months following his arrest, Fred became increasingly depressed. This became worse after 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. Fred pleaded with Stephen and Anna Marie (the only children to visit their father while on remand) to convey to Rose that he loved her, but 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.
The initially strict suicide watch having been relaxed, on 1 January 1995 Fred West asphyxiated himself in his cell by wrapping an improvised rope he had constructed from a blanket and tags he had stolen from prison laundry bags around his neck, then binding this device to a door handle and window catchment, and sinking to his knees. At the bottom of the suicide note found in his cell was a drawing of a gravestone, within which was written: “In loving memory. Fred West. Rose West. Rest in peace where no shadow falls. In perfect peace he waits for Rose, his wife.” At pretrial proceedings in February, Rose pleaded not guilty to ten charges of murder (the murder of Charmaine West having been added to the original nine after Fred’s suicide, and two counts of rape and indecent assault of young girls having been dropped with a view for later resubmission), though her counsel conceded that circumstantial evidence indicated Rose’s willingness to subject young girls to sadistic physical and sexual abuse. Her trial at Winchester Crown Court began 3 October. An important early decision by the judge was to admit testimony related to the sexual mistreatment of three women by Fred and Rose, accepting the prosecution’s argument that it established a pattern of behaviour repeated in the murders.
The defence next called a succession of women who claimed to have been attacked or assaulted by a lone male whose physical description matched that of Fred West between 1966 and 1975. These seven women each testified they had recognised their attacker as Fred West when his photograph appeared in the media in 1994. The intention of this testimony was to illustrate to the jury that Fred was capable of abducting, assaulting or attempting to attack women without Rose, which the prosecution had never disputed. The physical recollections of several of these women varied greatly. The final witness to testify at Rose’s trial was Fred’s appointed appropriate adult, Janet Leach, whom the prosecution had called to testify on 7 November in rebuttal to the tape recordings of Fred’s confession which had been played to the court on 3 November and in which he had stressed Rose had “known nothing at all” about any of the murders. Leach testified that through this role, Fred had gradually begun to view her as a confidante, and had confided in her that on the evening prior to his 25 February arrest, he and Rose had formed a pact whereby he would take full responsibility for all the murders, many of which he had privately described to her as being “some of Rose’s mistakes”. He had further divulged that Rose had indeed murdered Charmaine while he had been incarcerated, and had also murdered Shirley Robinson. Fred had also confided that he had dismembered the victims, and Rose had participated in the mutilation and dismemberment of Shirley Robinson, having personally removed Robinson’s unborn child from her womb after her death. In reference to the remaining eight murders for which Rose was charged, Leach testified that Fred had confided Rose had “played a major part” in these murders.
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 her testimony. While delivering this testimony, Leach collapsed, and the trial was adjourned for six days. She returned to complete her cross examination on 13 November. After seven weeks of evidence the judge instructed the jury, emphasising that circumstantial evidence can be sufficient for a finding of guilt, and that if two people take part in a murder, the law considers them equally guilty regardless of which of them did the deed. On 21 and 22 November the jury returned guilty verdicts for all ten murders. Terming her crimes “appalling and depraved”, the judge sentenced Rosemary to life in prison, emphasising that she should never be paroled. Initially, Rose was incarcerated at HMP Bronzefield as a Category A prisoner; she was later transferred to HM Prison Low Newton, where she continues to protest her innocence.
- July: Anne McFall, (18). McFall’s remains were found on 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 daughter, and her pregnancy had been in its eighth month
- 6 January: Mary Bastholm, (15). A teenage waitress at a café Fred frequented. Bastholm was abducted from a bus stop on Bristol Road, Gloucester. Her remains were never found; Fred confessed to police he had killed her. She is believed to have been buried in Bishop’s Cleeve.
- 20 June: Charmaine West, (8). Fred’s stepdaughter. Charmaine was killed by Rose shortly before Fred’s release from Leyhill Prison on 24 June, likely in a fit of domestic violence. 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.
- August: Rena 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 in mid-to-late-August 1971. It is believed Fred killed Rena 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.
- 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 shared sex partners 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.
- 27 December: Lucy Partington, (21). Partington was a university student and the cousin 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 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 was discovered in the Cromwell Street cellar on 6 March 1994.
- 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 her 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. Fred later further concealed Siegenthaler’s remains by building a false chimney breast on 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. 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 a section of the cellar at known to the family as the ‘Marilyn Monroe area’, her head was completely covered in tape with only a three-inch rubber tube inserted into her nasal cavity to enable her to breathe.
- 12 April: Juanita Mott, (18). Mott had been a former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, but was living with a family friend in Newent when she disappeared. Mott is believed to have been abducted by the Wests as she hitchhiked along the B4215. In his subsequent confessions to police, Fred would refer to Mott as ‘the girl from Newent’.
- 10 May: Shirley Robinson, (18). Another former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, Robinson had been bisexual and had engaged in casual sex with 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.
- 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 became acquainted with the Wests in mid-1979, and Fred later claimed to his solicitor that Chambers had died as a result of Rose becoming “too bloody vicious” with her. 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.
- 19 June: Heather West, (16). Heather was likely to have been murdered because Fred and Rose considered her efforts to leave the household as a threat, as she divulged to her classmates the extensive physical and sexual abuse which occurred at Cromwell Street. Fred claimed he had not intended to kill his daughter, but carpet fibres found on two lengths of rope, discovered with her remains, suggested that she 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 which Fred had his son dig, under the pretence of installing a fish pond. The 1994 police investigation into Heather’s disappearance led to the discovery of her body, and the arrest of both her parents.
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. Owens stated that, at one stage in her ordeal, Fred said that they had abducted Owens primarily for Rose’s gratification. 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. 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, Fred had been acquainted with. He had also rented a garden allotment adjacent to his house and which he frequently visited, although only a small section of this plot was ever cultivated. To one neighbour, Fred remarked that he used the remainder for “something special”, about which he refused to elaborate. Much of the supposed cultivation of this allotment occurred in the early hours of the morning. Police were unable to investigate whether any further bodies were buried at this location, as these allotments were built over in the 1970s as a section of the M8 motorway.
After 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. As a direct result of her tenacity in investigating the Wests, DC Hazel Savage was placed upon the annual New Year’s honours list. The following year, she was awarded an MBE. Fred’s body was cremated in Coventry on 29 March 1995. This service was held with only four family members present. In a five-minute service, in which no hymns were sung, the Reverend Robert Simpson quoted sections of Psalm 23, then added a solemn reminder to those present that they must “also remember everyone else who has also suffered because of these tragic events”. His ashes were scattered at the Welsh seaside resort of Barry Island, a location he had regularly visited as a child and as an adult with his family. The remains of Charmaine and Rena were cremated in Kettering. At the insistence of Anna Marie West, mother and daughter shared the same coffin, and no roses were to be brought to the service by any mourners.
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 lived at the Lake House Caravan Park in 1969; he had reported Fred to the authorities on several occasions after having been shown surgical instruments Fred claimed to have used to perform illegal abortions, and Polaroid images of the subjects’ genitals he claimed to have taken immediately after the procedures, before suggesting Crick assist him in recruiting pregnant girls to perform upon. Crick had believed the information he had provided to police was ignored as Fred was a known police informant. The stress and guilt Crick had felt over the fact the information he had provided had not resulted in charges being brought apparently led him to kill himself; an inquest later recorded a verdict of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
In March 1996, Rose 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. This appeal was rejected by Lord Chief Justice Taylor, who contended Rose had received 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. This was the second instance of a whole life tariff imposed on a woman in Britain in modern times, the first was serial killer Myra Hindley in 1990. Rose again announced that she would appeal against her sentence via her solicitor Leo Goatley in October 2000; in September 2001, she announced her intentions to cancel her appeals, stating she would never feel free even if released. She maintains her innocence in any of the murders. She is now nearly 65 years old and imprisoned at HMP Low Newton in Durham where guards are protecting her from other inmates, she is said to have found religion and “believes God will forgive her”. It’s been reported that West was being swamped with wedding proposals – with people mailing love letters to her cell once a month on average, fellow prisoner Julie McAllister claimed in March 2017 that she pummelled West after being infuriated about all the mail. Recent claims state that the serial killer is now in very poor health including being diagnosed with irreversible glaucoma.
Fred’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. Following her conviction, both of Rose’s oldest biological children and her stepdaughter, Anna Marie, initially visited her in prison on a regular basis; by 2006, she ceased contact with them after Mae began asking questions about her culpability in the murders. Rose justified her decision with the explanation: “I was never a parent and could never be now.” The sole visitor Rose continues to receive in prison is Anna Marie, who later changed her name to Anne Marie.
In 2004 Stephen West made headlines when he was jailed for nine months after admitting seven counts of underage sex with a 14-year-old girl, he’s a dad of six with two failed marriages. It is said Stephen still looks up to his Dad Fred, He’s said to have told people how much he missed him and how he thought that he was the kind one because he’d only ever given me two serious beatings. He’s even said his dad had told him he was going to commit suicide the night before he did it to protect his mum. Also in 2004, one of the Wests’ youngest children, Barry, claimed to have witnessed the murder of his sister Heather. According to Barry (who was seven at the time), Fred and Rose restrained, then sexually and physically abused Heather, before Rose had repeatedly stamped upon her head until she ceased to move. The Wests’ house in Cromwell Street was demolished in October 1996, with every piece of debris destroyed to discourage potential souvenir hunters. It had been referred to in the press as the “House of Horrors”. The site was later redeveloped into a public pathway.