The Full Wiki

Fred West: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fred West

Fred and Rosemary in the mid 1980s
Background information
Birth name: Frederick Walter Stephen West
Born: 29 September 1941(1941-09-29)
Much Marcle, Herefordshire, England, UK
Died: 1 January 1995 (aged 53)
Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, England, UK
Cause of death: Suicide by hanging
Conviction: Child molestation
Indecent assault
Sentence: Committed suicide before trial
Number of victims: 11-13
Span of killings: July 1967 – May 1987
Country: United Kingdom
Date apprehended: 24 February 1994

Frederick Walter Stephen West (29 September 1941 – 1 January 1995), better known as Fred West, 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 step-daughter (his first wife's biological daughter) Charmaine, while he was serving a prison sentence for theft.


Early life

Fred West was born into a poor family of farm workers in Bickerton Cottage, Much Marcle, Herefordshire, to Walter Stephen West (1914–1992) and Daisy Hannah Hill. He was the second of their eight children. West would later claim that his father had incestuous relationships with his daughters.[1]

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".[2] It is also alleged that his mother Daisy began sexually abusing him from the age of 12.[3]

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 and began work as a farm labourer. 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.[4]

At age 20, he was arrested for molesting a 13-year-old girl. He was convicted, but escaped a sentence of imprisonment.[1] 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 Glasgow. Her daughter, Charmaine Carol, was born on 22 February 1963. Costello and West claim they had adopted Charmaine, whose father was a Pakistani man. In July 1964 Costello bore West a daughter named Anne Marie. During this period in Glasgow, West worked as an ice cream van driver. On 4 November 1965, he accidentally ran over and killed a four-year-old boy with his van.[5]

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 vehicular homicide 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 1994.

In September 1967, Costello returned to live with West, but left again the following year, putting the children in West's care.

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 step-daughter 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 also disappeared.

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 Rosemary.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

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. However, the police continued investigating the disappearance of their daughter Heather. After taking statements from social workers about the 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 1994.

After West's arrest the following day, the police uncovered human bones.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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 souvenir hunters.

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.[13]

The victims

  • 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.
  • 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 Fred’s child.
  • Alison Chambers (born 8 Sepember 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 dug.

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 13. As well as the 12 confirmed they believe West also killed 15-year-old Mary Bastholme in 1968, but to date no body has been found.[3] West's son, Stephen, has said he firmly believed the missing Gloucester teenager was an early victim of his father.[14]

Although no forensic evidence linked Fred West to the murder of Anne McFall, the state of the body (missing finger and toe bones) and the dimensions of the grave site match aspects of West's modus operandi.[15]

Cultural impact

Harold and Fred (They Make Ladies Dead) was a 2001 comic strip in Viz, also featuring serial killer Harold Shipman, which attracted criticism from the victims' families. The editor of Viz commented: "Yes, it is going a bit far and I don't need to defend it, but I'll make a half-hearted attempt. I'm sure Mel Brooks didn't think the Nazis were funny, but a lot of his comedy was based around them. The cover of Viz gives you a pretty good idea of what the content is going to be like and people that are offended by it, don't buy it."[16][17]


  1. ^ a b "Fred and Rose West — Fred" Retrieved 3 July 2009
  2. ^ Steven Morris (2007-09-20). "Serial Murder and the Psychology of a Sexual Sadist: Frederick West". New Criminologist. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b Real Life Crimes and How They Were Solved. Eaglemoss Publications. 2002. 
  4. ^ "The Biography Channel" The Biography Retried 18 July 2007
  5. ^ "Fred and Rose West - First blood" Retrieved 13 July 2007
  6. ^ Euan Ferguson on the Legacy of Fred West The Guardian 15 February 2004
  7. ^ The Lost Girl by Caroline Roberts, the nanny to the children
  8. ^ "Surviving Fred and Rose". BBC News. 24 February 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  9. ^ An Evil Love - Geoffrey Wansell
  10. ^ "Fred and Rose West - House of Horrors" Retrieved 13 July 2007
  11. ^ "1995: Serial killer West found hanged". British Broadcasting Corporation. 1 January 1995. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  12. ^ "Fred and Rose West - Endgame" Retrieved 13 July 2007
  13. ^ There's nobody home..., Guardian, 15 February 2004
  14. ^ Fred West 'admitted killing waitress', BBC News 25 March 1998
  15. ^ "Happy Like Murderers", Gordon Burn, pp146-147
  16. ^ Garrett, Jade (1 February 2001). "'Viz' pushes taste to its limits with Shipman cartoon - Media, News - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  17. ^ "BBC News - Anger at Shipman Cartoon". 1 February 2001. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 

Further reading

  • 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. 
  • Masters, Brian (1996). She Must Have Known: Trial of Rosemary West. London: Doubleday. ISBN 0385406509. 
  • Roberts, Caroline (2005). The Lost Girl: How I Triumphed Over Life at the Mercy of Fred and Rose West. London: Metro Books. ISBN 1843580888. 
  • Sounes, Howard (1995). Fred and Rose: The Full Story of Fred and Rose West and the Gloucester House of Horrors. London: Warner Books. ISBN 0751513229. 
  • Wansell, Geoffrey (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. 

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address