Fred West: Who are Fred and Rosemary West, what did they do, timeline of their murders, why are they linked to the death of Mary Bastholm

Police in Gloucester have found ‘possible evidence’ linking missing 15-year-old Mary Bastholm to serial killer Fred West – but who are the notorious Fred and Rosemary West?

Rosemary West

Rosemary West became the most notorious female mass killer in Britain since Myra Hindley when she was jailed in 1995 for the murder of 10 young girls and women.

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With her husband Fred West, Rose preyed on vulnerable young girls and women to play out their sick sexual fantasies, which eventually led to murder.

In one of the major trials of the 20th century, West, 46, was caged for life after being found guilty of 10 murders at her trial at Winchester Crown Court.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Mantell, told West he hoped she would never be released when the jury found her guilty of murdering her eldest daughter Heather, 16, stepdaughter Charmaine, eight, her husband Fred’s pregnant lover Shirley Anne Robinson, 18, Lynda Gough, 19, Carol Ann Cooper, 15, Lucy Partington, 21, Therese Siegenthaler, 21, Shirley Hubbard, 15, Juanita Mott, 18, and Alison Chambers, 17.

Fred West

Rosemary’s builder husband – Fred West – hanged himself in his remand cell at Winston Green jail, Birmingham, on New Year’s Day 1995 before facing trial.

Mary Bastholm's disappearance had previously been linked to serial killer Fred West, right, pictured with Rosemary West.

He was accused jointly on the 10 counts and alone faced further charges alleging the murder of his first wife, Catherine Costello, 26, and girlfriend Anne McFall, 18.

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Fred West: Police find ‘possible evidence’ of missing teenager Mary Bastholm lin...

House of Horrors

The “House of Horrors” at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, became one of the most notorious addresses in the country after police discovered the bodies of nine women, including their daughter Heather, buried in the cellar and garden of the terraced house.

Police are due to reveal the initial findings of investigatory work at a cafe in Gloucester where the body of a suspected teenage victim of serial killer Fred West may be buried. (Picture credit: David Davies/PA Wire)

Their discoveries destroyed the facade of normality which the Wests had cunningly projected for so long and exposed a tale of sexual obsession, promiscuity, torture and sadism.

It was a chance conversation between a group of schoolchildren and a beat bobby in a street in Gloucester that started the investigation in 1992.

The Wests’ horrifying trail of murder, abduction, sexual torture and depravity was eventually uncovered because of the tenacity of Detective Constable Hazel Savage.

She heard about a West “family joke”, which the children told to social workers, that the couple’s missing 16-year-old daughter Heather was “under the patio”.

A police-issued photograph of Fred West. (Picture credit: PA/PA Wire)

Det Con Savage eventually convinced senior officers of the possibility that the “joke” was not merely black humour – but a macabre veil for a grim truth that was uncovered in February 1994.

They were to find themselves ranked among the cruellest and most depraved murderers of the century, a pair whose grotesque sexual appetites cost the lives of ten young women – including their own child who was murdered to ensure her silence.

Much of the events which were to follow could be explained by their obsession with sex.

Also binding the pair together was Charmaine’s murder – Fred West’s first wife’s daughter.

That knowledge, and their increasingly bizarre sexual activities, were to end the lives of nine other young women, and damage the lives of an unknown number.

But while killing many victims, the couple were also indulging in bizarre sexual practices with vulnerable young people they befriended and lured into their home.

Police activity at The Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street, Gloucester. (Picture credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Lodgers told how Rosemary West worked as a prostitute. She entertained men – often more than one at a time – in “Rose’s Room”, a ground floor room outside which was a red light to warn the children to keep out when their mother was “busy”.

The “final victim”

Their final victim is the one whose death demonstrates that there was no depth of evil which Fred and Rosemary West were not prepared to plummet to.

The Wests’ oldest daughter Heather, was a 16-year-old who had just finished her GCSE examinations in 1987.

Fred West admitted killing his daughter when he appeared in Gloucester Magistrates’ Court after her body was found.

It was Heather’s disappearance which eventually led police seven years later to the drab inner city house and the launch of the marathon investigation.

A search warrant brought police diggers to the back garden and Heather’s remains were the first to be uncovered.

Teams of police diggers virtually dismantled the lower parts of the house and kept finding more bodies.

The trail was to lead them to nearby Midland Road and on to Much Marcle, Fred West’s birthplace, where the fields of Kempley gave up the bodies of his first wife Catherine, nanny Anne McFall and her unborn baby.

Fred West was found hanging in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, on New Year’s Day, 1995.

He had escaped justice, and his wife was left to face the courts, and the world, alone.

Timeline

1941

– September 29: Fred West born at Much Marcle, Herefordshire.

1953

– November 29: Rosemary Letts born in Barnstaple, Devon.

1962

– November 28: Fred West marries Catherine ‘Rena’ Costello in Ledbury.

1963

– May 22: Charmaine West born to Rena West. Father’s details not listed on birth certificate.

1964

– July 6: Anne Marie West born to Rena and Fred West.

1966

– August 1: A childcare officer visiting the Wests was told nanny Anne McFall had returned to Glasgow.

1968

– January 6: 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who worked at the Pop In cafe in Gloucester, last seen alive at a bus stop on Bristol Road in the city.

1969

– November: Rena West leaves her husband for the last time.

– November: Shortly after her 16th birthday Rosemary Letts leaves her parents’ home in Bishops Cleeve, near Cheltenham, to live with Fred West.

1970

– July: Fred West, Rosemary Letts and Anne Marie and Charmaine move to 25 Midland Road in Gloucester.

– October 17: Heather West born to Rose Letts and Fred West.

1971

– June: Rosemary Letts murders Charmaine West at 25 Midland Road while Fred West is in prison. When he is released, he buries her body at the property.

1972

– January 29: Fred West and Rosemary Letts marry in Gloucester.

– The West family move from Midland Road to 25 Cromwell Street.

1987

– June: Fred and Rosemary West murder Heather West at 25 Cromwell Street.

1994

– February 23: Gloucester magistrates give police warrant to search rear garden at 25 Cromwell Street.

– February 25: Fred and Rosemary West arrested on suspicion of murdering their daughter Heather.

– February 26: Fred and Rosemary West arrested on suspicion of murdering Shirley Anne Robinson and an unnamed woman. The first body – Heather’s – is discovered in the garden.

– February 27: Rosemary West released on police bail.

– February 28: Fred West appears in court, charged with murdering Heather. Police find second and third bodies – Alison Chambers and Shirley Robinson – in garden.

– March 4: Police start searching the house at 25 Cromwell Street.

– March 5: Ground-penetrating radar, used for first time, gives positive readings. Fourth and fifth bodies – Therese Siegenthaler and Shirley Hubbard – found in the basement.

– March 6: Sixth body – Lucy Partington – found in basement.

– March 7: Seventh, eighth and ninth bodies – Juanita Mott, Lynda Gough, and Carole Ann Cooper – found in cellar and bathroom areas.

– March 10: Fred West in court charged with five murders. Police appeal for “missing” youngsters to contact their homes.

– March 29: Police start digging at Letterbox Field, Kempley.

– April 10: Tenth body – Fred West’s first wife, Catherine – found at Letterbox field after 13 days of digging.

– April 13: Digging starts at Fingerpost field, Kempley.

– April 24: Rosemary West charged, jointly with Fred West, with murdering Lynda Gough.

– April 25: Police start searching 25 Midland Road, Gloucester.

– April 28: Search at 25 Cromwell Street ends after 55 days.

– May 4: Eleventh body – eight-year-old Charmaine West – found at 25 Midland Road.

– June 7: Twelfth body – nanny Anne McFall – and bones of her unborn baby found at Fingerpost field after 56-day search.

– July 4: Fred West appears at Gloucester magistrates’ court on the 12th murder charge.

1995

– January 1: Fred West found hanged in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham.

– January 13: Rosemary West charged with murdering her step-daughter Charmaine – the 10th charge against her.

– October 3: Trial of Rosemary West on 10 murder charges begins.

– November 22: Rosemary West found guilty of 10 murders. Trial judge sentences her to life in prison and warns it is likely she will never be released from prison.

1996

– March: Rosemary West’s appeal against conviction rejected by the Court of Appeal.

1997

– July: Home Secretary changes Rosemary West’s sentence to a whole life tarriff.

2012

– January: In response to a public petition, police say there is no evidence Mary Bastholm was buried at the site of the cafe in Southgate Street, Gloucester.

2021

– May 11: Police begin searching the site of the cafe in Southgate Street after receiving information from a TV production company that Mary Bastholm’s body may be buried there.

– May 17: Police find “possible evidence” of human remains and announce an excavation of the cellar will begin.

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