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Father Figure: Fred West and his daughter under the patio.

More than a quarter of a century since he confessed to killing his daughter Heather, the name Fred West.

Who was Fred West?

Along with his wife Rose, West preyed on vulnerable young girls and women in order to play out sexual fantasies, which eventually led to murder.

Born into a family of farm workers in Herefordshire in 1941, the builder moved to Gloucester in 1962.

He married Rose in 1972, when she was 18. The pair had been having an affair since she was 15 and this was his second marriage.

His first marriage was to Catherine Costello, also known as Rena, who was 18 and pregnant with another man's child at the time.

Shortly after her 16th birthday Rose left her parents' home in Bishops Cleeve, near Cheltenham, to live with Fred

She gave birth to daughter Charmaine in 1963 and another daughter, Anne Marie, fathered by West, in 1964.

In 1967 Anne McFall - thought to be West's first victim - was nanny to West's children and lived with him in his caravan. She would be the start of his deadly killing spree.

Ms Costello left West in 1969 amid reports of violence and sexual abuse, and friends and family lost contact with her in 1971. West later admitted to her murder in 1994.

Who were his victims?

West and his wife tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a 20-year period between 1967 and 1987.

There are 12 known victims, with the couple jointly charged with 10 murders and Fred West charged with a further two.

Anne McFall, 18, who was pregnant with West's child, disappeared in July 1967. Her remains, and that of her unborn baby, were found in a field at Kempley, near West's home village of Much Marcle, in Herefordshire, in June 1994.

The body of Ms Costello, 26, was also found nearby.

Rose West murdered Ms Costello's eight-year-old daughter while West was in prison for the theft of car tyres and a vehicle tax disc in 1971. Her body was found at their previous home in Midland Road, Gloucester, in 1994.

The remains of Lynda Gough, 19, Carole Ann Cooper, 15, Lucy Partington, 21, Therese Sigenthaler, 21, Shirley Hubbard, 15, Juanita Mott, 18, Shirley Ann Robinson, 18, and Alison Chambers, 17, were all found buried at their Cromwell Street home in the city.

The couple's daughter, Heather, 16, was also found dead at the home. Her parents had never reported her missing despite conflicting accounts they gave, saying they had.

How was he caught?

It was a chance conversation between a group of schoolchildren and a police officer in Gloucester that started an investigation in 1992.

The Wests' trail of murder was uncovered by Det Con Hazel Savage, who heard about a West "family joke", which the children told to social workers, that the couple's missing daughter was "under the patio".

Diggers and ground-penetrating radar was used in the search for bodies at Cromwell Street

Det Con Savage eventually convinced senior officers of the possibility that the "joke" was not merely black humour and it was Heather's disappearance which eventually took police to Cromwell Street.

In 1994, West admitted murdering his daughter.

The admission would lead police to the West's "house of horrors", where officers found the bodies of nine girls and young women, including West's daughter, buried in the cellar or garden.

Heather's remains were the first to be uncovered. During the search, the lower part of the house was virtually dismantled as police kept finding more bodies.

The trail then lead them to nearby Midland Road and on to Much Marcle, West's birthplace.

What happened to Fred and Rose?

West was charged with 12 murders, but hanged himself in his remand cell, aged 53, on 1 January 1995 before facing trial, leaving his wife to face the courts alone.

Rose became one of the most notorious female mass killers in Britain when she was jailed that year for the murder of 10 young girls and women.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Mantell, told Rose he hoped she would never be released.

The Wests' house on Cromwell Street was knocked down in 1996 and replaced with a garden and footpath.

The Wests' house on Cromwell Street was knocked down in 1996

What's happened recently?

Police began a new search for a body at a cafe in Gloucester in 2021 after being alerted to material found by documentary filmmakers.

The search is linked to Mary Bastholm who, at age 15, went missing from the city centre on 6 January 1968 and has never been found.

West had been suspected over her disappearance as he and Rose often visited the cafe, now known as The Clean Plate.

Fred West's first victim, Anne McFall, also worked at the cafe.

After spending up to £75k excavating cafe cellar for Fred West 'victim' Mary Bastholm, they find NO human remains after 'blue material' unearthed by ITV crew turned out to be debris from a PIPE.

Ref: BBC News


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