Monday, 11 May 2015

The Fred and Rosemary West serial killers                     

These two murderers lived in the City of Gloucester in the United Kingdom. Fred was born in 1941 and Rosemary, who was Fred’s second wife, was born in 1953.                                                                                                              

Fred worked as an ice cream van driver. On the 4th of November 1965, he ran over and killed a four-year-old boy with his van. To escape from Fred's sadistic sexual demands, Costello and McNeill (who looked after the couple's children) moved to Scotland in 1966. McFall (Fred’s girlfriend) remained with Fred to care for the girls, as she had become infatuated with Fred. Costello continued to visit the children every few months. In August 1967 McFall, who was eight months pregnant with Fred's child, vanished. She was never reported missing however, her remains were found by the police in June 1994. More on that later.

In September 1967, Fred’s first wife, Rena Costello returned to live with Fred, but left again the following year, leaving their children in Fred's care. In September 1967, Rena Costello returned to live with Fred, but left again the following year, again leaving their children in Fred's care.

While still officially married to Rena Costello, 27-year-old Fred met his next wife, Rosemary Letts, on 29 November 1968, on her 15th birthday. On her 16th birthday, she moved in with him.  A few months later, they moved from the mobile home they were living into a two-story house in Midland Road, Gloucester. On the 17th of October 1970, Rosemary gave birth to their daughter, Heather Ann.

Fred was imprisoned for theft from the 4th of  December 1970 until the 24th of  June 1971. Rosemary killed Charmaine (Fred's stepdaughter from his first marriage) shortly before Fred’s release in June. According to Anne Marie West, both sisters were subject to frequent beatings, but Charmaine had infuriated Rosemary by her refusal to cry no matter how severely she was beaten.

Charmaine disappeared in mid-June. Rosemary explained her disappearance by claiming that Costello had called and taken her back to Scotland. She said that Costello had turned up to collect Charmaine in late August but later she too had disappeared.

On the 29th of January 1972, Fred and Rosemary were married in Gloucester. On the 1st of June of that year, Rosemary gave birth to their second daughter, Mae. Around this time, Fred encouraged his wife to being a prostitute. Rosemary eventually had seven children. Needing a bigger house, the family moved to 25 Cromwell Street where West converted the upper floor to very small rooms where lodgers could live. This way he could make more money to support himself and his family.  “Rose's Room”, the room Rosemary used for prostitution, had peepholes so that Fred could watch and a red light outside the door to warm their children not to enter when Rosemary was “busy”.  I am sure the children knew something was amiss if they constantly saw men going into her room.

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.

In October 1972, the Wests hired 17-year-old Caroline Roberts as the children's nanny. They had picked up the girl during one night along a secluded country road and after she informed them that she wished to escape her stepfather. A week later she moved into 25 Cromwell Street to look after the couple’s children. Rosemary, who had begun prostitution in her bedroom by this time, explained to Roberts that she was a "masseuse" when the younger woman inquired about the men frequently visiting her.

According to Caroline, while she worked there Fred had informed her that if she ever needed an abortion, he was well equipped to do so. She became suspicious when Fred boasted that many of the women he had treated with an abortion were so overjoyed that they would offer him sexual services as a reward. She rejected Fred's and Rosemary's advances into their "sex-circle" and left their home a few weeks later.

On the 6th of December 1972, the Wests picked Roberts up again along the same secluded road as before and they both apologized profusely for what had happened. They invited her to their home to make amends with a cup of tea. Roberts had believed they had been genuinely courteous in what they said in their apology to her and agreed to go with them, believing that they had simply mistaken what the job had entailed. Back at 25 Cromwell Street, soon after they made her welcome with the promised cup of tea, Rose started kissing her, then bound her heavily with bondage tape, and both Fred and Rose sexually molested her.                                                        

According to Roberts, (Yes, she survived) Fred had remarked that her vagina was unusual and that he would have to change it. When she screamed, Rosemary placed a pillow over her face and then she was bound further around her neck. Fred threatened her that they would keep her locked up in the cellar and let some of the black men who visited Rosemary sexually use her and that when they had finished abusing her, Fred and Rosemary would bury her under the paving stones of Gloucester.                    

I can’t help but wonder if when she was invited to return to the couple’s home, it crossed her mind that the offer, seemed too good to be true. Could this really be a safe place to return too?  Apparently not. She became smart  too late.          

Fred boasted that he and Rosemary had killed hundreds of young girls and the police would never find them. Quickly realizing that they would kill her, Caroline gave in to them and let them do whatever they wanted without a fight. Fred then allowed Roberts to leave the next day only after she promised she would return to the house as their nanny. Roberts reported the rape to the police but withdrew her accusation when the case came to court. The Wests pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of indecent assault and were fined a mere £50.

In early 1973, the Wests took their eight-year-old daughter Anne Marie to the cellar, where they bound and gagged her before Fred raped her, while Rosemary watched.  She later left home. I don’t know how old she was when she left home. I have to presume that the incest continued until she left home.

Heather (Rosemary’s sixteen-year-old daughter that possibly was  sired by Rosemary's abusive father, Bill Letts) became the focus of Fred’s attentions after Anne Marie left home. Heather complained to friends about the abuse, and when this got back to Fred and Rosemary, they decided to get rid of her. In June 1987, Fred and Rose murdered the girl.         

Her disappearance along with Fred and Rosemary's changing stories about Heather's whereabouts, and the threats to their other children that they too would “end up under the patio like Heather” if they misbehaved, would indirectly lead to the Wests' arrests in 1994.    

Meanwhile, this pair of misfits and murderous monsters continued with their horrible acts of evil. In May 1992, West filmed himself raping one of his other daughters, and afterwards, she told friends at school what had happened. On the 4th of August, one of the friends told her mother, who went to the police. On the 6th of August 1992, the police began an investigation that eventually led to Fred being charged with rape, with Rosemary as an accomplice. She was also charged with child cruelty, and the remaining children were placed in foster care. The rape case against the Wests collapsed when their two daughters declined to testify at the court case on the 7 of June 1993.    

The police continued investigating the disappearance of their daughter Heather. After taking statements from social workers, and the children, about the threat about "Heather being buried under the patio", they obtained a search warrant in February 1994, which allowed them to excavate the garden in search of Heather. They started searching the house and excavating the garden on 24th of February 1994.

After Fred'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 she was later charged with murder. Additional bodies were found and, on the 4th of March 1994, Fred  admitted that he had carried out nine more murders, including that of his first wife. However, he frequently denied killing Anne McFall. The remains of McFall and Costello were subsequently unearthed in fields near the village of Kempley. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he killed them also.

Fred and Rosemary West were brought before a magistrates' court in Gloucester on the 30th of June 1994. He had been charged with 11 murders and she with 10 murders. Immediately afterwards, Fred West was re-arrested on suspicion of murdering Anne McFall, whose body had been found on the 7th of June 1994. On the evening of the 3th of July 1994, he was charged with her murder.

On the 1st of January 1995, Fred West hanged himself while on remand in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. His funeral was held in Coventryon on the 29th of March 1995. West was cremated with only four mourners present after a five-minute service. His ashes were later scattered on the beach at Barry Island near Cardiff. Had he lived, he would have been sentenced to prison for life since capital punishment had been abolished many years earlier in the UK.

The evidence against Rosemary was circumstantial and 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 never be released and 18 months later, the Home Secretary Jack Straw agreed with this recommendation. The authorities are investigating the whereabouts of nine other missing women who frequented their home.

There is no doubt in my mind that these two monsters were very sick individuals. The fact that all of the victims had fingers and toes missing is evidence that these two monsters were extremely weird.  After Rosemary’s arrest the police suggested to her that she had become fascinated by Lynda Gough’s interest in black magic and Satanism, which led them to want to torture and humiliate their victims as part of a ritual in which other people who shared their views participated.

How is it that these crimes continued so long after they first began? I am convinced that the police are also to blame for many of these deaths. On 27 January 1996, the body of the Wests' former friend and housemate, Terrence Crick, was found in his car in Hackness, near Scarborough. Crick had been called as a defence witness for Rosemary during her trial, in an attempt to prove that her husband had been working alone. Crick had reported Fred to the authorities on a number of occasions after being shown gruesome images of body parts and surgical instruments allegedly used during illegal abortions, but that this information was not acted on by the police as Fred was a police informant. The stress and guilt Crick suffered from led him to take his own life. Alas, this isn’t the first time that police forces around the world have ignored statements given to them by witnesses to crimes.

In October 1996 the house at 25 Cromwell Street, along with the house next door, 23 Cromwell Street, were demolished and the site made into a garden and pathway. Every brick was crushed and every timber was burnt to discourage souvenir hunters.

The West family's nightmare did not end in Cromwell Street. Fred West's brother, John hanged himself as he waited to find out if a jury would find him guilty of raping Anne-Marie, Fred's daughter. In November 1999, Anne-Marie 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 near Stroud, Gloucestershire, after his girlfriend left him. He had tried to hang himself but survived when the rope snapped.  What is with this family? Is some regressive gene being passed from generation to generation?

In October 2005, Rosemary West was moved from Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Durham, where she had become good friends with Moors serial murderer, Myra Hindley, to the new state of the art HMP Bronzefield located in Ashford. In October 2008, after prison officers discovered a plot to beat Rose West with pool balls, she has been moved to a new home. She is now at HMP Low Newton prison in Brasside, near Durham.

Rosemary West has abandoned plans to appeal against her conviction for her part in the Cromwell Street murders. She still maintains her innocence but said she was ready to spend the rest of her life in prison—s0mething she will be doing. 

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