*Warning – The information you are about to read may include discussions of true crimes, graphic details, and crime scenes, this may be too graphic for some people, please use discretion when reading*
Many people are drawn and interested in true crime. Whether it is morbid curiosity, wanting to learn more about those people deemed ‘serial killers’, or simply a fascination with something taboo that they wouldn’t ever participate in. We all have heard and possibly read about high profile cases such as Bundy, Dahmer, Manson, and many others. I want to discuss not only the well known cases but cases that may have slipped under the radar.
The case of Fred and Rosemary West is a despicable case. It involves sexual abuse, incest, bondage, and, of course, murder.
Fred West and Rosemary Letts both grew up in England. Their early family lives were similar in their despicableness. Fred and Rosemary were both sexually abused by family and sexually abused others while growing up. Perhaps this is why these two eventually met, married, and murdered.
In the beginning, Fred had been married to Rena Costello before he met Rosemary. With Rena, they had one child together, Anna Marie, and she had one daughter from a previous relationship. The nanny, Anne, and her unborn child by Fred, disappeared in 1967. Sadly both Rena and her first child, Charmaine would fall victim to Fred and Rosemary in 1971.
After marrying Rosemary and moving to the ‘House of Horrors’ at 25 Cromwell Street, the West’s began to inflict pain and abuse on their children regularly. By 1983 Rosemary had birthed 8 children, some from her clients as a prostitute, some by Fred and, rumored, from Rosemary’s father as well. The abuse inflicted was verbal, physical, and sexual. Rosemary participated in the abuse and sometimes initiated it herself. Fred’s oldest daughter, Anna Marie, was raped by her father starting at the age of 8 and prostituted in her stepmother’s business at the age of 13, with her stepmother telling clients she was 16.
Many nannies were hired to care for the children in the West household. Fred treated these women as his own harem and regularly initiated sexual intercourse with them, some becoming pregnant by Fred. Very few of the women who entered ever left the house on Cromwell Street.
Murders began in 1973. Lynda Gough was the first victim, and in two years time, 5 other victims were abducted, assaulted, tortured, and murdered. These five victims, were each buried in the cellar. Following the last murder in 1975, Fred converted the cellar into a bedroom for the oldest children and no further murders were committed until 1978.
In 1978, the murder of Shirley Robinson, who was also pregnant with Fred’s child at the time, was committed to remove a threat perceived by Rosemary to her relationship with Fred. Alison Chambers was the last sexually motivated murder committed in 1979. Shirley, her unborn child, and Alison were all buried in the back garden.
During this time the abuse to the children had continued, the oldest West children, Anna Marie, Heather, and Mae had been sexually fondled or assaulted, being told that “I made you; I can do what I like with you.” And Stephen the oldest son, being told by his father that he would have to have sexual relations with his mother by the age of 17. Heather went to her mother about the abuse from her father and was laughed at in reply.
The children were told to NEVER divulge details of their home life, word got back to Fred and Rosemary that Heather had shared details of her home life and her mother’s prostitution business. After leaving school in 1986, Heather attempted to get a job to leave her family home forever, when she was unsuccessful in finding a job, it was reported that Heather had run away from home. However Fred often ‘joked’ that the the other children would “end up under the patio like Heather.”
In 1992, 13 year old Louise West, confided to a friend what was happening to her at home, that friend told her mother who, anonymously contacted the police. This prompted the children to be examined and placed into foster care. An investigation was begun, Fred and Rosemary were charged with rape, buggery, child cruelty, and obstruction. Rosemary was released on bail but unable to have contact with her children, husband or stepdaughter.
Louise and Anna Marie, who had both provided statements, declined to testify for fear of Rosemary’s vindictiveness and the misery of the other children. For this reason, Fred and Rosemary were acquitted on all charges. The younger children remained in foster care. The police were still trying to locate Heather, whom they believed to be dead.
In 1994, police were successful in obtaining a search warrant to locate Heather’s remains at 25 Cromwell Street. After being presented with the search warrant, Fred and Rosemary spoke together that night and the next day, Fred confessed to the murder of Heather. He directed police to where Heather was buried, and her body was located. Police continued to excavate the back garden and discovered the remains of the other victims. Rosemary was also arrested at this time, and both were formally charged.
During court proceedings, Rosemary no longer showed any interest in her husband, she snubbed him, and ignored him. Before facing trial, Fred committed suicide in his cell by hanging. Rosemary faced trial and was convicted on all counts. She was sentenced to life with no option for parole. She remains incarcerated as of 2021. The house on Cromwell Street has since been destroyed.
I know this was a lot. This case has spanned several decades, too many victims both deceased and living with the scars, and an anti-climatic ending as Fred never faced the repercussions of his actions.
Please be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe