Fred and Rosemary West are one of the thankfully rare serial killer couples in England's history. They are also among the most demented, cruel and sexually sadistic killers in world history. It is always shocking when more than one person is involved in a string of serial murders. However, it is even more shocking when it came to Fred and Rosemary West. They were a married couple with several children, two of which they brutally murdered.
Before Fred and Rosemary West met and married, they were both on the wrong path. Fred was aggressive with women from his teenage years on. He claimed that his father raped his sisters and Fred himself was guilty of impregnating his own younger sister, a crime that made him a convicted child molester by the age of 20. When Fred was 17, he was in a serious motorcycle accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and a plate in his head. He hurt his head again when he put his hand up a girl's skirt and she pushed him off a fire escape. Experts have hypothesized that these injuries may have contributed to Fred's later behavior. His father could have had something to do with Fred's personality as well, if you can believe Fred's stories.
Rosemary West's childhood was not any better than Fred's was. Her father was a tyrant and abuser. Her mother was depressed. When she was pregnant with Rose, she had shock therapy. There is no way of knowing if this had an effect on the fetus, but it is possible. It is said that Rosemary was a promiscuous young woman. She may have walked around her parents' home naked when she got out of the shower. There have also been claims that she molested her younger brother. There is some speculation that she had an incestuous relationship with her father, a relationship that some say continued into adulthood.
Fred had several girlfriends and one wife before he met Rosemary. He killed one of his girlfriends and their unborn child in 1967. Most of his girlfriends were too young for him. He was masochistic with them and abused them regularly. He also had some children before he met Rose–how many is unclear. He later claimed that he had more than 40 children. Two of his known children were female. He began openly molesting them at a young age. Fred somehow managed to keep these children and send their mother back to her home in Scotland.
Fred West met Rosemary in 1968. Rose was 16 years old. She quickly became pregnant and moved in with Fred and his two daughters. The couple engaged in various forms of lewd sexual activity. They enjoyed using 'toys,' most of them for violent purposes. Unfortunately, they also included Fred's daughters in these acts. The child that Rosemary was carrying when they moved in together was also a girl. They named the poor child Heather. She was to live a short and tortured life.
Fred and Rosemary West were married in 1972. Not long after they were married, they moved into 25 Cromwell St. in Gloucester, England. They had another daughter, whom they named Mae. That same year the couple raped 17-year-old Caroline Owens. Her parents learned of the rape and notified the police. Fred convinced atuhorities that Caroline was a willing participant. Around the same time, the Wests murdered Linda Gough. Anna Marie (Fred's daughter) was around eight by that time. She became yet another victim of her deranged parents' abuse. Her father raped her while her stepmother held her down.. She would be raped and abused by both the elder Wests throughout her childhood. In 1973, Rosemary gave birth to a son. In December of that year, she and her husband abducted, tortured and murdered Lucy Partington.
In 1974, either Fred, Rosemary or both killed Fred's young daughter Charmaine. Rosemary disliked the child, though she was very cruel and abusive to all of the couple's children. Fred was in jail at some point during that year, so it is unclear who killed the girl. If the murder took place when Fred West was in jail, then it must have been Rosemary. Neither ever confessed to the murder, but her body was found buried at the first home the couple shared. Fred was responsible for removing her fingers, toes and kneecaps before burying her. This was a habit of his. Therefore, if Rosemary were the killer, Fred at least assisted her in the burial, if not the murder. When Charmaine's mother, Rena came back looking for her daughter, Fred killed her too.
Timeline of the Wests' activities between 1974 and 1986:
1974-1975- Raped, sexually tortured, killed and buried Therese Siegenthaler, Shirley Hubbard and Juanita Mott
1977- Fred impregnated 17-year-old Shirley Robinson. Some 7 months later, she and her unborn child were murdered. Rose gave birth to another daughter.
1978- Rose gives birth to yet another daughter.
1979- Raped, sexually tortured and killed Alison Chambers. Fred impregnated his daughter Anna Marie. She had to abort because the pregnancy was ectopic. Anne Marie West moved out of the house of horrors that year. Fred turned his attention to Heather and Mae.
1980- Rose gives birth to a boy.
1982- Rose gives birth to a girl.
1983- Rose gives birth to another girl.
*Note: Not all of these children were fathered by Fred West. At least two of them were fathered by Rose's clients, whom she often entertained in front of Fred for his pleasure. Also, Fred and Rosemary allowed other people to have sex with their victims, including their children. It is unknown whether any of these participants had knowledge of the murders that were taking place.
1986- Heather tells her friends about the abuse she is being subjected to at home. The police are notified and they come to the house. The police find child pornography in the couple's basement. Little did they know that the Wests were using the basement as a torture and murder chamber. The Wests are subsequently arrested and the younger children are put in the care of social workers. Amazingly, the older children are left with Rose, who was released before Fred. Fred was eventually released too and the charges were dropped because two of the witnesses (his children) refused to testify.
Following this incident, the Wests were not happy with their daughter Heather. She paid the ultimate price for her honesty near the end of 1986. Her father buried her beneath the patio at 25 Cromwell St. The Wests found themselves in trouble again in 1992, but nothing came of it. However, suspicion as to the whereabouts of their daughter, Heather West, had been raised. In 1994, detectives decided to take a closer look at 25 Cromwell St.
Before detectives began searching the property, they interviewed both Fred and Rosemary West. Fred was taken into custody and confessed to killing Heather, a confession of which Rose was not aware until later and which Fred quickly recanted. Both parents had some harsh things to say about their daughter. Fred said that he assumed she had taken a new name and gone into prostitution. Rose said that she was lazy and difficult. Both said that she had run away and that they believed she was a lesbian.
When police searched the property and came up with three bones, Fred confessed again. He said that he had killed Heather, but that he had not killed anyone else. There was one problem; the bones did not belong to Heather West. Fred also described the killing of his daughter in sickening detail. He told of how he strangled her and then cut her body into pieces to be buried. He even described the sound the knife had made when he cut her head off. All the while, he maintained that his wife had nothing to do with Heather's murder. When the other murders were brought to light, he said she had nothing to do with those either. Rosemary said the same thing. She even went so far as to shun her husband, the man with whom she had killed at least 10 girls. (Fred was guilty of 12 murders) When Rose did this, Fred hanged himself in his jail cell. Rosemary faced trial for the murders alone.
Rosemary was eventually convicted of ten murders and sentenced to life in prison. She maintained her innocence throughout the trial and to this day. However, her nasty temper got the better of her in court and she implicated herself on several occasions. Her children also painted a picture of an aggressive, abusive and depraved Rosemary West that has convinced many people of her guilt. It is also rather hard to believe that her husband could have killed that many people right under her nose and buried most of them right in her backyard and under her house without her noticing anything. There is suspicion that the couple, Fred in particular, were guilty of many more murders than police were able to prove. However, with Fred dead and Rosemary in jail refusing to tell the truth, we may never know.
Bardsley, Marilyn, FRED & ROSE WEST, retrieved 4/2/10, trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/weird/west/index_1.html
February 24, 1994, Rose West, The Unprinted Interview, retrieved 4/2/10, neil-paton.tripod.com/inter.htm