Childhood & Early Life
Frederick West was born on September 29 1941, at Bickerton Cottage, Much Marcle, to Walter Stephen West and Daisy Hannah Hill. He had five siblings. His parents were farm workers. In 1946, his family moved to Moorcourt Cottage, where his father worked as a milking herdsman and harvest worker.
Fred and his siblings helped their parents in farm chores. From childhood, Fred developed a habit of petty thefts. He was always shabby and dirty, and in school he was always in trouble. He dropped out of school at the age of 15, and never studied again.
He later claimed his mother sexually abused him when he was 12, and encouraged him to engage in acts of bestiality in his early teens. He also claimed that his indulgence in incest stemmed from his father's incestuous relations with his daughters. However, Fred's youngest brother Doug dismissed these claims as Fred’s fantasy.
At the age of 17, he met with a motorcycle accident, which led to serious head injuries; he was in coma for a week. A metal plate was placed in his head, and according to experts, that might have affected his mental behavior. Fred met with another accident while jumping off a fire escape at a local youth club and incurred another head injury. Experts believe this might have led to a permanent brain damage.
Crimes & Arrests
By 1960, Fred West was already known to the police for his involvement in various petty crimes. In 1961, when he impregnated a 13-year-old girl who was a friend of the West family, he was thrown out of the house. He took up some work as a construction worker, but was soon chucked out when he was caught stealing and having sex with minors.
He escaped his trial for the rape of the 13-year-old friend of the family by claiming that he was suffering from fits due to head injury, but he was still convicted of child molestation.
In 1964, Fred and his first wife Rena met Anna McFall, who was a friend, and with her they moved to Gloucester, where he found a job in a slaughterhouse. Researchers believe that this profession made Fred brutal and obsessed with death.
It is alleged that while he lived in Gloucester, he committed eight incidents of sex assaults, but he was not immediately linked to these crimes due to lack of evidence. Fred West also became sexually involved with McFall, who became pregnant with his child. When she asked him to divorce Rena and marry her, he killed her in 1967.
Around this time, he left Rena and became involved with Rosemary who he would eventually marry. It is believed that his second wife Rose killed 8-year-old Charmaine, Rena’s eldest child, in 1971, when Fred was in jail. She is believed to have hidden her body till Fred was released. He then buried her like his first victim.
Fred and Rose then strangled and murdered Rena, who came searching for her daughter Charmaine. She was also dismembered like the first two victims.
By now Fred West regularly committed acts of bondage and violent sex on minor girls, and he made the cellar at his 25 Cromwell Street house a torture chamber. He brutally raped his daughter Anna Marie, while Rose assisted him. Her ordeal became a regular occurrence, and she was threatened with dire consequences if she told anyone.
In late 1972, Fred imprisoned and raped 17-year-old Caroline Owens who was engaged as a nanny for the children. Owens managed to escape and reported the matter to the police. Fred and Rose were arrested. Despite his criminal records, Fred could convince the magistrate that Owens had consented to the acts. Owens was too traumatized to give testimony. As a result, West escaped imprisonment.
Over the next several years, many girls including Shirley Robinson were brutally raped, murdered, dismembered, and buried in the cellar by the West couple.
Fred even had sexual interests in his own daughters Heather and Mae. When Heather resisted his acts, she was murdered, dismembered, and buried in the back garden in 1987.
As the Wests did not always murder the victims after the sexual acts, some of the victims reported to the police. As a result, Detective Hazel Savage led a search at 25 Cromwell Street in August 1992 and found evidence of child abuse following which the West couple was arrested.
During the investigation, Anna Marie reported about her years of ordeal to Savage, who also uncovered the disappearances of Charmaine and Heather. Rose attempted suicide, but was saved. Unfortunately, the case against the Wests failed when two key witnesses refused to testify. The West children also refused to cooperate due to fear of dire consequences.
In February 1994, a warrant was issued to search the Cromwell Street house. This time the police found the remains of two dismembered young women, one of whom was suspected to be Shirley Robinson. During police interrogation, Fred admitted to the murders and the presence of the bodies in the cellar.
The police then discovered the remains of nine individuals. Fred also disclosed the murders of Rena, Anna McFall and Charmaine. While the case against Fred developed, Rose tried to convince the police that she was also a victim, but the police was not convinced of her innocence.
On December 13, 1994, Fred was arrested and charged with 12 murders, and was imprisoned at Winson Green Prison. On January 1, 1995, he hung himself in his cell with the help of his bed sheets.
Rose’s trial began on October 3, 1995. Anna Marie testified to her involvement in the sexual assaults and murders. On November 22, 1995, the jury found her guilty for ten separate murders. She received a whole life order, and all her appeals were rejected. The "House of Horrors" was razed to the ground in October 1996.
On December 10, 2017, it was reported that Rose, who is in jail, has been diagnosed with irreversible glaucoma.
In 1962, Fred West met Rena Costello, who was a prostitute. She was then pregnant with another man's child. Fred married her in November 1962, and her daughter Charmaine was born in March 1963. In 1964, Rena gave birth to Fred’s daughter Anna Marie.
In November 1968, he met Rosemary Letts, who was a teen at that time. She was born after her mentally ill pregnant mother was given electro-convulsive therapy, which may have caused prenatal injury that would eventually lead to her bouts of aggression. Rose gave birth to Fred’s daughter Heather in 1970.
In January 1972, Fred married Rose secretly, and their second daughter Mae was born in June 1972. As the family grew, they moved to 25 Cromwell Street. By this time, Rose had started earning money as a prostitute.
In August 1973, Rose’s son Stephen was born. Her daughter Louise was born in 1978. Barry was born in 1980, Rosemary Junior in 1982, and Lucyanna in 1983. Rose had several other children, and not all were fathered by Fred. Although the children were aware of the criminal activities in the house, most of them were mum due to their parents’ strict control over them.