Rosemary West. In England, it is a name that few will ever forget, thanks to the atrocious crimes she committed alongside equally deranged husband Fred.
The pair murdered ten people together, at least nine of which were tortured prior to their deaths. Nobody was safe, not even their own children.
In The Begininng…
Rosemary West, born Rosemary Letts, came into this world in November of 1953 in Devon, England. Her mother’s pregnancy with Rosemary was a difficult one, which included her being given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), then a recognised treatment for depression in mothers. This would be relevant much later, as a reason for Rosemary’s shocking behaviour due to prenatal injury.
As a teenager, Rosemary was moody and precocious, generally found daydreaming and not known for her school performance. When her parents separated, this behaviour became worse. She lived with her mother for six months, but moved in with her father when she was 16. He was a paranoid schizophrenic, quick to anger and known to be sexually assaulting his daughter. As a result, Rosemary became obsessed with sex, parading around her home in the nude, and even sexually assaulting her younger brother.
Rosemary West as a teenager
Around the same time, Rosemary met Fred West and the two started to date. Fred was quite a few years older than Rosemary, and had his own place at the Lake House Hotel Caravan Park in Bishop’s Cleeve. Although her father disapproved and threatened West on several occasions, the two would not be separated and eventually moved in together at the hotel. Here, Rosemary cared for West’s children, one daughter and one step-daughter from his previous marriage.
Sex And Abuse
By 1970, Rosemary and Fred were expecting a child of their own, and they had moved to Midland Road in Gloucester. Their daughter, Heather was born in October of 1970, but just two months later, Fred was imprisoned for theft and tax charges. He would remain in prison until June of the following year, leaving Rosemary the sole custodian of the three children.
Many people believe that it was the pressure of caring for three children when she has barely grown herself that triggered Rosemary’s violent and erratic tendencies. However, it’s more likely that her behaviour was the result of imbalances in her own brain, combined with the abuse she herself suffered in life. In any case, she cracked just before Fred’s release and killed his step daughter, Charmaine West. The girl’s body was stored in the basement, before being buried by Fred not long after he was released. The pair were married in January of 1972 and living at 25 Cromwell Street, a home so vile it would later be demolished.
This was only the beginning for the many West children. There were eight in all, from a variety of sires. Rosemary worked as a prostitute in the early 1970s, often with her husband Fred watching, but she was also still being regularly visited for sex by her own father. Clearly deranged, Rosemary also encouraged Fred to abuse his own child Anna Marie, then just eight years old, and then later, forced the girl to prostitute herself as well.
Fred & Rosemary West Early in their marriage
The Murder Spree
Eventually, Rosemary and Fred couldn’t contain their behaviour within the circle of their family. In late 1972, they hired a 17-year-old nanny named Caroline Owens. Once they had gained her trust, they imprisoned her in their basement, stripped and raped her. They threatened her with murder, and claimed they would bury her in the cellar, but Owens still managed to escape and alert police. Charges were brought against both Rosemary and Fred, but amazingly, they were able to convince the magistrate that Owens had consented to what had happened to her. Owens was too traumatised to testify, so both Rosemary and Fred were let off with fines. Rosemary was pregnant at the time with their first son, Stephen, who would be born in August.
Caroline Owens – the West’s first victim
Rosemary and Fred didn’t make the mistake of letting one of their victims out of their sight again. Over the next several years, Lynda Gough, Lucy Partington, Juanita Mott, Therese Siegenthaler, Alison Chambers, Shirley Robinson and 15-year-old schoolgirls Carol Ann Cooper and Shirley Hubbard all found their way into the West’s basement where they became victims of the deranged duo. When they were finished with them, all of the girls were murdered, dismembered, and buried in the cellar under their house at 25 Cromwell Street.
Of course, just because they had victims outside the family, didn’t mean things became easier for the West children. When his older daughter, Anna Marie moved out to live with her boyfriend, Fred West turned to his two younger daughters, Heather and Mae. Heather wasn’t having it, and she resisted Fred. In 1987, then aged 16, she told a friend what was happening in the house. Her parents immediately murdered her, dismembered her, and buried her in the back garden. Her brother was made to dig the hole.
25 Cromwell Street. The house has now been demolished.
Accusations And Convictions
In August of 1992, Fred West was arrested after being accused of raping his 13-year-old daughter on several occasions. At the same time, Rosemary West was arrested for child cruelty. However, police weren’t able to go ahead with the case because their daughters were too scared to testify, leaving it collapsed in June of 1993. Police ultimately decided to remove all of the West children into foster homes. It was at this time that they realised two of them hadn’t been seen for some time. Charmaine West since 1971, and Heather since 1987.
A massive investigation was triggered and the home at 25 Cromwell Street was investigated. Several dismembered bodies were uncovered in the basement, and Heather West’s body was also recovered from the backyard. Rosemary West professed her innocence, and pointed the finger at Fred.
The Mug Shots of Fred & Rosemary West
Fred West was charged with 12 counts of murder, ten of which Rosemary was also believed to have been involved in. He committed suicide while awaiting trial, despite being on a suicide watch. The court decided that, although not perfect, there was enough evidence to allow a jury to decide Rosemary’s fate. She went on trial in October of 1995, just nine months after Fred’s death.
When it came to justice, the jury’s verdict was unanimous. On November 22nd 1995, Rosemary West was found guilty beyond a doubt of ten murders.
Justice Mantell, the judge in the case, sentenced her to live imprisonment. Her sentence was later set by the Lord Chief Justice at 25 years minimum, but then in July of 1997, the Home Secretary gave Rosemary West a ‘whole life tariff’, meaning she will die in prison. This was only the second instance, in modern Britain, where a woman was convicted to die in prison. Of course, Rosemary attempted to deny the charges, and contained to maintain her innocence, launching appeals in 1996 and 2000. They were both squashed, and she remains incarcerated.
The house was demolished and it i is now a public walkway.
And as for the house at 25 Cromwell Street, locally known as the “House of Horrors”, the community decided to raze it to the ground in October of 1996. It was replaced with a footpath.
Rosemary West is incarcerated at Low Newton jail in Durham, England. She has employment within the prison as a tea lady for the wardens.