Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

More Haunted Crime Scenes

House of Horrors

Fred & Rosemary West
Fred & Rosemary West

During the summer of 1991, a young woman in Gloucester, England, made an allegation of sexual abuse against her father and mother, Fred and Rosemary West. But she was too frightened to press charges. However, social workers paid more attention and in the home at 25 Cromwell Street, they spotted sexual items and recommended that the youngest child be removed. Apparently, Rose also prostituted herself via contacts made through magazine ads, and among her eight children were some by other men.

The West's Address Plate
The West's Address Plate

The children reportedly told an investigator that they once had a sister, Heather, who had disappeared seven years earlier, and their parents often threatened them with being buried under the patio "like Heather." Then another item also surfaced: twenty years earlier, the couple had been arrested for kidnapping and raping another girl. Investigators had persuaded her to forego a trial, so the Wests were only fined. But she, too, had mentioned a threat regarding the backyard paving stones.

Fred West
Fred West

In 1994, the police decided to investigate beneath Fred West's patio. Soon after they started, Fred became agitated and he confessed to killing his sixteen-year-old daughter, Heather. The police found human remains, which dental records proved belonged to Heather, but they also found evidence of another body. Fred admitted that he had killed two more girls—one of them pregnant—and buried them in the yard. When the police made plans to take up the floors, Fred grew concerned about the house and conceded that they would find more bodies.

The remains of six more young women turned up, crammed into square graves under floors in the house. To his gruesome list, Fred added his first wife, his stepdaughter Charmaine, and two other women. While the remains of three of the four victims were found, Charmaine's murder was proven with careful forensic analysis to be attributable to Rose, so she, too, was arrested.

Fred conceded that he had not told the whole story, but rather than go to trial he committed suicide. Rose was charged with ten murders and convicted on all counts. She was given life in prison. There was plenty of evidence that the Wests had sexually tortured numerous young women before killing them.

On September 2001, documentary filmmaker David Monaghan insisted Fred may have murdered twenty more people. Fred had confessed this to a social worker, as well as on tape for an unaired program. Gloucestershire police said there was insufficient evidence to investigate Fred's statements and they wished to block any airing of them. However, the documentary showed excerpts from West's taped interviews, along with excerpts from his home videos. In one clip, West mentions that when the police started to dig in his backyard, the spirits of his victims "came up into" him. He then felt them leaving and tried to stop them. Or so he said. He liked the idea that they were there in spirit and still belonged to him.

In October 1996, Gloucester City Council demolished 25 Cromwell Street, the "House of Horrors." Some people wished for a memorial garden on the spot, but others knew it would become a ghoulish site of pilgrimage. It became a landscaped footpath. Yet while the House of Horrors was razed, it's said that Fred's spirit wanders around the streets of Gloucester. Apparently he's looking for the spirits that got away.

In anther British tale, the famous ghost is a police officer, which proves that even solved murders sometimes yield a haunting.

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