Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fred & Rose West

First Blood

Rena Costello
Rena Costello

In 1962, Fred's parents relented and let him come back to live with them at Much Marcle. That summer, his girlfriend Rena Costello came back from Scotland and took up with Fred immediately. They seemed well matched. Rena was not your average girl, but rather an experienced delinquent that as a teenager had a record for prostitution and burglary. That Rena was pregnant by an Asian bus driver introduced a complication into their relationship and to his parents' acceptance of her as his mate.

Secretly, they married in November of that year and moved immediately to Scotland. His parents believed that the baby she was carrying was Fred's. In March of 1963, when Charmaine was born, Fred had Rena write to his mother saying that their baby had died in childbirth and that she had adopted a mixed-race child.

Even though Rena had been a prostitute at various times, she was not happy to be a prisoner to the voracious sexual appetite of Fred West. Colin Wilson in The Corpse Garden tells how Fred's interest in "normal sex" was minimal. "He wanted oral sex, bondage andsodomyat all hours of the day and night.

Fred drove an ice cream truck which afforded him unlimited access to many young women. For someone as highly sexed as Fred, it seemed like paradise. His politeness, apparent trustworthiness and sincerity, and his ability to spin interesting tales made him attractive to the teenagers who flocked around his ice cream truck. His continual seductions turned Rena and Charmaine into afterthoughts. Despite Fred's almost daily infidelities, he was very possessive of Rena and Charmaine.

In 1964, Rena bore Fred's child, a daughter they named Anna Marie. "On again, off again" characterized their roller coaster marriage for several years. During that time, Rena and Fred met Anna McFall, whose boyfriend had been killed in an accident. At that time, Fred was involved in an accident with the ice cream truck that killed a young boy. While Fred wasn't at fault, he was concerned that he would lose his job. So, he and Rena and their two children, plus Anna McFall moved back to Gloucester. Fred had a job in a slaughterhouse.

Colin Wilson sees this job in the slaughterhouse as having a profound affect on Fred. "One thing is clear: that at some stage, West developed a morbid obsession with corpses and blood and dismemberment. There is no evidence that he had shown any such interest so far. It seems, then, that Fred West's sexual perversion became slowly more obsessive in the period following his marriage, and the evidence suggests that necrophilia and desire to mutilate corpses began during his period as a butcher."

Rena and Fred's marriage became increasingly unstable. Rena wanted to take the two children back with her to Glasgow, but Fred refused, so she went back to Scotland alone. But she was miserable without her daughters and, in July of 1966, returned to Gloucester to find Fred and Anna McFall living together in a trailer.

Rena told Constable Hazel Savage that her husband was a sex pervert and unfit to raise their children. Coincidentally, there were eight sexual assaults committed in the Gloucester area committed by a man of Fred's description.

Anna McFall, victim
Anna McFall, victim

In early 1967, Anna McFall became pregnant with Fred's child. She was trying unsuccessfully to get Fred to divorce Rena and marry her. Fred responded to the stress of her demands by killing her and burying her near the trailer park sometime in July.

Not only did he kill his mistress and their unborn child, he slowly and methodically dismembered her corpse and buried her along with the fetus. Oddly enough, he cut off her fingers and toes, which were missing from the gravesite. It would be his ritualistic signature in future crimes.

Fred acted very nervous after McFall's disappearance. Then Rena moved back into the trailer and Fred became his old self again. Fred happily sent Rena out to earn some pocket money as a prostitute and began to openly fondle the young Charmaine.

Mary Bastholm (South West News Services)
Mary Bastholm
(South West News

In January of 1968, pretty 15-year-old Mary Bastholm was abducted from a bus stop in Gloucester. Howard Sounes believes that Fred was responsible because in later years, he abducted other women in a similar fashion from bus stops.

There were a number of links between Fred and Mary Bastholm: he was a customer at the Pop-In [where Mary worked] and Mary often served him tea; Fred had been employed to do some building work behind the café; Mary had been seen with a girl fitting the description of Fred's former lover, Anna McFall; and one witness claims to have seen Mary in Fred's car. (Sounes)

In February, Fred's mother died of complications of a gallbladder operation. He launched into a series of petty thefts, which caused him to change jobs frequently. On November 29, 1968, while he was working as a bakery delivery driver, he met the girl who would become his next wife and longtime soul mate, Rose Letts.

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