Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fred & Rose West

Love and Death

However limited Bill Letts was as an ideal parent, he saw Fred West as a completely undesirable boyfriend for Rose. When Bill found that Rose was sleeping with Fred, he raised a fuss with the Social Services. When that was ineffective, he showed up at Fred's trailer park and threatened him.

Meanwhile West was sent to prison for various thefts and failure to pay fines for previous offenses. Rose went back to stay with her father until he found that she was pregnant with Fred's child. At age 16, Rose left her father's house to take care of Charmaine and Anna Marie, as well as deal with Fred, who seemed to always be in trouble with the law.

Charmaine (left), baby Heather and Anna Marie (South West News Services)
Charmaine (left), baby
Heather and Anna Marie
(South West News Services)

In 1970, she gave birth to Heather. With three children to care for, a boyfriend in jail and constant money problems, Rose's temper flared constantly. She resented having to take care of Rena's children and treated them badly.

One day in the summer of 1971, Charmaine was suddenly missing and Rose told her sister Anna Marie that Rena had come to get her. Colin Wilson believes that Rose "simply lost her temper, and went further than usual in beating or throttling her. She was, as Anna Marie said, a woman entirely without self-control; when she lost her temper, she became a kind of maniac."

Since Fred was in jail when Charmaine was murdered, his involvement probably extended to burying her body under the kitchen floor of their home on Midland Road where it lay undiscovered for over 20 years. Before he buried Charmaine, he took off her fingers, toes and kneecaps. Fred would hold this criminal secret over Rose for the rest of her life.

When her father came to take her away from Fred, Fred reminded her: "Come on, Rosie, you know what we've got between us." Bill Letts noticed that that statement upset Rose. "You don't know him!" she told her parents. "You don' t know him! There's nothing he wouldn't do -- even murder!"

Gloucester had a large population of West Indians that created entertainment and extra income for both Rose and Fred. Rose invited many West Indian men over to their house on Midland Road to have sex with her -- either for cash or fun. Fred, the voyeur encouraged this behavior and watched through a peephole. As over-sexed as he was, Fred was not at all interested in ordinary sex. It had to involve bondage, vibrators, acts of sadism or lesbianism to get him involved. Fred took erotic photos of Rose and ran them as ads in magazines for "swingers."

When Rose murdered Charmaine, she created both a problem and an opportunity for Fred regarding his first wife Rena. It was just a matter of time before Rena came around looking for Charmaine. In fact, in August of 1971, Rena sought out Walter, Fred's father, in hopes that he could tell her what happened to Charmaine.

Fred saw that he had no choice but to kill Rena. In all likelihood, he probably got her very drunk and then strangled her at his house on Midland Road. He then dismembered her body and mutilated it in the same odd way that he had Anna McFall's body: he cut off Rena's fingers and toes. Then he put her remains into bags and buried her in the same general area as he buried Anna McFall.

Later that year, Fred and Rose became friendly with their new neighbor, Elizabeth Agius, who babysat for them several times. When Fred and Rose returned home, Elizabeth asked them where they had been. The surprisingly candid answer was that they were cruising around looking for young girls, hopefully young virgins. Fred thought that with Rose in the car that a young woman would not fear taking a ride with them. Elizabeth assumed at the time that they were joking. Another time, Agius was openly propositioned by Fred. And still another time, she was, according to Colin Wilson, drugged and raped.

Rose's magazine ad for prostitution
Rose's magazine ad for
prostitution

In June of 1972, Rose had another daughter by Fred. They named her Mae West. This time, the child was legitimate, Fred and Rose having married in January of that year at the Gloucester Registry Office.

Fred and Rose decided they needed a house to raise their growing family and also accommodate Rose's prostitution business. Number 25 Cromwell was just the place. The house was not much to look at on the outside, but the inside was large and had a garage and a good-sized cellar. They took in lodgers to help pay the rent.

Fred had plans for the cellar and told Elizabeth Agius that he was either going to make it into a place for Rose to entertain her clients or he would soundproof it and use it as his "torture chamber."

The first client was his eight-year-old daughter, Anna Marie. He and Rose undressed her and told her that she was lucky that she had such caring parents who were making sure that when she got married she would be able to satisfy her husband. Anna Marie's hands were tied behind her and a gag put in her mouth.

Then while Rose held the girl down, her father raped her. The pain was so severe that the girl could not go to school for several days. She was warned that she would be beaten if she ever told anyone about the rape. Another time, Anna Marie was strapped down while her father raped her quickly on his brief lunch hour.

In late 1972, Fred and Rose picked up a 17-year-old girl named Caroline Owens and hired her as a nanny. They promised Caroline's family that they would watch out for her while she lived with them.

Caroline Owens
Caroline Owens

In late 1972, Fred and Rose picked up a 17-year-old girl named Caroline Owens and hired her as a nanny. They promised Caroline's family that they would watch out for her while she lived with them.

Caroline was very attractive, so much so that Rose and Fred competed with each other to seduce her. In short order, Caroline found the Wests repugnant and told them she was leaving. The couple abducted, stripped and raped her. Fred told her that if she didn't do what he wanted, "I'll keep you in the cellar and let my black friends have you, and when we're finished we'll kill you and bury you under the paving stones of Gloucester." Terrified, she believed him. When her mother saw her bruises, she got the truth from her and called the police.

There was a hearing in January of 1973. Fred was thirty-one and Rose a mere nineteen -- and pregnant once again. Fred was able to con the magistrate into believing that Caroline was a willing partner. Despite Fred's criminal record, the magistrate did not believe the Wests were capable of violence and fined them each.

Lynda Gough (South West News Services)
Lynda Gough
(South West News
Services)

For some time, the Wests had been carrying on a friendship with seamstress Lynda Gough. Eventually, Lynda moved into 25 Cromwell Street to take care of the children. Something went amiss in the relationship and Lynda was murdered. Fred dismembered her and buried her in a pit in the garage. True to his ritual, he removed her fingers, toes and kneecaps. When Lynda's family came looking for her, they were told that she had stayed there but had left.

A hideous pattern was emerging. Young women would come to stay at 25 Cromwell either as lodgers or friends or nannies, but so few ever made it out with their lives. The house was slowly becoming a monument to the depravity of its inhabitants.

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