Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fred & Rose West


Walter & Daisy West
Walter & Daisy West

Fred West came from a long line of Herefordshire farm laborers. He was born in 1941 in the village of Much Marcle, approximately 120 miles west of London, to Walter and Daisy West. Fred began life as a beautiful baby with huge piercing blue eyes and blond hair.

Despite the war and the poverty in which the Wests lived, they had six more children, one after another within a ten-year-period. Fred and his mother enjoyed a very close relationship. He was her pet and did everything she asked. Fred also had a reasonably good relationship with his father, who he admired as a role model.

The beautiful baby grew up into a scruffy-looking boy. His blond hair turned to a dark brown and became curly and unkempt. He had inherited some of his mother's less attractive facial features: an overly large mouth and a gap between his large teeth. He looked distinctly like a Gypsy.

Fred West. age 7
Fred West. age 7

Fred was not a promising student and was constantly in trouble for which he was caned. Daisy, seriously overweight and dressed unattractively, would go to the school to yell at the teacher for disciplining her favorite son -- an action that made Fred the butt of many jokes. He was a "mamma's boy." He left school at age fifteen almost illiterate and went to work as a farm hand.

By the time he was sixteen, he cleaned himself up enough to be attractive to girls. He was extremely aggressive with the opposite sex and went after any girl that caught his fancy.

Fred claimed that his father had sex with his daughters, using the logic, "I made you so I'm entitled to have you." But then, Fred was a notorious liar. It's hard to say if his father ever was ever guilty of incest or that Fred made his sister pregnant as he later claimed.

Fred on his motorcycle (South West News Service)
Fred on his motorcycle
(South West News Service)

When Fred was seventeen, he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident which left him in a coma for a week and resulted in having a metal plate put into his head. His leg was broken and was permanently shorter than the other leg. Some thought that this head injury made him prone to sudden fits of rage and that he seemed to have lost control over his emotions.

After his recovery from the accident, Fred met the pretty 16-year-old Catherine Bernadette Costello, nicknamed Rena, who had been in trouble with the police since early childhood. By the time she met Fred she was an accomplished and experienced thief. They became lovers almost immediately, but the affair ended when she went back home a few months later to Scotland.

Fred quickly turned his attentions elsewhere and stuck his hand up the skirt of a young woman standing with him on a fire escape at a local youth club. She was impressed enough with the gesture to knock him off the fire escape. In the fall, he banged his head and lost consciousness. The lasting impact on Fred's behavior suggested that between this incident and the motorcycle accident, he had suffered some brain damage.

In 1961, Fred and his friend stole a watchstrap and cigarette cases from a jewelry store and were caught with the merchandise on them. Fred and his colleague were both fined. This was just the beginning of his troubles. A few months later, he was accused of impregnating a 13-year-old girl who was a friend of the West family. Fred was surprisingly uncooperative and didn't see that there was anything wrong with molesting little girls. "Well, doesn't every one do it?"

This attitude and the ensuing scandal caused a serious breach with his family. Fred was ordered to find somewhere else to live. Distanced now from his family, he went to work on construction projects. It wasn't long before he was caught stealing from the construction sites and having sex with young girls.

At Fred's trial for having sex with the 13-year-old girl, his physician claimed that he was suffering from epileptic fits. Consequently, he got off without a jail sentence, but the die was cast. At age 20, Fred West was a convicted child molester and petty thief -- and a total disgrace to his family.

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