Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fred & Rose West

Discovery

February 24, 1994 was the beginning of the end -- the end of the extraordinary things that had been going on in the ordinary three-story house in central Gloucester. But it was also the beginning of a discovery as the layers of secrets hidden at 25 Cromwell Street were slowly peeled away.

That afternoon, the police came to find the owner of the house, Frederick West. Instead, they found his heavy set, sullen wife Rosemary, who called her husband the minute they handed her the warrant. "You'd better get back home," she told Fred when he answered the cellular phone in his van. "They're going to dig up the garden, looking for Heather."

Heather West (South West News Services)
Heather West
(South West News
Services)

The dark-haired, simian-looking man was not worried except that the police wouldn't clean up the mess they were sure to make lifting up the patio stones in his garden, looking for the body of their daughter. He stopped by the police station on his way home from work. He told them he and Rose had no idea where Heather was, but he was not worried. "Lots of girls disappear," he explained, "take a different name and go into prostitution." He said she was a lesbian and had problems with drugs.

Rose, who was interviewed at the house, told a similar story. Heather disappeared at the age of sixteen, back in 1987. She repeated the story about Heather being a disagreeable and lazy person and a lesbian to boot.

That night Fred and Rose stayed up all night and talked. The next morning, he stepped into the police car. "I killed her," he told Detective Constable Hazel Savage. When he got to the station, he told the police in minute detail how he had cut Heather's body into three pieces and buried them. He kept repeating that Rose had known nothing about the murder at all.

Twenty minutes later he completely denied everything he had just told them. "Heather's alive and well, right. She's possibly at the moment in Bahrain working for a drug cartel. She had a Mercedes, a chauffeur and a new birth certificate." He told the police that they could dig all they wanted but they wouldn't find Heather.

The police found three human bones, but they didn't belong to Heather. When Fred heard that human bones had been found, he confessed once again to murdering his daughter, but he denied that there were the bones of anyone else buried there.

Fred told how it all happened. The argument with the headstrong Heather, slapping her for her insolence and grabbing her throat to stop her from laughing at him. He must have grabbed too hard because she turned blue and stopped breathing. He tried to revive her, but he didn't have the training, so he dragged her over to the bathtub and ran cold water over her. He took off her clothes, lifted her out of the tub and dried her off. Then he tried to put her in the large garbage bin, but she didn't fit.

So it was back in the bathtub where he knew he would have to make her smaller. But first, he strangled her with some tights just to make sure that she was dead. " I didn't want to touch he while she was alive. I meanif I'd have started cutting her leg or her throat and she'd have suddenly come alive"

He closed Heather's eyes before he dismembered her. "If somebody's sat there looking at you, you're not going to use a knife on that person are you?"

When he cut off her head, he found the sound -- a "horrible noiselike scrunching" -- very unpleasant. But, once her head was off, he started on her legs, twisting her foot until he heard "one almighty crack and the leg come loose, like." Cut into pieces, she fit nicely into the garbage bin.

That night after the remainder of his family was asleep, he buried Heather's body in the garden, where she lay undiscovered for seven years.

Fred & Rose West  (South West News Service)
Fred & Rose West
(South West News Service)

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