Serial Killers of the 20th Century: Fred and Rosemary West

DATED: 09.03.17

If you’re a big fan of true crime, you will doubtless be clued up about the infamous case of Jack the Ripper. However, whilst Jack the Ripper was one of the most popular serial killers of the 19th century, Fred and Rosemary West are one of the most well-known serial killer couples in history.

But how did they become so notorious?

Fred West

Fred West was born in 1941 in Much Murkle, Herefordshire, to a farming couple. He was the eldest of eight children (only six survived) but was always his mother’s favourite. The children were made to work hard but Fred turned to a life of petty crime and left school at the age of 15. He began mistreating women at a very early age and was arrested in 1961 for abusing his younger sister.

A year later, Fred met Catherine Costello who became his first wife. They had a child together. Their life was not a happy one, and eventually, Catherine left. Their daughter stayed with Fred and was looked after by Anne McFall, a friend of the family who was besotted with Fred.

In 1967, Anne, who was pregnant with Fred’s child, disappeared. Her remains were found buried near their home in Much Murkle in 1994.

Rosemary West

Rosemary Letts first met Fred when she was 15 years old. Her parents forbade her to see him but she defied them and was brought back home on numerous occasions by the social services. When she was 16, she became pregnant and the couple started to live together.

In December 1970, two months after the birth of their daughter, West was imprisoned for theft. During his time in prison, it is believed that Rosemary killed Charmaine, Fred’s stepdaughter to Catherine. Her body was kept in the coal cellar until Fred was released when he buried her in the grounds of their flat.

Catherine was also found murdered in August 1971, just before the wedding of Fred and Rosemary.

The Victims

After their marriage, Fred and Rosemary lived a life which would later result in horrific abuse of their own eight children and numerous murders.

The Wests were eventually arrested for murder in 1994; Fred was charged with eleven murders and Rosemary nine murders. Included in them was Heather, their eldest daughter, who they saw as a threat to their secret lifestyle. In January 1995, whilst on remand in prison, Fred committed suicide leaving Rosemary to face trial on her own.

The couple are known to have committed at least twelve murders between 1967 and 1987, but many believe that there are other victims whose bodies were never found.

Were there More Jack the Ripper Victims?

To this day, it is thought that there are still some unknown victims of serial killers such as Jack the Ripper. These cases will never be fully closed in the hope that more evidence can be found. With the improvements in technology and the use of DNA, we may yet shed some more light on the case of Jack the Ripper.

Interested in learning more about the life of Jack the Ripper? Join us on our Jack the Ripper Tour and see for yourself how captivating this case is – even today. Book your place on the tour now.


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