Sunday 26th September 2021,
North Yorks Enquirer

Fred & Rosemary West: Investigation Re-Opened

May 21, 2021 Police

NYE Crime Reporter covers the re-opening of the investigation into Fred and Rosemary West. They were arrested in 1994, twenty-seven years ago, so all our readers under thirty-five to forty will probably not remember the case. It was an important investigation and led to a shake-up of child protection procedures. It is to be the subject of a major in depth NYE investigation in the near future.

Fred & Rosemary West: Investigation Re-Opened

By TIM HICKS

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The lead illustration shows serial killers Fred and Rosemary West and their victim Mary Bastholm pictured as a bridesmaid at her brother’s wedding. She is wearing the pendant similar to the one recovered from Fred West’s home, which the family identifed as hers.

Comprehensive Daily Mail report on the investigation here.

Fred West’s son Stephen said his Father confessed to him that he murdered thirty women including Mary Bastholm before he killed himself at Winson Green prison. From a wider perspective, it appears highly likely that – like Christopher Halliwell and Peter Sutcliffe – Fred and Rosemary West killed more people than the twelve they were individually charged with.

Gloucestershire Constabulary has responded quickly to the information and immediately launched an investigation which has the family’s interests at heart. They were notified straight away and an appeal for privacy made

The authors would observe that this is a classic case of good cooperation between the police and the media. The re-opening the case shows the importance of journalists continuing to investigate cold cases, -particularly antecedent investigations into serial killers- and cooperating with the police. . It is the authors hope that Mary’s body will be discovered so it can be returned to her family for decent burial, so they can have some form of closure on this terrible event.

Tim commented:

“Re-opening the Fred and Rosemary West investigation will inevitably raise questions about why Gloucestershire Police failed to detect Fred and Rosemarie West and the quality of the original investigation. Nevertheless, Gloucestershire Constabulary has done the right thing by working with the media and considering fresh evidence in an attempt to discover Mary’s body and bring some closure to her family, even though she was murdered in 1968. This confirms that the police service is now following up on historical cases and upholding the rights of victims and their families.

This compares very well to the response of North Yorkshire Police under similar circumstances. The NYE has developed new evidence that the body of an unknown woman discovered in 1981 at Sutton Bank was a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe. I believe this new evidence could lead to the victim being identified and her family notified of her fate.

However, pursuing this line of enquiry would involve admitting that North Yorkshire Police had bungled part of the Yorkshire Ripper investigation. Unlike Gloucestershire Constabulary, Chief Constable Winward has resolutely refused to work with the NYE in progressing the investigation. Thereby cynically disregarding the victim’s right to justice, the interests of her family and failing to meet modern standards of policing the public expect from the police service.” 

The authors have not previously investigated Fred and Rosemarie West. Unfortunately the media coverage at the time was sensationalist and focussed on the twelve murders where bodies were discovered. Because of this and the immense public interest in the case, the authors are monitoring developments.

The authors believe it is important that the police do everything in their power to resolve long-open murder cases, particularly if they involve an unidentified victim. This is to provide justice for the victims, closure for their families and to deter other serious crimes by the certainty of detection and punishment. This is why they have continued to raise the case of the woman whose body was discovered at Sutton Bank in 1981.

To put this in context, this BBC article describes the solution adopted by the Australian police service, which investigates cold murder cases centrally under Operation Persevere and which recently led to a seventy-year-old case being re-opened.

The authors will run an in depth article focussing on the full range of the West’s crimes in Gloucestershire, Coatbridge and Glasgow, once this latest investigation has run its course.

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