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Deranged serial killer Rosemary West and the chilling murders of the 'house of horrors', a name England will always remember

Rosemary West and her husband Fred West murdered 12 innocent people for their own sick and twisted pleasure

ITV's new documentary 'Joanna Dennehy: Serial Killer' explores the childhood of the notorious criminal and her path to becoming one of Britain's most dangerous women. The 33-year-old was the perpetrator of the infamous Peterborough ditch murders which took place in 2013.

As a result of her crimes, she ended up becoming the third woman in the UK to have received a whole life sentence for her crimes. The other two women were notorious serial killers Myra Hindley and Rosemary West. Both West and Dennehy are still serving out their prison sentences while Myra Hindley passed away in 2002 after suffering from respiratory failure. Here's a look at the story behind Rosemary West.

Early Life

Rosemary West was born Rosemary Letts in November 1953 in Devon, England. West's mother's pregnancy was complicated and she had to be given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which was the treatment given to mothers with depression. It is believed that this ECT treatment could have led to Rose's sub-par performance in school and aggregation while growing up. 

Rose's parents were far from happily married and her father was a paranoid schizophrenic who had bursts of violent behavior. Rose's mother eventually left home with her but Rose went back to live with her father after getting involved with a man named Fred West during her teens. Despite her father objecting to her relationship, she found herself pregnant with West's child and also looking after two of his children from another relationship. 

Rose's marriage with Fred West

Rose had to care for three children when she was still a child herself and this probably led to her violent and erratic behavior. It is believed that this was when she killed eight-year-old Charmaine, Fred's oldest child, in 1971. It is very likely that Charmaine's body was hidden by Rose until Fred was released from prison. He then reportedly moved the body and removed all the toes and fingers.

Fred West and Rosemary West (Source: Wikipedia)

When Fred's first wife Rena came to ask about her child's whereabouts, she was strangled, dismembered and also had her toes and fingers removed. Rose and Fred tied the knot in 1972 and had their second daughter Mae in the same year. In this time, Rose had made plenty of money from being a prostitute and Fred had begun to commit heinous crimes of bondage and sex acts on underage girls.

The cellar of their home became a torture chamber and his daughter Anna Marie was one of the first to be brutalized there. The child was raped by the deranged father as Rose held her down. This became a very regular occurrence. 

The murders

In late 1972, their violent and sick behavior extended beyond the family when they hired 17-year-old Caroline Owens as a nanny. Owens was restrained, stripped, and also raped but managed to make an escape and report the Wests to authorities and charges were brought against them. The Wests were able to get out of paying fines as Fred claimed Owens had consented. However, Owens was too deeply traumatized to give a testimony.

At the time, Rose was pregnant with their first son Stephen. By 1983, Rose had given birth to eight children out of which at least three were a result of her working as a prostitute. 

The next few years saw the rape, murder, and burial of many young women including Lynda Gough, Lucy Partington, Juanita Mott, Therese Siegenthaler, Alison Chambers, Shirley Robinson and 15-year-old schoolgirls Carol Ann Cooper and Shirley Hubbard.


The victims

Anne McFall, 18
Charmaine West, 8
Rena West, 27
Linda Gough, 19
Carol Ann Cooper, 15
Lucy Katherine Partington, 21
Theresa Siegenthaler, 21
Shirley Hubbard,15
Juanita Mott, 18
Shirley Robinson, 18
Alison Chambers 16
Heather West, 16

The rape and murder of their own daughter

The entire West family (Source: Wikipedia)

Rose had many more children over the years and to some extent all the children were aware of what was going on in the house, though Rose and Fred maintained a firm grip on them. When Fred's daughter Ann Marie moved out of home, he turned his interest to his other daughters, Heather and Mae. In 1987, Heather resisted Fred's advances and told a friend which led to the Wests' murdering her.

They then buried her in the back garden and forced their son Stephen to also help them bury her. 

Arrest and aftermath

Thanks to Detective Constable Hazel Savage who oversaw a search of Cromwell Street in August 1992, the Wests were arrested. In 1994, Fred was charged with 12 counts of murder and hung himself in jail while awaiting trial. Rose's trial took place in 1995 and a jury unanimously found her guilty on 10 separate counts of murder. She was then sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The 'House of Horrors' as it was called was razed to the ground in 1996 and in its place is now a pathway which leads to the town center.