In February 1994, Fred West was charged with the murder of his daughter Heather West; however, what followed in the months of March and April newspapers began to report the amazing discovery of one of the most prolific serial killers of the 20th century. Police officers, whose aim was to retrieve the remains of Heather West, discovered that Heather West was not the only murder victim buried within the home of Fred and Rosemary West. 25, Cromwell Street, now dubbed the 'House of Horrors' by the national press, was the site of a further nine murder victims and a further three victims were situated in fields and buildings nearby.
The questions to ask surrounding these horrific crimes, is what drove Fred to these murders; and using the FBI Offender Profile, an attempt will be made to discover the motivation of Fred West to drive him to this. Criminal behaviour has been studied for many years, and for many years the police have been using criminal profiling to determine the type of perpetrator they were seeking, as well as the possible motivations for the crimes that they are committing. As stated previously, the most commonly known type of criminal profiling is used by the Behavioural Science Unit (BSU) within the FBI.
After many years of research, they were able to determine that offenders can be organised or disorganised. According to the FBI profile, the organised offender can be described as a man, roughly aged between 18 and 45, either married or living with a partner, of high intelligence which is masked by poor behaviour in school, middle class and well built. The FBI describes that the offender usually lives some distance from the crime scene; however, in the case of Fred West this was not true. The employment that the offender carried out was usually masculine in nature, such as a builder, and is sporadic.
Most importantly, the FBI describes the previous convictions that the offender could have been charged with and these include sexual offences, petty crime and interpersonal violence. When comparing the profile of an organised offender to Fred West, the similarities are uncanny due to the fact that the life of Fred West almost mirrors the offender profile. Frederick Walter Stephen West was born on the 29th of September 1941 to Walter and Daisy West. Walter West was born in 1914 and as a child was intimidated by his father.
Walter received very little education due to leaving school at the age of eleven, and therefore had major difficulties in reading and writing, thus having the occupation of a farm hand. His wife Daisy Hill was born in 1923. She married Walter in 1940 at the age of seventeen and shortly afterwards, she fell pregnant with Violet West, who died shortly after birth. However, in 1941 Fred West was the first surviving sibling of the West family. Fred was the eldest of six surviving children and this fact alongside the offender profile of the FBI restates that Fred West was an organised offender.
The relationship with his mother was very close, and Howard Sounes states in his book, that Daisy showed "more than motherly love" for her son. It was rumoured that Daisy took Fred back into her bed when he was at the age of 12 and seduced him. However, Howard Sounes also points out that Walter may have been a dominant influence on Fred's sexual awareness. Fred claimed that Walter had "indulged" in having intercourse with young girls, thus Fred growing up with the belief that this act was natural and that it was a right of a man to carry these out.
According to the FBI offender profile, serial killers have a history of sexual abuse as a child by the parental figure, in this case it was possibly both parents. Fred left school at the age of fifteen with the literacy of a seven-year-old, however, he did show some skill in practical work and therefore was able to find himself work as a farm hand. As Fred grew older, he was able to find himself work as an ice cream van driver, and by the time he had met Rosemary, he had the reputation of a hard working family man.
As Fred grew up, he began to take care of his appearance and was remembered to have a poor attitude when 'chatting up girls'. This may be due to his father's attitude towards young girls. This fulfils two of the criteria of the offender profile for the organised offender. Although that it is clear that Fred was socially inadequate in his youth, due to his upbringing he was sexually competent. At the age of seventeen, Fred was injured in a motorcycle incident which resulted in serious head injuries which could have led to long lasting brain damage.
In the summer of 1960, Fred met his first wife Catherine Costello or more commonly known as Rena. Rena suited Fred really well due to the fact that she was a regular visitor to the Magistrate's court on several counts of theft. Rena was hardened to life due to her sentence within an approved school after her last court appearance. Therefore, Rena was won over by Fred due to the fact that she was prepared to accept his crude ways and his high demands of sex in exchange for the affection that he gave her.
Rena however left Fred in the autumn of 1960 and during 1961, Fred's criminal behaviour began with petty theft, which culminated to child molesting by the age of twenty. The disturbing factor within this case was that Fred could not see anything wrong in his behaviour towards young girls and was reported to have stated that "Doesn't everyone do it? " When facing the charges of impregnating a thirteen year old girl, Fred was complacent, and it was this attitude that separated him from normality.
Howard Sounes states that Fred "was not fit to live with civilised people. In 1962, Rena returned to Fred, however, was pregnant with a mixed raced child and was willing for Fred to abort the child himself. When this was prevented, secretly married in November 1962, where they moved to Scotland and settled in Coatbridge. At this point in Fred's life, the beginnings of sexual appetite began to appear. Howard Sounes describes in his book that Fred's lovemaking as being "short and brutal" and due to the fact that Fred was insistent and uncaring, Rena would often be reduced to tears.
At this point Sounes also states that Fred's behaviour had turned into "sadism", and that rejection would severely anger Fred. The daily life of this 'odd' couple would now include violence and frightening sex acts. In 1963, Rena gave birth to Charmaine and in 1964 Rena gave birth to Anne Marie; Fred's first child. Although Fred adored Rena and Anne Marie, he continued to give her beatings when he became excessively angry. In 1965, Fred accidentally killed a three year old child while driving his ice cream van, thus forcing Fred and his family to move back to Much Marcle.
After a short while, the West's were joined by Isa McNiell and her friend Anna McFall. Anna McFall was the first of Fred's victims, and was stated to have a large infatuation with him. This is due to her belief that he could offer her a better life away from Glasgow. Their relationship developed and in the spring of 1967 Anna was pregnant with Fred's child. The possible trigger for Anna's murder was the fact that she wanted Fred to divorce Rena and marry her, thus, Anna disappeared in July 1967.
She was found in June 1994 in Fingerpost Field with the skeleton of her unborn child next to her. While interviewing Fred in 1994 the police discovered that although he denied murdering Anna, forensic examination showed that Fred did dismember her body. In September 1967, after Rena had left him, Fred met his 'partner in crime' Rosemary Letts. Rosemary was drawn to Fred due to the sexual chemistry and although she was twelve years his junior, she enjoyed looking after the children. When she turned sixteen, she moved in with Fred, and in October 1970, she gave birth to Heather Ann.
During this time the family's finances were poor and Fred carried out petty crime in order to finance the family. However, in 1970 Fred was convicted of petty crime and tax evasion, thus sent to prison, and was released in June 1971. It was during this time that Charmaine was missing. Fred knew that Rose had murdered Charmaine due to the fact that he reburied her in the back garden of 25, Midland Road. Rena turned up in 1972, with the intention of taking Charmaine home, however, due to the fact that she had already been murdered, Rena was also murdered in order to prevent her from finding out.
Once Rena was out of the picture, Fred and Rose were free to get married. The extent of Fred and Rose's sexual sadism in 25, Cromwell Street began when they bounded and gagged and raped eight year old Anne-Marie. Around this time, a former nanny Caroline Owens was abducted and taken back to Cromwell Street, where she was abused and raped. Fred and Rose were charged with indecent assault for this crime, however, due to the fact that they pleaded guilty, their secret lifestyle was not discovered until later on.
Although killings had happened before, the main bulk happened from April 1973 up until May 1987. The first victim was Lynda Gough (19), who moved in to lodge with the West's. In the April of 1973, she was brutally tortured before being murdered and dismembered. Carol Ann Cooper (15), the second victim, was lured into Fred and Rose's car during November 1973 when she walked back to the children's home where she lived. Lucy Partington (21) was murdered in December 1973 after she was offered a lift by Fred as she waited for a bus.
She disappeared in April 1974 after beginning her hitch-hike to Ireland. Shirley Hubbard (15) was murdered in November 1974 after she met the West's on a work experience course; she was travelling back to her foster parent's home, but didn't make it. Fred West certainly fulfils the FBI criteria for a serial killer; this is due to the fact that they define a serial killer as being "a person who commits three or more offences with a clear emotional 'cooling off' period between offences". These cooling off periods range from one to eight months.
However, after Juanita Mott (18) became the sixth victim in April 1975 the cooling off periods became longer. The killings continued with another lodger of 25 Cromwell Street, which was Shirley Ann Robinson (18) and she was lured into prostitution by the West's. After becoming Fred's lover and becoming pregnant with his child, she was the cause of friction between the West's and was murdered in May 1978. Alison Chambers (17) was the last known sexually motivated killing in the house of horrors, and was easy prey for Fred and Rose's sadistic natures.
Sadly, in May 1987, Heather West (16), who became the subject of abuse by Fred and Rose after her half sister Anne-Marie left home in the mid-1980s, was murdered after trying to escape her mother and father. The FBI states that the organised offender targets strangers which are often submissive. In the case of each victim, they included hitch-hikers, lodgers, children from broken homes and teenage runaways. These victims had either been lured to 25 Cromwell Street or had been abducted. The acts that were performed on each victim before their eventual death were sexually aggressive and in the majority of the cases, restraints were used.
The crime scene, however, is perhaps the most interesting, due to the fact that it was the home of Fred and Rose West. The crime scene does reflect the control Fred had over his victims due to the fact that they were buried either in the cellar, under the patio or under the bathroom floor. However, the fact that Fred used his own home as a burial ground would indicate that there is a slight element of a disorganised offender, due to the fact that the disorganised offender lives or works near the crime scene and usually leaves the body at the crime scene.
Therefore, in conclusion, Fred West life does parallel the FBI offender profile for the organised serial killer; however, there are elements of a disorganised offender. Despite this, the control that Fred had over his victims and his wives showed that he was capable of several counts of murder and due to this he was charged with 12 counts of murder. His reasoning behind the murders was that the victims had threatened to tell Rose of their affairs. Thus, implying that Fred was actually dominated by Rose in the events leading up to the murders of the women.