Infamous serial killers, Rosemary and Frederick West, were married in 1972 and bought a house on Cromwell Street. They saw in each other a reflection of their own damaged soul. Frederick had a history of sexually molesting young girls and many believed Rosemary had incestuous relationships with her father.
Frederick was married before meeting Rosemary and he maintained custody of a step daughter, Charmaine. After the birth of their first child, Heather, Frederick was sent to jail for robbery and Rosemary was left to care for the children.
Charmaine, Heather and Ann Marie
In a fit of rage, Rosemary killed Charmaine. Authorities believe Frederick then killed Rena, his first wife and Anna McFall, a babysitter, to cover up Charmaine’s disappearance. There are no true crime stories more tragic than those involving innocent children.
The murder of Frederick’s step daughter cemented the couple’s willingness to go to any lengths to pleasure or protect one another. One of their first victims was a nanny for the couple, who was repeatedly raped. She reported the crime, but decided to not go through a lengthy trail. Over the next 15 years, the Wests would kill 9 girls.
Frederick and Maryann West
Two of the couple’s children, Stephen and Mae West, were interviewed for a documentary, Notorious: Deadly Secrets of Cromwell Street (December 2007). They claimed they never knew their parents were bringing girls home and killing them. The children knew their home life was abnormal and they endured physical and sexual abuse. The couple was very open about sex. Fredrick considered his daughters property and at his disposal for sexual gratification. Rosemary advertised as a prostitute to keep a regular stream of men coming in and out of the house. Frederick eavesdropped on his wife having sex with other men through hidden microphones in the ceilings. Stephen did remember his father “finding” jewelry and purses which he brought home and gifted to Rosemary and the children.
The couple’s final victim was their 16-year-old daughter, Heather. Heather was desperate to escape the abuse of home and threatened to run away. One day she disappeared from the home, and Frederick told the children she had gone for a job.
In1992, Frederick was arrested for raping a minor. At the time, five of the eight West children were taken into custody by the state. Case workers overheard the children discussing the murder of their eldest sister. On February 24, 1994, police searched the West property and found implements of torture and decapitated bodies. Once Fred was confronted with the evidence of his crimes, he admitted to murdering Heather and several other girls.
According to Janet Leach, a volunteer who was appointed to witness police interviews, “Fred said that there were two other bodies in shallow graves in the woods but there was no way they would ever be found. He said there were 20 other bodies not in one place but spread around and he would give police one a year. He told me the truth about the girls in the cellar and what happened to them so I don’t see why he would lie about other bodies.”
Frederick West committed suicide while awaiting trail. Rosemary faced justice alone and was found guilty of 10 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.