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Fred and Rose West’s ’20 forgotten victims’: Police respond to new burial site claims

Fred West: Expert reveals the 'joke' which exposed killer

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A new two-part documentary entitled ‘Fred and Rose West: Reopened’ will be broadcast on consecutive nights this week, with the first episode airing on Wednesday at 9pm. The programme, which is presented by Sir Trevor Mcdonald, claims it has uncovered evidence to suggest the murderous couple killed many more women and girls than they were taken to court for. Fred and Rose West were jointly charged with nine murders and Fred with a further three, but he killed himself in prison before he could face justice for the 12 murders.

His wife Rose was later convicted of 10 murders in 1995 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, which was later upgraded to a whole life order, meaning no possibility of parole.

However, the documentary claimed a further 20 people may have been victims of the murderous pair.

The documentary team, which includes DCI Colin Sutton, investigative psychologist Donna Youngs and author and Fred West ‘expert’ Howard Sounes said they have been following new leads for seven months.

In particular they urged detectives to search specific sites in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire where they believe Fred West buried 12 bodies.

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The first episode contains records of Fred West’s discussion with his lawyer of additional crimes involving his brother and reveals never-before-seen documents containing details of ‘the farm’ where up to 20 bodies are said to be hidden. 

Yet Gloucestershire police yesterday ruled out starting new searches for the victims of the serial killer. 

A spokesperson said: “After careful assessment we do not believe the evidence submitted to us at this time meets the threshold to justify further searches in the locations identified.

“However, as with all cases we will review any new evidence submitted to us.”

Earlier this year, the documentary crew claimed Fred West may have killed missing Gloucester teenager Mary Bastholm in 1968 and disposed of her body under a cafe.

This led to police evacuating the basement in a major operation that lasted over a week, yet nothing was found. 

Since then, the ITV crew have used Ground Penetrating Radar technology to identify a number of areas in Herefordshire near where Fred West buried victims.

The serial-killer buried his first known victim, 18-year-old Anna McFall, who was heavily pregnant at the time, near the site and also disposed of the body of first wife Catherine ‘Rena’ Costello nearby.

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Mr Sutton said: “The handler is of the view that we should evacuate the sites as soon as possible and I am absolutely on board with that. 

“It is a really significant find and a significant piece of work from the cadaver dogs.

“The indications I saw the dogs make were very strong.”

The documentary also claimed a derelict farm site may be another possible location where bodies may be buried, based on information provided to them by Janet Leach.

Ms Leach was Fred West’s ‘appropriate adult’ when he was questioned by police in the days following his 1994 arrest.

She repeatedly claimed throughout the documentary that Fred West told her of “another 20 bodies to be found.”

She added: “Fred told me there were another 20 bodies to be found after the 12, some in fields, the rest in the barn.

“Fred said some of the victims’ bones were missing because it was a ritual thing and they did something with the fingers so there was no way of finding out who they were.”

Also, the murderer’s former employers Wendy and Derek Thomson said that while in prison Fred West claimed he had “done something in Berkeley” in Gloucestershire.

The ITV crew believe they have narrowed down the Berkeley reference to a farm near to the town, but the owners did not allow them to investigate further.

Sir McDonald, urged police to look into the new findings and said: “There is still much more to the murderous campaign of Fred and Rose West. 

“I think the option of not investigating these fields seems very strange.

“Surely if there is any suspicion of evidence that there might be more bodies, it follows, as night follows day, that there must be an attempt to discover what happened to these missing people.”

Watch ITV’s Fred and Rose West: Reopened at 9pm on Wednesday and Thursday. 

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