A survivor of Fred West’s House of Horrors has urged his wife Rose to tell the truth about their depraved killing spree and say if there were other victims.
Rose, who is 70 on November 29, is still protesting her innocence as she serves a whole-life term for 10 murders committed with Fred, who killed himself before the trial. Their ex-lodger Jayne Hamer, 63, who escaped 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester before becoming another victim, told the Mirror: “If I could speak to Rose now I would ask her to finally come clean about everything they did and let people get on with their lives. If there are any more victims, please, Rose, put their families first.”
Jayne, who now lives a happy life in the South West, was a teenage runaway when she went to live with the Wests in 1976. Aged just 16, she moved into the top-floor bed-sit of the house that would one day become infamous for the evils that took place there.
Jayne said: “I found out later I was never lonely in my room because one of the victims was buried behind the fireplace. There was a body under the bath, too, that we all used. I lived in Cromwell Street and still did not realise the extent of things that were going on. They presented as so normal, pleasant, polite. I still think is what happened real because they disguised themselves so well.”
The Wests committed at least 12 murders from 1967 to at least 1987, targeting young women and girls, some their own daughters, to satisfy a lust for rape and torture. The dismembered bodies were mostly buried in the cellar or garden of the Cromwell Street house, which has been demolished.
The body of their own daughter Heather was found under the patio. Jayne said: “I watched Fred build that patio. He was always tinkering outside in the garden, making it nice out there. Now I think it was some kind of remembrance garden.
“I cannot fathom how they got away with it, dismembering and burying all those victims. It doesn’t seem possible.” The couple are suspected of more killings, but Fred, who was charged with 12 murders, took any clues to his grave when he killed himself in jail. Only Rose, who is approaching 30 years behind bars, can reveal the full extent of their crimes.
Jayne met the couple in October 1976 at a cafe in Gloucester which they owned at the time. She said: “Rose’s parents, Ma and Pa Letts were there. My first impressions were OK, but what struck me most was Rose did not seem much more than a child.
“She would only have been in her early 20s and had a very childish presence. She dressed in a childish way, in things like ankle socks, like a little schoolgirl. But her and Fred were in command, pleasant but in command.”
In that first meeting, it was Pa Letts who gave her cause for concern. She said: “What Pa Letts was doing to himself under the table at that meeting I do not know, but I dismissed it because I just needed somewhere to live. I was 16, young, naïve and stupid.” Within a week, she had moved into 25 Cromwell Street. She said: “I was on the top floor. I had a room, there was a kitchenette and another room with another couple in it and the bathroom was underneath that.
“I was a bit cautious. I had never been out on my own before, but I was determined to be my own person. I’ve always been like that.” Jayne soon settled in. She said: “The house was massive. At first I was not allowed into their personal space because I was just a lodger. I was asked not to go into any of their rooms. I had to knock on a door and wait for an answer.
“I did not see this as strange, just the natural separation between lodger and landlord. The house was very tidy, very clean, it smelt of disinfectant, almost like it had been cleaned to within an inch of its life. It always smelt like that.”
Eventually, Jayne gained the trust of the family and Fred asked her to look after the younger children, Heather, Mae and Stephen, while he and Rose went out. She formed a bond with the West children, but it was not long before she began to suspect all was not well. She said: “Rose was always pleasant and polite to me, however I did notice she was always cleaning – always.
“There were always these strange comings and goings with her, with men in the house. She would very often bark at the children, she could be very forceful when she wanted. Her and Fred would often go out together and I would look after the children. Thinking about that, I wonder if they were out prostituting or hunting, searching for victims.
“Sometimes, when I was watching TV with the kids, the doorbell would go and a red light above the doorway came on. At first I was a little shocked and said, ‘Oh my, red light district’.” One of the children told her: “Yes, mum has one of her boyfriends in and we are not allowed to go into her room when she has got one in.”
Jayne recalls how one day Fred invited her to see the cellar. She was reluctant, but wanted to keep Fred, who she described as “the perfect landlord”, happy.
Jayne said: “I’m claustrophobic, but went anyway and when I got down in that cellar I just wanted to get out. It was dark and dank, but I made all the right noises and said what a lovely place it must be for the children to play. I didn’t last long after seeing the bed against the wall and the murals on the wall, and the box of toys.
“I told Fred I was claustrophobic and had to leave and he just said, ‘OK, I’m glad you approve of it’. Looking back, I realise I had stepped into the spider’s web. I feel like it was the hunter taking its prey into the lair. I think they had been watching me backwards and forwards and were picking their right time. I don’t know.”
Soon after, Jayne heard something so shocking she made her mind up to leave, a decision that may have saved her life. She said: “One night I heard the cry, ‘Stop it, Daddy. Stop it’. This is when I believe Fred was taking his own daughter and I was told that was because he was ‘preparing her for life’.”
Jayne did not report what she had heard, but made the decision to leave. She said: “I did not feel safe to report it. I did not think, being under the age of 18, that I would be taken seriously. I hated what I heard so I made the decision to leave. I made the decision to tell them on the day that I left. I believe that saved my life. They were surprised. If they’d had more time I don’t think I would have made it out.”
Sadly, her fellow lodger, Shirley Anne Robinson, was not so lucky. She became pregnant by Fred and was last seen in May 1978. Her body, with the foetus of her unborn child, was found buried in the garden.
Jayne gave evidence at Rose’s trial. She said: “I remember Fred and Rose saw each other as one was going out and one was coming into court. Fred spoke to Rose and she blanked him. Rose was the love of his life and I believe her blanking him in court led to him killing himself, which was the biggest injustice because killing himself was his way out. It was a coward’s exit because he was shunned by the love of his life.”