Man held for murder dies in apparent suicide

January 02, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

LONDON -- Frederick West, the 53-year-old builder accused in the murder of 12 women and girls in the grisly "House of Horrors" case, was found hanged in his prison cell yesterday.

Mr. West and his wife, Rosemary, 41, had been scheduled to go on trial next month for the series of killings that shocked the nation, with body after body found in and around the Wests' home in Gloucester.

The Prison Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr. West's death, but preliminary reports from Birmingham's Winson Green Prison in central England indicated that it was a suicide.

Mr. West's body was found at 12:55 p.m., officials said, and attempts by the staff to revive him were unsuccessful. A doctor pronounced him dead at 1:22 p.m.

Police said nine of the victims were killed over a 14-year period that ended in 1987.

Mr. West was arrested last February after one of the biggest police searches in recent years.

Detectives who made the arrest were investigating the disappearance of the couple's daughter Heather, who was last seen alive in 1987 at age 16.

Police found Heather's remains buried under a patio in the small back yard of their house at 25 Cromwell St.

Within days, two more bodies were found in different parts of the yard. In all, police dug for 114 days and the search eventually spread to rural areas.

One of the bodies was identified as a former boarder of the Wests who was 18 and pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Nine bodies were eventually discovered at the house, one at a former West home and the others in fields. Mr. West was accused of the murder of his first wife, Catherine, who disappeared in 1970; their daughter Charmaine, who disappeared in 1970 at the age of 8; and a teen-age Scottish nanny.

Mr. West's second wife, 41-year-old Rosemary, has been charged with nine murders. She was told of her husband's death yesterday by her lawyer.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.