Fred and Rose West: Reopened reveals more

Wednesday:Fred and Rose West: Reopened; (ITV, 9pm)
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In 1994, Britain was shocked when the story of Fred and Rose West began to emerge following the discovery of human remains at their home in Gloucester.

Police had begun searching the property after the couple’s children had told social workers about a family ‘joke’ that their sister Heather was buried under the patio, leading detectives to wonder if it could actually be true.

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The full scale of the horror turned out to be worse than anyone could have imagined, and Fred would eventually be charged with killing 12 women and girls. He committed suicide before his case was brought to trial, but Rose was convicted of 10 murders in 1995.

Sir Trevor McDonald, former Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton and forensic psychologist Dr Donna YoungsSir Trevor McDonald, former Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton and forensic psychologist Dr Donna Youngs
Sir Trevor McDonald, former Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton and forensic psychologist Dr Donna Youngs

However, there has always been a strong belief that there could have been even more victims. In the two-part documentary Fred and Rose West: Reopened, which is showing on consecutive evenings, investigators take a closer look at the claims that the Wests were responsible for many more murders.

The team, which includes former detective chief inspector Colin Sutton, investigative psychologist Donna Youngs, author and West expert Howard Sounes and reporter Sir Trevor McDonald, are following up new leads to shed light on the true number of victims and their identities.

To help them in their search, they examine previously unseen documents including the full statement of Fred West’s ‘appropriate adult’, Janet Leach (who became the subject of an award-winning ITV drama in 2011), and newly revealed records of discussions between Fred and his lawyer in which West talked about other crimes involving himself, his wife and other people.

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The programmes also hear from women who say they had predatory encounters with Fred West, and the team visit locations where it’s been suggested that the couple may have buried bodies, including fields outside Gloucester, and a place West referred to as ‘the Farm’, where it is alleged there were as many as 20 more victims.

Another key location is a cafe in Gloucester, which in the late 1960s was known as the Pop-In and employed the 15-year-old Mary Bastholm. She was last seen in January, 1968, at a bus stop near the café where West was a regular, and there has long been speculation that he was involved in her abduction. He reportedly confessed to her murder to his son, although he denied having anything to do with her disappearance when he was interviewed by police and a body has never been found.

The documentary takes a closer look at the café, where Ground Penetrating Radar, sniffer dogs, and an inspection camera reveal a suspicious cavity. The documentary-makers’ findings were subsequently passed to the police, who made the decision to excavate.

Speaking to the press, Detective Chief Inspector John Turner, who led the investigation, said: “Fred West was always indicated as being involved in Mary’s disappearance and possibly her death. If Fred were alive, undoubtedly he would be interviewed around the disappearance of Mary.”

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Thursday’s episode features contributions from Mary’s family as the police carry out their search.

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