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Fred West detectives hunting for body  of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm find six ‘voids’

Police searching a Gloucester cafe for a 15-year-old girl who is thought to have been abducted and murdered by Fred West today said they have found six ‘voids’ in the venue’s cellar and will start digging tomorrow. 

Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said that the mysterious holes, which are up to one-and-a-half feet deep, were found below concrete and tiles and would now be excavated ‘methodically and meticulously one at a time’. 

Mary Bastholm’s disappearance has remained a mystery for over five decades, although there has been speculation over the years since Fred West’s murders were revealed in 1994 that she could have been one of his victims.  

DCI Turner said one of the holes had been found by a cadaver dog under the basement toilet at The Clean Plate Café in Gloucester, which officers have been searching for nearly a week after an ITV documentary crew tipped them off that a body could be buried there.

The venue – which Fred West was known to frequent – has been cordoned off since Friday, with officers using ground-penetrating radar in an effort to locate any human remains. 

DCI Turner today said the excavations would reveal ‘once and for all’ if the schoolgirl’s remains were buried there, as he said Rose West could now be interviewed. This morning officers were seen removing several objects from the café, including two wooden doors. 

Mary was last seen at a bus stop in 1968, but police have been combing through the cafe after an ITV film crew led by Sir Trevor McDonald alerted them to possible evidence of a body at the eaterie where she worked.

Officers have confirmed that a dark blue material – first discovered by ITV after they drilled through the cellar floor – could be a match for the coat Mary was wearing when she vanished. 

But Gloucestershire Police has denied claims in The Sun last night that they have found evidence of bones in an area of the basement which West converted into toilets when he worked as a builder. 

Mary Bastholm, who vanished aged 15

Serial killers Fred and Rosemary West are long believed to have played a part in the death of Mary Bastholm (right), who vanished aged 15. The locket she wore as a bridesmaid at her brother’s wedding (pictured right) was found in their house

Police removing objects from the cafe this morning, including two wooden doors 

Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said today that the mysterious holes - which are up to half a metre deep - were found below concrete and tiles

Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said today that the mysterious holes – which are up to half a metre deep – were found below concrete and tiles

Police activity at The Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street, Gloucester today, where excavation work is to begin

Police activity at The Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street, Gloucester today, where excavation work is to begin

Drone pictures directly above the Clean Plate Cafe on Southgate Street show that police have put up forensic tents at the front and rear of the property, where West may have helped lay the floor and built a toilet

Drone pictures directly above the Clean Plate Cafe on Southgate Street show that police have put up forensic tents at the front and rear of the property, where West may have helped lay the floor and built a toilet

DCI Turner, who is leading the investigation for Gloucestershire Police, today said his ‘understanding’ was that Mary’s disappearance in January 1968 happened before Fred had met Rose. 

‘Fred West was always indicated as being involved in Mary’s disappearance and possibly her death,’ he said.

‘We will be searching the basement to find out what, if anything, is there. If anything is found we will carry out a forensic review and we will look to seek people within the investigation that we need to interview.

‘If Fred were alive, undoubtedly he would be interviewed around the disappearance of Mary.’

The Wests’ eldest son, Stephen, has maintained his father told him shortly before his death that he murdered 15-year-old Mary.

‘A member of my team has spoken to Steve West and we will consider all options and line of inquiry once we know exactly what we are dealing with within the basement,’ he said.

DCI Turner said that Fred West would have been interviewed over the latest developments had he still been alive. 

Mary’s family said in a statement issued through police: ‘Senior investigating officer John Turner has sat with us and explained the ongoing investigation as well as his intentions to excavate the cafe to try and find Mary.

‘We are extremely happy Gloucestershire Police is continuing to try and search for Mary and this gives us a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.

‘We want to thank everyone who has wished us support through this distressing time, and we are continuing to be in close touch with the investigation team, and are being kept up to date with any new developments.

‘We hope this is a chance to finally get closure for Mary and would like to continue to ask for privacy whilst the excavation is ongoing.’ 

Specialist digging teams supported by an archaeologist are working in the basement and garden of the The Clean Plate Café in Southgate Street, where West was a regular and may even have laid the concrete floor weeks before Mary vanished.

Forensic teams have removed the fireplace in the cellar of the café, which was a five minute walk from West’s home at 25 Cromwell Street, dubbed the infamous ‘House of Horrors’ where many of the victims were killed and buried.

The news comes amid recently unearthed footage of Mary Bastholm’s father predicting she was taken by ‘someone she knew’ at the Pop In cafe, now called the Clean Plate, where she had worked as a waitress, The Mirror reports. 

Her devastated father Christian said two years after she disappeared in 1970 that it was ‘rather difficult’ to determine the exact circumstances, but added: ‘It is rather difficult to say, but one thing I will always say is this – she did not go away on her own.

‘For a young girl like that to evade the police for so long well she’d have to be a master of the game wouldn’t she?

‘Personally I think she took a lift from someone she knew, this could have been someone perhaps who came into the cafe.’ 

Following Monday’s excavations, Gloucester Police say Mary’s family have been updated with this information and are ‘supportive of the activity taking place’.  

The scene in Gloucester where police continue to investigate inside the basement of the Clean Plate cafe

The scene in Gloucester where police continue to investigate inside the basement of the Clean Plate cafe

West (shown above) worked as a builder, and he may have laid the floor that is now being dug up as part of a forensic investigation at the Gloucester eaterie

West (shown above) worked as a builder, and he may have laid the floor that is now being dug up as part of a forensic investigation at the Gloucester eaterie

Mary vanished aged 15 from a bus stop on Bristol Road in Gloucester, on January 6, 1968. 

The teen had been waiting to catch a bus to meet her boyfriend in Hardwicke, Stroud, after a shift at a nearby Pop-In café in Southgate Street.

Her body has never been found but it is believed that Miss Bastholm was murdered by Fred West, after it was reported he had admitted the murder while on remand in prison before he killed himself in January 1995.

Both of Mary’s parents, Doreen and Christian Bastholm, died before they could learn the truth behind what may have happened to their missing daughter.

In 1970 Mrs Bastholm told ATV: ‘Well, she came home about half past six, and had her tea, and sat in this corner, where I’m sitting and enjoyed the Bernie Winter show.

‘She went out about between 10 and quarter past seven with a carrier bag with a Monopoly set in to catch the 25 past bus at the end of Tuffley Avenue.

‘And that was the last we saw of her.’  

Officers cleared the basement of rubbish, picture frames and menus

Officers cleared the basement of rubbish, picture frames and menus

Officers dismantled the cellar’s fireplace and cleared the basement of rubbish, picture frames and menus with an archaeologist also brought in to help with the search for human remains

Rose West’s former solicitor Leo Goatley, who represented her for 12 years including at her 1995 trial for murdering ten girls and young women, and who also visited her in prison on dozens of occasions, alleged that Rose could have been involved in the disappearance in his 2019 book.

Mr Goatley claimed that Rose, who was 14, already knew Fred by then and this could have been her first homicide experience.

Mr Goatley wrote: ‘When Fred was remanded in custody at Winson Green, he told his son Stephen that he had killed Mary Bastholm.

‘She [Rose] was an accomplice, albeit a junior accomplice, who may not have been present at the time of dismemberment, but in all probability was present at the time of death. She knew he was a killer.’

Mr Goatley said that there was a consensus among experts that ‘it is more than likely that there were other unknown victims of the Wests’ reign of terror’. 

Schoolgirl Mary Bastholm served tea, cake and sandwiches in the Gloucester eaterie then called 'The Pop In' and now called 'The Clean Plate'

Schoolgirl Mary Bastholm served tea, cake and sandwiches in the Gloucester eaterie then called ‘The Pop In’ and now called ‘The Clean Plate’

A tent was placed outside 'The Clean Plate' cafe in Gloucester on May 11, where specialist teams and an archaeologist are scanning the basement for Fred West's missing victim

A tent was placed outside ‘The Clean Plate’ cafe in Gloucester on May 11, where specialist teams and an archaeologist are scanning the basement for Fred West’s missing victim 

Fred West had claimed there were 20 more victims, but did not give precise details of the location of other remains, other than to talk vaguely about a ‘farm’ where he would take his captives.

Mr Goatley writes: ‘It is my belief that when Fred talked of other victims who were buried at a ‘farm’ near Gloucester, this was his cryptic way of intimating that victims who were killed at Cromwell Street were then dismembered, put in sacks and bin liner bags, thrown on the back of a dustcart and unwittingly taken to Hempsted Tip [on the edge of the city]. To the Wests, Hempsted Tip was a farm.’

Pleading for Rose to break her silence in 2014, Peter Bastholm, Mary’s brother told Sky News: ‘I think Rose knows exactly what happened to Mary because I assume she and Fred discussed it between themselves. Whether she will ever disclose it, I really don’t know.

‘It would be a final act to find Mary’s body and lay it to rest after all these years, after all we have gone through.’ 

Fred West, who admitted killing 12 victims and may have murdered 20 more, was also said to have laid the concrete floor there just weeks before she disappeared 53 years ago

Fred West, who admitted killing 12 victims and may have murdered 20 more, was also said to have laid the concrete floor there just weeks before she disappeared 53 years ago

He told Sky News in 2014 that his wife had identified a silver locket on a chain that had been found at the West’s Cromwell Street House of Horrors as Mary’s which she had worn to their wedding as a bridesmaid.

Mr Bastholm said: ‘We had a photo of [the locket] and police took it away to examine, but because it was a black and white picture they said they could not tell if the locket was silver or gold, so nothing came of it. But it was exactly like the one found at Cromwell Street.’

In 2012, on the 44th anniversary of the disappearance of Mary, a petition was set up calling for Gloucestershire Police to search Mary’s remains at a cafe on Southgate Street. 

Chris Roberts, who set up the petition and knew Mary, believes West had installed a concrete floor as part of a basement toilet conversion at the cafe around the time of Mary’s disappearance.

His petition to search the building was rejected by Gloucester police in 2012, who said there was no new evidence to investigate. 

THE TRAGIC VICTIMS OF THE HOUSE OF HORRORS MURDERERS 

Although Fred West was convicted of killing 12 women and Rose 10, the pair are thought to have killed up to 20 more.

One victim who was almost certainly killed by West was his former girlfriend Anne McFall who like the others, was found in a shallow grave with body parts missing. West denied it.

The warped pair used whips to torture their victims as well as their own children. 

Fred West committed suicide by hanging himself in a prison cell in January 1995 — before he could stand trial for the murders.

Rose West is still a prisoner at HMP Low Newton in Durham, having been handed a rare ‘whole life tariff’ for her part in the killings. 

Confirmed victims include:

Charmaine West, eight: Fred West’s stepdaughter from his first marriage, Charmaine was murdered by Rose in 1971 while Fred was in prison.

Rena Costello, 27: Charmaine’s mother Rena, Fred’s first wife, was murdered when she arrived to pick up her daughter Charmaine in August 1971. With Charmaine already dead, it is thought Fred killed her to avoid an investigation.

Lynda Gough, 20: Miss Gough was a lodger in the West’s home and was killed in April 1973. Rose told her mother she had moved to Weston-super-Mare.

Carol Ann Cooper, 15: The teenager disappeared while walking home from the cinema to her Worcester children’s home in November 1973. Her remains were found buried in the Wests’ garden.

Lucy Partington, 21: After spending Christmas with her family in Cheltenham, Miss Partington disappeared after leaving to catch a bus. The student was the cousin of novelist Martin Amis and the sister of author Marian Partington.

Therese Siegenthaler, 22: The South London student was killed in April 1974 after disappearing while attempting to hitch-hike to Ireland.

Shirley Hubbard, 15: One of the Wests’ youngest victims, she disappeared on her way home from college in Droitwich. When her body was discovered, her head was completely covered in tape with a rubber tube placed in her mouth to allow her to breathe.

Juanita Mott, 18: Miss Mott, a former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street, was living in Newent when she vanished.

Shirley Robinson, 19: Another lodger, Miss Robinson was killed in 1978 after becoming pregnant with West’s child.

Alison Chambers, 17: The teenager disappeared in August 1979 and her remains were later found beneath the patio at 25, Cromwell Street.

Heather West, 17: Repeatedly raped by her father, Heather complained to friends about the abuse and was murdered by her parents in a bid to keep her quiet.


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