Fred and Rose West victims: are there more unexplained disappearances – who else could have been killed?

Forensic archaeologists are carrying out work at a cafe in Gloucester where the body of a suspected teenage victim of Fred West may be buried

Mary Bastholm, who was 15 when she was reported missing on January 6 1968, has never been found (Photo: PA)

Excavation work continues at a cafe in Gloucester after police found “possible evidence” of where a suspected teenage victim of serial killer Fred West may be buried.

Forensic archaeologists have been undertaking exploratory work at the Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street in connection with the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm who was last seen alive in January 1968.

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The force had received possible evidence to suggest the body of the missing teenager could be buried there from an ITV production looking into claims that Fred and Rose West had more victims than those they were charged and convicted over.

A police-issued photograph of Fred West (Photo: PA)

The Mary Bastholm case is explored in the documentary Fred and Rose West: The Search for the Victims, which airs on Channel 5 tonight (7 June) at 9pm.

But are there other victims out there who are yet to be discovered?

Here is everything you need to know.

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What was Mary Bastholm’s story?

Bastholm went missing on her way to catch a bus to visit her boyfriend in Gloucester in January 1968, with serial killer Fred West previously suspected over Bastholm’s disappearance.

Her going missing came at a time when West, who often did jobs in the street where she worked as a waitress in a cafe, was abducting girls in Gloucester.

Bastholm’s body was not found during the 1994 excavation of the West’s home, now known as the “House of Horrors”, on Cromwell Street in Gloucester.

In a statement, police said West had been interviewed for a total of 110 hours and had denied murdering Mary, and defended the decision in 2012 not to excavate the cafe, as there was “insufficient evidence” the teenager was buried there.

West is said to have confessed, in conversation with his son Stephen, to killing Mary, but never admitted it to police.

The ITV production team, who have been in contact with Bastholm’s family, are looking into claims that Fred and Rose West had more victims beyond those they were charged and convicted over.

Family liaison officers have now been put in place to provide support and updates to Bastholm’s family. The teenager’s family requested “privacy” so they can can “grieve for Mary”.

A statement released on behalf of Bastholm’s family said: “We are aware of the ongoing developments around Mary’s disappearance and are being kept up to date and supported by Gloucestershire Police family liaison officers.”

Are there other victims?

Fred West was charged with 12 murders in 1995, and in the same year, his second wide Rose was convicted of murdering 10 young girls and women.

Police do believe the Wests were responsible for further unsolved murders and disappearances, and during formal questioning, Fred is said to have confessed to murdering up to 30 people.

If that were to be the case, that would mean an added 18 undiscovered victims on top of the ones authorities already know about.

But could Fred's testimony be trusted? Or was he just boasting?

A criminal psychologist who analysed Fred's behaviour during 100s of hours of police interviews said the killer’s blasé manner indicated he had committed so many offences over such a long period of time, he had become indifferent to his acts.

So it is possible he may have been telling the truth, and was able to confess so matter-of-factly to an unimaginable number of crimes in such a numb manner, having become numb to their nature.

Who else could have been his victim?

Four young women similar in age and physical characteristics to those Fred was later charged with murdering in Gloucestershire are known to have disappeared during the time Fred lived in Glasgow.

One of them, Margaret McAvoy, had been acquainted with Fred via his employment as an ice cream van driver, and according to a neighbour, Fred had rented a garden allotment adjacent to his house.

Only a small section of this plot was ever cultivated, mainly in the early hours of the morning, and the neighbour claimed Fred remarked that he used the remainder of the allotment for "something special".

He refused to elaborate on this subject.

Police were unable to investigate whether any further bodies were buried at this location, as it was built over in the 70s in the construction of the M8 motorway.

When is Fred and Rose West: The Search for the Victims on TV?

Fred and Rose West: The Search for the Victims airs on Channel 5 at 9pm on 7 June.

The documentary is in two parts, with part two airing tomorrow (8 June) on Channel 5 at 9pm.

The first episode is an hour and half long.

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