ROSE WEST – THE UNPRINTED INTERVIEW – Friday, 25 February 1994
Here is the transcript of a police interview with Rosemary West (RW), conducted by Detective Sergeant Terence Onions (TO) of Gloucestershire Constabulary in what was to become known as the House of Horrors – 25 Cromwell Street, in Gloucester – on 24 February 1994.
At this stage of the investigation, police were still searching for Heather West, Fred and Rose’s daughter. Tragic Heather’s dismembered body was discovered two days after this interview took place; Heather had been buried beneath a patio in the garden behind the House of Horrors at 25 Cromwell Street.
The interview gives an insight into the chilling mind of the serial killer housewife. Remember, she is being questioned about the disappearance of her own daughter, who she has already murdered – along with nine other young women.
RW: You don’t know who I am ? Mrs West. Rosemary.
TO: You’re not under arrest.
RW: If I’m not under arrest, why am I here ?
TO: We have come here to talk to you about your daughter Heather. We are concerned about her, where she might be. As we interview you about your daughter’s disappearance, I had better caution you, which means you are not obliged to say anything. What is she in the family line ?
RW: My first one.
TO: When was she born ?
RW: 17 October 1970.
TO: Tell me when you last saw her.
RW: Before she left home.
TO: And when did she leave home ?
RW: I don’t know. A long time ago.
TO: Do you remember what year ?
RW: She was almost 17, I know that much.
TO: We are talking seven years ago. . . about 1987. Do you remember what month it was ? Spring ? Summer ?
RW: I can’t remember.
TO: What were the causes of her going, then ?
RW: Lots of things really. Mainly I suppose because she was unhappy.
TO: What was the reason. . . she wasn’t happy . . .
RW: I don’t know. We had problems with her at school, things like that.
TO: Was she in school ?
RW: She was nearly 17 so she had left school.
TO: Could she have left at Christmas or did she carry on until the Summer ?
RW: I would say it was the Summer.
TO: What sort of problems did she bring you from school ?
RW: Having arguments with the teachers. . . she got suspended and the headmaster said ‘we are not going to expel her’ and that was that.
TO: What school was that ?
RW: Hucclecote [in Gloucester].
TO: What was the build-up to her leaving ?
RW: She just didn’t seem to want to settle down here.
TO: Was it a sudden thing ?
RW: She told everybody where she was living. She told all her friends that.
TO: Who were her friends then ?
RW: I don’t know.
TO: How do you know she told her school friends ?
RW: She said she was after a job somewhere or other. I believe that fell through.
TO: Did you ask her what she was going to do ? What are your feelings towards your children ?
RW: Well, I love them – what do you think ? I’m afraid we didn’t hit it off that well.
TO: Surely you asked what she did to her father ? It sounds as if she didn’t take you into her confidence. Surely you would then ask him how she was going to get on ?
RW: I left him some money. Look. . .she just wouldn’t talk to me.
TO: How much money ?
RW: I gathered up as much as I had at the time. In the region of £600 I think. I drew it all out. It was bills money, I think.
TO: On a day in ’87 then. Have you still got the same account ?
TO: Which account, do you remember ?
TO: No. I gave it to my husband. I had shopping to do that day. Things were pretty tricky. She said she would speak to him and sort things out. I went and did my shopping and when I came back she had gone. I remember saying to her ‘are you going to sort it out ?’
TO: How are you going to sort what out ?
RW: I don’t know. . .what she was going to do, I suppose.
TO: Was there any row before she left ?
RW: I suppose there must have been raised voices. I don’t know, I was upset. She said she didn’t want to stay.
TO: You tried to persuade her to stay, did you ?
RW: I said ‘what are you going to do ?’ I had a problem with her because I knew what she was. That was what made it tricky with the other children. She was a lesbian, as far as I know.
TO: She was a very young girl. How did you know that ? You had a picture in your mind of what a lesbian was like and she fitted it ?
RW: That’s right. One particular incident, her uncle was talking to her. He said to her about boyfriends or something and he said, you know, you had better watch it like, because they get up to tricky things. She said ‘if any boy put his hand on my knee I’d put a f***ing brick over his head’.
TO: That doesn’t particularly mean she was a lesbian. What made you think she was definitely a lesbian ?
RW: In the infants school, she knew exactly what kind of knickers the woman teacher had on.
TO: It sounds as if you are annoyed.
RW: The only reason it annoys me is because I believe to cut off communication between me and her. Teenagers disagree with their parents. I know Mae is very close to her father.
TO: The night before there were raised voices and it was about that, was it ? ‘You are a lesbian’ ?
RW: I couldn’t talk to her. There was no communication. She said she would talk to her father. That was it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it bloody drink. She was a stubborn girl – you ask the rest of the family. She didn’t want to do her own washing. From what was going around at school, so I can gather, she had obviously had it planned for some time. I left her to talk to her father and went and did some shopping.
TO: As regards the bank account, we would like to find out if there’s some fact in your story. £600 is a lot of money. If it was me, considering that was a really stressful time for me, my first one moving away and then I went to the bank to make sure she had some money, I would know which bank. . .
RW: I was upset at the time. I was upset. . .what do you think ? I’m a f***ing computer ? In the last 18 months, I have had f***ing hell. What more do you want ?
TO: I’m trying to find out if Heather is still alive.
RW: If you had any brains at all, you could find her. It can’t be that difficult.
TO: We could actually pinpoint the day she went – from your account. What did she take with her ?
RW: I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
TO: Did you go and look in her bedroom ?
TO: Have you seen her since ?
TO: Have you heard from her since ?
RW: No. She obviously doesn’t want us any more, does she ?
TO: How did she get from here ?
RW: I don’t know ?
TO: Did you go and ask her schoolfriends ? Did you ask them why she had gone ?
TO: What inquiries have you made ?
RW: When you have brought up a girl like that and you have done everything and then they turn round and turn their back on you, that’s it. She didn’t want to know me.
TO: Teenage and parent trouble is our business. It’s a part in everybody’s life.
RW: All I put it down to is that I don’t agree with what she is doing. That’s obvious. She has always been an obstinate child. She didn’t want to do anything that anybody else was doing. She left school and she just sat in the chair.
TO: Did she give you any idea where she was going ?
TO: Has she told Fred ?
TO: What did she say to him ?
RW: I don’t know. Ask him.
TO: You must have asked him. Has Fred seen her lately ?
RW: I know he had several phone call off her.
TO: Were they chatting at length ? The reason why we have come round here is because there have been extensive inquiries since the inquiry two years ago and from that inquiry came Heather – nobody knew where she was, or whatever. Since then, checks have been done – marriages, deaths, nationwide. her national insurance number stops with you from birth to death. They are not all-consuming and she could have gone away and changed her identity completely. Possibly. But she wasn’t particularly streetwise. She hasn’t contacted – to our knowledge – another living person. Tomorrow there will be a lot of officers out there, digging that garden. If you can point us in any direction as to where she could be. Even if you can say she is anywhere in the world, it would be cheaper than having the inquiry going on. If you know where she is, I beg of you to tell us. Have you any idea where she is ?
TO: When she was 16, what did you used to do on your birthday, or Christmas or Fred’s birthday. Did she get you a card or a present ?
RW: Yes. . .she did when she was little.
TO: What about the first Christmas after she had gone ? Was that an emotional time for you ?
RW: What do you think ? We didn’t hear bloody nothing.
TO: Why didn’t you report her to the police ?
RW: So I have got to snitch on my own daughter ?
TO: Why do you say snitch ?
RW: Well, she’s obviously doing what she wants to do.
TO: You think she’s gone away to be a lesbian ?
TO: How did you used to punish her when she was naughty ?
RW: I just sent her to bed.
TO: Did Fred hit her ?
TO: What about being hit with household implements ?
RW: Oh, we’re back to this one. Look, just drop that one. That ain’t going nowhere. I’ve had all those charges put on me and they were dropped.
TO: I don’t know anything about that. What about the rumours of where she is ? What rumours have you heard about where she is ? Can you tell us ?
RW: She wouldn’t tell me, would she ?
TO: Have you heard the children saying she is under the patio ?
RW: Anna said something. . .
TO: Who’s Anna ?
RW: The big girl. She said that.
TO: The whole patio will be dug up – the garden and everything. If she is under there . . .
RW: There’s nothing you will stop at, is there ?
TO: I’m a bit of a sceptic. I’ve been in the job 19 years. One of the hazards of the job is that people tend to lie to us. So you will have to forgive me for being a sceptic.
RW: You are going to have to excuse me for being a sceptic as well. You think I would just turn my back and forget that I have those kids ?
TO: What we are talking about now is Heather. If you know she is underneath the patio or the floor or whatever. . .
RW: Look, the house is yours. Have it. Do what you are going to do.
TO: So where did Anna get the feeling that Heather is under the patio from, hey ?
RW: Go and ask her. I haven’t spoken to her for years.
TO: Why haven’t you spoken to her ?
RW: Because she gave us a load of hassle when she grew up. There’s no stopping them. They just go and do what they like. All you get afterwards is this sort of crap.
TO: You resent the fact that your children grew up ? A lot of people say that the best time of their lives is when their children are small.
RW: I kept them clean and fit and took them to school. They never wanted for nothing.
TO: When did you hear Anna say Heather was under the patio ?
RW: I didn’t take any notice of her.
TO: In a family argument, Anna Marie says Heather is under the patio ?
RW: I don’t know. I was in the police station.
TO: Well, you’re in your home now, you can relax.
RW: Oh, relax, yes. . . (crying)
TO: Do you not want to find Heather ? You are portraying yourself as a loving mother. If my daughter was 16 and had a blazing row and packed her clothes up and she went off, my wife and myself would not rest until we knew where she was, how she was, who she was with. Natural parental instinct. The condition of that money would have been ‘tell us where you are’. Did she promise you anything like that ?
RW: Yes, so my husband said.
TO: Do you think she is alive ?
RW: Well, why not ? Unless something horrible has happened to her. Come on – hundreds of thousands of kids go missing.
TO: Heather has disappeared for some seven years without a telephone call, without contacting any person whom she had known, without any activity as regards marriage, employment. . .
RW: There must be something somewhere. You have just missed it, that’s all.
TO: Then there’s you painting a picture of her as a negative girl. She was just a couch potato type of girl. Then here she is, she abdons her family, friends, without trace. If you knew where she was, would you tell us ?
RW: I don’t know.
TO: We are spending extensive resources.
RW: That’s your privilege.
TO: It’s our duty. We have got to find out where Heather is. It’s a mystery.
RW: It’s only a mystery because you want it to be a mystery.
TO: What are your feelings for women who are lesbians ?
RW: It doesn’t affect me, does it ?
TO: I get the impression it did affect you.
RW: You get the impression I was worried about the other children.
TO: Did Heather have many friends ?
RW: She had friends, yes.
TO: Who were her main friends ?
RW: I don’t know who they were. Indian girls, some of them, I think.
TO: From school ?
RW: From school.
TO: How long ago did she leave after leaving school ? Christmas ? Easter ?
RW: I honestly don’t remember. Look, you see, they don’t just leave school. They go backwards and forwards, doing exams and all that crap.
TO: It’s just a strange jumble altogether, really, isn’t it ? When was the patio put down ?
RW: I can’t remember. I don’t know, I told you.
TO: Was it 25 years ago ?
RW: We weren’t here 25 years ago.
TO: When did you move into here ?
RW: When Mae was about three months.
TO: Was it in the last two years ?
RW: I don’t know.
TO: Was it before Heather left ?
RW: I can’t remember.
TO: Was it at the time that Heather disappeared ?
RW: I told you, I can’t remember. I can’t remember when it was laid. I just can’t remember.
TO: Whether she is under the patio is neither here nor there. I’m sure if we found Heather alive and well, you would love to see her.
SECOND INTERVIEW, 25 FEBRUARY 1994
In which the net closes in on Rose West. Police held the trump card from the outset – unknown to her, Fred West had already confessed to the murder of their daughter Heather. By the end of the interview, skillfully outmanoeuvred by Detective Sergeant Terence Onions, Rose West is in tears. She knows the game is up.
DS Terence Onions: You were arrested by myself and other officers on suspicion of the murder of your daughter Heather, who disappeared about 1986/87. You were interviewed, but not about that. Can you just go over the circumstances of when Heather left your house ?
Rose West: You ask the questions, I’ll try and answer them.
TO: What time of year did she move away ?
RW: Summer. About June, I think.
TO: What was the build-up to her leaving ?
RW: How far back do you want me to go ?
TO: She suddenly just went, didn’t she ? What was the reason for that ?
RW: I’m not sure of the reasons for her going.
TO: How old was she ?
RW: Coming on 17.
TO: Was she in employment ?
TO: And she wasn’t at school ?
TO: When had she left school ?
RW: This, honestly, I can’t remember.
TO: What sort of girl was Heather then ? Physically, first of all.
RW: A bit shorter than me. I’m about 5’4”, I think.
TO: You said she was darker than you. . .
TO: What sort of build was she ? How heavy would she be ?
RW: About eight stone.
TO: Let’s talk about the sort of girl she was in terms of personality.
RW: Quiet, liked to be different to everybody else. She tried to do the opposite of everybody else.
TO: Was she a problem in the house ?
RW: She didn’t go along with what the rest were doing ?
TO: What about her attitude towards boys ?
RW: Didn’t get on with her brother much.
TO: Did you have any doubts about her sexual orientation ?
RW: Well, yes. I thought she might be a lesbian. Certain events of her life. She went on camp and they were camping, I believe, in the hills somewhere and the other children returned but Heather didn’t. As far as we can gather, she had gone off to meet someone. They put a search out to look for her. And she said she didn’t like male teachers, so they suspended her from school for the trouble. The headmaster wouldn’t have her expelled. She wasn’t given male teachers and she was happy with that.
TO: Anything else ?
RW: Something she said to her uncle one time. He was telling her about boys – you’ve got to watch them, they put their hand on your knee. She had a pretty extreme reaction as far as he was concerned. . . if he had his hand on my leg I would put a brick on his head.
TO: It was these things that made you think she had lesbian tendencies. Did this cause friction with you and her father ?
RW: No. We were only worried about the rest of the children.
TO: Did you discuss this with Heather ?
RW: I couldn’t.
TO: Was it just an impression on your part that she may have been a lesbian ?
RW: I don’t think so now. It was a lot of people’s opinion.
TO: You mentioned that the day she went, you got some money out.
RW: I know. It was about £600.
TO: Any idea of the account you held at the time ? Did you ask Fred what happened to this money ?
RW: He said he gave it her.
TO: What about her leaving ? Were you there when she left ? Did you have any conversation about her leaving ?
RW: I must have.
TO: At what stage did you know she was leaving ?
RW: She had had a job offer in Devon somewhere.
TO: Was it her decision to leave, initially, and how long before she left had she made the decision to leave ?
RW: Members of the family believe she had it planned for quite a while.
TO: Who did she mention it to ?
RW: I get the gist that she was determined to go because she had had this job offer and it had fallen through and she had been crying all night because she didn’t get it.
TO: Who told you that ?
RW: I think it was Stephen.
TO: How do you understand the physical leaving taking place ?
RW: I can’t remember.
TO: Did she go with anybody ?
RW: I can’t remember.
TO: This is your own eldest child.
TO: So it was quite a traumatic event.
RW: That’s right.
TO: Have you seen her since that day ? Have you got any inkling where she might be ?
RW: She was going down to Devon and she was going to get a job with the company, no matter how long it took her.
TO: What company was this ?
RW: Don’t know.
TO: Did she say at any stage who she was going away with ?
RW: No, not to me. I got the idea Fred was not going to tell me anything even if I did ask. She asked him not to tell me.
TO: To the average bystander, it’s a very odd scenario; to suddenly disappear and not to make any inquiries must be very disturbing.
RW: She had promised to write, which we were waiting for. That never came to light either.
TO: You have never done anything to find out where she might be ?
RW. Nothing. As far as I’m concerned, she left home of her own accord.
TO: Has her dad made any inquiries ?
RW: Once a child does cut you off, there’s not a lot you are going to be able to do to get her back. We did that with Anna Marie. Anna Marie left home four times.
TO: Anna Marie is Fred’s daughter and your adopted daughter ? How old is she ?
RW: She is 10 years younger than me.
TO: And you are 40, are you ? So she was quite a lot older than Heather. What did Fred say to you before he left this morning ? He left with the police, didn’t he ?
RW: Just before we came here, you mean ?
TO: He asked to speak to you.
RW: He told me to go upstairs and stay out of the way and he would sort something out.
TO: Yesterday I interviewed Mae and Stephen. I interviewed you. Fred was interviewed by Hazel Savage [another interviewing officer]. What sort of interview took place when you were all back home together ?
RW: That she must be around somewhere. We were getting some publicity out of what was going to happen, that we were going to come out in the news. we thought she might contact us.
TO: What about the rumours of the patio ? How did that come out initially ?
RW: I don’t know how it came out. It was something in passing I heard when I was being interviewed. There was a family argument between Anna Marie, her boyfriend and Mae. I don’t remember if Stephen was there.
TO: The five younger children, which are sadly in care – most knew about the patio story. They said it came from gossip and neighbours in the street. You say it came from Anna Marie. Stephen says it comes from the last time the police were at the house when the child abuse inquiry was going on. Was the patio mentioned last night ?
RW: Obviously we talked. We were just wanting for them to do their job and go away.
TO: What was talked about ?
RW: We hoped they were going to put it back the way they found it.
TO: There was no decision about the fate of Heather then ?
RW: Fred has seen her in Birmingham. He has seen her in Bristol.
TO: You believe him ?
RW: So he says.
TO: Do you believe him ?
RW: I’ve got no reason not to.
TO: When was the last time he said he saw Heather ? It was in quite unusual circumstances, I would have thought. It must be a major thing and I would be expecting him to tell her mother.
RW: He saw her when he was in Birmingham.
TO: Is that what you are saying ? And what were the circumstances ? How long ago was it ?
RW: He was on bail.
TO: He had to go up there and stay away from the family. . . when was that ?
RW: Well, I haven’t seen the children for about 18 months, so it must have been about then.
TO: So Fred saw her quite recently ? What did she look like ?
RW: He told me she looked rough.
TO: What was she actually doing ? Fred said she was driving a car – do you remember him saying that ? Do you remember what type of car he said she was driving ?
TO: So you don’t remember any of that ?
TO: Why do you think you’ve been arrested today ? For the most grave of offences. There has been a major development this morning. Fred has confessed to murdering Heather.
RW: What ? So you know where she is ?
TO: He has told us where she is ?
RW: So she is dead, is that right ?
TO: Fred has confessed to murdering Heather.
RW: What ?
TO: And that automatically implicates you.
RW: (Crying) Why does it automatically implicate me ?
TO: Our suspicions are aroused that you are implicated in it.