Rose was judged to have murdered her 8-year-old stepdaughter, Charmaine, in 1971. Her husband, Fred, who committed suicide in prison while awaiting trial, is believed to have collaborated with her in the torture and murder of at least nine young women between 1973 and 1987. The majority of these murders were committed at the couple’s home, 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester.
Rosemary Letts was born in Northam, Devon to William Andrew “Bill” Letts (25 February 1921 – 24 May 1979) and Daisy Gwendoline Fuller (1919 –) after a difficult pregnancy. She was the fifth of seven children born into a poor family. Rose’s mother suffered from depression and was given ECT while pregnant; some have argued that this treatment may have caused prenatal injuries to her daughter. Rose herself grew up into a moody and precocious teenager, prone to daydreaming and performing poorly at school.
Rose’s parents separated when she was a teenager. She lived with her mother and attended Cleeve School for six months, later moving in with her father at the age of 16 in Bishop’s Cleeve, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; her father, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was prone to extreme violence and repeatedly sexually abused her and her oldest sister Patricia.
At the onset of puberty, Rose, reportedly fascinated by her developing body, would deliberately parade naked or semi-naked around the house in the presence of her younger brother, Graham (born 1957). On numerous occasions, at the age of 13, she would also creep into 9-year-old Graham’s bed at nightfall and molest him and her youngest brother Gordon. Rose also sexually assaulted Graham when he was 12 years old.
Meeting Fred West Edit
Rose first encountered Fred West in early 1969, shortly after her 15th birthday; he was 27. The pair first met at Cheltenham bus station. Initially, Rose was repulsed by Fred’s unkempt appearance, and deduced he was a tramp, but she quickly became flattered by the attention he continued to lavish on her over the following days as he invariably sat alongside her at the same bus stop. Rose twice refused to go on a date with Fred, but allowed him to accompany her home.
Having discovered Rose worked in a nearby bread shop, a few days after their first encounter, Fred persuaded an unknown woman to enter the premises and present her with a gift accompanied by the explanation that a “man outside” had asked her to present this gift to her. Minutes later, Fred entered the premises and asked Rose to accompany him on a date that evening; an offer she accepted. Shortly thereafter, Rose began a relationship with Fred, becoming a frequent visitor at the caravan park where he lived with the two children from his first marriage, daughter Anna Marie and stepdaughter Charmaine. Rose became a willing childminder to Fred’s daughters, whom she noted were neglected and whom she initially treated with care and affection. On several occasions in the early days of their courtship, Rose insisted she and Fred take the girls on excursions to gather wild flowers.
Within weeks of her first meeting Fred, Rose left her job at the bread shop in order to become the full-time nanny to Charmaine and Anna Marie; this decision was made with the agreement that Fred would provide her with sufficient money to give to her parents on Fridays to convince them she was still obtaining a salary at the bread shop. Several months later, Rose introduced Fred to her family, who were aghast at their daughter’s choice of partner. Rose’s mother, Daisy Letts, was unimpressed with Fred’s braggadocio, and correctly concluded he was a pathological liar; her father vehemently disapproved of the relationship, threatening Fred directly and promising to call social services if he continued to date his daughter.
Rose’s parents forbade their daughter from continuing to date Fred, but she defied their wishes, prompting them to visit Gloucestershire social services to explain that their 15-year-old daughter was dating an older man, and that they had heard rumours that she had begun to engage in prostitution at Fred’s caravan. In response, Rose was placed in a home for troubled teenagers in Cheltenham in August 1969.