"A Family affair"
"A Family affair"
Given that the West’s vicious sex acts did not result in murder every time, and the sheer number of attacks, it was inevitable that someone would expose their activities, which resulted in them coming to the attention of Detective Constable Hazel Savage, who led a search at Cromwell Street in August of 1992 that found pornography and clear evidence of child abuse. West was arrested for rape and sodomy of a minor, and Rose for assisting in the rape of a minor.
In the course of the investigation DC Savage uncovered the abuse of Anne-Marie, as well as the disappearances of Charmaine and Heather, which warranted further investigation, as well as rumours about what might be buried under the patio. The younger West children were taken into care, and Rose attempted suicide at this time, although she was found by her son, Stephen, and revived.
The case against the Wests collapsed when two key witnesses decided not to testify against them, but DC Savage continued to pursue her search for Heather, questioning the West children repeatedly, but they had been well trained by their abusive parents and failed to cooperate.
On 24 February 1994 a warrant was obtained to search the Cromwell Street house and garden, and police found the remains of two dismembered and decapitated young women, one of whom the police suspected might be Shirley Robinson. West claimed sole responsibility for the murders and, when Rose heard of the confession, she denied all knowledge of Heather’s death.
Then, inexplicably, West admitted the presence of the bodies in the cellar to the police, who discovered the remains of nine individuals. Establishing the identities of each victim was a mammoth task.
Continuing in his spirit of cooperation, West revealed the whereabouts of the remains of first wife Rena, lover MacFall and daughter Charmaine, who were all buried away from the Cromwell Street house.
As the case against them developed, Rose tried increasingly to distance herself from West, claiming that she was also a victim, but police were not convinced of her innocence, given the sheer number of murders which had occurred, and her participation in the rapes.
On 13 December 1994, West was charged on twelve counts of murder, and he was taken into custody at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, pending trial where, on 1 January 1995, he hanged himself in his cell with knotted bed sheets.