Police continue excavation work at cafe where teenager worked as waitress before disappearance in 1968
Fred West’s official biographer has said he “never doubted” the serial killer murdered Mary Bastholm – and suggested he may have even confessed to his own mother.
Geoffrey Wansell believes the 15-year-old, who went missing in Gloucester on 6 January 1968, may have been one of West’s earliest victims.
Police have begun excavation work at a cafe where the missing teenager once worked as a waitress after a documentary crew found what appeared to be a piece of blue material in the cellar.
Forensic archaeologists have also confirmed a number of structural anomalies within the basement, as well as six voids in the floor, which will be examined.
Mr Wansell, who was appointed West’s authorised biographer shortly after the killer took his own life in prison, said he thought it was “highly possible” investigators might finally find Mary’s remains.
He told The Independent: “I’ve always believed West had indeed killed Mary Bastholm, I’ve never doubted it.
“The only thing we didn’t have was any remains, whereas for the 12 other victims there were remains for each and every one of them but none for Mary.
“I just hope and pray we might finally find some remains if only to give the family closure.”
Mary was wearing blue clothes when she was last seen at a bus stop in Bristol Road – about two-and-half miles from the Pop-In cafe, now called The Clean Plate, and less than two miles from Fred West’s home at 25 Cromwell Street.
Fred West and his wife Rose West, who was also convicted of multiple murders, never admitted any involvement in Mary’s disappearance.
But Mr Wansell suggested Fred West’s mother, Daisy, may have known something.
“I’ve always found it interesting that precisely one month later Fred West’s mother Daisy West died at the age of just 44 of a sudden heart attack,” he said.
“Do you think perhaps that West might have confessed to his mother? I’ve always wondered, because I’ve always believed and I’ve never doubted West killed Mary Bastholm.”
The biographer said West may have met Mary while she was working at the cafe, which was the sort of place he would have felt comfortable
“It was just a basic greasy spoon on a little street in Gloucester – very much the sort of place Fred would have felt at home in,” he said.
“He didn’t like anything smart; he was always grubby, a tiny little grubby man with curly hair.
“He would’ve enjoyed the company, particularly if there was a young part-time waitress. Mary Bastholm would have been to Fred West a tasty morsel to be consumed.”
West could barely read and write but possessed “magnificent neuro linguistic skill” and was an “archetypal groomer”, according to his biographer.
“He was preying on young people, young women, who were naïve, vulnerable, and he would appear to be their best friend – and Mary Bastholm would have been exactly the same,” he said.
“I can hear Fred in my mind. He would have drawn up at the bus stop in the van or car and he would’ve wound the window down and said ‘Oh Mary, nice to see you, where are you going? Can I give you a lift?’ And Mary Bastholm already knew him from the cafe would not have worried for a minute because he seemed to be the most harmless little man.
“The truth of course was that he was absolutely the opposite; he was the epitome of evil and wickedness. He was a devious, manipulative, cruel serial killer – but she wouldn’t have seen that.”
The police probe at The Clean Plate in Gloucester continues and could last for several weeks.