British police on Tuesday said they were beginning excavations in the hunt for a missing teenager who may be a victim of one of the country’s most notorious serial killers.
A forensic team has begun exploratory work at a cafe in Gloucester, western England, after police were given information possibly linking the site with 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who was last seen in January 1968.
Fred West, who killed himself in jail in 1995 while awaiting trial accused of 12 murders, including his 16-year-old daughter and eight-year-old stepdaughter, is said to have confessed to killing Bastholm to his son.
The 52-year-old builder’s wife, Rosemary, now 67, is serving life in prison without possibility of parole for 10 of the murders.
The remains of their victims, many of whom had been tortured and held in sexual bondage, were in 1994 found dismembered in the garden, basement and floors of the Wests’ home in Gloucester and their former houses in nearby towns.
A television company told Gloucestershire Police they had found what appeared to be blue material buried in cellar of the Clean Plate cafe.
Bastholm was wearing a blue coat when she last seen in January 1968.
“The analysis from our experts and the material provided by the production company means there is enough evidence to justify excavation work beginning,” said Detective Chief Inspector John Turner.
“I’ve spoken to the family and was so impressed by their quiet dignity and gratitude for all the work we’ve done and will be doing.
“They understand it is possible we won’t find human remains but they also know that we will do everything we can to establish if Mary is buried at this location.
“This will be slow and painstaking work.”
Bastholm’s family said they were “extremely happy” about the search, adding it gave them “a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.”
West was a builder who often did jobs in the city.