Eighth victim probably a lodger

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The Independent Online
POLICE are to dismantle the extension built by Frederick West at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, in their search for more bodies.

The remains of an eighth victim, believed to be a woman, like the other seven found at the house, were discovered six feet under the bathroom floor of the house yesterday. She may have been one of the many people who lodged at the terraced house which Mr West, a builder, ran as a cheap bed-and- breakfast hotel. Her body was buried under a wall which Mr West is understood to have built.

Yesterday all eight skeletons were being examined at Cardiff University by Professor Bernard Knight, a Home Office pathologist.

Police believe they are close to identifying seven of the eight bodies. Most are thought to be local women. However, the third body found, that of a woman in her twenties, remains unidentified and DNA tests and facial reconstruction will be used to identify her if necessary.

Work is due to continue inside the house today, the 13th day of digging. Police are still excavating the cellar and searching the ground floor, where radar tests have indicated that further bodies may be secreted. The garden, where three skeletons were found, was yesterday being infilled by contractors.

Mr West, 52, was charged on Monday with the murder of the first three women found at Cromwell Street. They were his 16-year-old daughter Heather, an 18-year-old lodger named Shirley Ann Robinson, and the unnamed woman in her twenties. He is being interviewed at Gloucester police station by pairs of detectives working in shifts.

There is no evidence that any of the victims had been mutilated before they died. Police said such information would emerge from pathology reports. Chief Inspector Colin Handy would not say whether any objects or traces of clothing had been found with their bones, but he did say the skeletons were whole when they were discovered.

Until work is completed at Cromwell Street the police search will not move to other houses in the Gloucester area where Mr West used to live.

The missing persons bureau in London yesterday reported nine sightings of Catherine Costello, Mr West's first wife - who has not been seen for more than 20 years. A spokeswoman said the calls came from all over Britain, but most had come from Scotland, where Mrs West was living before her marriage. Two weeks of hell, page 3

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