Second garden body identified: Police baffled over remains of third woman

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The Independent Online
DETECTIVES investigating the discovery of three bodies in the back garden of a house in Gloucester are still unable to identify the remains of one woman.

The police have been carrying out an intensive operation scouring the missing persons lists of forces around the country. Yesterday they were able to name one body as that of Shirley Robinson, 18, who was pregnant when she died.

Frederick West, 52, a builder, is due to appear before Gloucester magistrates today charged with her murder between 1 January 1972 and 27 February 1994 and the unidentified woman, who was in her early twenties, between the same dates. He is also charged with the murder of his daughter Heather, 16, who disappeared in 1987.

Detective Superintendent John Bennett said Shirley Robinson had lived at 25 Cromwell Street as a lodger for a 'prolonged' period within the last 15 years. Ms Robinson had been living in Gloucester for some time before her death, but had also lived in Leicestershire and Bristol.

Efforts to trace any of her relatives living in this country had so far proved fruitless and he appealed for anyone who knew the woman, who had not been reported missing, to come forward. Det Supt Bennett said he had no clues as to the father of the child the woman was carrying but refused to rule out the possibility that DNA testing might be used to see if Mr West could be responsible. The officer said he had no evidence to link Ms Robinson with the other, unidentified, dead woman and declined to discuss speculation that they may have been prostitutes.

He also disclosed that during the day, documentation had been removed from Cromwell Street in order to help with the understanding of the West family history. But he said that no other premises were being searched and he had no plans to do so.

Mr West and his wife Rosemary, 40, were arrested last Friday after a tip-off from a teenage girl which led to the discovery of a body thought to be that of Heather on Saturday. Mrs West was given police bail on Sunday and is thought to be staying with relatives.

Specialist search teams resumed digging for the sixth day in the 40ft by 15ft garden of the Victorian end of terrace house yesterday to try to find further clues about the women.

However, a police spokesman said that while they expected to continue digging in the garden and conducting a thorough search of the house, which has a trap door leading to a cellar, they had no reason to believe they would discover any further bodies.

Det Supt Bennett also revealed that he had sought the help of a forensic psychologist in an effort to build up a picture of Mr West's character.

The team of more than 30 detectives has also been conducting inquiries, mainly outside the Gloucestershire area. They had contacted the National Missing Persons Helpline, a charity set up to help the relatives of those who have disappeared.

(Photograph omitted)