West charged with a ninth murder: Body is that of teenager who vanished 20 years ago

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The Independent Online
FREDERICK WEST has been charged with the murder of a teenager who disappeared from her home on a November night nearly 20 years ago.

Gloucestershire police said he had been charged with the murder of 15-year-old Carol Ann Cooper from Worcester.

The allegation relates to the ninth set of human remains found this month in the cellar area of Mr West's home in Cromwell Street, Gloucester. Mr West, 52, is already accused of eight murders relating to other remains uncovered in the garden, cellar and bathroom area of the three-storey semi-detached house. He is in custody awaiting a further court appearance.

Police yesterday emphasised that none of the nine sets of human remains had yet been formally identified. They said they were enlisting the help of a police artist and of a forensic expert, Richard Neave, of Manchester University, who is a specialist in facial reconstructions.

Officers believe two of the three bodies found in the garden were Heather West, the 16-year-old daughter of Mr West, and his pregnant lodger Shirley Robinson, 18. The third woman, thought to be a friend of Ms Robinson, has not been identified.

However, police are understood to know the identities of all six bodies found inside the house, five under the cellar floor and one under a bathroom.

Carol went missing from The Pines children's home in Bilton Road, Worcester. She had been spending a weekend in the Warndon area of the city with her grandmother. That afternoon she had been to the cinema with friends and later spent time with them at various places in the city.

Yesterday digging was continuing at 25 Cromwell Street, with the focus again on the cellar area where some excavations have reached a depth of nine feet.

The searchers were also examining the fabric of a large rear extension. Superintendent John Bennett said he did not think they would complete the search before 28 March.

After the cellar dig and a search of the ground floor was completed, they planned to remove the extension gradually. They would not move from Cromwell Street until they were satisfied there were no further remains to be found. Supt Bennett said they would then move to Kempley on the county border with Hereford and Worcester to begin a search of a field.

Supt Bennett said he was having frequent meetings with Professor Bernard Knight of Cardiff University - a leading Home Office pathologist - and Dr David Whitaker, a forensic dental specialist. The police were also working closely with the Home Office forensic science laboratory at Chepstow.

The police artist Bob Wilcox, a detective constable with the Warwickshire force, was also assisting with the identification process.

The Gloucestershire inquiry team had contacted Richard Neave of Manchester University about the possibility of using his expertise in facial reconstruction if it was considered appropriate.

(Photograph omitted)