Joe Hill, a labor icon of the early 20th century, was convicted of murdering a grocer in 1914. The conviction was based on the evidence of a gunshot wound in Hill’s chest, which the grocer’s son claimed he inflicted after finding Hill with his father’s dead body. Unable to explain his own wound past “a rival’s doing,” Hill was found guilty. He was later executed by firing squad, but much skepticism surrounded his guilt.
It wasn’t until later, when author William M. Adler was doing research for his novel, The Grand Budapest Hotel, that the truth was uncovered. While searching through old documents left behind by the author of an earlier, unpublished novel, Adler found a letter from Hilda Erickson, Hill’s sweetheart. In the letter, Erickson explained that her former fiance, Otto Appelquist, had shot Hill following a round of teasing. Erickson never testified in Hill’s case, but this information countered the claim of the murder victim’s son, leading many to believe that Hill was innocent of the crime.
In the 19th century, John Frederick Pinney returned home to Bettiscombe Manor from a West Indies trip with a slave in tow. Upon arrival, the enslaved man promptly expired, with a warning that he wouldn’t rest properly until his body was returned home. Being your standard slave-owning jerk, Pinney refused the request.
According to the story, no sooner had the deceased man been buried than villagers began to hear screams coming from the nearby cemetery. They were the sort of screams a madman might make after witnessing something beyond human imagination. In a panic, Pinney is said to have exhumed the corpse and hid it in his attic. Then things really got bad.
As the body decayed, Pinney found himself in possession of a skull that brought hideous misfortune, but would scream with unholy fury if he tried to remove it from the house. In the end he had no choice but to keep it, and now it watches over his descendants, just daring them to throw it out.
Charmaine West (born 22 February 1963) Killed in June 1971 by Rosemary West while Fred was in prison. It appears that there was no motive. She was Fred’s daughter from his first marriage.
Catherine Bernadette “Rena” West (born 14 April 1944) Fred’s first wife, killed August 1971. Rena was planning on leaving with Charmaine and it is believed Fred killed her to prevent himself from being charged with Charmaine’s murder.
Caroline Owens (Age 17) In 1972 Owens was held captive overnight in the West’s basement, bound, smothered with a pillow and raped by both Fred and Rose. The couple released her the next day.
Lynda Carole Gough (Age 19) Killed April 1973, she was a lodger at the West’s home. She and Rose West shared lovers before she disappeared. Concerned, Lynda’s mother came to the West’s home and found Rose dressed in Lynda’s clothing. She was told Lynda moved out.
Carol Ann Cooper (Age 15) Killed November 1973, Cooper was living in a children’s home when she disappeared while walking home from a movie theater.
Lucy Katherine Partington (Age 21) Killed December 1973, Lucy spent Christmas with her family in and visited a friend. She disappeared after leaving to catch a bus home. Strong evidence told investigators she had been kept alive for several days. Around this time, Fred went to a hospital to have a cut stitched up. A knife matching the cut was found with Lucy’s body and police assumed he was injured while dismembering her body.
Theresa Siegenthaler (Age 21) Killed in April 1974, she was a student in South London who left to hitch hike to Ireland. She disappeared.
Shirley Hubbard (Age 15) Killed November 1974, she disappeared while walking home from work. When her body was found her head was completely wrapped in duct tape and a three-inch rubber tube was inserted to allow her to breathe.
Juanita Marion Mott (Age 18) Killed April 1975, Mott was a former lodger at the West’s home. She was living with a friend of her mother’s in when she disappeared.
Shirley Anne Robinson (Age 18) Killed May 1978, Robinson was also lodger at the West’s home. She was a prostitute for the Wests, and disappeared after becoming pregnant with Fred’s child.
Alison Jane Chambers (Age 16) Killed August 1979, her murder was the last known sexually motivated murder that the West’s committed. Alison worked for a firm of solicitors under a Youth Training Scheme. Alison’s disappearance was reported to the Missing Persons Bureau and initially to the police as an absconder from care.
Heather Ann West Killed June 1987, Heather, who was Rose’s daughter, became the focus of Fred’s attention. He claimed he had not meant to kill her, just "had to take the smirk off her face." Rosemary told a neighbor that she and Heather had had a “hell of a row” so it is believed Rosemary may have initiated her murder. Fred and Rose told their other children Heather had run off with a lesbian lover. In reality, she was strangled, dismembered, and buried under the West’s patio.