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Gloucester 'house of horrors' demolished

October 12, 1996
Web posted at: 8:50 a.m. EDT (1250 GMT)


From Correspondent Siobhan Darrow

GLOUCESTER, England (CNN) -- Workmen Friday began demolishing the most notorious house in Gloucester. The house at 25 Cromwell Street was this city's House of Horrors, but for years, nobody realized what was happening behind its doors.

Fred and Rosemary West lived there, for decades luring young girls into their house. They sexually abused the girls, murdered them, then buried mutilated bodies in the house and garden. Even the Wests' 16-year-old daughter Heather was one of the victims.

Rosemary and Fred West

Almost a year ago, Rosemary West was given 10 life sentences and pronounced Britain's most prolific female serial killer. Her husband, Fred, confessed then hanged himself in jail.

Now, this English city wants to forget the whole sordid ordeal by wiping away any trace of the murder-tainted icon (24 sec./955K QuickTime movie)

"It's such a hell of a scar on a city like Gloucester, you know, that it will eventually be overcome when this thing is gone, when this great monstrosity is pulled down," one Gloucester man said.

To help heal the wounds, the Gloucester City Council has set up a committee to decide what to put in its place. "It will take time to get over but this process, the demolition of the house, is from our point of view the beginning of the end," said councilman Mike McCabe.

One of the possible replacements: a parking lot for the church next door, which stood silent witness to the crimes committed at 25 Cromwell.

House demolition

A local vicar, Rev. David Brazington of Christ Church, had another idea. "I'd like to see a simple garden put there. ... It would speak of new life and peace and hope, which is what this community desperately needs at this time."

While some tend to spiritual healing, the police stand guard at the property to keep trophy hunters from carting off souvenirs.

Demolition teams will tear down 25 Cromwell Street brick by brick, but it will likely take more than sledgehammers and shovels for this town to overcome the trauma and finally bury the evil once committed there.

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