Mary Bastholm was 15 years old when she disappeared in January 1968 while waiting at a bus stop on Gloucester’s Bristol Road. West is reported to have admitted to his son Stephen that he killed her, but never conceded any guilt in police interviews.
West’s widow, Rose, was also aged 15 at the time of Bastholm’s disappearance – and did not yet know West, whom she met at a bus station in Cheltenham in 1969. Together, over the following two decades, they would embark on one of the UK’s worst ever killing sprees.
This week, police began searching a cafe in Gloucester now called The Clean Plate, where both Bastholm and the couple’s first victim, Anne McFall, worked.
Asked if she thought her mother would give information about Bastholm, their daughter Mae told the Sunday Mirror: “She won’t. I think Mary’s murder was before her time but how do I know what they discussed?”
“I probably asked mum about Mary when we were in safe houses,” she added. “Police said we were the best officers they’d known – we’d question mum about things that they had just told us.
“She never said anything. I don’t know how she would have known, because mum would have been 15 when Mary disappeared.
“That’s not to say that they didn’t speak about it between them.”
Nine skeletons were found buried in the cellar and garden at the Wests’ house at 25 Cromwell Street in 1994, where a silver locket believed by Bastholm’s family to have belonged to her was also found.
Before he could stand trial over 12 alleged murders, West took his own life in prison in January 1995. His wife Rose was later convicted of 10 killings. The 67-year-old is currently an inmate at HMP New Hall, in Flockton.
The police search of The Clean Plate cafe this week – where West is reported to have carried out work renovating the basement a month before Bastholm’s disappearance – comes after an ITV documentary team led by Sir Trevor McDonald reportedly brought a cadaver dog into the building and it reacted positively in the basement.
But Mae, who was sexually abused by her father and beaten by her mother, appears to have some doubts about the likelihood of the cafe housing Bastholm’s remains.
“How can they have evidence of a body being there?” she told the newspaper.
“We’ve been trying to work out what they’ve found because they never contact us. My dad needed to know where everything was, so would he have taken that risk in the middle of a busy town?
"I know he [committed murders] in fields, but I just felt that he wouldn’t have risked that, doing it in a business with people coming in and out all the time.
“But it was early days, you just don’t know.”
Mae, who lives under a new name and has not spoken to her mother for 12 years, added: “It’s brilliant if they can put it all to rest for Mary’s family, but it just brings it all up again.
“It’s torture, especially when you are getting on with your life.”
“I normally avoid stories but this time around, I don’t know why, I have seen it,” she said. “It’s upsetting the family, my sisters are upset about it, but it feels much more intense than the usual things that come out.
“Because it’s a search for a body it seems so much bigger than before.”
Gloucestershire Police have estimated they will be investigating at the Southgate Street cafe for a number of weeks.