The excavation is set to begin at a Gloucester cafe after police uncover “possible evidence” as to where an alleged juvenile victim of serial killer Fred West may be buried.
Forensic archaeologists have been conducting exploratory work at Cafe Clean Plate on Southgate Street in connection with the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who was last seen alive in January 1968.
Gloucestershire Police may have received evidence from a television production company suggesting the missing teen’s body may be buried on site.
One of the findings presented to police was a photo by the company producing what appeared to be blue material buried in an area of the basement. Mary was wearing a blue coat when she went missing.
Forensic archaeologists have confirmed that there are a number of structural anomalies in the basement that warrant further exploration and excavation work.
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said, “The analysis of our experts and the material provided by the production company means that there is enough evidence to warrant the start of the excavation.
“I spoke to the family and was so impressed with their calm dignity and gratitude for all the work we have done and will do.
“They understand that it is possible that we may not find human remains, but they also know that we will do everything we can to see if Mary is buried in this location.
“This is going to be slow and arduous work, but we have the best people, and I can assure our communities that everyone involved from my investigative team to our locations from detectives, search officers and family liaison officers to forensic archaeologists will do this continue their work are absolutely committed to the work before us.
“In the meantime, I continue to ask all those affected by our constant presence in the café for your patience and understanding, and thank everyone who has helped us over the past 10 days.”
In a statement, the teen’s family said, “Investigator in charge John Turner has sat with us explaining the ongoing investigation and his intentions to dig out the cafe to find Mary.
“We are very happy that the Gloucestershire Police are still trying to find Mary and this gives us an opportunity to possibly calm her down after all these years.
“We would like to thank everyone who asked us for support during this difficult time. We are still in close contact with the investigation team and will be kept informed of new developments.
“We hope this is a chance to shut Mary down for good and would like to continue to ask for privacy while the excavation continues.”
Serial killer West, who died in prison in 1995 at the age of 53, was previously suspected of Mary’s disappearance.
West, along with his wife Rose, tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a period of 20 years.
Mary’s disappearance in 1968 came at a time when Fred West, who often worked on the street where she worked as a waitress in a cafe, was kidnapping girls in Gloucester.
West reportedly confessed to killing Mary while talking to his son Stephen, but never admitted it to the police.
Mary’s body was not found in 1994 during the excavation of the House of the West, now known as the House of Horrors, on Cromwell Street in Gloucester.
West was charged with 12 murders but committed suicide in a Birmingham prison prior to his trial.
Rose West was convicted of 10 murders and serves life in November 1995.