A grandmother has bravely told how she escaped the clutches of Fred West – as she calls grow for a new probe into his ‘forgotten victims’.
Janice Collins jumped from the serial killer’s van after accepting a lift from him as a teenager.
The retired legal secretary then ‘ran for her life’ from a screaming West, who chased after her.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, now 70, Janice said: ‘I thank God everyday that I got away from him.’
Janice, from Bristol, said she was prompted to come forward after watching a recent TV documentary on West’s heinous crimes.
It recalled how along with evil wife Rose, 67, Fred brutally murdered at least 12 women and girls in their house of horrors.
Janice Collins has bravely told how she escaped the clutches of Fred West – as she calls grow for a new probe into his ‘forgotten victims’
Along with his evil wife Rose, 67, (right) Fred (left) brutally murdered at least 12 women and girls in their house of horrors
Earlier this month a new documentary uncovered bombshell new evidence indicating there could be unsearched fields where the bodies of 20 ‘forgotten’ victims may be buried.
Fred and Rose West: Reopened saw a team of investigators explore new potential graves, identified using thermal imaging and cadaver dogs.
This includes a farm where Fred is feared to have buried a dozen bodies.
The first two locations of interest are in Fingerpost Field near Much Marcle, Herefordshire, where Fred buried 18-year-old Annie McFall – his first known victim.
A third spot on a derelict farm site in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, was also identified as a potential mass grave for Wests’ victims.
The documentary also said West regularly visited Bristol at the time of his murderous spree. At that time, Janice was living in a village called Pill just a few miles away from Bristol. And it’s there, in 1968, aged just 16, Janice fears she came close to becoming another of West’s victims.
Janice was living in a village called Pill just a few miles away from Bristol. And it’s there, in 1968, aged just 16, Janice fears she came close to becoming another of West’s victims
‘Back in 1968 I lived in a village called Pill, which is four miles from Portishead in one direction and six miles from Bristol in the other. I used to visit friends who lived in Portishead regularly when I was a teenager. One particular evening after visiting my friend, I was waiting at the bus stop to go to my home in Pill. My parents were rather strict and always insisted I was home by 10pm. That night my bus was late and I was getting anxious that my parents would be worried.
‘A small van pulled up at the bus stop, a man leaned over and asked where I was going and would I like a lift. There was another person at the bus stop who I knew just by sight as he had gone to the same school as I had. I said to the man in the van, can you give him a lift too? To which he replied, ‘no I have a mattress in the back and so no room’.
‘Stupidly I accepted the lift and got into the van.’
Janice said she quickly began to feel uneasy.
‘During the journey the man made small talk to me, he said: ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ He made me feel very uneasy so I said yes – even though I didn’t have a boyfriend.
‘He then put his left hand on my right leg and moved it to my inner thigh and said: ‘You won’t think anything of that then?’ I moved his hand away and felt extremely worried.’
Janice claims West then began driving in a direction well away from where she wanted to go.
‘I immediately said this is the wrong way,’ she recalls. ‘I knew then something was seriously wrong. I opened the passenger door and jumped out while the van was moving.
‘Then I ran as fast as I could. I was running for about four or five minutes, when I heard him shouting. He was on the opposite side of the road about five yards away screaming: ‘What’s the matter? I wasn’t going to do anything!’ I shouted back: ‘If you come any closer I will go into that house.’ I pointed to an adjacent house and he turned back, I felt so relieved to get away.’
Fred West is pictured leaving court and entering a police van in 1994 while handcuffed
Police excavating the garden of 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, in the search for Fred and Rose West’s victims in 1994
Serial killers Fred and Rose West
Fred West – who killed himself aged 53 in 1995 – was one of Britain’s worst serial killers.
He and second wife Rose, 67, who is still in jail, abducted, tortured, raped and murdered young women over a 20-year period.
They buried many of them under the floorboards of their home at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester.
Their victims had missing fingers, their heads taped up and pipes up their noses so they could breathe during the torture they endured at the hands of the couple.
Fred West killed himself while awaiting trial for 12 murders in January 1995, but he had previously confessed to killing up to 30 victims.
Rose was convicted of 10 murders, including that of her daughter, and sentenced to life.
One of the Wests’ suspected victims is teenager Mary Bastholm, who vanished from a bus stop in Gloucester in 1968.
The 15-year-old worked in a cafe called Pop-In, now The Clean Plate, where Fred had done some building work.
Her body has never been found, with her parents tragically dying before discovering what happened to their daughter.
Cops excavated the basement after a piece of blue material – believed to be Mary’s coat – was found the ITV production crew.
The search uncovered no evidence that her body had been buried there, but social worker Leach admitted in her statement to picking up Mary.
Janice later confided in a friend what had happened. When her parents later noticed she had ripped trousers and grazed her knee she told them she’d fallen over when she got off the bus.
‘I told various friends about the incident over the years,’ Janice admits. ‘It was so traumatic. When the news broke about Fred West many years later a few of my friends said to me that it sounds like I was a very lucky girl and the outcome could have been so different.
‘Then when I watched the documentary and it said he was often in and around Bristol my blood ran cold. I am certain the man in the van was Fred West. I still have a mental picture of him shouting to me across the road, medium/stocky build, dark wavy hair, standing with legs apart and his arms out wide.
‘Obviously I can’t say 100 per cent it was Fred as I have no proof and too much time has passed. But when I watched the documentary and heard it regularly visited Bristol my blood ran cold. I believe it is highly likely it was him and that’s why I am speaking out now. I also telephoned Gloucester Police station when it was all in the news and I told them what had happened to me, but they never got back to me.’
ITV’s documentary has now sparked widespread calls for new areas linked to West to be excavated,
DCI Colin Sutton, who led the ITV documentary team, said: ‘The handler is of the view that we should excavate the sites as soon as possible and I am absolutely on board with that.
Veteran journalist Sir Trevor McDonald, who hosted the show, also called on the police to fully search the area.
‘There is still much more to the murderous campaign of Fred and Rose West,’ he said.
‘I think the option of not investigating these fields seems very strange.
‘Surely, if there is any suspicion of evidence that there might be more bodies, it follows, as night follows day, that there must be an attempt to discover what happened to these missing people.’
Investigative psychologist Dr Donna Youngs added: ‘It’s unlikely there aren’t further murders.
‘Everything we know about these two as offenders suggests they will have had the drive to carry on offending,’
Lawyer Howard Ogden agreed, stating: ‘Dealing with Fred led me to believe that others had been killed.
‘Sadly this is something of a tip of an iceberg and inevitably there are others who are yet to be found.’