THE childhood sweetheart of Mary Bastholm told how after more than 45 years he has never given up hope her body would be found.
Retired power station worker Tim Merrett, 72, is convinced Mary was murdered by serial killer Fred West but doubts she is buried under the cafe where she worked.
He said: “To me it doesn’t make sense that she is there but I would urge the police to keep looking for her.
“I’ve never forgotten Mary, she was my girlfriend for about six months when she just disappeared. She was coming up to her 16th birthday.
“When Fred West was caught it was obvious to me that Mary was one of his victims.
“He didn’t give up the names of everyone he killed and I believe Mary was one of those.”
Mary was on her way to meet Tim on 6 January 1968 when she disappeared.
He recalled: “She had borrowed my game of Monopoly and was bringing it back – we used to play it together.
“I remember my motorbike was off the road at the time so I couldn’t go in to Gloucester to meet her so she was coming down to me on the bus.”
Tim, 16 at the time, waited at the bus stop in his home village of Hardwicke, Gloucester, but Mary didn’t get off.
He said: “I wanted an hour for the next bus but she wasn’t on that either.
“It’s a long time ago and it’s a bit of a blank after that but her parents reported her missing.
“I assumed at the time she got abducted – my friends and I went out searching for her. We had to do something.”
Tim was questioned by police at the time of her disappearance and again when the Cromwell Street multiple murder investigation was launched in 1994.
But Gloucestershire Police have not been in touch since starting to excavate a cafe where Mary worked and West was a regular.
Father-of-two Tim said: “I used to go into the cafe myself but I don’t ever remember meeting Fred West. I didn’t know him.
“Mary was working at the cafe on the day she disappeared but I don’t think what the police are doing at the moment is going to come to anything. I can’t see the connection.
“She had been to work and gone home to get changed and was on her way down to see me. I don’t see where the cafe comes in to it.”
Tim left Gloucester 45 years ago to work in a power station in Pembroke, West Wales.
He said: “Mary was a lovely girl. it shouldn’t happen to anybody but it shouldn’t have happened to her.
“She was a very pleasant girl and we got on well, it’s so long ago I can’t remember how we met.”
Tim said Mary’s disappearance had stayed with him throughout his life.
He said: “It comes and goes. I might see someone in the street that looks like her but then you realise that after 40 years she would look a lot different now.
“But you don’t for get even after all this time it’s in the back of your mind.”
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