A CHILDHOOD pal of missing Mary Bastholm claims she would have got in a car with Fred West as cops continue to search for her remains.
Mary, 15, was working at the Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester when she vanished in 1968.
Her friend Christine Ford now says the teen "would have no qualms" getting in West's car as she knew him from the establishment.
Christine, 69, told The Mirror: "I knew for a fact that she knew Fred West.
“She’d told me about him, that he was a customer in the Pop In cafe where she was a waitress.
"I remember her saying that he was always in there, and that he was going to do some work in the cafe.
“He was friends with her in the cafe, so I knew she would have no qualms about getting into a car with him, because she knew him, it wouldn’t have crossed her mind.”
Police last week discovered six "anomalies"at the cafe where Mary is feared to have been buried.
Specialist technology discovered holes in the concrete floor of toilet cubicles where the serial killer carried out renovations.
The team used a ground penetrating radar and found a void in the basement of the cafe within the toilet area.
They drilled the area, allowing holes for ventilation so that police dogs could get an indication of human remains, and found "suspected bones".
The insertion of an endoscope in one of the holes also identified a grainy image of a "blue looking material within the gap".
Mary was last seen wearing a blue coat and blue and white dress when she vanished from a bus stop.
'THEY ALWAYS BELIEVED SHE WAS ALIVE'
Christine is now convinced her childhood friend will be discovered as she recalled the day Mary went missing.
She said: "Mary’s mother came over and talked to my mum. She said Mary hadn’t come home and asked if she was with me. But I’d been out with a friend and had just come in, I hadn’t seen Mary that day at all.
"Some time later, I remember her mum coming over again and talking to us, saying she was always going to leave the light on and the front door open so Mary could come home.
"It was the most poignant thing in my life. And she did.
“For years after, every time I got home from work at night the light was always on in their house. That’s what Mary’s parents did every night for the rest of their lives.
"They always believed she was still alive. They thought she might have been abducted, but they never thought she’d run away – never. They died believing she was alive.”
The major breakthrough comes days after a 39-strong police team led by three archaeologists began analysing the basement of a café in Gloucester, half a mile from West’s home at 25 Cromwell Street.
Gloucestershire Police had received possible evidence from a TV production company to suggest the body of the missing teenager could be buried at the location.
West was a regular at the café, where Mary worked as a waitress before she went missing in January 1968.
He killed himself aged 53 in 1995 while awaiting trial for 12 murders — but admitted he carried out 20 more.
Mary’s family said in a statement released by police: "Senior investigating officer John Turner has sat with us and explained the ongoing investigation as well as his intentions to excavate the cafe to try and find Mary.
“We are extremely happy Gloucestershire police is continuing to try and search for Mary and this gives us a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.
“We want to thank everyone who has wished us support through this distressing time, and we are continuing to be in close touch with the investigation team, and are being kept up to date with any new developments.
“We hope this is a chance to finally get closure for Mary and would like to continue to ask for privacy whilst the excavation is ongoing.”
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