South African Serial Killer?


Four violent murders in which gay men were bound and strangled to death have police and forensic specialists investigating the possibility that a serial killer, or homophobic group, is stalking Joburg’s gay community.

All of the victims, discovered in the past 10 months, were found tied up and strangled inside private homes within the greater Joburg area – with police recording no signs of forced entry.

Police working on all four cases believe the minimal theft means robbery was not a motive. It is believed the lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could actually have invited them in.

The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19. The murder was discovered by security guards, after they noticed his car gate was open and his front door unlocked.

Police believe Van Heerden may have known his attacker or attackers, as half-full glasses of wine were found on the kitchen table. Since the incident was reported, distraught relatives, friends and other members of the gay community have come forward, describing other recent violent crimes that seemed similar.

Three of these reported murders bear striking similarities to Van Heerden’s case.

In the first attack in December 2010, Jim Cathels was found at his home in Berea. He had been strangled and bound, and there were no signs of forced entry.

Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, had been house-sitting in Kensington for friend and author Ivan Vladislavic. He was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants. His body was discovered a few days later, when the author returned home from the UK.

Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was killed in a similar manner at his flat in Kliptown, Soweto, on September 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death. One element set his murder apart: his killer(s) poured acid on the body after his death from asphyxiation.

Forensic specialist Dr Mark Welman said two facets of a group of killings can help to identify a serial killer: repetitive patterns in modus operandi and similarities in victims. A serial killer may leave “signatures” that multiple investigating officers might miss if the dockets are not centralised and investigated together.

“It would be remiss of investigating authorities to not consider possible links, and they should certainly be drawing on their specialised behavioural science unit on these cases,” said Welman, when given details of the four murders.

Yet, more than 10 months after the first victim was discovered, police have yet to bring in a task team.

Welman acknowledged that the acid poured on Nhlapo was a major difference in modus operandi, but the killer may have been attempting to destroy DNA evidence that he or she may have left on the victim.

“What I find noteworthy is that all of the victims were strangled. Apart from the fact that this represents a thematic connection between the cases, let’s also note that to strangle a victim, the killer either has to be considerably stronger, or have the victim at some disadvantage. If they are bound, they obviously cannot fight back.

“But a perpetrator operating alone might find it hard to tie a victim up. So one also would not want to rule out the possibility that the perpetrator had one or more accomplices,” he added.

Sex games could have been involved. Violence or threats of violence could make someone allow themselves to be tied up. If you think a person just wants to rob you and will let you live you might allow yourself to be restrained.

A blow to the head would also ‘work’.

The victims could have been drugged or even just drunk.

All four of the victims were said to have internet savvy, and The Star confirmed that at least two of them had profiles registered on gay dating websites that they used to meet other men.

Welman has warned that those who fit the victim’s profile should remain cautious of inviting strangers into their homes.

Article Here

I am doubting a homophobic group. If they are found in homes with no signs of forced entry they probably knew the killer. The wine mentioned hints at an intimate meeting, not necessarily sexual but private at least.

The acid bath might also have been a trial run. A budding serial killer sometimes experiments. Acid is nasty and not as easy as some might think to work with. There is also the smell that comes from pouring acid on a body.

I hope the South African police begin to get an investigation team together soon.

  1. gay men tied up and killed in their own homes and – ” no signs of forced entry” ?

    pmsl 😆

  2. Was there a sexual element to these cases?

  3. New Information?

    Thu Oct 06 2011 11:10:36 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time)

    Fifth gay murder comes to light

    October 6 2011 at 09:33am
    By SHAIN GERMANER

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/fifth-gay-murder-comes-to-light-1.1151770

    The Commission on Gender Equality has slammed the police and the Department of Justice for not doing their best to solve homophobic crimes.

    The Star reported recently on the striking similarity in the murders of four gay men. And in the wake of the commission’s condemnation of the violence against the gay community, The Star has also been alerted to a fifth murder that bears similarities to the other cases.

    The commission has said it was concerned about lengthy delays in cases relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

    It said full investigations needed to be conducted, especially into the murders mentioned in The Star’s report.

    The commission’s spokesman, Javu Baloyi, said there was outrage in the commission after The Star reported on the four murders.

    “Cases of this nature are not taken seriously by the police or the justice department,” he said.

    “It is our firm belief that the Department of Constitutional Development and Justice has to come to the party in ensuring that the plight of LGBT (and intersexed) people (receive the necessary attention and investigation),” he added.

    All four victims mentioned in The Star’s report on Monday were killed in the past 10 months. They were tied up and strangled inside private homes within the greater Joburg area.

    Police reported no signs of forced entry and believe these killings may be the work of a serial killer or a homophobic gang.

    The lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could have invited them in.

    The victim who has come to light after the previous report in The Star is Manolis Veloudos. He was found in his home in Greenside in April last year.

    He was bound and murdered, seemingly by someone he had invited into his home. Again, there was no sign of forced entry onto the property, and very little was stolen.

    He was also discovered to have an online dating site profile, which he had used to meet men, much like in the cases of several of the other victims.

    However, Veloudos was bludgeoned to death with his laptop rather than strangled.

    While a suspect was charged with murder, DNA evidence taken from the scene did not match the suspect.

    This means the murderer may still be on the loose.

    The victim’s niece, Evita Veloudos, said CCTV footage of her uncle with an unknown man on the night of the murder was given to the police, but it was subsequently lost by the investigating officers.

    The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19.

    The murder was discovered by security guards after they had noticed his car gate open and his front door unlocked.

    Since the incident was reported, distraught relatives, friends and other members of the gay community have come forward, describing other recent violent crimes that seemed similar.

    In the first attack in December last year, Jim Cathels was found dead at his home in Berea.

    Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants.

    Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was killed in a similar manner at his flat in Kliptown, Soweto, on September 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death.

    Anyone with information on similar crimes in recent months is requested to e-mail the details to shain.germaner @inl.co.za – The Star

    • rosie
    • March 6th, 2012

    In 1995 -1996 I think in about a year there where 4 (I am not sure) gay murders in Pretoria. The killler was found. The same method. They were bound and killed. I was looking through the articles see if anybody has made a connection to these murders. One of the victims I was acquinted with through a professional group, SA online user group. His name was Neville spicer.

    Obituary: Neville Spicer
    by Glenda Myers, Medical and Dental Librarian, Witwatersrand Medical Library.
    Abstract
    Neville Spicer’s name will live on in the form of a memorial bursary which the Southern African Online User Group is hoping to establish. This bursary will be used to sponsor the attendance of a delegate to the biannual Southern African Online Information Meeting, as Neville was dedicated to improving the level of technological training and access to information in this region. Donations to the Neville Spicer Memorial Fund may be sent to the Treasurer, SAOUG, PO Box 8059, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa.
    Maybe it is the same killer. Maybe he spend time in jail during this peroids. It is worth looking into it

      • Jackie
      • March 7th, 2012

      Rosie,

      I keep on reading your comment (Dont know if you copied this from Sopbeen) BUT I couldn’t find anything anywhere on these murders. I did find the Obituary but nothing else. Do you have resources of any sorts?

    • hi rosie i am neville spicers nephew david as far as we know they have never caught the killer but know who they are looking for

    • Jackie
    • March 6th, 2012

    It is sad. Our Police force STILL deny any link between any of the murders – even though we are on 8 (yes EIGHT) victims!! It doesn’t make sense! Our police have NO clues no nothing, I don’t think they are actually looking at any of these dockets.

    • I thought that they were making headway in the killings. Please let me know if I am wrong or what I am missing.

      Nigerian arrested in serial murders of S/African homosexuals

      By African Outlook Reporter
      A Nigerian national, Paulinus Dike, will be charged in South Africa for the murder of Manolis Veloudos, one of six men suspected to have been victims of a serial killer targeting gay men across Johannesburg.

      According to a report in South Africa’s newspaper: Star, Dike is being charged with the murder this week, though the paper did not state any specific date for his trial.

      The newspaper also reported that the South African police now have three suspects from two of the six murders and that this, according to the police, discounts the possibility of a serial killer.

      “The police say they have three suspects in two of the six gay men murders, discounting the possibility of a serial killer operating across Joburg. However, they were unable to explain why they believed four of the most recent killings were unrelated, even though they had a similar modus operandi.” the newspaper reported

      According to Star’s publication, in each case, the victims were found bound and murdered in their homes, with each investigating officer confirming there were no signs of forced entry..

      The South African police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini was also quoted as saying that the Nigerian was named as a suspect in the last year murder of Manolis Veloudos one of the six homosexuals killed in South Africa.

      The Star however reported that the victim’s niece, Evita Veloudos, alleged that DNA evidence found at the scene of the murder did not match Dike, and that it was possible the killer, or an accomplice, could still be at large.

      The paper also quoted the police spokesman, Lt. Dlamini as saying that two other suspects were to be extradited from Zimbabwe for the December murder of another South African gay, Jim Cathels, but the men had yet to be arrested.

      “Police are confident that they know the location of these two men,” he said.

      Investigating officers in the six cases believe that robbery was an unlikely motive for the crimes, because little was stolen.

      All the men were over 30, were internet savvy, and several were confirmed to have used online dating profiles for potential interactions.

      Three of the four most recent victims were confirmed as using the internet to find potential hook-ups.

      “Despite the similar modus operandi for each of the cases and similarities between the victims, police would not comment on why investigators have yet to compare notes”, the Star further reported

      The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19.

      Among the others were Oscar O’Hara, 33, whose body was found bound and strangled four months ago, and Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, found bound and strangled last month.

      The difference with the Veloudos case from the rest was that in this case the victim was bludgeoned to death with his laptop rather than strangled, the newspaper reported.

      South African police have always denied investigating the possibility of a serial killer preying on gay men in Johannesburg.

      “We are not looking at one specific person… cases are being investigated individually and progress has been made in some,” Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini stated on Tuesday.

      He said it was impossible for one individual to have been responsible for all the killings.

      I am not from there so it is hard for me to keep up on the details.

      Thank you.

        • Jackie
        • March 7th, 2012

        Really good news, just publised!!

        Police have finally assembled a task team to investigate the murders of eight gay men found dead in their homes across Gauteng in a killing spree that has spanned almost two years.

        The police action was announced on the same day as the gay rights and lifestyle group OUT formed a task team of its own to put pressure on the police to be seen to be acting.

        When The Star originally reported on the first four deaths in October last year, police said there was no reason to believe there were any links between the crimes.

        However, four more deaths were uncovered in the intervening months. They each involved gay men murdered in similar ways: all of them were found bound and murdered in their homes.

        Yesterday, provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said a task team of top detectives would be investigating the eight murders.

        He did not confirm whether the cases had been officially linked.

        This development means that if a suspect is caught in connection with one of the cases, DNA evidence and forensic data can be easily compared to determine if the person is responsible for any of the other crimes.

        The group of detectives will be investigating all the murders instead of eight officers from eight police stations working on eight different cases.

        Manolis Veloudos was the first to be killed, in April 2010. His death was followed in 2011 by the deaths of Jim Cathels, Oscar O’Hara, 33, an unnamed landlord and, in September, Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, and Barney van Heerden, 39, were found dead.

        HIV activist Jason Wassenaar was murdered in his home in December and theatre manager Rulov Senekal was found dead last month.

        Another gay man has also gone missing after an internet relationship led him to Joburg.

        Thebe Mogamisi had met a potential love interest online late last year, and travelled from Bloemfontein to Joburg to meet a man known only as Sipho on New Year’s Eve.

        His family last heard from Mogamisi on December 31, when he said he would finally be meeting his new friend in person. That was the last his family and friends have heard from him.

        OUT’s task team proposed an aggressive campaign on Tuesday – to call on police at a national, provincial and station level to get a task team to tackle the cases.

        They also want to ask the Department of Justice to establish the status of each of the investigations.

        The head of the organisation, Dawie Nel, said he was glad that the murder cases would be receiving the attention they deserved. – The Star

        http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/activists-spur-cops-after-killings-1.1250795

    • Jackie
    • March 7th, 2012

    psychowatcher :I thought that they were making headway in the killings. Please let me know if I am wrong or what I am missing.

    I am not from there so it is hard for me to keep up on the details.
    Thank you.

    They are STILL waiting for him to be extradited, but they are not sure if that will happen… And they can only link him to 1 murder, with some circumstantial evidence.

    I started a few days ago (when I, for the 1st time, heard about the possibility of a serial murderer(s) here in our province) to check it out. Wow, it seems like it could be 9 victims and not just 8, but all the details have not been released so there could be some speculation, but 3 things are the same: he was gay, he was strangled and his laptop was stolen – the 3 things ALL the victimes had in common.

    Can’t believe the police still don’t see a connection & still doesn’t investigate – I’m sorry, I truelly believe that they are not interested in investigating. I’m a woman, in my 30’s, my bestest friends of about 16 years, have been there for me through thick & thin, I am really concerned about what is going on here…

  1. October 11th, 2011

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