Couple kept head in their fridge
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For Maartens van der Merwe, she was his “dark Goddess”. Now police investigators believe it was the young brunette, Chane van Heerden, who “lured” Michael van Eck to his horrific death.
On February 11, barely a month before the 23-year-old’s gruesome murder last weekend, Van der Merwe posted a photograph on Facebook of himself and his 20-year-old girlfriend embracing, with a caption that read moordenaars (murderers) - followed by an incongruous smiley face.
Van Eck’s murder, which police are investigating for its apparent links to Satanism, has shocked the gold mining town of Welkom, where he worked as an electrician on a mine.
He had been beheaded, his right arm cut off, and both his legs amputated at the knees, and buried in a shallow grave at the local cemetery.
Body parts, found by police at the couple’s rented home, were allegedly kept as human trophies by his suspected killers.
Van Eck had reportedly told his employer he was going on a date with a girl he met on Facebook last Saturday night, but he did not arrive at work on Sunday.
“We suspect it was the girl who lured the deceased to meet her at the Welkom cemetery,” said police spokesman Captain Stephen Thakeng.
On Monday, Van der Merwe, 24, asked Van Heerden’s father if he could marry her. In a Facebook post in February, she wrote that she missed him one morning, to which he responded: “Lady Blackmore – you part your lips, dead butterfly words spill out. They fall upon my mystic heart and stain it with sweet poison. Spreading the beautiful dark through empty veins. A dead, a life less dead. Now your thorns have pricked my skin, my soul bleeds into your night. Red serpent coiling viper, intertwined staring at inky stars on a paper white sky for you my love. xX”
On Wednesday, police pounced on the couple at their home, with Beeld newspaper reporting that they gave their full co-operation. Investigators found Van Eck’s head in the couple’s fridge, human remains in their cupboards - including bottled ears - and Van Eck’s right arm and a foot buried with cat remains in the garden.
“There were strange signs written on the fridge where the head was found.
“That’s why we want to investigate the couple’s involvement in Satanism,” said Thakeng.
Occult expert Kobus Jonker said: “They cut off the head because they believe once you’ve got the head, then you’ve got the person’s mind and will have more power.”
Van Heerden’s father told Beeld his daughter was a gifted artist and that he and his wife never had any reason to worry about her. When Van der Merwe asked to marry his daughter, there was no doubt in his mind that it was the right decision.
“There were never any warning lights that went on,” he said.
The couple appeared briefly in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court where the case was postponed to May 20.
Thakeng said police were continuing to comb the couple’s property and more arrests could be made. He attributed the early breakthrough to the work of the task team assigned to the case, which included the Hawks, as well as experts from Bloemfontein and Pretoria.
Investigators had confiscated the couple’s cellphones and computers as well as two “big knives” – now the subject of forensic tests to determine if they were the murder weapons.
Van der Merwe’s posts on Facebook ruminate on life and death, while a friend of the couple wished them a “bloody Xmas” last year.
In another obscure post on February 11, the self-employed Van der Merwe wrote: “3 years of reading, searching, studying, pondering, reading some more and talking to some interesting people finally payed (sic) off. Experiment was a success. Found an answer. Thanks to all the people involved. You know you who are ;-).” - Independent on Saturday