Serial killer may be at large in KZN

By Time of article published Feb 4, 2008

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By Sherlissa Peters

Tensions are high in Pietermaritzburg as police try to determine whether there is a serial killer on the loose in the capital city.

A special task team is investigating similarities between three recent murders in the city and several rapes and murders in the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands areas in the late 1990s.

Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that the task team, under command of Senior Superintendent Gops Govender, would comprise six experienced detectives and would examine circumstances, modi operandi and material evidence of previous and current cases.

A local paper last week reported that there were indications a serial killer might be responsible for murders of at least three unidentified women whose bodies were found near the N3 highway last year.

In the late 1990s, police were on the hunt for the infamous "Sleepy Hollow killer" who was alleged to have killed 13 women during his reign of terror.

Indications are strong that the murders of three young black women that took place between February and October last year, and the serial murders that occurred in the 90s, could be the work of the same killer.

While it has been revealed that there are distinct differences between the most recent murders and those of the past, it has been alleged more bodies said to bear the trademark of the killer have been discovered as far afield as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

The major difference in the murders is that the 2007 victims were all burned beyond recognition.

Similarities, it was reported, include that the victims were all found near the N3 highway and were strangled with their underwear.

The murders that raised hackles of police were those of three women who are yet to be identified found behind ML Sultan High School last February, another near the Liberty Midlands Mall in June and the third between Hilton and Peter Brown Drive in October.

During the Sleepy Hollow killer investigations seven years ago, the bodies of seven victims were exhumed from graves in Mountain Rise and Mphopomeni in an attempt to reconstruct their faces for identification purposes. The Sleepy Hollow killer's victims were, at the time, believed to be sex workers.

Budhram confirmed the special task team would be dedicated to the inquiry and would try to find out if a serial killer was at work in the city.

"The lives of innocent women are at stake," he said.

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