Serial killer in Pietermaritzburg: report

Time of article published Jan 28, 2008

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Evidence has come to light that a serial rapist-killer is on the loose in KwaZulu-Natal's Pietermaritzburg area, seven years after police had closed the investigation, the Witness newspaper reported on Monday.

The suspect, known as the "Sleepy Hollow" murderer, was linked to the deaths of at least 13 women - thought to be sex workers - in the late 1990s who were strangled with their panties.

The possibility that the Sleepy Hollow killer might be responsible for at least three more recent murders - and suspected rapes - of unidentified black women in the vicinity of the N3 highway near Pietermaritzburg between February and October last year could not be discounted, although there were some differences between the latest crime scenes and those of the '90s.

The Witness said it was aware of allegations that more bodies said to bear the trademarks of the killer had also been discovered near Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

The newspaper confirmed that a top psychologist attached to the SA Police Service's Investigative Psychology Unit in Pretoria had visited Pietermaritzburg in November to assess if a serial murderer was at work.

Head of the Unit Dr Gerard Labuschagne confirmed the visit but did not wish to give details of his findings.

The Witness said it had information that the expert found it likely that a serial killer was at work and recommended that a dedicated task team be established to investigate the latest killings.

The recent murders included the death of an unidentified black woman, found behind the ML Sultan school last February, another near Liberty Mall in June last year, and a third body found in October between Hilton and Peter Brown Drive.

Director Johan Booysen, head of KwaZulu Natal's Organised Crime Unit said he had been on leave and was unaware of the new developments.

He however said no investigations ever cease completely.

"I cannot say whether or not that investigation was in fact closed or not. It is so that sometimes investigations reach a dead end, but if new leads come to light we will continue again." - Sapa

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