Wembley murder: gardener held

2008-02-08 00:00

Rigorous work by police detectives resulted in the swift arrest yesterday of a trusted, long-time employee in connection with the murder of young Wembley mother Michelle Murison. The man, who was taken in for questioning by police on Thursday, is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, charged with her murder.

Police said the motive appeared to be finance related.

Yesterday morning detectives from the Serious and Violent Crime unit were busy taking statements from witnesses and were still questioning several people, including the suspect, who had worked at her home as a gardener .

It is believed that the employee worked for Murison and her partner Kevin Liddell for some years and had previously worked for Liddell at 9 Bar, a nightclub Liddell used to run in the city centre. It is believed that the man helped out in the bar there and more recently also worked with Liddell at Big Beat Productions, a sound engineering company he owns.

A source told Weekend Witness the employee was well trusted by Murison and she would have had no fear opening the door to him.

Murison’s family were too traumatised to speak to the media yesterday. "It’s so raw and so sore," said one woman who asked not to be named.

Murison’s grief-stricken friends spoke to Weekend Witness, but asked that their comments only be published on Monday in line with her family’s wishes. Relatives from Cape Town and overseas were gathering in Pietermaritzburg over the weekend.

Plans for the funeral have not yet been finalised.

Murison (30) was stabbed to death in her Armstrong Drive home in Wembley on Wednesday night.

Police said she arrived home from work at 4 pm to her 14-month-old baby girl Riley.

At 7 pm Liddell tried to call Murison, but she did not answer, so he asked the alarm company to check the house. When they arrived they found the back kitchen door open and Murison lying dead in a pool of blood. Her baby was unharmed.

Murison’s silver BMW was missing, but was later found abandoned on a forest track near World’s View about four kilometres away.

The car and the house were both dusted for fingerprints by police forensic experts.

Meanwhile, friends and family of Murison, local residents and expatriates have expressed shock and outrage on The Witness website and on other electronic forums.

While some expressed sympathy to the family and shared their fond memories of her, others called for the death penalty to be reinstated and called for swift justice for the perpetrator. Many bitter entries urged South Africans to emigrate before they become victims of rampant crime.

One entry posted by someone named only as Kelly, said that she spoke to Michelle last week. "[I] said goodbye in a nonchalant ‘see you in the morning’ kind of way. I didn’t know that less than four hours later she would be dead. My heart goes out to her little girl … [who] will never know what a wonderful and happy person she was — warm hearted and happy-go-lucky. So switched on and efficient in her job — always with a smile."

Sherri Koopman wrote: "We are all in shock at this hideous crime!! Michelle was a lovely person and justice needs to be served. How could anyone do this to her?"

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