Occult killer shows no remorse
Virginia - Convicted occult killer Chane van Heerden showed no remorse while re-telling how she helped kill and butcher a young man, a Free State court heard on Monday.
After the killing in Welkom, she used skinning techniques she had learnt while hunting with her step-father as a young girl, when she helped him to slaughter game.
Social worker Marilise Vergottini told the Virginia Circuit Court that Van Heerden could remember in detail her actions on the night Michael van Eck 23, was killed in a cemetery.
But she showed no remorse.
After Van Eck was killed in April this year, the 20-year-old Van Heerden removed his head. She and Maartens van der Merwe, 24, each removed a hand, a foot and an arm.
The pair dug a shallow grave with spoons and knives.
Van Heerden said she removed Van Eck's eyes, ears and facial skin the next day and placed these in the freezer.
When the police contacted her several days later, she immediately confessed and gave her co-operation.
Vergottini said Van Heerden displayed strange behaviour, even as a young girl.
When her mother told her that dolls come alive at night, Van Heerden blindfolded her own dolls and bound them with shoe laces, said Vergottini.
Van Heerden's meeting with her co-accused Van der Merwe led to a disastrous partnership.
"They together [in a relationship] are a disaster. It created a platform for their behaviour," Vergottini said.
Van der Merwe was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 14.
Vergottini said when Van Heerden and Van der Merwe met, they discovered they both had fantasies that were not normal to the rest of the world.
The couple watched the television series Dexter, in which a serial killer is the hero, reading it as condonation for their own activities.
But Van Heerden was disappointed after killing Van Eck, because the pair felt no "kick" afterwards, as described in some books she had read about serial killers.
Throughout the testimony, Van Heerden, dressed in a purple T-shirt and jeans, with her black shoulder-length hair hanging loose, showed no emotion.
The court heard how she become sexually active and started using drugs from an early age, and how her parents' divorce caused instability in her life.
Vergottini testified during sentencing procedures after Judge Albert Kruger found Van Heerden guilty of murder, robbery and dismembering Van Eck’s body.
Van Heerden pleaded guilty to all the charges.
Her lawyer Leona Smit read out the plea before Kruger convicted her.
Van Heerden and Van der Merwe have been charged with luring Van Eck, 23, to the Welkom cemetery where he was killed and dismembered.
Had to be caught
In her plea, Van Heerden said she and Van der Merwe had been in a relationship.
They had studied occult literature and practised their own rituals.
She said Van der Merwe had suggested that they tackle something more challenging.
"We then decided to look for a human victim."
Van Heerden's legal counsel only called Vergottini to present mitigating circumstances.
Vergottini testified that Van Heerden’s "reality" of the world around her was not normal.
"She described the incident as if she had read it in a book."
Vergottini said Van Heerden related stories how the pair killed cats in rituals, but she could not get herself to kill a dog when they decided to move on from cats.
The court also heard that Van Heerden only got insight into the consequences of the crime after she saw how it affected the victim's family and her own father.
Vergottini said Van Heerden acknowledged that she would have killed again if she was not caught.
"She said, she had to be caught."
Replying to a question from State prosecutor Johan de Nysschen, Vergottini said rejection, labelling and psychological problems could have played a part in the murder as well as the "unique" relationship with Van der Merwe.
Vergottini agreed with De Nysschen that satanism could not have played a role in the murder, but that occult practices might have had an influence.
The court heard Van Heerden would benefit from psychological help.
Earlier, the court postponed the trial of Van der Merwe to February 24 2012 for further investigations.
Van der Merwe's lawyer, Sunette Kruger, told the court he would get a further psychiatric evaluation before a plea would be entered.
Van der Merwe was apparently diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001, at the age of 14, for which he received medicine.
He was referred for 30-days of psychiatric evaluation during an initial court appearance.
Kruger postponed the hearing to Tuesday. The State was expected to call four witnesses to testify.