'Homeless killings should be treated as work of a serial killer', says former profiler

The area in Magnolia Park where two bodies were found, one on June 8 and the second on June 9. (Alex Mitchley, News24)
The area in Magnolia Park where two bodies were found, one on June 8 and the second on June 9. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

A former police profiler, who specialises in serial killers, believes the so-called Nocturnal Prowler will strike again and the murders of homeless people in Tshwane should be treated as the crimes of a serial killer.

Since the start of June, five bodies have been discovered in different parts of Muckleneuk, a suburb in Tshwane.

The first body was found almost three weeks ago in a veld near the Mears Park train station. Two more were found in Magnolia Park on June 8 and 9 and a fourth was found on the corner of Justice Mohammed and Troye streets on Tuesday.

READ: Homeless Killings: Task team hits the ground running in search for 'nocturnal prowler'

On Wednesday, the police confirmed a fifth body had been discovered at a bus stop near Unisa's main campus in Muckleneuk.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said all the victims were middle-aged homeless men who were killed at night.

News24 also understands the victims were either stabbed, suffered blunt force trauma from a heavy object or injuries inflicted in both manners. However, post-mortems conducted by the task team will conclusively identify the cause of death in each case.

Homeless killings

Dr Gérard Labuschagne, who used to work for the police profiling serial killers, believes these similarities alone were enough to link these murders and treat it as the work of a serial killer.

Treat it as a serial killer

Speaking to News24, Labuschagne said that while he was not involved in the case, having left the police for the private sector, from reading media reports, there was enough information for investigators to treat the murders as being the work of a serial killer.

"Treat it as a serial killer until it isn't."

He added that while some serial killers have a specific methodology, a lot could happen during an attack that could change the dynamics of the murder.

EXCLUSIVE | Homeless Killings: Night crawler a balaclava-wearing lone wolf

Labuschagne explained that a serial killer was defined as someone who had committed more than two murders.

While the profiler would not be drawn into what the motive for the killings was, he said homeless people as preferred victim for a serial killer was uncommon in South Africa.

"Figure out the motive when we get him."

He added that he believed there was only one suspect, as serial killers rarely work in groups, but if there was more than one, they were committing the murders together.

Strike again

Labuschagne said the Nocturnal Prowler "will definitely strike again", although it might not be in the same area because of the police attention that the case was receiving.

The former profiler said because the body count was high, considering that they all happened in the past three weeks, which made it a sure thing that the suspect would strike again.

Labuschagne added that because the suspect was targeting homeless people, it would not be difficult for him to find another victim.

"So when he feels like it, he will go out and do it again."

High-level task team

Labuschagne said the task team should first try to identify the victims and find old cases of assault, in the hope that there might be people who survived the attack and give information about the attacker.

READ MORE: Homeless killings - Fifth body found in Tshwane, police task team deployed

He added that investigators would cast a wide net, looking at whether old cases could be linked to any DNA found at the crime scenes of the five men murdered in Muckleneuk.

Labuschagne said he had full confidence in his old unit and believed that if it was left alone to hunt for the killer, it would be successful.

He added that his former colleagues should not be interfered with by any high-ranking police officials looking to try and control the case.

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