A MAN who gained notoriety in his teen years as the so-called “shoelace killer”, Wesley Neil Julyan (32), is now charged in the Pietermaritzburg high court with murdering four members of his family.
His latest alleged victims include his brother and two children.
Julyan on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to the murders committed on the South Coast in December 2017.
He first rose to notoriety in 2003, at the age of 18, when he strangled Amanzimtoti man Kenneth Gary van Aardt with a shoelace. He was convicted and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment, which was increased to 20 years on appeal.
He served five years of the sentence and was released on parole, following which he was arrested for the murders he is currently charged with in the Pietermaritzburg high court.
He is accused of murdering his brother Jeffery Julyan (34), Jeffery’s son Ethan Julyan (9), Jeffery’s step-daughter Kayla McKenna (16) and Peter McKenna (73), Jeffery’s father-in-law.
Their bodies were left in a blazing house in Mtwalume, in the district of Umzinto.
State advocate Dorian Paver on Wednesday told Judge Jerome Mnguni that the evidence against Julyan is circumstantial. There are no direct eye witnesses. Paver added the state will show that Julyan caused the deaths and then set the house alight.
“He behaved in a manner completely at odds with what one would expect of him at the scene … cell phone evidence will show his movements on that day,” he said.
The state alleges that the house belonged to Julyan’s father, who sold it. Julyan had occupied it for some time but moved out just before the murders.
He and his brother had been at odds with each other regarding items of property that had been removed from the house and were being kept at his brother’s home in Umtentweni, said the indictment.
On the day of the murders, arrangements had been made by the brother to return some of the items to the Mtwalume house after Julyan demanded them back.
The brothers both conveyed the items back to the house, assisted by the two children and their grandfather.
It is alleged that Julyan assaulted his brother with a pick handle and used a rope to strangle him. The elderly man was strangled with a ligature made of copper wire.
The boy was also strangled, using a ligature.
The teenage girl’s death was caused by “placing a ligature made of a dog chain with a green rope around her neck”, said the indictment.
It is alleged that after the killings, Julyan doused the house with petrol and caused a fire. It caused damage to the dwelling and caused the bodies to be charred.
The trial continues.
In the 2003 murder of Kenneth Gary van Aardt, Julyan had an accomplice, Jaco Strauss, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.
The men were caught after Strauss sent an SMS message to his former lover, Libby Jacobs, in England confessing to a murder. She alerted police, who investigated and arrested the men.
In his plea, Strauss said that on March 1, 2003, Van Aardt had given them a lift after they had experienced car trouble. They then stopped at a club for a drink.
When they had left, Van Aardt had been drunk and Julyan said he wanted to take Van Aardt’s car.
About 25 km from Mtwalume, Julyan said he was going to strangle Van Aardt, put his arm around his neck and began strangling him, said Strauss.
“I then stopped, got out and went behind the car.
“He [Julyan] then instructed me to hand him a shoelace. I was shocked, but undid my one shoelace and handed it to [Julyan].
“He started strangling the deceased while I stood by watching. When he finished he asked me to take the deceased’s pulse. I did so and found no pulse. I asked him [Julyan] if he knew what he had done. He remarked ‘so what’.”
The men took the body to a vacant plot near Julyan’s home.
Julyan put sticky tape around Van Aardt’s head, covering his nose and mouth.
They covered the body with branches. Later that night, after unsuccessfully attempting to sell the car in Durban and having abandoned it, they returned and buried the body.