Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Selepe

A Suspect

South Africa map with Johannesburg locator
South Africa map with Johannesburg locator

By November 18, detectives had developed a suspect. He was a black man, living in a house in Boksburg, which is east of Johannesburg and about 12 and a half miles from Cleveland. He also owned a computer college - which, not surprisingly, specialized in teaching female students - called the Vision English Girls College, run from some offices he rented in Pretoria, so he was connected to both cities where the bodies had been found. In addition, he drove a Mercedes-Benz, which certainly complied with Micki Pistorius' statement that the killer would drive an expensive car.

He was experiencing some serious financial difficulties, however. The Mercedes was registered in a black woman's name, although the suspect was paying the installments. He was R20,000 ($3,279) behind, though. He also owed R50,000 ($8,197) in rent and electricity bills. His four employees at the college hadn't received their salaries. He had left town two weeks before, supposedly on business overseas.

The suspect was described as suave and a flashy dresser, with many friends who owned taxis. He was married, although he and his wife did not live together, and he was frequently in the company of women. One woman even contacted the police, identifying the suspect as the man who initially offered her a job, but who tried to rape her later.

The investigative team felt confident that they had their man. Now they only had to find him. Although they did not reveal his name to the press, the detectives knew who they were looking for.

His name was David Abraham Selepe.

Mozambique map with Maputo locator
Mozambique map with Maputo locator

Toward the end of the month, police expanded their search beyond the borders of South Africa. On December 15, 31-year-old David Selepe (pronounced Sill-LAIR-pair, with silent r's) was taken into custody in Maputo, port city and capital of neighboring Mozambique. He was driving the Mercedes, which he had apparently been trying to sell. In the trunk, detectives found newspaper clippings of the Cleveland serial murders, as well as footprints suggesting that someone had been locked inside at some point. He was brought back to South Africa, interrogated and housed in the Brixton Murder and Robbery Unit's lockup.

This was a Thursday. The next day, December 16, was and remains a public holiday. Because of the holiday, Selepe would remain in a cell at the Brixton police station until after the weekend. Consequently, the detectives had easy access to Selepe and no doubt questioned him thoroughly. At some point, he apparently confessed to having killed 15 women in the Cleveland area - four more than the police knew about. He was not questioned about the two bodies found in Pretoria West. In addition, he mentioned the names of two other men who might be helpful in the investigation. Apparently, he waived his right to have legal representation present. However, he also refused to sign a written confession and only acknowledged the murders orally, something the police would come to rue very shortly.


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