Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Moses Sithole


Micki Pistorius had already drawn up a profile, and together she and Robert Ressler worked to refine it.

There had been three discrete locations where bodies had been found: Eight women were found in or near Atteridgeville (along with the 2-year-old boy); six women were found in the area surrounding Onderstepoort; and 12 women were found in the Boksburg area. There was also one woman found near Cleveland. The profilers believed that the murders of these 27 women were related. In addition, they believed that more than one killer may have been involved, working together on at least some of the murders.

The locations seemed to have been carefully chosen, and the killer(s) quite familiar with them. Although the sites were remote and relatively safe in terms of being discovered in the act, they were still easily accessible by means of rail and road. Despite indications that the women were assaulted and killed at the scenes where they were found, there was very little evidence. This indicated an organized, intelligent offender. He was also growing in both confidence and arrogancewhereas the original Atteridgeville victims had been scattered, the Onderstepoort victims had been left closer together, and the Boksburg victims almost on top of each other. There was also no attempt at concealment.

Victimology revealed middle-class women in their twenties and early thirties, who looked after their appearance. Most of them had been unemployed or looking for better employment. This seemed to be the killers approach, since many victims relatives, friends or coworkers told of appointments with a man about a job offer. He had probably been affronted and hurt by a woman who was now represented by the victims. He was raping and killing her over and over again, which was why the victims were very similar to each other.

Book cover: Strangers on the Street
Book cover: Strangers on the Street

In her book, Strangers on the Street, Micki Pistorius lists the following characteristics of the killer(s) contained in the profile: (1) a black male in his late 20s or early 30s; (2) he would be self-employed with access to money; (3) he would drive an expensive car; (4) he would wear flashy clothes and jewellery; (5) he would be competent socially, charming and a ladies man; (6) he would probably be married, separated or divorced; (7) he would visit places where alcohol is sold and enjoy socialising; (8) there would likely be or have been some involvement in fraud and theft; (9) he might tell someone that he is the killeralthough he would use the third personand he might taunt the police; (10) he would follow reports of the murders and the police investigation in the press; (11) he would detest women, despite being very charming to them; (12) he would masturbate after the crimes, collect mementoes and later dispose thereof; (13) he would have a high sex drive and peruse pornography; (14) there was some kind of exposure to sexual violence in his past, perhaps as a juvenile; (15) he would be very intelligent and streetwise.

Book cover: I Have Lived in the Monster
Book cover: I Have Lived in the Monster

Robert Ressler, in I Have Lived in the Monster, predicted that he has a high sex drive and reads pornography. His fantasies, to which he masturbates, are aggressive, and he believes women are merely objects to be abused. He enjoys charming and controlling women. When he approaches a victim, it is done in a very calculating way, and he is very conscious that he is eventually going to kill the victim, and savours the thought while he softens her up.

The profile bore a striking resemblance to the one on the Cleveland series. Ordinarily, this isnt of much concern, because a profile describes a type of person rather than a particular one. And although every killer is different, some do share many characteristics. Still, in this case it was somewhat disconcerting, with the crime scenes overlapping, the MO being so similar, the time frames so close together, and most problematic of all, David Selepe being killed before he could be tried for the Cleveland murders.

The National Commissioner of the Police did, in fact, ask Robert Ressler to look into the case against David Selepe. Together with Micki Pistorius, he pored over the dockets and the evidence, and concluded that Selepe did appear to have been involved in the Cleveland killings.

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