'Serial killer came in the dark and killed our grannies'
Broken son speaks after suspect nabbed for three murders in two Pietermaritzburg old age homes
After the detectives had left and the crime scene tape was lifted, Tim O’Connor lingered in his 92-year-old mother Patricia’s room.
Unbeknown to him, his mother’s violent slaying at the hands of an intruder would be the first of three at old age homes which lie adjacent to one another in the Pietermaritzburg city centre.
“I spent some time with her in her room,” he said, recounting the moments before her body was taken away.
The meek and frail woman – unable to even walk on her own – had been strangled to death in a brutal robbery in her room at the Kenwyn home on Pietermaritz Street on July 21.
Days later, in the Jacaranda Lodge next door, 89-year-old Roland Heathcote was stabbed to death and, this week, 89-year-old Patricia Tugwell had her throat slit with scissors after a man had forced his way into her room.“Its been exactly three weeks and we assume that she was killed early in the morning, or perhaps late on the night before. One of the staff had found her when they brought her breakfast to her room,” O’Connor said.
“Age does not confer dignity and those who know you, watch you crumble, and all you want is some peace and quiet to see out your twilight years. She knew that and she was on top of that situation. Her health wasn’t good and she accepted what was coming, just not in the manner that it came,” he added.In the early hours of Wednesday morning police placed handcuffs on a 28-year-old man they believe is linked to the murders.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said detectives were confident that they had their man.
“He was positively linked to three murders that were reported last month. The suspect is still being profiled to check if he is linked to other cases of house breaking in the area,” he said.He will appear in court on Friday and face three charges of murder.
O’Connor said that his mother, like Heathcote and Tugwell, had posed no threat to anyone.
“She could barely walk without her little walker and she was absolutely feeble in every sense. She could have offered no physical resistance and yet she was strangled to death for paltry belongings.”Among the jewellery which was stolen from her room was her wedding ring which she had treasured for 60 years.
“She was my mom, the quintessential mother. She nurtured and nourished all of us. She lost my father when I was a baby and she did eventually remarry but he also passed 40 years ago. She had a long run as a person without a partner and she was fine [on her own in Johannesburg] until her health deteriorated so we set her up down here,” he said.
“There is no reason for these people to have been murdered. Everything that he stole he could have done by intimidation alone. Knowing what she went through in her final moments is troubling but now that someone has been arrested, I hope the outcome has some glimmer of positivity,” he added.