Four gay men in Johannesburg, South Africa, have been brutally murdered in the last 10 months, and local police and crime scene investigators are investigating whether a serial killer may be stalking the city’s gays.
All four men were found bound and strangled to death inside private homes in the greater Johannesburg area. According to Independent Online, the police working on all four cases say there are no signs of forced entry or robbery, indicating that the victims likely knew the killer or killers.
Barney van Heerden, 39, was the most recent victim. Security guards at his home discovered his body September 19 after they noticed his garage door was open and his front door unlocked. Inside, half-empty glasses of wine were found on the kitchen table, leading police to believe Van Heerden might have known his killer.
Three previous murders also bear striking similarities to Van Heerden’s case, including the December 2010 attack on Jim Cathels; the June killing of Oscar O’Hara; and the slaying of Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, who was found at his home September 11. All four men were bound and gagged, all were in their 30s, at least two of them had profiles on gay dating websites, and none of their homes had signs of forced entry. Nhlapo’s case did differ slightly; his attacker apparently poured acid on his body after he died.
Because of the strength needed for strangulation, police say they haven’t ruled out multiple attackers, perhaps a homophobic group. As frightened LGBT folks have come forward with stories of recent violence that may or may not be related, police warned that gay men who fit the "profile" shouldn’t invite strangers into their homes