Resort murder suspect arrested

Man returns from Cape Town to hand himself in after detective seeks family’s help

The man sought in connection with the murder of a 34-year-old woman at the Pine Lodge Resort in Port Elizabeth last week has been arrested, after he had earlier fled the city. The 25-year-old suspect, who will appear in court today, had worked as a casual staff member at the resort.

He handed himself in to police in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Police top brass yesterday hailed the work of Detective Constable John Leppan, who had worked “48 hours straight” to ensure the arrest.

While the motive for the murder remains unclear, police detectives and forensic experts found used condoms in the staff quarters where the woman was believed to have been killed.

Until the postmortem results are received, it also remains unclear whether she was raped and exactly what caused her death.

CCTV footage at the resort showed a man in blue overalls running with the partly naked woman over his shoulders at about 4.10am on Thursday.

He had allegedly run out of the staff room and placed the body under bushes bordering the Cape Recife nature reserve before fleeing.

The woman’s identity has since been established.

Only once her family arrives in Port Elizabeth from KwaZulu-Natal later this week to identify the body will her name be released.

The man was arrested after his family, who live in Cape Town, were informed that he had fled Port Elizabeth and was being sought.

Humewood Police Station commander Brigadier Ronald Koll said Leppan had been tracking the man since Thursday morning and established that he had fled the city shortly after the death occurred.

“Detective Leppan worked through the day and night tracking the man and following up leads."

“Within hours of the body being found, the suspect had been identified. It was then established that he had fled the Bay,” Koll said.

“Leppan had contacted the man’s family in Cape Town and informed them he was being sought. “While Leppan was preparing to drive down to Cape Town this weekend, the suspect walked into Humewood Police Station and handed himself over.”

Koll said that because Leppan had convinced the man’s relatives to assist the police, they had actually located him in Cape Town.

“[The family] played a vital role in finding him. The relatives knew where he would go,” he said.

“After locating him, [they] purchased a bus ticket to the Bay and placed him on the next trip back. “If this detective did not persist as he did, the chances are the suspect would still be on the run.”

Asked if detectives were planning to oppose bail, Koll said they were worried that if the suspect was released, he would flee again.

“He is also being uncooperative, leaving questions around the motive [for the murder].”

No visible injuries were found on the woman’s body, but splatters of blood were found on her face.

Pine Lodge manager Dale Tucker said they were all relieved to hear about the arrest.

“While it in no way diminishes the tragic events of the past few days, there is some consolation in the fact that justice will be done,” Tucker said.

“Our congratulations go to the police for their speedy arrest and we are glad our Pine Lodge staff could assist by providing the detailed CCTV footage that will help bring a close to this senseless act.”

The man is due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court today to face a charge of murder.