Murder mystery back in court
POLICE believed the Kleinmond guest house owner they found floating half-naked, face down in her bath, in 2012 had died of natural causes.
This even though nine fingernails had been ripped from the hands of the retired teacher, Christa Ross, 59.
Her guest house Rossta, in Heuningkloof, was only sealed off as a crime scene after her autopsy revealed the missing nails and that she had been strangled.
The investigative blunder was revealed a half-decade later at Ross’s inquest, which began in the Caledon Magistrate’s Court last week.
The unsolved murder rocked Kleinmond, as did the arrest almost a year later of her then 61-year-old husband Abraham, better known as Rossie, who was released days later after the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute.
At the time, police theorised that Christa had fought while being strangled to death and that her killer ripped out her fingernails to destroy any possible DNA evidence linking him to the crime scene. They also believed that she was then dumped in a bath of warm water to disguise her time of death.
Rossie’s alibi during interrogation was that he last saw his wife alive when he left the guest house at 3.45am to catch a Joburg flight.
Gansbaai detective chief Captain Danie Rautenbach admitted to the inquest court that the scene had not been managed correctly.
The blunder also meant that police only checked out cuts and bruises on Rossie’s body six days after the murder. He claimed he had sustained them a week before his wife’s death.
While examining laptops for evidence of Rossie or his wife having an extramarital affair, said Rautenbach, forensic investigators found regular visits to hard-core porn websites in the months leading up to the murder.
They also found that three months later, Rossie was looking for a new life partner on the internet.
Rautenbach also revealed that he was in possession of a statement from a family friend who alleged that Rossie told him that Christa had been strangled before the police disclosed that information to the family.
The motive for Christa’s murder remains a mystery. Her husband’s version is jealousy, the court heard. “I have thought about it a lot. A third party came through the sliding door. The target was myself and my wife. Someone came to murder us. From the beginning there was jealousy about the guest house. I was very lucky I wasn’t there.”
Some family members consulted a psychic. Her readings are apparently recorded in a statement in the police murder docket.
include unproven accusations that two men, one of them believed to be a former national intelligence operative, conspired to murder Christa after she discovered that they were tied up in some kind of drug deal. Although the psychic identified them, their names cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
Her reading was that one of the men wrapped Christa’s stolen ring worth R30 000 and her nine fingernails in a sheet and tossed them into the sea somewhere between Kleinmond and Cape Town. Mysteriously, she could not explain why Christa’s R100 000 ring was left untouched on her bedside table where it was lying next to the one stolen.
The inquest was postponed until February next year.