Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)
Crossbow killer’s third husband dies of cancer
Louisa Chatburn met Hein Bruhin while she was serving her prison sentence
THE Cape Town woman dubbed the Crossbow Killer after she murdered her second husband in the early 1990s lost her third husband last week.
The former Kraaifontein resident, Louisa Chatburn, now 57, was sentenced to 25 years in jail in November 1992 for shooting her husband Graham through the head with a crossbow. He was 17 years her senior. His badly decomposed body was found wrapped in plastic in the Liesbeek River.
The 49-year-old could only be identified after a forensic expert stripped the skin off his hand and fitted it like a glove over the hand of an assistant to obtain a fingerprint.
Chatburn originally told police the crossbow had accidentally discharged during a struggle in their kitchen for the weapon and in a panic dumped his body. Later in court she changed her story saying that she had killed her husband because of his unacceptable sexual demands.
But the judge found that Chatburn had planned the murder and shot her husband in their bed. Although there was insufficient evidence to convict him, he also found that Louisa was probably assisted by her evangelist lover and crossbow collector Gerhard Erasmus as she could not have loaded the crossbow herself and lacked the strength to lift her husband’s body into her car.
It also emerged from the trial that Chatburn was still alive when he was dumped in the Liesbeek.
Chatburn met her third husband, Hein Bruhin, while serving her sentence in Pollsmoor. They were introduced, says a source, through a mutual friend who used to visit her regularly.
Chatburn was released from jail in September 2007 under strict parole conditions that lasted until November 2015. During that time she had to appear before the parole board every six months, consult a psychologist for two years, attend sessions with a criminologist and work with pastors of the Restorative Justice organisation.
A month after her parole ended she married Bruhin, an employee of Watneys Plant Hire in Kraaifontein. They lived in Kuils River.
Bruhin died on March 14 at the age of 58 after being diagnosed with cancer in November.
“One day Hein was working the next he was bedridden and he never returned to work,” says a source.
His well-attended funeral was held at Kraaifontein Pinkster Protestante Kerk and he was later cremated.
Born in Kimberley to a mother who abandoned her at four months and a father who neglected her, Louisa married Fanie du Toit shortly after leaving school. Twelve years into their marriage he committed suicide in July 1989 using her gun. She married Chatburn four months later.
If she had served her full sentence Louisa would have only been released this November.
Graham Chatburn’sfamily strongly opposed Louisa’s early release. They insisted that she had protected Erasmus and claimed she had murdered her first husband even though an inquest had ruled suicide.
Erasmus died of cancer while Louisa was incarcerated.