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Author accidentally solves murder case [Interview]

The fascinating story of an author who correctly guessed so many details of the Krugersdorp Murders investigation that she got interrogated by the police.

Electus per Deus is a novel about a detective desperately trying to solve a series of occult murders.

This type of plot is not uncommon for horror stories, or murder mysteries. What makes this particular novel special is that it was inspired by true events. True events that only came fully to light after the novel was first published.

When the police came across the novel, they were understandably a bit spooked to find many of the facts aligned with real life murders they were investigating – the Krugersdorp Murders! They immediately called the author, Bianca Pheasant, in for questioning. What they didn’t know was that she was good friends with one of the accused while at school, and was particularly good at guessing the rest of the information.

 

The Krugersdorp Murders

A small group who called themselves “Electus per Deus” (Chosen by God) were recently convicted for 11 murders committed between 2012 and 2016. The mastermind, Cecilia Steyn, was found guilty of 32 charges. Her co-accused, Zak Valentine (Bianca’s childhood friend) was found guilty of 22 counts.

The murder spree started in 2012 after Cecilia joined a religious group, Overcomers Through Christ (OTC) claiming to need deliverance from Satanism. Her co-accused were part of the same group and followed her when she left the group and launched a series of attacks against it and its leader.

The first victims were a member of OTC and her close friend who were stabbed to death. The next victim was a pastor friend of the OTC leader. The next murder was Zak’s wife.

Zak later faked his own death in order for Cecilia to claim the insurance.

 

Interview with the author

 

Hi Bianca, thanks for agreeing to this interview. What first inspired you to write Electus per Deus?

When the stories about the Krugersdorp killings appeared in the newspapers I made a joke with my employer by telling him, “I’m going to write a book about a serial killer lurking the streets of Krugersdorp”.  We laughed about it.

Little did I know, a very dear friend of mine, who was supposed to be dead, was very much alive and involved with the people who committed these Krugersdorp murders.  That was it for me.  There was no turning back.  Once I got over the shock of what was actually going on, I just HAD to write the book.

 

Tell us about the day the police contacted you!

I was at work, minding my own business when my phone rang.  I didn’t recognise the number but answered it anyway.  The voice on the other side introduced himself as Ben Booysen, Inspector for the Hawks.  At first I thought someone was pulling my socks but it didn’t take long before it was clear he was not joking.  I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never been so nervous in my life.

 

Did you ever discover how they found your book? 

Yup, our good old trusted Facebook.

 

What was going through your head when they called you in for questioning? 

I didn’t want to go and tried to avoid it at all cost.  But there was no way out of it.  I was convinced that I was in huge trouble.  I knew it was a risk when I started writing the book because the trial hadn’t even started yet, but to be called in by the head investigator to be questioned by the State Prosecutor himself was very intimidating.

 

What was it like being questioned? (How long did they keep you and what sort of thing did they ask?)

They questioned me for approximately an hour and a half.  Firstly they wanted to know where I got my information from.  Did I have contact with any of the accused?  Was I part of the group?  I told them I got all the information from news articles.  They then told me that I wrote about stuff that was never published to the public so my story doesn’t add up.  All I could do was try and convince them that I guessed the rest.  My history with Zak and the fact that I had a bit to do with Cecilia (the mastermind of the group) gave me an advantage others did not have.

 

They told you to stop selling the book until the trials were over, what was the reason they gave? 

Because of all the truths in the book, they feared that the defense team would claim the police leaked information which might hurt their case.

 

Now the book is for sale again, can you disclose some of the details that you guessed correctly? (spoiler alert!)

The relationships between Zak and Cecilia, Cecilia and Marinda and Marcel and John.  All of this was apparently true.  Then there was the ATM camera footage which led to the capture of the Steyn siblings.  This was never revealed in any article.  But the biggest red flag of all was the fact that I linked the 2012 murders with this group.  That was not public knowledge and kept tightly under wrap by police.

 

How did you connect the 2012 murders to the group found guilty of the Krugersdorp Murders?

I used one of the walls in my bedroom to get the timeline of my story as accurate as possible.  I made notes and printed photos to attach to the wall.  Starting with Zak’s “resurrection” I worked my way through to the Krugersdorp Murders.  I connected each suspect to each murder and each person who had any connection with another with red line [picture above].

While I was busy doing this, something told me to dig deeper into Zak’s wife’s death as it was still unsolved at the time.  I soon realised that she and Zak joined the ministry on Cecilia’s suggestion.  Following the lines on my wall, it was as clear as day to me.  Cecilia and her gang had to be responsible for Mikeila’s death.  And they were.

 

In what ways does your story differ from the true story of the Krugersdorp Murders?

To answer this, I have to go back to the very beginning.  When we (Zak and I) were fourteen, Cecilia entered our lives via church.  She played the same card she played with Ria Groenewald, the founder of the Overcomers Through Christ ministry.  She claimed to have been a satanist and wished to leave that life.  So, she got involved with our youth group, which was where I got to know Cecilia.

At the early age of fourteen (Cecilia was eighteen at the time), I was able to see right through her.  To cut a long story short, her lies was soon revealed and she left the church.  A few years later I heard via the grapevine that she and Zak reconnected and she was studying to become a pastor.  I wasn’t pleased with the fact that she was in Zak’s life.

Anyway, when I discovered Zak was involved with the 2012 killings, which included his wife, I was furious.

I believed, and still do as a matter of fact, that Cecilia somehow influenced Zak to do the things he did.  I am in no way taking his side or trying to make light of his crimes; I just believe he was influenced by her.  Anyone who knew Zak and Cecilia on a personal level will know why I feel the way I do.

So, because I was livid with Cecilia, I refused to give her the credit of being boss lady and decided to make Marinda the mastermind.  In the book, Cecilia is, and excuse my language, Marinda’s little bitch.  Her lapdog.

Other than that, I brought in a few extra characters because, at the time of writing, there was still a lot of holes in the plot.  I wasn’t sure who committed which murders so I created extra characters to fill those roles.

I also gave the story a strong romance plot just to balance out the blood and gore a bit.  Oh, and everyone dies in my book.

 

What was the most shocking part of the trials for you?

The most shocking to me was when I learned the group purchased pig heads to practice on.  They wanted to determine how hard one had to swing an axe at a person’s head to kill them.  Then the realisation that my friend, a person I grew up with and loved, was part of it all.  It still baffles me.

 

Do you have any other stories in this genre in the works?

After my fiasco with the police I decided to stick to fiction.  I’ve written a few short stories and the first novel in a series called Mama’s Retribution.  And if any cops are reading this blog, I promise it’s all fiction!

*photo supplied by Bianca Pheasant

Electus per Deus by Bianca Pheasant

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