Number of victims: 22
Date of murders: 1986 - 1994
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Known as the “Station Strangler, Norman Avzal Simons, was a rapist and serial killer who preyed on young boys in Cape Town, South Africa. The moniker relates to his preference for luring his victims from railroad stations.
The case first hit the news in October 1986, when police unearthed the body of 14-year-old Jonathan Claasen, near Modderdam station in Bellville South. Over the next eight years, the corpses of young boys would turn up on a regular basis, many of them confined to communal graves. All of the victims had been sodomised before being strangled to death. All were found buried face down, with their hands tied behind their backs. The victims’ underwear had in some cases been used as a garrotte. Hand-written notes were also found in some of the graves.
With parents in the Cape Flats area in uproar, the South African Police launched the biggest manhunt in their history. It culminated in the arrest of an unlikely suspect, Grade 5 teacher Norman Simons.
Simons would ultimately stand trial for just one murder, that of nine-year-old Elroy van Rooyen. However, conviction in that case was enough to earn him a life sentence. Although Simons continues to protest his innocence, it is telling that the murders stopped immediately after his arrest.