Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Tanya Flowerday: Snuff Victim?


Tanya Flowerday
Tanya Flowerday

Until October 8, 2003, Tanya Kelly Flowerday was just another South African murder victim, not even warranting a mention in the newspapers. She had been brutally murdered four months earlier, on June 13, and left on a sidewalk in the Darrenwood area of Randburg, Johannesburg. But on the evening of October 7, an investigative program, called Spits, revealed that she might have been the first known victim of a snuff movie in South Africa.

The next day, the newspapers took notice.

South Africa highlighted
South Africa highlighted

South Africa took notice.

Unfortunately, on that tragic weekend back in June, the South African Police Service had not.

The initial stages of the police investigation into Tanya Flowerday's disappearance were a textbook example of how not to investigate crime. Nothing was done right.

Tanya was 18 years old. Her father, Bob, was training her to become a manager in their take-away delivery business. They were planning to expand and Tanya would run an additional branch. On Friday the 13th of June, 2003, she asked her father to drop her off at Julian's Bistro, a club in Randburg. She knew the members of the band that was playing there.

Bob Flowerday dropped his daughter off, told her to phone him when she wanted to come home, and said goodbye to her for the last time.

Tanya Flowerday
Tanya Flowerday

Tanya did not call. She also did not send her father an SMS to explain that she was staying over at a friend's.

On Saturday morning, Bob and his wife Delores were worried. It wasn't like Tanya not to let them know where she was. Bob called her cellular phone, but it was switched off. He called her friends, but no one knew where she was. When the time for her afternoon shift at a restaurant came, and they had still heard nothing from Tanya, Bob went to the police.

At the Linden police station, the anxious father was told to wait 24 hours, which he reluctantly did. In fact, there is no minimum time period in South Africa when it comes to missing persons. Police officers are supposed to take the information and start looking for the person immediately.

Bob Flowerday returned the next day. This time he was sent to the Fairland police station, because there were no missing persons forms at Linden. Fairland told him that they wouldn't be able to do anything before he brought them a photo of the missing girl. He returned with an ID photo, but it wasn't good enough. The distraught father was told that they required a full-length photograph. At last Bob lost his cool, and finally succeeded in getting the police officers to take a missing persons report. 

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