Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marleen Konings: The Missing Dutch Girl

Cellular Phones and Pawn Shops

Silver Toyota Tazz
Silver Toyota Tazz

Meanwhile, Leon Rossouw, a private investigator from Bloemfontein specializing in tracking stolen cellular phones, was using his contacts and expertise to trace Marleen's phone. He found it in a nationwide second-hand store, in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth. It had been sold by a man named Dave McGraw on January 5. He had also peddled a car radio which turned out to have come from the hired Toyota Tazz. At another outlet of the same chainstore in the same city, police would later recover Marleen's Minolta camera, sold by "CRR Cowley".

A second phone linked to this man was traced to a pawn shop in Mossel Bay, where he had sold it on December 23. It actually belonged to a woman from the Northwest province, who told the investigator that it had disappeared along with a man who had boarded at her house. Rossouw informed Capt. Viljoen of what he had learnt and that McGraw's real name appeared to be Ferdinandt Mostert. Mostert, Viljoen discovered, was not a stranger to the South African Police Service. In fact, he was wanted on a parole violation. He had been released from a prison near Carolina, in the Mpumalanga province, in June 2003—having been incarcerated for fraud—and simply disappeared in November.

Mostert didn't look unlike the identikit of Rob Cowley either.

Marleen's simcard remained active and Rossouw determined that it was located in Upington, where calls continued to be made from whatever phone was now housing it. Following decent roads, Upington is 390 miles from Beaufort West in a northerly direction. On Wednesday, January 14, Capt. Viljoen found Mostert in a guesthouse. Mostert introduced himself as "Dave McGraw" and Viljoen initially played along.

At length Viljoen arrested Mostert for fraud—using Marleen's credit card to pay for a room at a guesthouse in Beaufort West and signing in as "McGraw Ellis Konings"—and questioned him some more about the girl. Mostert stated that he wished "to do everything I can to help finding this girl," according to the Cape Argus of December 3, 2004, but that he was suffering from amnesia. He would, however, provide the detective with information as it came to him.

The suspect in custody
The suspect in custody

After police took him into custody, they asked him to remove his clothes, which were sent for forensic examination.


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