Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Tanya Flowerday: Snuff Victim?


It would be a gross understatement to say that circumstances were less than ideal at the Linden police station during the period that Tanya Flowerday was murdered. According to the Beeld of October 25, 2003, the thirty-six investigating officers—of whom a number was on sick leave due to stress—had 2,222 dockets to investigate among them, an average of 62 each. They had to share three vehicles, one of which already had 187,500 miles on the odometer.

Despite this, Inspector Christelle Steinhöbel, the only female detective at Linden, asked whether she could investigate Tanya's case. Although no progress had been made thus far, she was determined that the case could be solved. She took over the docket on July 7, 2003.

Insp. Steinhöbel turned to cellular phone records. She discovered three important clues. Tanya had phoned someone from Julian's Bistro on the night of her disappearance. Early the next morning, at 1:20 a.m., she had sent an SMS to a friend, implying that she had still been alive and presumably unharmed at that time. But later that afternoon, at around 2:00 p.m., her SIM-card had been exchanged for another one.

With the help of an informant, Insp. Steinhöbel developed a suspect. His name was Ronald Edward Grimsley, aged 25, who worked at a film company where he was involved in making advertisements. He had had some run-ins with the police before. In addition, Tanya had been seen leaving Julian's Bistro with him on the night of her murder. An employee and friend of Tanya's said she had never seen Grimsley before. He arrived, met up with Tanya, and they left together less than ten minutes later. Bob Flowerday knew him as well. His daughter had introduced Grimsley to him a few days before she was killed.

Ronald Edward Grimsley
Ronald Edward Grimsley

Ronnie Grimsley was arrested on July 18, initially on an arrest warrant related to fraud. During questioning, he tearfully revealed information about Tanya's murder. He took detectives to the murder scene near a house in Fontainebleau, northwest of Darrenwood where he had dumped the body, and also confessed before a magistrate.

While he was in the holding cells at Linden police station, Grimsley cut himself with a blade and hanged himself with a sheet. He was discovered and taken to a hospital, where he was declared brain dead. For several weeks Grimsley lay in a coma. But death was not to be his yet, and he awoke after almost two months.

Grimsley had left a would-be suicide note. The Cape Times of September 2, 2004, reprinted a large portion thereof:

Please mom forgive me I won't lie anymore not to you's or to myself for what happened on the 13 June 2003 cannot be changed.

You's are maybe asking yourselfs the question "why" I've done what I've done [the suicide attempt]. There is only one thing I can think of and that's to make the pain I'm causing our family to end. A lot of questions will go unanswered but know that with all my heart I'm sorry for it all.

That young lady had her whole life ahead of her but it was ended before her time. And her parents don't have much else to live for. She was the only child and what has happened is unforgivable at least in my eyes.

To Mr and Mrs Flowerday all I can stay [sic] is Lord have mercy on my soul. You's have been robbed of all your joy and happiness. I cannot even begin to understand the pain and sorrow that has been forced onto your lifes.

According to the Beeld of the same date, Grimsley also wrote:

I'm really sorry about what happened. Please try to forgive me. I want you to know that I've used drugs for the past nine years. The only way to support my addiction is through stealing, lying and scheming—and this is where I've ended up.

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