A suspect has confessed to murdering 15 women after luring them into budget hotel rooms in Nigeria, potentially ending a killing spree that has terrorised the country’s oil capital, Port Harcourt.
Gracious David-West, believed to be 39 and unemployed, said that “an irresistible urge to kill” had repeatedly driven him onto the streets in search of female victims over the past two months.
“I take a girl into a hotel, we eat, make love and sleep,” he told a press conference in Port Harcourt, where he was arrested last week. “Later I wake up in the middle of the night and put a kitchen knife to her neck ordering her not to shout.”
After turning up the volume on the television, Mr David-West said he would tie his victims up with strips torn from the pillow-case on his bed before strangling them.
“I don’t know what comes over me to kill,” he added. “After I have killed I feel remorse and cry but after that the irresistible urge to kill comes over me again.”
At least nine of the victims were killed in Port Harcourt, including three murdered over a single weekend earlier this month.
The killings prompted widespread anger in the city, which mounted after the regional police chief, Mustapha Dandaura, suggested that the women were partly responsible for their deaths, saying, “I don’t know why people will be sleeping with people they don’t know.”
He also suggested that some of the victims were prostitutes.
Women’s groups marched through the city holding banners reading, “Respect women, don’t kill them.”
The regional government apologised for appearing to blame the dead women.
“A lot of the victims might have been careless, but it would be wrong to address them as prostitutes,” it said in a statement.
Police will hope Mr David-West’s confession will bring an end to the killings. However, it is unclear if he acted alone after he admitted to being an affiliate of one of Nigeria’s most notorious university fraternities.
The suspect said he used to be a member of Deebham, the street-wing of the Klansmen Konfraternity at the University of Calabar.
University fraternities in Nigeria have long been linked to voodoo, violent crime and even murder. Some created street gangs in order to compete for territory outside campuses.
Deebham, whose members are not generally students, has been linked to the kidnapping of expatriate oil workers and rich Nigerians.
It has no record, however, of killing and raping women and Mr David-West insisted that he had not acted on behalf of the group.
"I kill alone," he said.