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An elderly British couple was savagely murdered with their bodies thrown to crocodiles in a South African nature reserve four years ago. The brutal killing was allegedly committed by a gang who attacked and kidnapped the two seniors while they were out looking for rare seeds. During a court hearing on Tuesday, the pair were said to have been camping in the remote Ngoye Forest Reserve when they vanished without a trace in February 2018.

The victims were identified as Rod Saunders, 74, a horticulturist and his wife Rachel, 63, a microbiologist. Both were respected botanists who spent six years scouring wild mountains and forests all over the world for rare seeds which the couple sold via their mail-order business. During their travels in South Africa, the couple was last heard from on Feb 9. Unbeknownst to their loved ones, the couple was targeted by a local gang, kidnapped, and allegedly beaten to death, with their bodies wrapped in their sleeping bags and thrown into a river infested with crocodiles, the Daily Mail reported.

Days later, fishermen pulled their bodies out of the water. The corpses were horrifically decomposed and completely unrecognizable as they were viciously devoured by the reptiles. The bodies were brought to mortuaries, who were only able to identify them as the missing couple after DNA tests were conducted months later when British authorities could find no trace of the elderly couple.

Mirror reported that the full-scale hunt for the missing botanist saw the arrest of four people. Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and their lodger at the time Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35 all of whom were arrested and charged with kidnapping, murder, robbery, and theft. However, they all pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Police said the suspects murdered the couple on the evening of Feb 10, the same day they were reported missing. Evidence presented to the Durban High Court showed several text messages between Del Vecchio, Patel and Jackson stating there was an elderly couple nearby they could “target” and serve as a good “hunt”. A number of receipts of items bought with Rachel Saunders’ credit card were also found in Patel’s handbag.

The fourth suspect is alleged to have bought the phones of the missing couple but was not involved in their kidnapping. The trial continues with the suspects being given a suspended sentence for the return of vital evidence.

26-foot crocodile that swallowed boy in Indoneisa cut open
26-foot crocodile that swallowed boy in Indoneisa cut open Viral Press photo