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Murder mystery deepens

03 August 2015 - 08:21 By SHANAAZ EGGINGTON

Police are trying to establish how the man arrested in connection with the murder of US businesswoman Gaby Alban entered South Africa. The 39-year-old Los Angeles woman was found dead in a room at a luxury Cape Town hotel on Wednesday with faeces on her head and a curling iron next to her body.Diego Dougherty Novella, a 41-year-old Guatemalan arrested in connection with the murder and being held at Pollsmoor prison, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Friday. He is to appear in court again tomorrow.Police sources close to the investigation said they were trying to establish the true identity of the man known as Novella because the passport found on the murder scene - a room at the exclusive Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel - does not contain a South African port-of-entry stamp.In several overseas publications, Novella, who has links to Mexico and Italy, is also referred to as Diego Guarte, who is barred from entering the US for reasons that are still unclear.The murder has made international headlines, with some reports saying that the Guatemalan was found wandering semi-naked on a Camps Bay beach.It has also been alleged that police found cocaine in the hotel room.William Booth, a Cape Town criminal lawyer acting for Novella, could not confirm claims that Alban and his client had had a drug-fuelled sex session, that Novella was found half-naked on a beach or that there were questions about Novella's passport and identity.It is not known whether Novella is employed. He has university qualifications.Alban, on the other hand, was a corporate high-flyer in the marketing industry but went from being an influential Latina businesswoman in the US to being a "tax delinquent" in only 10 years.In 2002 she co-founded the Conexión Agency which, according to reports, provided Hispanic marketing services to, among others, Fortune 500 clients. She also worked on the "Latinisation" of soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.She is of Mexican descent and was born and raised in Los Angeles. Last year, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported that she was a "tax delinquent" when she failed to pay for a municipal business licence.She told the newspaper that she broke her back in 2012 and the medical bills had left her cash-strapped.But her luxury stay in Camps Bay set her back thousands of rands every night. The cheapest price for a room at the hotel is R3,150 a night; a suite costs R4,800 a night.She was found by a cleaner, fully clothed, but with faeces on her head. Police sources said they suspected she was suffocated or strangled.She was severely beaten. An autopsy found extensive internal and external wounds...

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