Murder-accused Mortimer Saunders, 40, CREDIT: Supplied

* This article has been updated.

The 40-year-old comes from a devout family who is respected in the community.

His father is a priest in the Old Apostolic Church.

Saunders was a student at Elsies River Senior Secondary School, where he matriculated in 1995.

He is employed as a team leader for WNS Global Services SA, a call centre based in the city centre.

Saunders was described as a decent and trusted man by his landlords, Courtney’s parents, whose room he rented for the past few years.

He has two young daughters from two women who also live in the area.

The sweet, soft-spoken man is a childhood friend of Courtney’s father Aaron Fourie.

No one in the house suspected Saunders. He was someone who could be trusted with their children.

When Courtney vanished on 4 May, he joined the searches, the prayer meetings and supported her parents through their ordeal.

Courtney Pieters' alleged killer stands in her doorway during a prayer vigil held for her, three days after she went missing. CREDIT: Bronwyn Davids

When he was arrested on 15 May, the family and the community felt betrayed.

Courtney’s aunt, Magdelene Petersen said: “A lot of people were asking us if we trust him and if he might not have been involved, we defended him because we thought we knew him.

“My niece loved him as he would buy her chips and sweets, he would call her to the room to watch cartoons as he had DStv.”

Mortimer Saunders visited the crime scene were Courtney's body was discovered a day before his first court appearance.

A colleague, who worked under Saunders, who asked to remain anonymous, described him as “very helpful” and “kind to everyone”.

When she saw his face in the Daily Voice, her response was: “It can’t be him. You have the wrong guy.”