A 40-year-old woman was found dead at her Oshiwara residence on Wednesday night and her bedroom set on fire to make the death appear accidental. Sushma Darekar was strangled to death and valuables worth Rs 9 lakh stolen from her flat. The police cracked the case in a day with the arrest of Darekar’s driver Pravin Kazve.
They found several discrepancies in his statement during questioning. Kazve told the police that he was in Bandra on Wednesday evening. But, his mobile phone location showed he was in the vicinity of the building during the murder.
The Oshiwara police said Darekar’s neighbours informed the fire control around 9pm on Wednesday that smoke was emanating from her fifth floor flat in the A wing. The fire brigade and local police found Darekar lying dead in the kitchen of her 1BHK flat, and doused the fire inside her bedroom. All the furniture and clothes inside her bedroom had been set ablaze.
“Darekar was taken to Cooper hospital where she was declared dead on arrival. Her post mortem report revealed that she had died from strangulation. She had sustained very few burns and there were strangulation marks on her neck,” said Dilip Rupawate, senior inspector, Oshiwara police.
The Oshiwara police said Darekar lived on the fifth floor of Green park society for the past seven years. Her husband, Sunil, 50, used to visit her frequently, but lives with his first wife at their Vakola residence.
Sushma and Sunil do not have children. Sunil works as a contractor, providing labourers to paint hoardings on the Mumbai-Pune highway. The police said Sunil had hired Kazve as a driver for the family.
After Sushma's body was found, the Oshiwara police contacted Sunil who informed them that Darekar’s mangalsutra, bangles and other gold valuables from the cupboard collectively worth Rs9 lakh were missing. Sunil and Sobhan were in Pune on business during the murder, police said. “The society is not equipped with CCTV cameras. We are investigating further,” said the officer.