A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of doctoral student Abhijit Mahato at Duke University in North Carolina, even as his body was sent from Durham to reach his hometown in Jharkhand January 26.
Police on Wednesday charged 19-year-old Stephen Lavance Oates Junior, a Durham resident, with murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with the death of Mahato.
The body of the PhD student at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering was found January 18 night in his apartment near the campus.
A picture of Oates, an African American, has been released by the police. He has a criminal record going back to two years of break-ins and assault on a female. He is scheduled to appear in court later on Thursday.
Oates and 20-year-old William Dozia Smith, along with two 14-year-olds, were arrested on robbery charges following a chase Tuesday night in Durham and Wake County.
According to the police, the arrests are likely to solve some of the recent rash of robberies in the area, 30 this month, mainly argeting Hispanics.
Talking about the crime wave in Durham, Mayor William Bell Tuesday said: "We have got to get tougher on those who commit violent crimes with guns."
Duke president Richard Brodhead has blamed the recent crime wave in Durham for Mahato's death.
Meanwhile, an Indian embassy team from Washington met the chief of staff of the attorney general in Raleigh, capital of North Carolina, who offered help from the State Bureau of Investigation if Durham police failed to solve Mahato's case.
Alok Padney, senior member of the embassy team, told IANS that Mahato's body was sent by road to New York Wednesday night. It will be taken by an Air India flight to New Delhi from JFK airport Thursday evening. It will reach Ranchi January 26.
Mahato's grandfather Dhananjay Mahato is a former legislator in Jharkhand. Mahato did his bachelors in engineering from Jadavpur University in Kolkata and MTech from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
He worked at GE Global Research Centre in Bangalore for two years before joining Duke about two years ago.