70-yr-old woman, daughter-in-law found murdered in northeast Delhi, man detained
Investigators said they suspect the involvement of someone known to the women as there were no signs of a forced entry into their house.
A 70-year-old bed-ridden woman and her 48-year-old daughter-in-law were stabbed to death at their home in Subhash Park near Jafrabad, north-east Delhi, by unknown assailants who also ransacked their residence and decamped with cash, jewellery and valuables worth lakhs of rupees, police said on Tuesday.
Police added they had detained a suspect, but did not disclose his identity.
The semi-decomposed bodies of Bimla Devi and her daughter-in-law Dolly Rai were found around 4am on Tuesday by Dolly’s sons, Shashank Rai, 26, and Sarthak Rai, 24, after they returned from a three-day vacation in Uttarakhand, police said.
Investigators said they suspect that the perpetrators were known to the women as there were no signs of a forced entry to the house. They also suspect the women may have been murdered nearly 48 hours before the bodies were discovered.
The family’s pet dog, a Bullmastiff, was found chained and locked in a room on the ground floor, a police officer associated with the probe said, and added that they suspect the perpetrators locked the dog up “to ensure it does not raise an alarm”. Relatives of the two dead women said the family never chained or locked the dog in the house.
“The dog was calm and silent when he was rescued. It could be because of two reasons – either the dog was starving as it did not get food and water for a couple of days or the killers had sedated it. We have sent the dog to an acquaintance’s house,” said Dolly’s niece Pranita Sharma.
Police, however, said the dog was yet to be medically examined.
According to police, Bilma Devi and Dolly, both widows, and Shashank and Sarthak lived in the four-storey building. Dolly’s husband, Alok Rai, died around three years ago. The family owns a religious goods business in Chandni Chowk.
After Rai’s death, Shashank and Sarthak expanded the business and opened a packaging unit for religious goods on the second and third floors of their house. They had employed six-seven people at the unit, said another relative Prerna Sharma.
According to Pranita, Shashank and Sarthak left Delhi with friends on August 13 for a vacation in Uttarakhand. The packaging unit was closed on August 14 and 15 on account of Independence Day. The business was to resume on Tuesday (August 16), when they returned home.
The double murder came to light when the two brothers returned home around 4am on Tuesday, and knocked on the main gate several times but their mother did not respond, Pranita said. They also tried to contact her and their grandmother on their cellphones but they did not answer. They then opened the gate with a spare key.
“Shashank went inside first and found his mother lying in a pool of blood on the sofa in the living room on the ground floor. He rushed out and told Sarthak, who went up to the first floor, where he found his grandmother dead on the bed. Sarthak called me and informed me about the murders. At first I thought it was a prank. I called Shashank and he confirmed the murders,” said Pranita.
Deputy commissioner of police (northeast) Sanjay Kumar Sain said that police received a call about the murders at 4.20am. A police team reached the house and found Dolly’s semi-decomposed body, with multiple stab wounds in the abdomen, on a sofa on the ground floor. They found Bimla stabbed and smothered to death with a pillow in her bed on the first floor, the DCP said.
He said the house had been ransacked, and, according to relatives, cash, jewellery and an Apple smart watch were missing. Police cordoned off the crime scene, which was inspected by the crime spot investigation team and forensic experts. They also collected important evidence. Thereafter, the bodies were removed and shifted to the mortuary of a government hospital, the DCP said.
“We have registered a case and several teams are working on it. Prime facie it appears that the women were murdered so the house could be robbed. We suspect the role of someone known to them. The case will be cracked soon,” said DCP Sain.
Pranita said the two brothers had last spoken to their mother and grandmother on the night of August 13. The next morning around 11am, they had sent one of their friends to the house to check on the two women and see if they required anything.
“That was the last time anyone saw my aunt and grandmother,” she said.
Investigators said that apart from questioning the friend, they were also probing the role of a woman domestic help who visited the house every day. The help did not come to work on August 15. She was also absent from work at another house in the locality, they added.