Delhi murder: A fridge, 2am trips to get rid of body parts; clean-up lasted 3 months
It was on May 18, following an argument, that Poonawala allegedly strangled Walker. Though he had not pursued a career as a chef, the police said, his training came in handy as he allegedly chopped his partner’s body into at least 35 pieces using a hacksaw.
Aaftab Amin Poonawala, 28, who was arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly killing his live-in partner Shraddha Vikas Walkar, had completed a hotel management course from a private institute in Mumbai, and for a few months had worked as a trainee chef at a luxury hotel in that city, where he was trained in cutting meat, officers aware of the case said on Monday.
After moving to Delhi in the first week of May, Poonawala and Walker stayed at a friend’s house before renting a two-room flat in south Delhi’s Chhattarpur Pahadi, said an officer who asked not to be named.
It was on May 18, following an argument, that Poonawala allegedly strangled Walker. Though he had not pursued a career as a chef, the police said, his training came in handy as he allegedly chopped his partner’s body into at least 35 pieces using a hacksaw. Poonawala was formally arrested on November 12.
Also read | Delhi murder: Poonawala took tips from TV shows, Walkar kept to herself
“Poonawala told us that he had watched some movies and TV shows, including ‘Dexter’, an American crime show which deals with a serial killer disposing of bodies. He used the same modus operandi to get rid of Walker’s body. He took two days to cut her body parts into at least 35 pieces. Aftab claims he purchased a hacksaw with multiple blades for ₹150 from a local market in Chhatarpur. But he used only one blade to chop the body,” said a senior police officer, quoting Poonawala’s disclosure statement.
Additional deputy commissioner of police Ankit Chauhan said Poonawala did not use a hacksaw but had bought a “heavy sharp weapon” and used it to cut the body, adding to what appear to be several mysteries that continue to dog the case.
The police have not yet recovered the tool allegedly used in the crime, or any forensics evidence from the residence where the murder took place. They said some bone fragments had been recovered but are yet to determine if these have were of a human body.
According to police, Poonawala, in his disclosure statement, has said that apart from purchasing the tool to chop up the body, he also purchased a refrigerator from a nearby market for ₹19,000 on May 19, a day after he allegedly strangled Shraddha.
“He purchased the refrigerator solely for the purpose of preserving the chopped body parts. After disposing of all the chopped body parts, Poonawala never used the refrigerator to store any food or water,” said a second police officer.
A disclosure statement does not contain evidentiary value – prosecution can only be based on confessions if they have been recorded in front of a magistrate.
What happened on May 18?
According to Poonawala’s disclosure statement, as shared by the police, the couple had an argument on the night of May 18, when Walker suspected Poonawala of having an affair and pressed him to marry her.
“Poonawala revealed that Walker said something offensive, which left him enraged. The couple had a scuffle in the bedroom. He claims that he pushed Walker on the bed, sat on her chest and choked her, due to which she died. After seeing her dead, Poonawala panicked and spent the entire night thinking about ways in which he could dispose of her body,” said the second officer.
On May 19 at around 11 am, police said quoting the disclosure statement, Poonawala went to a local market and purchased the tool and the refrigerator, paying for the latter online.
After the refrigerator was delivered, he allegedly dragged the body to the bathroom, and turned on the tap to ensure that his chopping the body could not be heard, said a third police officer, asking not to be named.
“Poonawala told us that he took two days to complete chopping the body. After that, he washed blood from them and stuffed them in some plastic bags. He kept all the plastic bags in the refrigerator,” the third officer said.
To ensure that no foul smell emerged from the flat, the senior officer said quoting the disclosures, Poonawala lit incense sticks at multiple places inside the flat. “He told us that the entire flat remained full of smoke but the fragrance of the incense sticks did not let the foul smell of the body go out of the flat,” the third officer said.
Asked about how he wiped the blood from the bathroom and the rest of the flat, the police said Poonawala told them that he had used acid used in clean toilets to wipe down the bathroom, the floor and the refrigerator.
Getting rid of the body
According to police, Poonawala disposed of the body parts over three months. The first time was on May 21, at around 2 am when he left the residence with a backpack.
He walked about 1.5km, reaching deep inside a forested area near a crematorium in Chhatarpur, and threw the body parts at different places, the police said, quoting the disclosures.
“We are yet to recover the head and the tool used in the offence, as well as the backpack he used. Poonawala has claimed that he threw them in the forested area. He also removed all her clothes and other belongings from the flat and disposed them off,” the first officer said, adding that they took Poonawala to a spot in Mehrauli but could not find the alleged tool used to chop the body.
Investigators said Poonawala told them that after the murder, he kept her mobile phone on and used her Instagram account to exchange messages with friends, but never answered calls.
Around a fortnight after the murder, he switched off her phone and threw it in a river while travelling to Mumbai and Ahmedabad. After returning from Mumbai, he started working at a call centre in Gurugram.
“Through technical investigation, we have learnt that Poonawala was also using Walker’s credit card after her death and he would pay off the dues on her card. His objective was to ensure that nobody suspected she was not alive,” said the second officer.
The second officer said Poonawala was earning around ₹50,000 a month at the Gurugram call. He did not cook at home and ordered food online.
According to the officer, Poonawala did not leave the flat because of a six-month lock-in period, for which the landlord had taken a security deposit.
“Poonawala disclosed that a few weeks after the murder, he again became active on the dating app through which he met Walker. He has told us he met another woman on the app and entered a relationship with her. His new girlfriend from Delhi even visited the flat where Walker was killed,” the officer said.