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South Delhi triple murders: Abrupt visit to flat, unusual request nailed killer couple

Police said they learnt about Preeti when they spoke to the elderly couple’s daughter and enquired about the people who had access to the flat or had visited her parents recently.

delhi Updated: Jun 27, 2019 07:35 IST
Karn Pratap Singh
Karn Pratap Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
crime news,burglary,theft
The daughter (R) of an elderly couple who were found murdered along with their domestic help at their house, is comforted by a relative, at Vasant Apartments, in Vasant Vihar.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

An “abrupt” visit to the Vasant Apartments flat without her mobile, coaxing the elderly couple’s daughter to let her stay a night at their flat and switching on one of the four stolen mobile phones briefly to book a hotel room helped investigators nail Preeti Sehrawat, and her live-in partner Manoj Bhatt for the horrific Vasant Vihar triple murders

Preeti Sehrawat, 42, and her live-in partner, Manoj Bhatt, 39, were arrested early Wednesday morning from a hotel in Gurugram, where they were putting up since Tuesday after killing Vishnu Mathur,79, his wife Shashi Mathur,75, and their nursing attendant, Khushbu Nautiyal, 20. The three bodies were discovered in the elderly couple’s first floor flat by their domestic help, Babli on Sunday.

Investigators said Preeti and Manoj had tried to mislead the police by dressing up the crime scene.

“They had placed a condom packet on the bed to puzzle us. Two glasses with traces of alcohol, a packet of cigarettes and butts of cigarettes and beedis found in Nautiyal’s room made investigators probe the role of someone close to the three dead people. Initially we even suspected the role of the nursing attendant’s close friend,” said an officer, requesting anonymity.

Police said they learnt about Preeti when they spoke to the elderly couple’s daughter and enquired about the people who had access to the flat or had visited her parents recently. The daughter told them that on June 17 night, Preeti, who had last been in touch with her parents four years ago, had come to stay for a night.

“The couple’s daughter told us that Preeti had claimed that she needed to stay the night at their flat as she had some work in the locality the following morning. Preeti had also spoken to her through a video call using Nautiyal’s cellphone. This was strange,” the officer cited above said.

As investigators began verifying Preeti’s antecedents, police found that her mobile had been switched off during the time of the three murders. Police also learnt that she was in a live-in relationship with a man named Manoj Bhatt.

“We checked Manoj’s background and found that he was arrested in 2010 for killing his wife and stayed in jail for five years. He was, however, acquitted in the case as the charges against him were not proved. His cellphone was also found to be switched off at the time of the murders,” the officer added.

While the police were collecting details about the duo, Vishnu’s stolen mobile phone was switched on for just 10 seconds on Sunday morning for booking a hotel room online with a different SIM card. “We visited the hotel in Gurugram and learnt that the couple had checked out on Tuesday morning. We finally caught the duo in another hotel,” said another investigator.

Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Rajesh Deo said Preeti and Manoj confessed that they were constantly on the lookout for vulnerable target. The two zeroed on the elderly couple hoping to get huge cash and valuables.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police on Wednesday released a statement and said, “We regularly spread awareness about safety and security measures for the senior citizens. Once again we appeal that incase any old acquaintance resurfaces after some time they must be verified before believing them or giving access to them to one’s home.”

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 05:31 IST

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