The murder motive

IT took police a few days before they were able to close in on their suspect in a murder case.

They were initially told that

the victim had died after

being gored by a cow.

But the post-mortem examination revealed several

knife wounds on the victim and the pathologist

briefed the police

investigating team about it.

From there, police took up the case as one of murder and they worked round-the-clock to nab the killer.

They narrowed down their suspects to two and then ruled one out, leaving the other as the main suspect in the woman’s murder.

When police arrested and questioned him, the suspect admitted killing the woman

in Nadi in 1995 and he also

told them why he killed her.

As The Fiji Times wraps up the three part series today, we take a look at what the killer told police and the

story of the deceased being

gored to death by a cow.

DHARMEN Chandra was tasked by his senior officer to interview the man who police suspected had brutally killed a woman in a canefield in Nadi more than two decades ago.

Mr Chandra was a detective based at Nadi Police Station’s crime branch then and he had played a major role in solving a murder case about one year prior to that incident.

The former police officer, who now lives in Modesto, California, US, told this newspaper the suspect admitted killing the woman in his police caution interview.

“On the day of the murder, the suspect then said he was returning home after harvesting sugar cane when he saw the woman grazing cattle in the grazing land which was surrounded by cane farms,” he said.

“He could see the woman because his house was on an elevated area and he usually followed the road that ran in front of his house.

“When I interviewed him under caution, he said he took a shortcut beside the cane fields to get to where the woman was grazing her cattle.

“The suspect said he made advances towards the woman with a different intention and she kicked him, freed herself and ran towards the cane fields.

“He then ran after her and struck her with the caneknife, hitting her on the face and partly chopping her ear. The woman fell down and he then struck her with the knife several times.”

Mr Chandra said the suspect then followed a shortcut to his house and stopped at a tap beside the road, across his house.

He washed the caneknife, his boots and himself and went home, where he soaked his clothes in a bucket of water, washed the caneknife again and had his shower.

He said the suspect then tucked the caneknife under the mattress in his bedroom.

“During the caution interview, I recovered a pair of long pants, long sleeve shirt and a pair of boots from the suspect’s house, which he claimed to be wearing on the day of the murder, and also the caneknife,” he said.

“The suspect said in his caution interview that he decided to kill the woman because he got scared when she told him that she would report to police what he was trying to do.

“His motive was something else but it resulted in murder.”

Mr Chandra said the suspect was formally charged at about 4am on a Monday morning for one count of murder.

He said the then Divisional Crime Officer Western, Superintendent of Police Selva Rajan Naicker thanked every member of the investigating team for solving the case in six days.

“There was no lead when we took over this investigation but hard work, commitment and detective ability is what produced the best results.

“We mixed some kava and waited in the Nadi police bure for the suspect to be produced in the Nadi Magistrates Court.

“He was remanded in custody and later committed to the High Court in Lautoka.

“The murder case was finally solved and it was only possible through the hard work of the investigation team. The team was proud of its achievement in this case,” he said.

The accused was dealt with by the High Court in Lautoka one year later for the crime he committed and was punished accordingly.

Mr Chandra said this was another difficult case for the team of police detectives and one that would be remembered when he and his colleagues may talk about homicide investigations.

* The gored by a cow story

According to Mr Chandra, a relative of the murder victim lived in the same compound as her.

“On the day of the murder, at about midday, she heard the victim’s three-year-old son crying at her door and when she went to check, she couldn’t see the victim,” he said.

“She then went to the grazing land and saw the victim lying beside the canefield.

“There was a cow standing beside the victim and the relative thought that she was gored by the cow.

“She then ran towards her house and on the way met a Fijian of Indian descent man who was driving his tractor.

“She stopped and told the man that the deceased had been gored by a cow.

“The matter was reported at Sabeto Police Station as the deceased being gored by a cow. The police officer who initially visited the scene believed what he heard.

“Thus, the initial story of the deceased being gored to death by a cow until the post-mortem proved otherwise,” said Mr Chandra.

* NEXT WEEK:

The unsolved Lautoka murder.

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