Matunga murder: Cops missed suspected killer by a few seconds

Jun 23, 2016, 19:51 IST | Asif Rizvi

Over a fortnight after a senior citizen was murdered in her home in Matunga, not only have the local police failed to establish the motive or the culprit behind the crime, but equally frustratingly, it turns out they were just seconds away from catching the man who might have been the killer when he tried to enter the crime scene on Tuesday evening.

Manjula Vora was found dead on her kitchen floor on June 6 after an unidentified assailant slit her throat
Manjula Vora was found dead on her kitchen floor on June 6 after an unidentified assailant slit her throat

Yesterday, mid-day had reported that two weeks after Manjula Vora was killed in flat number 502 in Pranav Residency, an unidentified man tried to enter the building on Tuesday evening but fled after the watchman called the cops.
What made the man suspicious was the fact that he wore clothes that were similar to those of the suspected killer – a white shirt and blue pants and cap. The watchman’s suspicions were raised when the man said he wanted to go the fifth floor but refused to enter his details into the register. The suspect said he was illiterate and asked the guard to enter his details for him.

There are only two flats on the fifth floor – one is flat 502, where the deceased woman lived, and the other is 501. When the watchman called the residents of 501 on the intercom, they said they weren’t expecting anybody. By this time, the man had already begun to walk away, so the watchman decided to report the matter to the police. As luck would have it, the building was crawling with cops who were searching for clues in the murder case. Some of the cops were in the building lobby, just a few feet away from the suspect. Despite being so close, however, the cops couldn’t catch him.

“On June 21 at 6.45 pm, there were at least 10 police officers present in Pranav society. A few of them were in the lobby on the ground floor, while others were on the fifth floor, assisting forensic experts who had come to look for evidence in Manjula’s house. The watchman and a few police officials tried to chase the suspect, but he disappeared within moments,” said sources.

Who is he?
A police officer said, “We questioned the watchman who had raised the alarm and he described the man’s appearance, but it is still not clear whether this man is the same person who was seen fleeing the building on the day of the murder. We are in the process of magnifying whatever CCTV footage we have to get a clear picture of the suspect.”

CCTV cameras installed in the nearby Balaji Krupa building (diagonally opposite Pranav Residency) captured the man walking towards Pranav Residency but his face was obscured by a cap, just like it was on the day of the murder. A little later, he was soppted walking back on the same road, but only his back was captured. “He can been seen walking on Balang Road and then returning towards Chandrawarkar Road. But after that, it is not clear whether he took a left to go to Matunga station or walked till Bhandarkar Marg, which is the main road,” said sources.

The case so far
>> On the evening of June 6, Manjula Vora was found dead on her kitchen floor in flat number 502. Her throat had been slit and her body lay in a pool of blood.

>> She lived with her mentally challenged brother, Ravi Lal, but he is wheelchair-bound and cannot speak clearly

>> Her body was discovered by their family doctor, Dilip Shah, who often visited them for check-ups

>> Dr Shah is the sole witness and also the complainant, and he caught a brief glimpse of the suspect, who had opened the door for him before escaping

>> However, efforts to make a sketch based on the doctor’s description failed as it did not match the CCTV images of the man

>> Cops are scanning for mobiles that were active near the building between 6:30 pm and 7 pm to check if the suspect had a cell phone

Number of people who have been questioned in the case

Number of statements recorded by police

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