Mumbai Crime: Vile Parle physiotherapist's killer an insider, suspect police

Updated: Dec 10, 2016, 13:08 IST | Shiva Devnath

Vile Parle police, investigating murder of physiotherapist Shraddha Panchal (25), who was allegedly raped and subjected to unnatural sex, grill friends, neigbhours and relatives; scan CCTV footage

Shraddha’s body was found in her first-floor bedroom

The Vile Parle police investigating the murder of 25-year-old physiotherapist Shraddha Panchal, who was allegedly raped and sodomised before being strangled to death at her Vile Parle home, said the killing was not planned and that the accused was an insider, who knew the area well. Officers have not yet given a clean chit to her friends.

Panchal lived in a ground-plus-one structure with her parents.

Reconstructing the night
The police said Panchal was last seen by Pallavi alias Pooja Kamble, who had gone to her room after being called over. Before this, the two women had met and gone to the nearest ATM to get cash, where they had bumped into two other friends, identified as Ankit and Chaitali. All four had come back to Panchal’s house and had dinner. Around 10.30 pm, Ankit and Chaitali had left for home, while Kamble had left at 12.30 am. Police sources said she pulled the door closed behind her and asked Panchal to lock it, but the latter just switched off the lights and went to sleep without locking it.

Read Story: Physiotherapist raped, murdered in Vile Parle, body set on fire

The police suspect that someone from outside, who saw the lights on, entered the room and strangulated Panchal while she was asleep.

The accused raped her after killing her, officers suspect, adding that to confirm she was dead, he strangulated her again with her jeans, and later, tried to get rid of the body by burning it but was unsuccessful as the neighbours saw smoke coming from the room.

The discovery
Her mother rushed up from the ground floor to check on the smoke and saw the door latched from outside. She thought her daughter must have stepped out with friends. But, a neighbour, identified as Sachin, peeped in through the window, flashing a torch, and saw Panchal’s body burning. They then broke open the door and doused the fire and informed the police.

The police have formed multiple teams for the probe — to scan the CCTV footage, to look into Panchal’s call logs and her friends, and analyse their phones’ tower locations.

The police have so far questioned around 50 people in connection with the murder, including neighbours and relatives. Her friends’ statements have been recorded, which seem in order and their alibis matching with their mobile tower location. But they haven’t been given a clean chit yet.

Hunt on for clues
The police believe that the murderer is known to the area, corroborated, they added, by the fact that the stray dogs there did not raise an alarm. They are also questioning drug addicts and habitual offenders of the area. Preliminary medical observation in the post-mortem report states that she was strangulated twice, aside from being raped and sodomised. An external injury was also found on her head.

The police have registered an offence under various sections of murder, rape, unnatural sex, house trespass to commit serious offence, destruction of evidence and mischief by starting a fire in the house.

Investigation reveals
>> The killer is a local and knows the area well
>> The stray dogs in the area did not raise an alarm when the killer left
>> The door to Shraddha’s room was latched from the outside

50
Number of people questioned so far in the case

4
Number of close friends who have been detained so far

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