Based on the account of a 12-year-old boy who saw an eight-year-old girl being put into a maroon-coloured car in Airoli on June 29, the police arrested the kidnapper, who turned out to be the uncle of the missing minor. The man, identified as Clarence, has been booked on charges of murder after the victim’s body was found late on Thursday night. A family dispute has been seen as the motive of the crime.
Police have identified the victim as Franshela Sophia Vaz, a Class III student of New Horizon Public School. She was returning home after classes at 5.30 pm. The bus dropped her and four other students at the gate of their building in Airoli.
Vaz’s body was found in a severely decomposed state in a jungle in Bhayandar.
“There was no CCTV camera around the main gate of the Ekvira Darshan society, Sector-8A, where the victim lived with her parents. On June 29, a 12-year-old boy, who recognised Vaz since she belonged to the same locality, saw her being led into a maroon-coloured car by a man,” said Suresh Mengade, deputy commissioner of police (crime) Investigations revealed that the uncle of the victim, Clarence, had a car similar to the one identified by the child witness and also his physical features were similar to the account given by the witness.
“We searched for Clarence at more than five locations and finally traced him on Thursday evening. After making inquiries with him, he confessed that he killed the girl,” said a police officer with Rabale police.
According to Mengade, Clarence in his statement said nearly three months back, he got into a heated argument with the victim’s mother, Sherly Vaz, where Clarence threatened Sherly that she (Sherly) would die in three months after she abused him, saying that he should die on the ship he works on,” Mengade said.
Police said Clarence confessed that he “throttled” the minor in the car on the day he kidnapped her near the jungle in Bhayandar where he dumped the body.
“He said his agenda was to kill Sherly with shock and he attempted to do that by taking away the life of her only daughter,” Mengade said.
Sherly recently underwent a major surgery, due to which she was unable to pick her daughter on the day she was kidnapped. The victim’s father, who works for an IT firm in Andheri SEEPZ, was in Netherlands at the time of the incident.