When they married last September, she made sure it happened on the terrace of a hotel near the Taj Mahal. She wanted the ceremony with the monument of love in the backdrop, and hoped it would seal their love forever.
Five months later, on Thursday evening, autorickshaw driver Bunty allegedly stabbed his American wife Arianne to death and, half an hour later, set himself on fire in Agra’s Rajpur Chungi neighbourhood. They suspected each other of infidelity, police said.
Bunty was 32, Arianne 35. She came to Agra in July 2013 with friends, and fell in love with the man who showed them around the town in his autorickshaw. She stayed back in Agra and let her friends move on, and started living with Bunty. On October 11, a month after exchanging vows, they registered their wedding in court, police said.
“Following a quarrel on Thursday evening, Bunty stabbed Arianne Michael Willinger to death on Tucker Road before setting himself ablaze at his rented accommodation two kilometres away. Each of them believed the other was unfaithful, which we think triggered the incident,” Agra SSP Shalabh Mathur said.
Police received a PCR call at 7.45 pm, saying a foreigner had been found stabbed to death by the side of Tucker Road. The caller said the woman had been dumped by a man who came in an autorickshaw. About half an hour later, police received another call about an explosion in Rajpur Chungi.
Police found a portion of the second floor of a building in flames. After residents managed to douse the fire, a badly charred body was found. Outside, police found an autorickshaw with bloodstains on its seat and a blood-stained knife lying inside.
“It seems Bunty went home after killing Arianne, opened the gas cylinder and allowed the inflammable fumes to spread all over his home before lighting a fire,” Mathur said. Police said Arianne had at least five stab wounds on her face and head.
According to police, soon after the wedding, the couple got suspicious about each other. In December, Arianne allegedly discovered things which she did not know about Bunty, and decided to live separately.
Police said Bunty had been married once earlier, and this wife had been found dead in mysterious circumstances, a case that remains unsolved. On December 5, 2008, Bunty went to jail for alleged involvement in the murder of a friend over the friend’s Spanish girlfriend.
Arianne moved to Tajganj, while Bunty began to live in Sanjay Nagar. Arianne filed a complaint with police saying she feared Bunty would attack her, and accused him of infidelity. The police organised counseling for them, where, according to police, Arianne accused Bunty of going back on his promises to show her around the country, and of neglecting her. Bunty accused her of smoking too much, talking to other men, and not staying at home.
Bunty’s landlord has told police that despite all this, however, the couple continued to meet at Bunty’s home. They had met on Thursday as well.
Mathur said the US embassy had been informed, and they were trying to get in touch with Arianne’s family.