Four days after perfume specialist Monica Ghurde was found murdered in her flat near Panaji, Goa Police tracked down the alleged killer, a 21-year-old man, and arrested him from a hotel in Bengaluru on Sunday, a top official said. Rajkumar Singh, who hails from Punjab, was a security guard in Panaji and had worked in a building complex where Ghurde stayed earlier. “The accused was arrested from Bengaluru, where he had checked into a hotel after committing the crime,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Vimal Gupta told reporters.
Ghurde was found strangled to death in her three-bedroom rented apartment in Sangolda village near here. The 39-year-old’s naked body was recovered on October 6 but investigation revealed she was killed a day earlier. The fashion designer-turned-perfumer had been living alone in the flat since July last. Gupta said police lodged a murder case after her estranged husband Bharat Ramamrutam filed a complaint with Saligao Police Station. After the murder came to light, police swung into action and formed multiple teams, which were dispatched to neighbouring states to gather clues and crack the case which received wide coverage in the media.
Singh had stolen two ATM cards of Ghurde besides her mobile phone, and transactions made through them helped the police to track him, he said. “Keeping in mind the background of the deceased, we were working on different aspects. We had also considered her social life. We adopted non-traditional methods to solve the case,” the IPS officer said. Gupta said besides the local police, Goa Crime Branch was also roped in to crack the case.
Singh, originally a native of Bhatinda in Punjab, became the main suspect after he withdrew cash from an ATM machine in Porvorim, just 5 km from the scene of the crime, on the morning of October 6. Police procured CCTV footage from the ATM booth and identified him with the help of a photo available with them in a tenant verification form submitted to Porvorim Police. The accused had worked as a security guard in a building complex where Ghurde stayed earlier, and was fired from the job following complaints by several residents.
Gupta said Singh had withdrawn money using ATM cards several times at different locations, including Bengaluru. “He had withdrawn more than Rs 1 lakh using both the ATM cards which belonged to Monica,” the DIG said. A team of Goa Police, with help from their Bengaluru counterparts, zeroed in on Singh, who had checked in around midnight last night in the hotel, he said. He was formally placed under arrest on Sunday. Gupta said the motive behind the murder would be known only after interrogation of the accused, who will be brought to Goa on Monday.