A 78-year-old woman was murdered in her home in Matunga on Monday evening. Police said an unidentified man slit her throat in her kitchen while her wheelchair-bound elder brother was in the next room.
Police said victim Manjula Vora lived in a fifth-floor apartment of Pranav Residency near Matunga railway station. Manjula and her brother Ravilal Doshi (85) had been living together for more than three decades. According to family members and neighbours, Ravilal suffers from a mental illness.
The murder came to light when Manjula’s family doctor Dilip Shaha visited her house for Ravilal’s check-up on June 6.
“Shaha was called around 4 pm but could only make it by 7.40 pm. When he went to flat 503 and rang the doorbell, nobody answered the door. He returned to the lobby to make an intercom call to the house. A man claiming to be the new cook received the call,” said an investigator.
The officer added that when Shaha approached Manjula’s door again, he saw a man in his 30s standing at the door.
“Shaha in his statement has told us that the unknown man claimed to be late for another cooking job and rushed out of the house once the doctor entered. The unidentified man told Shaha that Manjula was in the bathroom and their food had been cooked,” the officer said.
Police said Shaha met Ravilal who was at the dining table and asked him about Manjula. “Ravilal told him she was making laddoos in the kitchen. When Shaha went to the kitchen, he found Manjula lying in a pool of blood with her throat slit. Manjula was found without a pulse, the doctor said,” the officer added.
According to the police, a murder case was subsequently registered at the Matunga police station against the unknown person seen leaving Manjula’s residence.
According to the investigators, CCTV footage shows the accused entering the building premises through an unguarded gate. “The accused is seen entering the lobby from behind a seated watchman. The accused appears to have known about the position of the security cameras and is wearing a cap to hide his face and is holding a white bag,” an officer said.
Preliminary investigation revealed that Manjula could have met her alleged murderer two days before her death.
“We have made inquiries with one of the two watchmen who claimed that on Saturday evening, Manjula met a middle-aged man outside the building. She is believed to have hired the unknown man as a cook. She did not have a cook for the last four months,” a said senior police officer.
There is no CCTV camera on the fifth floor of the building. Since there was no sign of forced entry, the police believe that the accused would have gained access into the house with Manjula opening the door.
According to the police, nothing was stolen from the house.
“The accused is seen carrying a white cloth bag in the CCTV footage. We are making inquires with the local shops if they have seen the person. A sketch of the accused has already been prepared with the help of Shaha, who is the only person to have seen the face of the accused,” an investigator said.
Pranav Residency was constructed in 2004 after Manjula, who was the landlady of the plot where once her Vora House stood, had sold it to a builder for redevelopment.
Police have detained two persons for inquiry and sent a team to Udiapur to find the cook who left his job at Manjula’s residence earlier this year. Unit IV of the crime branch is also making inquiries.
Manjula has one sister who stays in Chinchpokli and has no children. Her husband is believed to have passed away 32 years ago.
“The motive is still unclear. With the arrival of Dr Shaha, the accused could not have robbed the house. We have not recovered the murder weapon as the accused may have been carrying it in his white bag,” a police officer said.