|A police officer collects evidence from the roof of the Noida building. (Top) Retired police officer KK Gautam, who found Hemrajs body on the terrace. Pictures by Prem Singh
New Delhi, May 17: A bloody terrace; a blood-soaked handprint, a cooler filled with blood-red water and a decomposed body Ś this is what was left of Noida polices main suspect, Hemraj, in the murder of 15-year-old Aarushi Talwar.
Hemraj, the familys 45-year-old household help, had been denounced as the killer almost immediately after the teenager was found dead in her bed yesterday morning.
Aarushi was found with her throat slit and injuries on her head that police said might have been inflicted by a heavy sharp-edged instrument.
The police Ś who said the Class IX student had been raped, only to rule that out today Ś even announced a reward of Rs 20,000 for information about his whereabouts.
The discovery of Hemrajs body on the terrace of the house barely 24 hours later has left Noida police red-faced. They grappled for an explanation why they did not spot the bloodstains on the stairs leading up to the terrace and why the crime scene was not investigated properly.
Hemrajs body was found by the Talwars next-door neighbour, K.K. Gautam, a former deputy commissioner of police.
I went to their house to console the family when my police instincts took over. I checked Hemrajs room and the bathroom and then noticed the bloodstains on the stairs leading to the terrace. When I reached the gate, I saw that it was locked and then I broke open the door and found Hemrajs body lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He had a slit mark on his throat and many injury marks on his body. His body was severely decomposed, Gautam said.
Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh admitted that the police had bungled in failing to find the body.
Police officials have confirmed that injury marks and slit marks on both victims are similar.
Noida SSP Mahesh Mishra said: Hemraj was killed in a manner similar to Aarushi and he was probably killed at the same time as the schoolgirl. But we are still to get the post-mortem reports, so nothing is conclusive. We are also yet to find a motive behind Arushis murder as rape has now been conclusively ruled out.
Prima facie evidence suggests Hemrajs body was dragged at least 20 feet and dumped near the water tank on top of the building. His face was also badly damaged, but his relatives positively identified him.
Late tonight, Mishra was transferred to Varanasi. The case will now be handled by additional SP, Allahabad, Asok Tripathy.
The case has now turned on its head.
Neighbours who live in similar apartments asked how Aarushis parents could have slept through two murders. I am telling you these walls are so thin that you can hear your next-door neighbour talking through them. How could they have not heard anything? Maybe they were drugged, one said.
This is one question that the police are probing.
Sources said more than one liquor bottle was found in the bedroom of the Talwars, who are both dental surgeons, suggesting they might not have woken up because they were sleeping under the influence of alcohol.
After his body was found, people in the neighbourhood also came forward to vouch for Hemraj, who had been working for the family for eight months.
He was a quiet sort of a guy. He would hardly be seen outside other than the times when he would take the clothes to the dhobi, said another neighbour.