A couple who reached Chennai from California early on Saturday were murdered allegedly by their driver and his friend, police said, adding that they arrested the duo—who had fled in the former’s car with 9 kg of gold and 60 kg of silver jewellery—from Ongole in Andhra Pradesh, 300km north, by the evening.
According to the police, after Srikanth (60) and Anuradha (53), who had been in the US with their children for the past 10 months, reached Chennai airport around 3.30am, driver Krishna picked up and dropped them at their home at Dwaraka Colony in Mylapore’s Brindavan Nagar.
Additional commissioner of police (south) N Kannan, said the murders happened around 1pm. “After they went to the US, Srikanath came to Chennai for a brief visit two months ago and went back. During that period, Krishna overheard a phone conversation made by Srikanth about a big property sale worth Rs 40 crore. He assumed the cash had been kept in the house. Even though Krishna was staying there, he did not have the keys. So he decided to wait for their arrival and committed the crime along with a friend, Ravi Rai from Darjeeling,” said Kannan.
Krishna, who is from Nepal, had worked for Srikanth for about seven years. His parents had worked at Srikanth’s farmhouse on Chennai’s East Coast Road for nearly 20 years. Krishna also was given a room at their Mylapore home and was allowed to use their car in their absence.
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It was their US-based daughter Sunantha who raised the first alarm as she could not contact her parents. She asked a family friend to visit the couple, but the door of the house was found locked and the car was missing, according to the police.
When a police team reached the house around noon and broke open the door, it found remains of bloodstains and emptied shelves. The police accessed the call data records of Srikanth’s phone, which had received FastTag messages showing that their car had passed through toll booths on the Chennai-Kolkata national highway. The police then informed their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh.
The police said they found evidence of suspicious activity also at the family’s farmhouse on Chennai’s outskirts.
Meanwhile, the police traced Krishna’s phone to Ongole and alerted the Andhra police, who arrested both the accused. “If the police probe were delayed for a few more hours, they would have crossed the border and entered Nepal,” said Kannan.
The additional commissioner of police said Krishna had married a Tamil woman and that they were separated now. Their son is studying in Darjeeling. “That is how Krishna befriended Ravi Rai, who helped Krishna in the crime,” he said.
According to the police, Krishna and Ravi had confessed that Anuradha was killed on the first floor and that Srikanth was attacked in the work area on the ground floor. They allegedly used a rounded blunt object to kill the couple. “After the murders, they opened the locker. Even though Rs 40 crore was not there in the locker, there were 9kg of gold and about 60 kg of silver. They took the jewellery, wrapped the bodies in bedsheets, cleaned the house with Dettol and shifted the bodies to the farm house on ECR,” Kannan said.
Before leaving the Mylapore house, the accused also took the hard disk that had been recording CCTV footage, the police added.