A telephone number accidentally left behind by a couple involved in the gruesome murder of a businesswoman in Kurunegala last week helped police track down the killers within a span of five days investigators told The Sunday Times.
The suspects -a couple, who were having an illicit affair- had posed as a married couple to obtain employment at the residence of the victim -Ms. Mallika Yatawara- of Sumangala Mawatha in Kurunegala.
Ms. Yatawara a mother of two daughters and the owner of several drapery stores in the town lived by herself.
|Above, the body;inset the victim Ms. Mallika Yatawara. Below the house where the murder was committed
She was an active member of civil society holding the position of the secretary of the civil committee set up to maintain security in the town. Two other female employees resided in her house. Her driver Anura Wimalasiri (36) and his wife were frequent visitors to the house.
Ms. Yatawara had recently purchased a piece of land adjoining her house on which she was engaged in horticulture. According to residents it was part of her routine to visit the place every morning.
On that fateful day as was customary she had got down her manager to finalise banking arrangements. Together they had counted Rs. 1.2 million which was to be banked the following day and placed it in a secret location in the house.
The manager had left around 10.00 am. A few hours later as Ms. Yatawara did not answer when her driver called; he contacted the manager to check her whereabouts. When the driver and manager arrived at the residence, they found the gate locked unusually from outside and called in the police.
When the police broke open the locks and entered the house they discovered the gruesome remains of Ms. Yatawara.
They also noted the recently employed couple was missing, as was the file containing details of the couple.
However a telephone number left behind by the female domestic helped police trace her residence in Wellampitiya. They were also able to identify the man as a resident from Kadirana north in Negombo.
Subsequently the duo were arrested at Ja-Ela and at Ragama.
Investigations revealed both the man and the woman were married, had abandoned their spouses and were carrying on an illicit affair.
They posed as a couple and obtained employment responding to a newspaper advertisement.
District Crime Detection Bureau OIC Chief Police Inspector H.H.P Herath told The Sunday Times the couple planned the murder and robbery subsequent to their gaining employment after observing the wealth of their employer.
On questioning the suspects police learned after the manager had left her, Ms. Yatawara had walked into the pantry looking for a knife to peel a mango. At this point the female domestic attacked her throwing chili powder at her face. However she missed the target. The man who was ready and armed with a pole is said to have dealt her a blow on the head.
Ms. Yatawara had then begged the couple not to hurt her but to take anything they wanted from the house. However the man had dealt her another blow to the head and she fell unconscious. They had then used a nylon cord to strangle her, dragged the body upstairs where the man slit her throat.
The couple had however not been able to find the Rs. 1.2 million and had taken only Rs. 55,000, a digital camera and a DVD player.
They had then spent some time in Nuwara Eliya and Kandy, where after a dispute they parted ways.
It was after this the police arrested them.
Investigations were directed by SSP Cyril Fernando who appointed two teams to search for the suspects, one of them was led by Kurunegala Police OIC Chief Inspector Mangala Wickremanayaka and the other by the OIC of the Crime Investigations Unit of the Kurunegala division H.H.P. Herath.
The teams included OIC (Crime) Pushpakumara, IP Athula Abeyratna, SI Tudor Abeywickrama.