A suspect in the Kahawatte multiple murder case filmed the last crime scene and made a CD with the intention of perfecting his next murder, the police said.  They said the suspect Namal Chaminda Silva used his mobile phone to film the crime scene after the killing of a mother and daughter – the last [...]


Piecing together the Kahawatte multiple murders

One suspect video filmed the crime scene; Chief suspects wanted more killings to divert the attention of police

A suspect in the Kahawatte multiple murder case filmed the last crime scene and made a CD with the intention of perfecting his next murder, the police said.  They said the suspect Namal Chaminda Silva used his mobile phone to film the crime scene after the killing of a mother and daughter – the last two victims — and loaded the clips onto a CD, but some scenes were not so clear.

The suspects in the killing of the Premawathie and Pushpa brought to courts: Namal (top) Siripala (middle) and Mithila and Sisira


However, police caught up with him before he and his accomplices carried out their next double murder.
Namal Chaminda Silva, a vehicle painter, was one of the four suspects arrested by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) after two months of intense investigations that helped the detectives to piece together the mystery behind the gruesome serial killing that shocked not only the village of Kotakethana in Kahawatte, but also the entire country.

The police identified the other suspects as Sisira Priyantha alias Thushara, Mithila and Acharige Siripala.
The detectives said the breakthrough came after they arrested Siripala, a coconut plucker who was regularly hired by Premawathie, one of the last two victims, to clean her garden. But in hindsight, the detectives believed it was Namal who had worked out the plans to mislead the police.

“Namal was a smooth operator. He misled police by giving false information and implicating several innocent people to avoid being suspected for the crime,” a detective said.

The lies he spread, implicating others, led to a situation where everyone in the village suspected everyone else, with the police interrogating several people, the detective said. The neighbours stopped talking to each other and even close relatives did not trust one another. The villagers refused to discuss the murders though they were living in panic, not knowing who the next victim would be.

Namal also spread a rumour that the police were in cahoots with the killers and succeeded in generating suspicion on the police. People resisted the setting up of police posts in the village. “They spread the rumour that it was the police who passed information about lonely women to the killers,” a detective said.

Namal worked closely with the police because he was an active member of the civil security committee of the village. He joined others in night patrolling to protect the villagers from the serial killers. He had even helped police to capture a suspect wanted in a murder case. These actions earned him the respect of the villagers and the police. His liaison with the police helped him to know in advance the movements of the police patrols in the night.

Police believe the arrest of the suspects had come before they targeted their next victims – a mother and daughter duo, who would have been the seventh and the eighth victims.

The daughter, a young woman, called the police after she heard sounds of movements outside her house for three consecutive nights. She told the detectives that she lived close to the house where Premawathie and her daughter – the last two victims – were killed by the serial killers. Her brother occasionally stayed with them. She also said that because of the fear of the serial killers, they sometimes stayed in a relative’s house.

Sisira Piriyantha alias Thushara, one of the suspects in police custody, was the adopted son of the parents of Dharshana alias Raju, who is the main suspect in the double murder of Kavindya Chathurangani (19) and her mother Nayana Nilmini (52). This was first of the three double murders that shook Kahawatte. It took place on January 31. Police arrested Raju and his brother Dharmasiri, a member of the Godakawela Pradeshiya Sabha, in connection with the first double murder. They are in remand.
Mithila, another suspect in police custody, is the elder brother of a three-wheeler driver, whose three-wheeler was used in the crime.

The major breakthrough in the investigations came when police interrogated Siripala, the coconut plucker. He told CCD detectives how U.G. Premawathie and her daughter, Pushpakumari, the last two victims, were killed. They were killed, Siripala confessed, to mislead the police in their investigations into the first double murder. Raju and Dharmasiri — the suspects arrested for the first double murder — wanted the police to believe that the killer was still at large.

Siripala was questioned by the police on a previous occasion too. “He pretended to be a patient,” the Police said. “He even tried to implicate Premawathie’s daughter-in-law in the crime. But we managed to corner him,” a detective said.
The detectives said they may ask Siripala to turn state witness because of insufficient circumstantial evidence. The suspects had destroyed vital evidence.

Siripala in his confession told police that he was approached by Namal who had obtained the contract to kill Premawathie and Pushpakumari. The contract to kill any two women was given by Raju and his brother Dharmasiri when Namal visited them in remand prison. The contract was worth a mere Rs. 100,000.

Namal was to be helped by Thushara, the adopted brother of Raju and Dharmasiri. Mithila, whose brother had a three-wheeler, was also roped in for the job. They used Siripala to gain entry to Premawathie’s house since he carried out household chores of the women.

On the night of the July 18, the four had approached Premawathie’s house. Sripala called Premawathie out on the pretext that he needed some money as his wife had suddenly fallen ill.

As she opened the door Namal and Thushara moved into the house and dealt her a blow, making her fall on the floor unconscious. Alerted by the commotion in the verandah, Pushpakumari came looking for her mother. The killers thrust a knife into her several times. They then turned their attention on Premawathie who was regaining consciousness. They stabbed her again and then raped the dying or the dead girl. They then wrapped the two bodies in clothes and set fire to them to destroy all evidence of the crime.

The detectives are investigating whether the same gang was involved in the killings of two elderly women Hethunge Dayawathie and Hethunge Thilakawathie in the same village on May 31. They were sisters.

Investigations are being carried out by a police team comprising ASP Nuwan Wedasinghe, OIC CI Hemantha Dickovita and IP Rohan Olugala under the supervision of the Western Province Deputy Inspector General Anura Senanayake and CCD Director D.R.L. Ranaweera

(Additional reporting by our Kahawatte correspondent Lasantha Niroshan.)

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