Police said today the man whom senior journalist Mel Gunasekara had hired to paint her residence at Christmas time was believed to have stabbed her to death on Sunday when his attempt to rob an empty house had failed because she might have accosted him.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana told a news conference held at the Mirihana Police Station where the suspect Samson Joseph Anthony (39) was being detained that the killing was initially rumoured to be linked to her work as a journalist at a leading media organisation but it was not so.
“There were no eyewitnesses so we had to look for clues. We found a finger print inside the house,” he said.
SSP Rohana said the police sniffer dogs had stopped close to where CCTV cameras were installed at the house of a prominent public servant down Subodhipura Mawatha in Battaramulla.
“When we examined the video footage we found that a man chewing betel and wearing a yellow shirt and a light blue denim leaving the area a short while later wearing a black trouser and a blue shirt,” he said. “We found the betel he had left behind. When we showed the images to Ms. Gunasekara’s parents they identified the man as the mason who painted their house at Christmas time. We traced the suspect through his mobile phone. He was also unable to switch off the BlackBerry mobile phone which he robbed and was in his possession.”
SSP Rohana said the man had later thrown away the battery but with the information obtained from communication towers he was arrested at Dompe.
“He lives in Dompe with his wife and three children,” he said.
During interrogation the suspect admitted to have entered the house from the backyard and was taken by surprise when Ms. Gunasekara accosted him because the family members without fail were known to attend Sunday service between 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m.
The suspect said it was when she had screamed at him that he grabbed the knife lying on the table and stabbed Ms. Gunasekera several times.
“I washed the knife and changed my clothes. I wore a black trouser and a blue shirt belonging to the victim’s brother,” he said.
Ms. Gunasekera is reported to have attended a school function the previous night and had slept over.
Police said investigations had revealed that the suspect had observed the movements of the family for some time before breaking into the house.
Police warned people to be more cautious when employing painters, masons, gardeners and electricians or when allowing sales reps to enter the house without proper identification.
“It is the duty of the police to solve crimes but it is also the duty and the responsibility of all concerned as far as possible to prevent crimes from taking place,” he noted.
The investigations were carried out by police personnel led by Mirihana Special Crimes Operations Unit Inspector Nimal Karunaratne under the directions of Colombo South DIG Sumith Edirisinghe.
“We will produce him Courts and detain him for questioning for 48 hours after obtaining the necessary detention orders,” SSP Rohana said. (Supun Dias and Sanath Desmond)
Comments - 9
Bandula Kothalawala Monday, 03 February 2014 02:34 PM
Congratulations for the good work! However, I cannot understand why the spokesperson was showing the exhibits to the public instead of handing them over to forensic experts. He does not seem to be concerned about contaminating the valuable evidence. Bandula Kothalawala London
Basil Fernando Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:31 AM
"Case of the Missing Painter" Detective story by Ajith Rohana with court productions on public display
with court productions on public display')" type="button" class="btn btn-outline-secondary btn-sm" style="padding-top: 0px; padding-bottom: 2px">Reply
Dr Najimudeen Monday, 03 February 2014 03:58 PM
Our police department is very efficient. Unfortunately many times their hands are tied and due to this pressure many crimes are not solved
Clarence Allegakone Monday, 03 February 2014 07:30 PM
Good job by the Police in nabbing the suspect quickly and efficiently!
roland kuranage Monday, 03 February 2014 07:57 PM
Great job...congratulations Srilanka police
ANTON Monday, 03 February 2014 01:34 PM
HOW ON EARTH THIS MAN CUT THAT INNOCENT, EDUCATED LADIES NECK WITH TWO DAMN KNIVES, JUST FOE 2000 RUPEES, ANYWAY MOTHER LANKA LOST ANOTHER TALENTED WOMEN WITHOUT ANY REASON.
ANTON Monday, 03 February 2014 01:37 PM
SHE REMINDS ME ANOTHER YOUNG TALENTED GIRL WHO LOST HER LIFE IN THE SAME WAY, SAGARICA GOMES.
Jim pappa Monday, 03 February 2014 02:08 PM
How much is a human life worth, Anthny ? A few thousand rupees ? No, you don't understand, and you never will.
Marikkar Tuesday, 04 February 2014 12:51 AM
I am sorry to say there is a huge and well planned strategy and conspiracy exists behind this killing, all the arrest and investigations are nothing but a drama orchestrated to the tune of the planners behind. Again we lost another educated and independent journalist.
We as Sri Lankans urge an independent and fully transparent inquiry should be held to apprehend the true culprit, but definitely not the one who has been held up by the police.
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