With the arrest of a 26-year old engineering graduate on Saturday, police claim to have solved the murder of a pawn broker in Maduravoyal, after a gap of one month.

Police said, Ramajayam alias Appu (26), a native of Parangipettai in Chidambaram, had graduated in computer engineering in 2007-08, from a private college in the city. They added that Ramajayam had committed the crime to repay his debts, but was horrified when he found out later that most of the items he had stolen were imitation jewellery.

Ramajayam murdered Ganesh Pura Ram, a 28-year-old pawn broker in his shop in Nerkundram (under the Maduravoyal police limits), on April 14, having entered the shop under the pretext of buying jewellery.

CCTV footage from the shop was obtained, and the police displayed the suspect's photo across the city. “But all this while, Ramajayam has been in the city, and had seen his own photograph displayed. He kept shifting rooms to avoid detection, grew his hair and a beard,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (South), K.P. Shanmugarajeswaran.

On Saturday, Ramajayam attempted robbing a house in Pallikaranai, and was nabbed by the public and police officials. Posing as a public health department official, Ramajayam entered the house of Chandra Prabha (59). When he tried to strangle her, Prabha and her daughter raised an alarm, and he was nabbed. “It was during interrogation that he confessed to the Maduravoyal murder. This is the first time he has committed a crime. His parents are farmers and he is the only son,” said Mr. Shanmugarajeswaran.

Ramajayam told police that he had gone to Sri Lanka recently, for a pilot training course, where he had met a Singapore citizen, Dr. Jai, and had planned to do business with him. “Ramajayam needed Rs.10 lakh for the business venture. On returning to Chennai, he sought help from a police official who was a relative, to arrange for the money. Jai took the cash from Ramajayam and fled to Malaysia,” said a senior police officer. It was to pay off this debt that Ramajayam stole from the pawn shop.

Even if he had not made the burglary attempt, police claim they would have cracked the case. “We had obtained details of calls from cell phone towers in Nerkundram. From the CCTV footage, we found out that he was using a phone with a touch screen. With the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), we segregated the numbers of touch-screen phones and were in the process of finding out his address,” said a police officer.

Ramajayam has been remanded to police custody. A pair of yellow gloves, an insect repellent, a t-shirt and some imitation jewellery was recovered from him.

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