The police crack the mystery of a case in which the body of 38-year-old K. Raju was found hanging with the door 'bolted from inside', writes Marri Ramu

It was an open-and-shut case. The body was hanging from the ceiling. A sari was tied around the neck. The room was bolted from inside. The very fact that the victim had bolted the door convinced the police that it was indeed a case of suicidal hanging of K. Raju (38).

But when the body was sent for the autopsy, forensic experts grew suspicious over the ligature marks, the imprint left by the knot in case of hanging and suspected a foul play. If it was homicidal hanging, how could the door be bolted from inside ?

Raju was living with his wife Shirisha and two children in a tiny two-room tenement in Indiranagar near Borabanda. On January 1 night, he quarrelled with his wife over a domestic issue allegedly after getting drunk.

Shirisha maintained that as an inebriated Raju began beating her, she went to a neighbour's house and stayed there for the night. She returned home the next morning. When her husband did not open the doors, she grew suspicious and peeped through the window to notice the body hanging. As locality people gathered, they unbolted the door latch with a long stick sent through the window. All this led the police to believe it was a suicide.

The jolt

But then came the jolt from the forensic doctors who opined the victim could have been strangled to death. In suicidal hanging cases, normally, the ligature marks are oblique, not continuous and upward. But those found on the victim were horizontal, in the middle of the throat and continuous, suggesting that he was strangled to death.

The thyroid cartilage of the throat was found fractured, which does not normally occur in hanging cases, confirming strangulation. "How can anyone kill a person, bolt doors from inside and still get away?" was the question they were unable to answer. The investigators went to the scene of offence again.

They noticed there was gap big enough to insert a small rope or cloth between the frame and the door. They tied a thin rope to the latch of the door, stepped out of the room and pulled it. And the door got bolted from inside. "This happened because the latch had a smooth finishing and easily slipped into the hole of the door frame," police said.

With physical and medical evidence before them, detectives grilled Shirisha who reportedly admitted to have murdered her husband with the help of her paramour Hanumanthu. Quoting her confessional statement, the police said Hanumanthu strangled Raju to death with a cloth on the fateful night and later both hanged the body to make it look like a suicide.

Based on their confession, the police altered the sections of law from suspicious death to that of murder and sent them in judicial remand.