The killing of Agnes had rattled the police who have a poor track record of solving such cases, writes K.V. Subramanya

THE TOP brass of the city police heaved a sigh of relief when the Fraser Town police on Wednesday arrested Venkatesh alias James who allegedly murdered Agnes (75) at her house on Charles Campbell Road on February 22.

The murder had apparently rattled the city police who have a poor track record in solving such cases. Secondly, the motive was unclear, and nothing was stolen.

As Agnes, a spinster, was the caretaker of the bungalow belonging to the erstwhile Maharaja of Gundal, the police had also suspected the involvement of the land mafia in the killing. But investigation revealed that Venkatesh had slit Agnes's throat as she had rejected his request to allow him to live in the car shed of the bungalow.

While the police are relieved that the culprit has been caught, the murder has again brought to the fore a similar case that has remained unsolved for nearly five years.

It was on September 4, 2001, Delci Vaaz (78), who was facing threat to her life and had been given police protection, was murdered at her old bungalow on St. Mark's Road in Cubbon Park police station limits.

Delci and her elder sister Veira, both spinsters and music teachers, were living in their ancestral house next to Hazi petrol station on St. Mark's Road for over three decades.

In the early hours of September 4, Veira went to bed and Delci was reading a book. Around 3 a.m. a man entered the house through a huge ventilator. When Delci tried to fight him off, he pushed her to the ground. Veira, awaked by Delci's screams, hurried to her room only to find a stranger stabbing her sister with a knife. When she raised an alarm, the intruder ran away. Delci died on the spot. According to the police, Delci died due to the head injury she suffered when she was pushed and not due to a minor stab wound in the stomach.

But the motive behind the attack still remains a mystery. Initially, it was suspected that the crime was the fallout of a dispute over the bungalow, which is located in the city's commercial hub. The police had said it was not a murder for gain, as valuables from the house were not stolen.

Delci had been writing to successive police commissioners for the past 20 years that there was a threat to her life and had sought protection.

After the murder, senior officials claimed that constables were near her house till 1 a.m. on the fateful day.

"Though the motive behind the murder is yet to be ascertained, investigation has not thrown any light on the property dispute angle. The case has not been closed and investigation is still on," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) G.B. Chebbi told The Hindu.