Police in Indian capital Delhi were scouring a city forest on Tuesday for the remains of a young woman they say was killed and then chopped into 35 pieces by her boyfriend — inspired by US crime show Dexter.
Aftab Ameen Poonawala, 28, allegedly strangled his girlfriend Shraddha Walkar, 26, on May 18 and then spent two days chopping up her body with a saw.
He kept the body parts in a fridge and gradually disposed of them in the forest in Mehrauli, going out at 2am every night for two weeks, police said.
He took out one or two body parts in a polythene bag each night and dumped them, sometimes in drains, using incense to mask the smell and detergent to clean the floor, police said.
Mr Poonawala, a chef, was arrested last weekend after Ms Walker’s father reported her missing. He has been charged with murder.
“We have arrested the man and interrogated him,” said Ankit Chauhan, Delhi's Additional Commissioner of Police.
“He has revealed several details. We have formed an official team and recovered some body parts suspected to be of the victim. We are conducting search operations.
“He killed the woman on May 18 and chopped off body parts. He packed the body parts and slowly disposed of them.”
Police said that Mr Poonawala was inspired by Dexter, the US crime series that follows the story of a serial killer. He also searched the internet for tips on how to chop and dispose of the body.
Mr Poonawala and Ms Walkar met in Mumbai in 2019 and moved in together.
The couple moved to Delhi because Ms Walkar’s parents, who were separated, did not approve of the relationship.
Her mother died in 2020 and her father was unaware that she had moved.
In September, a friend of Ms Walkar told her brother that she had not been in touch for more than two months, prompting the family to look for her.
There were no bank transactions and her social media accounts were inactive.
She was reported missing in October in Mumbai and Mr Poonawala was interviewed by police, telling officers she left home after a fight.
Mr Poonawala was detained by Delhi police on November 10 and confessed to killing Ms Walkar.
The gruesome details of the killing have sent shockwaves through India.
Her father told a local news channel that he could not believe his daughter had been so mercilessly killed.
“We are awaiting a report to ascertain the body parts belong to my daughter. I am still in disbelief. I cannot believe that something like this has happened,” Vikas Walkar said.
Rajat Shukla, Ms Walkar’s college friend, said she had confided in her friends about the abusive relationship.
“She was very active in theatre, she used to make friends and party but soon after 2018, there were behavioural changes that we had observed in her but couldn’t decipher,” Mr Shukla said.
A protest was held in Maharashtra on Tuesday led by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Kadam, who claimed the murder was a part of a wider conspiracy against Hindus.