Solving Crime: How bloodstains in car helped police crack a 2018 murder case

It was a blood stain found in the car of a friend who had been part of the ‘search team’ to trace Kirti Vyas, the finance manager of salon chain BBlunt, that eventually helped Mumbai police crack the 2018 murder case.

Kirti Vyas, a south Mumbai resident, had been missing for 50 days. The Mumbai Crime Branch in May 2018 found the involvement of her colleagues who claimed to be her friends.

Kirti left for the office from her Bharat Nagar residence on Grant Road around 9 am on March 16, 2018. She found her colleagues Khushi Sahjwani, 42, and Siddhesh Tamhankar, 28, waiting in Sahjwani’s car near her building.

Kirti worked at the Andheri (West) branch of BBlunt. Tamhankar worked as an account executive and was Kirti’s junior in the finance department while Sahjwani worked as an academy manager at the salon.

The duo told the police that they volunteered to drop her to the office but Kirti asked them to drop her off near the Grant Road station from where she was to take the train to the office as usual. Kirti, a type-2 diabetes patient, however, did not reach the office on the day. Her two phones remained switched off since then.

Her sister Shefali lodged a missing person complaint with the local DB Marg police station. The Crime Branch on April 5 took over the investigation of the case. Exactly a month later the police arrested Tamhankar and Sahjwani on murder charges.

A Crime Branch officer said that in order to avoid suspicion, Tamhankar and Sahjwani also joined the search party.

“It also helped them stay updated about the progress of the investigation since the search party consisting of Vyas’ family and friends were coordinating with the police,” the officer said. He added that the first reason for suspecting the duo is that they were the last people to see Vyas on the day she went missing.

“While they claimed to have dropped her at Grant Road railway station, we could not spot her in any of the railway CCTV footage. In fact, on checking the CCTV of Sahjwani’s car, we found she never went to the railway station,” the officer said.

After making inquiries at the workplace, the police also found that Vyas was unhappy with Tamhankar’s work and had served him a memo.

As there was no evidence to link the duo to the murder, the police sent the Ford EcoSport vehicle of Sahjwani to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). “A few weeks later, we got a report that a blood stain was found in the car. The DNA of the blood matched with that of Vyas’. It was the clincher we were looking for,” the officer said.

The Crime Branch arrested the duo who the police said were having an affair. They were unhappy that Vyas was in the process of firing Tamhankar and hence tried to dissuade her from doing so in the car.

When she refused, the duo is alleged to have murdered her in the car and thrown the body in Wadala creek.

Four years on, the body of Vyas has not been found. The police, in a 962-page chargesheet filed in July 2020, have charged Sahjwani and Tamhankar with murder, kidnapping for murder, wrongful restraint and destruction of evidence, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Sahjwani was eventually granted bail, while Tamhankar is still behind bars.

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