Life is precious:
House break-ins that lead to gruesome murders
Slain journalist Mel Gunasekera
Last week was a sad time for many of us in the journalistic
fraternity who mourned over the untimely yet gruesome death of fellow
scribe Melicia Gunasekera popularly known as Mel.
Although I never knew her personally my weekend started with a
shocking wake up call from a friend on Sunday morning that Mel
Gunasekera has been murdered at her residence.
Having gone through the past where media workers met with untimely
and unnatural deaths, the news made me reflect for a moment as to what
has gone wrong this time.
But soon it was learnt through the media that she had been murdered
as a result of a house break-in that went wrong. Within 24 hours of the
incident the police managed to identify and to apprehend the culprit
displaying its skills and techniques in crime fighting which was
questioned on many occasions through out the past few years.
It was confirmed through suspect's confession that a person who had
already worked at her house as a painter few months ago had tried to
break-in to the house on a Sunday morning believing that the occupants
would vacate the house to attend the morning mass. But all went wrong
when the burglar was unexpectedly confronted by Mel who was at home at
the time of the break-in.
Some gashes visible on her neck revealed that she was hacked using a
kitchen knife and the crime scene gave evidence that there had been a
severe fight prior to the murder. The Police Scene of the Crime Officers
(SOCO) who went through the scientific evidence as well as statements
recorded from the suspect revealed that Mel had struggled with her
assailant before being overpowered by the latter.
Police Spokesman SSP
Police Scene of the Crime Officers (SOCO)
According to detectives the suspect had entered into the house from
the kitchen where Mel also happened to walk in. Seeing the unexpected
intruder she had reportedly shouted at him perhaps having recognised him
to be the painter who colour washed their house few months back. This
had lead to a forceful struggle between the two where Mel had reportedly
bitten a finger of the suspect. However it all ended in matter of
seconds putting an end to a valuable life.
The law enforcing authorities classified this case to be a house
break-in went wrong or ended up in a murder in an instance where the
burglar had been identified by the victim. This was not a uncommon
scenario where two similar cases have been reported in Rajagiriya and
Boralesgamuwa in the recent past. In both cases the intruders had
murdered the occupants whether or not they were given a confrontation
and a struggle by the latter.
One of the two cases that was given a wide publicity was the murder
of Lida Margaret, the mother-in-law of senior film maker Tissa
Abeysekara. The 68-year-old lady was living with her husband at her
residence in Moragasmulla Avenue in Rajagiriya. On September 29th night
last year she was found murdered on her bed by an unidentified person.
The killers had taken away gold jewellery worth around Rs.3.5 million
from her residence.
Western Province South Special Crimes Detection Unit in November
arrested two persons in connection with the murder who confessed that
they killed her after breaking into her house.
It was revealed that one of the two suspects had known her before as
he had worked as a mason in a neighbouring house.
The suspect who developed an acquaintance with the lady realised that
she was living there with her husband and was an owner of many fortunes.
The suspect had confirmed this during several visits to the house that
lead to friendly chats he had had with the old lady. He also learnt that
sometimes her husband visits their daughter leaving her at home. The
suspect with an accomplice broke into the house on the fateful night who
had made her suffocate by thrusting a pillow on her face.
In Boralesgamuwa a 52-year-old woman was brutally stabbed to death by
a suspect that broke into the house in the night on March 21, 2013.
The victim was sleeping with her 19-year-old son who had woken up
hearing the presence of an intruder.
The panicked stricken suspect had stabbed the mother and son before
he fled the scene. The son survived.
The suspect who was arrested by the same police unit on November 25
learnt that he was forced to commit the crime in fear of the residents
would identify him later on.
A senior detective of the Western Province South Special Crimes
Detection Unit said that there are common features in all three cases of
these house break-ins which ended up in a gruesome murder.
The main point of all three cases was that the suspects feared of
being identified by the occupants. The next is the pre-gathering of the
information of the crime scene by the burglars prior to the break-in.
And thirdly the aggressive behaviour of the occupants when in
confrontation with the burglar that leaves them with no choice but to do
something rash to make the former not to identify them, which eventually
will end up in a murder.
Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said that public should be aware of
certain guidelines to be followed to prevent such unhealthy
confrontations with intruders and also how to act in an emergency like
that. The senior police officer requested the public to be cautious in
hiring individuals or groups for domestic work.
The background of those who are hired should be looked into. He also
said that the occupants should not divulge personal or family details to
strangers.The public is requested not to confront an intruder in an
threatening manner. If you found yourself in a situation like this try
to surrender to the orders of the intruder by giving him the upper hand.
And if possible try not to maintain a direct eye contact with the
burglar who may have the fear of being identified by you.
In Mel's case it is reported that she had shouted at the suspect in
an aggressive manner which had triggered to a struggle.
If she locked herself in a room she would have been saved.