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Land-grabbing killer torches two sisters

Kahawatta has gained notoriety in recent times following the killing of ten women during the past two years. The motive behind most of the killings appears to be the desire to grab property. However, the only exception was the killing of a mother and her daughter three months ago at Kotakethana, Divulgala.

In that instance a drug dealer had allegedly killed them for fear of exposure. The suspect involved in the murder was the brother of a Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councillor. The CID sleuths arrested him.

Investigations by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the local police teams have to be commended for solving the mysterious murders when fear psychosis gripped Kahawatta. The suspects in the heinous murders have been arrested and are in remand custody awaiting trial.

Kahawatta, Kotakethana at Warapitiya came into the spotlight again following last week's horrendous killing of two sisters. A man who bore a grudge against them had allegedly burnt their bodies beyond recognition. The suspect was a nephew of the murdered women.

Massacre

Police Media Spokesman, SP Ajith Rohana said the motive behind the massacre was to grab the land that was in close proximity to their home. The suspect had known the land that his aunts also owned precious gems. The killer had a long-term plan to excavate them when the ownership changed. Police say that it was for this reason that he killed both of them as he believed that he could claim the ownership of the land some day.

The two sisters were identified as Sethungage Dayawathie (61) and Sethungage Thilakawathie. Dayawathie was a widow who lived with her younger sister Thilakawathie after the death of her husband. They led a lonely life in the village.

The neighbours told police that it was customary for them to spend their day at a relative's home and return home in the evening to sleep.

The tragic incident occurred on May 31 around 2 a.m. when people in the neighbourhood noticed black fumes coming out of Dayawathie's house. The word soon spread in the neighbourhood and people rushed to douse the fire. When someone telephoned the Kahawatta police, they rushed to the spot and found the fire still burning inside the house.

However, with the help of neighbours the fire was doused after a few hours and the police found that everything had been gutted.

The fire had erupted so quickly that it spread all over the house. (Dayawathie's home was in close proximity to the home of Nayana Nilmini (51) and her daughter Kavindaya Chaturangani (18), who were hacked to death by a drug dealer in April this year.) When policemen entered the bedroom they found the charred bodies of the two sisters Dayawathie and Thilakawathie lying in the room. Police found some blood stained clothes wrapped around their bodies.

It was obvious that both women had been hacked with a knife and their bodies set on fire.

The window in the adjoining room had been forced open by someone to gain entrance to the house. Soon the sniffer dog Sheeba from the Ratnapura kennels was brought. When Sheeba's handler took her to the window she began sniffing around and thereafter led him out of the house.

Having picked up the scent, the sniffer dog proceeded right along a path and went to a house which was about a quarter mile away.

While the dog remained outside, policemen went into the house and questioned the chief occupant.

He was a paddy mill owner aged 47 years. Policemen soon found that he was a nephew of the deceased women. However, he denied any knowledge of the murder.

IGP, N.K. Illangakoon instructed the CID to investigate the murder at Kahawatta. SP, Ajith Rohana the paddy mill owner was arrested by the CID sleuths last Tuesday and was produced before the Pelmadulla Magistrate. A detention order was obtained to question the suspect further. The sleuths learnt that the suspect was involved in a dispute with his aunts Dayawathie and Thilakawathie over a land that belonged to them.

Relentless detective work led to the recovery of the knife from a jungle in the Kahawatta area. The knife had been used in the killing, police said. The sleuths also recovered the device used by the suspect to gain entrance to the house and threatening letters that he had purportedly written to the women regarding the property some time ago.

The suspect finally broke down and confessed that he killed his aunts due to a grudge he had against them. Senior DIG, Sabaragamuwa Province, Asoka Wijetilleka ordered the Police Special Task Force to provide security to Kahawatta area as tension was high.

The suspect was produced before the Kahawatta Magistrate and was remanded until investigations are completed.

Protest

Last year villagers of Niladura and Divulwela staged a mass public protest by burning tyres on the roads to vent their anger over the inability of the Kahawatta police to solve the mysterious murders of elderly women in the area.

Nine elderly women who lived at Kotakethana, Divulgala, Opatha, Katange, and Niladura villages were hacked to death. Following the upheaval CID teams began investigating the murders that led to the arrest of several suspects linked to the murders. However what shocked everybody was the killing of a mother and her young daughter at Kahawatta. They were stabbed to death at home.

The killing took place on January 31. The deceased were identified as Nayana Nilmini (52) and her daughter Kavindi Chaturangi (18), a schoolgirl of Ferguson College, Ratnapura. The mother and her daughter were residents of Kotakethana, a village in the Kahawatta area.

 

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