Secrets behind the Schaffter murder | Sunday Observer

Secrets behind the Schaffter murder

25 December, 2022

The mystery surrounding the death of popular businessman and the once-cricket administrator Dinesh Schaffter has shocked the business world as the killers are yet to be arrested by Police. However it appears that before long the suspects will be arrested by the long arm of the law.

Schaffter lived at No. 39, Flower Road in Colombo 07. It is said he also owned a residence in the United Kingdom where he preferred to spend most of his time. According to sources, Schaffter’s child from his first marriage also lives in the United Kingdom. Schaffter also had two more children with his second wife Tarni Schaffter.

According to Tarni’s statement to the Police, Schaffter managed a money investment business called Assetline in addition to his other roles in many leading corporations such as Janashakthi and First Capital Holding.

In her statement, Tarni claimed to have noticed a change in his behaviour that day from the morning hours but said he did not share anything about it with her. According to her, her husband left their residence in vehicle wp KU 8732 alone around 2.00 pm that day claiming he will return in 30 minutes.

She claimed as he failed to return within the stipulated time, she sent him a text message and then checked his location through GPS as he had failed to read the message sent. She told investigators that it was through GPS she located him at the Borella Cemetery.

Enter Patrick Krish Perera

Claiming she was alarmed by this time, she informed a relative of the family Patrick Krish Perera who was more of a friend to the late Dinesh Schaffter around 2.30 p.m. and requested he checks up on her husband. Perera is said to have been a close confidant of Schaffter and was familiar with his business dealings.

A resident of Wattala, Perera born in 1985 is a father of two. According to information received he currently serves as a director of NextInvest Ltd. It is said Schaffter and Perera’s friendship is one of 19 years, according to the statement given by Perera to the Police. He had started working for Schaffter when he was 18 years old.

Tarni told Police she had shared Schaffter’s location with Perera and requested him to check on her husband. In response Perera had claimed Schaffter had shared his current location with him as well. However investigators say this statement is problematic as it does not appear that Schaffter had shared his location with any other party. But his mobile and the data within is now being further analysed by the CID to see if he had shared his location with any persons in the past as well as other data that could be connected to his killing.

Investigators have found that Perera was close to the cemetery when he received the call from Tarni Schaffter. According to him, he was there to pick his children from school. Following Tarni’s call, Perera had made other transport arrangements for the children and left for the cemetery in a cab hired for him by his company.

It has been revealed that Perera had reached the cemetery in a short time following Tarni’s call but had not tried to call Schaffter at any time after his wife raised the alarm.

The investigators have based their initial investigations into Schaffter’s death largely on CCTV footage. Accordingly CCTV showed that Schaffter left his home at 2.06 pm and was alone at the time as claimed by Tarni.

Analysing CCTV data along the route taken by Schaffter, the CID confirmed that he had researched the cemetery in 20 minutes since leaving his house on Flower Road while making just one stop at Rodrigo’s, an eatery on Malalasekara Mawatha where he had purchased several short eats enough for two persons.

Schaffter had then driven straight to the Borella Cemetery and entered from the gate near the Devi Balika Vidyalaya which did not have any security at that time.

More evidence

The investigators suspect Schaffter had purchased the short eats for himself as well as the other person he was expecting to meet at the location. The postmortem found food in his system, leading the CID to believe he had eaten some of the food at either the cemetery or on the way. However out of the two bags of short eats purchased one bag remains unaccounted for according to the Police. Police believe the food may have been eaten by his killer and it should also be a person known to Schaffter as it is unlikely he would purchase food for someone unknown to him.

Tarni had told Police she was troubled by her husband’s delay when he did not return at 2.30 p.m. as they were scheduled to leave for the United Kingdom at 8.30 p.m. that day.

Meanwhile, Perera told Police that Schaffter told him he was to meet BT, or Brian Thomas on the day between 1.00 - 1.30 p.m which shifts the focus on Thomas who is already in a financial dispute with Schaffter over Rs. 1.4 billion, the late businessman had lent to the once senior cricket commentator for investment purposes.

However despite the claims, the Police have uncovered that Thomas had not left his residence on the day and appears to have no link to the murder based on the evidence found to date. But the Police also believe the killer may have attempted to frame Thomas, as Thomas had been sent a message from Schaffter’s phone after 2.30 pm with the text ‘I am waiting for you’. But in response Thomas had replied saying he had no intention to meet Schaffter. Investigators now claim the message had been sent by Schaffter’s killer / killers which has also led them to believe they had some knowledge about Schaffter’s phone and its contents.

Finding the body

It is Perera that locates Schaffter in a bad state inside his car near a memorial for Air Force personnel within the Borella cemetery. Investigations have revealed Perera had reached the cemetery 10 minutes after receiving Tarni’s call and had entered the cemetery from the same gate as Schaffter had a few minutes earlier. On foot, Perera had gone in search of Schaffter alone asking the driver of the cab to stay parked on Model Farm Road due to an alleged congestion in the cemetery car park. This is yet to be corroborated by the CID and it is expected Perera will be called for questioning once more.

Perera said he found Schaffter inside the vehicle which had been parked down the 9th lane inside the cemetery and called out to a cemetery worker to help him. The worker had rushed to the scene believing a funeral goer was suffering in a medical emergency and only realised it was a scene of crime after reaching the car where Schaffter appeared to have been tied by his neck to the seat with a wire and his hands also bound with zip ties. These are removed by Perera with the assistance of the worker who had then shifted his friend to the passenger seat. Taking the wheel, Perera had driven Schaffter, already fighting for his life, to the Colombo National Hospital. He had requested the worker to accompany him, claiming he did not know the route to the hospital located in central Colombo. Investigators said Perera had brought Schaffter to hospital between 3.00 p.m - 3.15 p.m.

Meanwhile Tarni told Police she had repeatedly placed calls to both Perera and Schaffter during the time but they had gone unanswered. However at 3.17 p.m an unknown person had picked up her husband’s phone asking her to rush to the hospital.

Mystery man?

The cemetery worker has since claimed he saw an unidentified person move away from Schaffter’s car just moments before Perera arrived on the scene. At the hospital Perera had shown the worker photographs of Brian Thomas on his mobile, trying to get the worker to identify him as the person he saw. But the worker had failed to do so claiming he had not seen the person clearly.

During initial investigations by the Borella Police, Perera had continuously laid blame on Brian Thomas which was also reiterated by Tarni to the Police. She told investigators she believed Thomas or a person hired by him was responsible for her husband’s brutal killing, adding that Schaffter was deeply upset over a financial deal. However she said he did not elaborate the issue to her and perhaps chose to keep her in the dark to not upset or trouble her. She told investigators her husband had no other enemies, except for Brian Thomas. However investigations have now led the sleuths of the CID in a different direction towards another suspect.

The Police are now analysing mobile phone data and bank accounts of Schaffter as well as 16 other banks based on two NIC number details obtained by the Police. Schaffter’s brothers have also been questioned by the Police to elicit information on his business dealings and any possible disputes. The investigators are also currently analysing phone data obtained from the mobiles of Schaffter’s wife, Perera, the cemetery worker as well as an office worker. As the country waits, the CID is now working hard to identify the close confidant of the businessman who is responsible for his untimely death.