Bloodstains, alert hotel staff, resourceful cops, and a cool-under-pressure cab driver – assorted elements that helped the police hunt down and arrest Suchana Seth, the CEO of a Bengaluru tech start-up, for killing her four-year-old son. Ms Seth has been sent to police custody for six days.
Speaking to reporters in Goa capital Panaji, senior police officer Nidhin Valson praised the presence of mind of the hotel employees and the taxi driver, crediting them with key roles in this case.
Several details of this gruesome murder are as yet unclear, including why a mother felt she had to kill her child. Those confirmed so far are – the child was killed in a Goa hotel room, his body was stuffed into a bag, and that bag was found in the cab the mother hired to drive her to Bengaluru.
Ms Seth, 39, checked into a service apartment in north Goa’s Candolim on January 6 with her son. Two days later she checked out, alone, with a large bag that (we know now) contained his body.
Ms Seth had demanded the hotel book her a cab for a distance of nearly 600 km that takes over 12 hours by road but less than 90 minutes by air. The staff advised her to take a flight but she refused.
How Did Police Arrest Suchana Seth?
She was arrested in neighbouring Karnataka’s Chitradurga district, around 200 km from Bengaluru, after staff at the Sol Banyan Grande noticed bloodstains while cleaning the room and called the police. The cops tracked down the cab and, to avoid alerting or panicking Ms Seth, they spoke to the driver in Konkani (hoping she did not understand the language), and directed him to a police station.
“The woman asked hotel staff to arrange a taxi to Bengaluru. After checkout, when the staff went to clean the room, they found red stains, which they assumed was blood, (and) informed the police.”
“Police reached the hotel and tried to contact the woman through the driver. They asked about her son, to which she said the child was staying at a friend’s place… but the address she gave was fake.”
And now, just as the staff acted promptly and correctly in summoning the police, the taxi driver, rather than being rattled by numerous calls from the cops, acted calmly and followed instructions.
“The driver was asked to take the car to a police station and, on checking the luggage, the body of the boy was found. A case was registered and the woman was arrested,” Mr Valsom concluded.
Suchana Seth’s Estranged Relationship With Husband
According to the police, Ms Seth’s relationship with the father, a businessman from Kerala, was “less than cordial” and the couple is in the final stages of their divorce. Mr Valson told reporters the father, who was in Indonesia at the time of the murder, has been summoned home.
“Prima facie… the woman said her relationship with her husband is not good. Their divorce, she said, is almost finalised, and there is some court order due to which she was unhappy,” he said, while also cautioning the press, “All these details have to be verified. The investigation is ongoing.”
The subject of the court order – the one that left Ms Seth “unhappy” – is not yet known.
Post-Mortem On Child’s Body
Mr Valsom also told reporters the child’s body had been placed in a morgue at a Karnataka government hospital pending a post-mortem to establish the cause of death. He also said CCTV footage from the hotel had been collected, and that a forensics team is on-site gathering more evidence.
Who Is Suchana Seth?
Ms Seth is believed to be the founder and CEO of an AI, or artificial intelligence, start-up called Mindful AI Lab. She was a 2017/18 Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Centre, a think-tank that studies the development, dynamics, norms, and standards of cyberspace, where she worked on “operationalising ethical machine learning and artificial intelligence in the industry”.
She is also understood to hold a Master’s degree in Physics, with a speciality in Plasma Physics and Astrophysics from the University of Calcutta, from where she reportedly graduated in 2008.
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