A store surveillance picture of murderer-suicide Pawan Kumar, from June 16 or 17, 2012
By Nicholas Stix
I don’t know what the Hindi word for chutzpah is, but whatever it is, the family of murderer-suicide Pawan Kumar sure has got it in spades!
Kumar, 26, also identified as Pawan Kumar Anjaiah, was an H-1B computer engineer indentured servant for apparently one year for the tech sweatshop Cognizant. He was due to return to India on or about July 1.
At some point perhaps one week earlier, Kumar had met Danielle Mehlman, 26, of Pennsylvania, via an Internet “dating” site. Such sites are almost always procurers that bring together prostitutes and customers.
Mehlman had previously worked as a teacher in Philadelphia, and was reportedly popular with her students, but had not taught during the previous year. She had worked part-time as a stripper (“exotic dancer”) at a club during the past year.
Little has been revealed so far about the killer and his victim’s initial acquaintance, or the time they spent together prior to the night of June 17-18, when Kumar murdered Mehlman, by repeatedly stabbing her in the upper torso in their motel room.
Reports suggested that the killer and his victim had known each other anywhere from one to two weeks.
All of the reports I have thus far seen begin on the fatal last night, when Kumar and Mehlman were in the small resort town of Dewey, DE. They were having drinks with another couple they had just met, and Mehlman showed off jewelry Kumar had bought her, and told the other woman that he was going to buy her and expensive handbag the next day. When the other woman referred to Kumar as Mehlman’s “boyfriend,” Mehlman insisted, in front of Kumar, that she was not sexually involved with him, that she had a boyfriend, and that she was hearing from another man on her cellphone, with whom she was also interested in being involved with.
At 10:30 p.m. that night, Kumar was reportedly thrown out of a fundraising benefit at a club, when he got into an argument with another man. A witness said that Mehlman had been on the floor texting, with Kumar standing nearby, and that she had looked as if she did not want to be with him.
At dawn the next morning, after a sleepless night of murder, cleaning up, and packing, Kumar carried to big plastic bags with his clothes four miles down the road to a bait-and-tackle shop. He and Mehlman had arrived in her car, and he did not want to raise alarms by having people see him get into a taxi and leaving by himself.
At the bait-and-tackle shop, Kumar bought a fishing hat and some other gear, apparently in the hopeless project of looking as though he’d been going fishing. He called for a taxi, to go to Wilmington, but when the owner of the stand asked for his name, he said, “You’ve got my number.”
The owner took the call himself. When the driver arrived, he asked to see proof that the fare had the requisite $344. Kumar flashed what looked like about $800 in cash.
Kumar sought to impress the owner-driver with a cover story he’d fashioned, whereby his parents owned two businesses in Wilmington, and his sister was studying law at Philadelphia’s Widener University. In fact, he was all alone here.
When the driver noted that he had seen Kumar get thrown out of a club the previous night, the latter stopped talking. The driver said that Kumar spoke with such a heavy accent, that it was difficult to understand hum, to begin with.
Somehow, Kumar got from Wilmington to Belleville, NJ, where he rented a motel room, where he was found dead of an overdose of pills on the morning of June 19.
So far, no reports I have seen have explained how he got from Wilmington to Belleville.
One reader who identified herself as Mehlman’s sister, argued in a comment at my blog that I needed to take greater heed of the family’s sensitivities. I responded that I could not follow her demands and continue writing on crime.
Some presumably American drive-by commenters who clearly did not know Mehlman, posted abuse, which I either refused to post, or deleted.
Numerous Indian readers also commented, some of them abusively, directed either at me or the victim. I posted some of their comments, while sending others to spam. One reader, who claimed to be the victim’s mother, posted an angry comment directed at some of the Indian commenters.
Daniele Mehlman was last living in Bensalem, PA. She leaves behind a four-year-old son, Tyler, who had been living with his father in Voorhees, NJ.
Needless to say, the killer’s family has not apologized to the family of their son’s victim.
The Indian media have sought to “disappear” Danielle Mehlman from their coverage of the case, focusing instead on her killer, his family, and Cognizant.
Pawan’s family sets terms to receive body
Bangalore, June 30, 2012, DHNS:
The family of Pawan Kumar who was found dead in Belleville, New Jersey on June 19, has set conditions for the repatriation of the techie’s body to India. They have also refused to receive the body unless all charges against the deceased are cleared.
“We do not want to bury Pawan with a blot on his character as a murder suspect,” said H P Gopal Krishna, Pawan Kumar’s uncle, during an interview with Deccan Herald.
All legal hurdles have been cleared to bring home the body, but the family is not ready to sign authorisation papers as it would leave them alone to fight a bitter legal battle, Krishna added. Pawan Kumar is the prime suspect in the murder of a 26-year old teacher at Dewey Beach, Delaware.
He also revealed that, on the advice of their lawyer, the family wished to receive a copy of the death note allegedly left by Pawan, copies of all the FIRs [?], the autopsy report and all other documents related to the case.
“Only after all these documents are received will the family be ready to accept the body,” he said, and added that the family would sit in protest in front of the office of Cognizant Technologies, if they brought the body to India against the family’s wishes.
A spokesperson of Cognizant confirmed to Deccan Herald that the family had visited the company Friday evening, and had presented with a long list of demands, including the US autopsy and inquest reports, details of Pawan Kumar’s outstanding personal loans, and bank balance details. The company told them that the demands were out of their purview as it was related to a criminal investigation in another country.
Pawan’s uncle is adamant that the family at least be provided a copy of the death note. “We will accept anything in the letter, even if he has written that he is guilty of the crime. But before that we are not ready to take the body. It is tainted. It is an insult to our family and nation,” he said.
Sources said the family is also demanding an insurance settlement and a compensatory job for Pawan Kumar’s sister Gunasheela, as a pre-condition. However, the family has denied this vehemently.
Cognizant said it is ready to bear all costs associated with returning the body to India.
Officials from the Ministry of External Affairs said once the family duly signs the papers, it will be a matter of 48 hours before the body arrives in the City.
But MEA officials also expressed shock at the family’s list of demands. “We had assumed that the most important thing that the family wanted was the return of Pawan Kumar’s body,” officials said.
[Previously, on this case, at WEJB/NSU:
“Yet Another Collision of a Suicidally ‘Liberated,’ White Female with the Third World? H1-B Visa Holder Pawan Kumar Murders School Teacher/Stripper Danielle Mehlman at Delaware Beach Resort Town, Then Commits Suicide”;
“Family of Murder Victim Danielle Mehlman: She Met Her Killer, Pawan Kumar, Through an Online Dating Service”;
“Indian H-1B Killer of Danielle Mehlman, Pawan Kumar Anjaiah, was an Indentured Servant for Cognizant; Killer’s Family is in Denial, Claims Firm Has Sought to Hide Its Connection to Killer”;
“Danielle Mehlman’s H-1B Killer, Indian Pawan Kumar Anjaiah, Left Suicide Note; Times of India ‘Disappears’ Victim”;
“Family of Indian H1-B Killer-Suicide Pawan Kumar, Who Murdered Damielle Mehlman: ‘He wuz Framed!’”; and
“Is Sweatshop Cognizant Getting a Dose of Poetic Justice? Family of Indian H-1B Murderer-Suicide, Pawan Kumar, Who Killed American Danielle Mehlman, is Driving Company Crazy with Demands.”]