In 2021, a woman in Mumbai’s Goregaon was murdered inside her house. The man arrested for the crime returned to the crime scene and even volunteered information to the police, confident that nobody would suspect him of having committed the murder. What he did not take into account was police dog Leo, the Mumbai Police canine who foiled his plans and ensured his arrest.
On January 14, 2021, Shehnaz Gambhir Sheikh, a 40-year-old widow, was found murdered at her home in a chawl in Aarey Colony, Goregaon (East). She was attacked with a blunt object on her head. Sheikh was living with her three daughters at the time and was killed when she was alone at home. When one of her daughters returned, she discovered that her mother had been murdered.
After being alerted, the local Aarey Marg police reached the spot and sealed the area to secure evidence. As the police inquired with the neighbours and locals about the woman, they got a lot of details from one of their neighbours, Surajkumar Maurya.
Maurya said he knew Sheikh and her family members well. Using the details given by Maurya, the police proceeded with the investigation. While closely examining the crime scene, the investigators spotted a blue-coloured piece of clothing of a male at the crime scene and suspected that it could be of the accused, as only three daughters lived with Sheikh.
As there were no CCTV cameras in the area around Sheikh’s house, the police decided to call the police dog squad for assistance. Police dog Leo, a three-and-a-half-year-old Doberman, was given the piece of clothing.
Leo sniffed around the house, checked every corner and direction, and after a while led his handler, constable Bhau Shinde, to the rear side of the house. The investigators believed this to be the escape route of the accused.
Leo then moved ahead and pointed at a house in the neighbourhood. A man living in this house had gone out, and when he returned after a while, he was detained along with other suspects from the neighbourhood and taken to the police station. The police also rounded up other suspects from the area that Leo had pointed at.
Leo was once again called to identify the killer in the identification parade at the police station. After a while, Leo barked at a suspect, identifying him as the killer. When the police put him under sustained interrogation, the man allegedly broke down and admitted to having committed the murder.
The suspect was none other than Sheikh’s neighbour Maurya, a 25-year-old who, under the pretext of helping the police solve the case, had misguided the police and derailed the investigation, the police said.
Maurya allegedly confessed that he was in a romantic relationship with Sheikh. She had begun pressuring him for marriage but he was unable to commit so he decided to kill her, a police official said. On the day of the murder, he entered Shaikh’s house as her daughters were away, said a police source.
He had a fight with Sheikh that lasted a long time and he allegedly hit her with a blunt object after gagging her. After murdering Sheikh, Maurya panicked and in his hurry to escape, he left behind a piece of cloth at the crime scene, the police said.
According to the police, Maurya was so confident about no one seeing him around Sheikh’s place when the alleged crime took place that he himself went to the crime scene and pretended to help the policemen in order to stay off the police radar. But Leo derailed his plans.