A five-sentence handwritten note in English, ostensibly scribbled by 39-year-old startup founder Suchana Seth, who allegedly smothered her four-year-old son in a Goa hotel room, and found by police, might hold the key to unlocking the motive behind the grisly crime that has shocked the country, investigators said on Thursday.
Seth — the CEO of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm in Bengaluru — allegedly stashed her son’s body in the trunk of a taxi she hired to escape from Goa to Bengaluru before being arrested in a dramatic operation spanning two states on Monday afternoon.
The handwritten note was found in one of the bags carried by Seth in the taxi and was scribbled on tissue paper using eyeliner, possibly in a hurry, said a police officer familiar with the investigation.
The note was later shredded and crumpled.
“The pieces of the tissue were found in her luggage bag and our forensic team has recovered it and painfully pieced it together,” said the officer quoted above, requesting anonymity.
“The note indicates that the accused didn’t want her son to go with the father and offers insights into her state of mind,” this officer said, adding that it may have been written at the time she allegedly killed her child.
“The note is very cryptic and is a crucial piece of evidence that reveals her state of mind and possibly the motive behind the crime,” the officer added.
He declined to reveal the exact words contained in the note.
This is the first time that police have found any piece of evidence that potentially points to the motive that allegedly drove Seth to kill her child. In interrogation so far, she has not spoken about the reasons behind the alleged crime, police said.
Seth, who founded the Bengaluru-based firm The Mindful AI in 2020 after stints at Harvard University and Raman Research Institute, is currently in lock-up in Calangute police station after being booked under sections 302 (murder) and 201(destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 8 of the Goa Children’s Act (Child Abuse and Trafficking).
She gave her handwriting sample to the police on Thursday. According to officers interrogating her, Seth is yet to confess to the crime and has instead maintained that she woke up to find her son dead, and had no idea how he died.
Seth checked into the Sol Banyan Resort in Goa’s Candolim on January 6 along with her four-year-old son. She was to stay there until January 10 but abruptly checked out on January 8, insisting that she wanted to go back to Bengaluru by road despite hotel staff explaining that a flight would be quicker and cheaper. She paid ₹30,000 for a taxi and left the hotel at 1am.
At3pmonJanuary 9, Seth was nabbed in Karnataka’s Chitrdadurga district, around 160km from Bengaluru, after a dramatic operation that involved Goa police officers contacting the driver of the Toyota Innova she had hurriedly arranged, speaking to him in Konkani, and telling him to drive to the nearest police station, after they had been tipped off by hotel staff who had spotted bloodstains in the room.
Police now say that she smothered the boy with a pillow after possibly drugging him with cough syrup. She was also locked in an acrimonious divorce and custody battle with her estranged husband and this may have been at the heart of the murder, police said.
Investigators say Seth was disturbed by an order by a Bengaluru family court in November 2023 that said that her husband PR Venkat Raman could meet her son every Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm. Seth had previously alleged before the court that she and her son were both victims of physical abuse at the hands of the husband, a charge he denied.
Seth met her lawyers on Thursday and was taken for a routine medical check up to the Candolim primary health centre.
HT also perused a copy of the first information report — registered at the Calangute Police Station — which said that Seth was booked for murder and fleeing the hotel with the body.
Seth was taking parental therapy in Bengaluru and was in touch with clients, her doctor and therapist in the days preceding the alleged crime, said investigators. Police spoke to those with whom she was in contact and said they recalled nothing unusual during their interactions.
Article source: hindustantimes.com