The city is yet to come to terms with the brutal murder of Neeraj Grover, who went missing on May 6 this year. The arrest of Kannada film actress Maria Monica Susayraj and her navy lieutenant boyfriend laid bare the horror the 27-year-old creative head of Synergy Adlabs went through in his last moments. DNA reconstructs the shocking tale of betrayal, jealousy, and murder that has shocked Mumbai.
She wanted to be a star After a brief stint in Kannada movies, Susayraj moved to Mumbai in March this year to try her luck in tele-serials. She met Grover during a visit to one of the television houses.
The two stayed in touch through SMS. Susayraj even stayed at Grover’s Andheri apartment for a few days before moving into her new flat in Dheeraj Solitaire building at Malad.
Police say Grover was helping Susayraj to establish a foothold in the television industry and had arranged an audition for her in an upcoming serial. But Susayraj's proximity to Grover did not go down well with her boyfriend Emile Jerome Matthew, to whom she was to get engaged two months later.
The fateful night
Grover visited Susayraj at 10pm at her Malad home. Susayraj had recently shifted to her new apartment and Grover said he had come to help her settle in. Moments later, Matthew called Susayraj on her cell phone and was angry to hear a male voice in the background. Susayraj, who had earlier told Matthew that Grover had a crush on her, but that she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, told him that Grover had come over to help her move into the new house. Matthew told Susayraj not to allow Grover to stay overnight and ended the call. Little did Susayraj know that her decision to allow Grover to stay on with her would change their lives for ever.
He arrived unannounced
At 7:30am the next day, Susayraj was surprised to see Matthew at the door. The lieutenant was furious when he saw the naked Grover in Susayraj’s bedroom. The two men had a heated argument after which Matthew grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Grover. He collapsed and died.
The watchman saw them
Around 11am, Susayraj went to the nearby Hypercity mall and bought two bags, a bottle of air-freshener, window drapes, bed-sheets, and a bread knife on Matthew’s instructions.
Matthew carried the body into the kitchen and allegedly chopped it into pieces, while Susayraj stuffed them into the bags. They also dumped the bloodstained clothes, bed-sheet, and window drapes in one of the bags along with the bread knife.
Susayraj then called up her choreographer friend Kiran Shreyas and told him that she needed to borrow his car. Once they got the car, she and Matthew dumped the body bag in the vehicle’s dicky. The building’s watchman saw them do this. Around 4:30pm, they drove towards Manor in Thane district. They also bought two bottles of petrol at Bhayander. After reaching a jungle near Amgaon village in Manor, they poured petrol on the bags and set them ablaze. They returned to Mumbai around 9:30pm.
The loopholes in their story
Police found several discrepancies in Susayraj’s statements. She initially told them that she had borrowed the car from Matthew’s friend Jitesh. But her lie was caught soon when the police questioned Jitesh. Susayraj then told the police that the car belonged to her friend Shreyas.
The police also took the statement of the watchman of Dheeraj Solitaire, who told the police that he had seen Susayraj along with a man (Matthew) put some bags in the car. After sustained interrogation over 10 days, Susayraj broke down and confessed. She was arrested, followed by Matthew.
The near goof-up
Soon after Grover went missing, Susayraj accompanied his friends to the Malad police station to register a missing complaint. Matthew chose to stay in the apartment. The Malad police asked Susayraj some basic details, after which she went home. Grover’s father Amarnath also requested the crime branch to look into the matter.
On May 8, Matthew was called for questioning by the Malad police. He told them he had come to Mumbai for a training session, but the police did not verify his claim with the naval authorities.
Meanwhile, the crime branch learnt that Matthew had called Susayraj nearly 1,000 times between May 7 and 20. “This made us suspicious and we questioned her,” said a crime branch officer who did not wish to be named. “The two had repainted a wall to hide the bloodstains. I am surprised the Malad police did not ask them why one wall was coloured differently from the rest.”