The Stoneman Murders of Mumbai
The Stoneman is so far the most elusive and mysterious serial killer in the Indian crime history. The police found no clues and to date does not even know whether it was the work of one man, a group or even if it was a man or a woman. Between the years 1985-87, 12 pavement dwellers were killed while in sleep.
Residents of the Sion and Matunga area were terrified by the killings. People, who walked early in the morning as a routine, were afraid to leave their houses. Speculations rose as the Sion area is a hub of tantric rituals and people often come across leftovers from tantric processes on the street.
Police were puzzled by these killings and did not have much evidence to work with. A victim was identified as an eye witness, who was lucky enough to escape the attack. The sole survivor could not provide any help, as the attack happened in a dimly lit area and did not catch a glimpse of the killer.
Victimology: The victims were rag pickers and beggars who slept alone on the streets. The scene was carefully chosen so that there are no witnesses. In most cases, the victims could not be identified since they had no family members or relatives.
Crime Scene Evidence: A big heavy stone is all they found. The killer used a heavy stone to crush the head of his victims. The victims were not bludgeoned. There was a survivor but he didn’t see the head of the killer. Sniffer dogs were brought but they lost the trace.
Core Behaviours: Targets were random and poor. There was no financial motive as all victims were poor pavement dwellers. All murders were committed using a big heavy stone and in a single attempt.
Signature Links: The only signatures found were the Victimology and the modus operandi. Police found a heavy stone weighing as much as 30 kg near all the victims.
Modus Operandi: The killer would target homeless people who slept alone on the streets. The scene was carefully chosen as to not leave any evidence. The killer would use a heavy stone to crush the head of his victims. Sometimes a heavy concrete slab was the murder weapon. No fingerprints were found or any other evidence was found.
Geographic factors: The killings started in Mumbai suburbs –Sion and Matunga. They ended as abruptly as they started and shortly in 1989 similar killings were seen in Kolkata. No evidence was found to positively confirm that the same killer was doing this except for the modus operandi. Similar modus operandi was seen in recent 2009 Stoneman murders in Guwahati.
Killer Profiles: Various experts were called in to identify the profile of the killer however, they always had some flaw and the profiling did not help. Some of the profiles are:
One theory was that the killer was operating on the instructions of a tantric to attain spiritual goals. However, this theory was disputed as the modus operandi was to crush the face and not decapitation. Later, a movie was made on this theory which claimed to reveal new evidence that was initially covered up by the police. The police and the director of the film both agreed that the movie was a work fiction based on reality.
Kolkata police profiled him to be a well-built man of good height. Despite the increase in patrol in both Mumbai and Kolkata, the killer was not found. The crime rate dropped to a considerable extent but the Stoneman still eluded the police and was never found.
The Stoneman murders remain the most mysterious cases to have never been solved even though there was an eye witness. Police could not determine as to what made the sniffer dogs lose the trace. The case spread mass hysteria in Mumbai and Kolkata leading to beliefs that the murders were the work of a supernatural entity. With the geographic factors, the only thing to come up in my research is that all the attacks happened in areas with high concentration of Bangladeshi immigrants.
Check back for a follow-up article on a critical analysis on the Stoneman case. Coming Soon.