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Paint baas confesses to killing journalist He broke into house, thinking no one was at home She was killed as she recognised the suspect Victim's BlackBerry phone recovered from killer

2014 Feb 05

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Police last evening arrested the prime suspect in the killing of journalist Mel Gunasekera at Battaramulla.

Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana told The Island last night that the officers of the special Crime Investigation Unit of the Mirihana Police had made the arrest at the New Road, Dompe. The suspect Samson Joseph Anthony (39) of the same address is a house painter and he had worked at Mel’s house three months ago.

The suspect has told the police that he had entered the house to rob it, thinking that there was no one there as he knew that the Gunsekeras went to church every Sunday morning. Unexpectedly, he had seen Mel and killed her as she recognised him.

SSP Rohana said that the police had recovered the slain journalist’s BlackBerry phone in the possession of the suspect.

The suspect had been identified by the footages of the CCTV cameras fixed in the house, the SSP said.

Police probing the murder of journalist Mel (Melicia) Gunasekera (40), yesterday morning said the investigations were in progress on the basis of fingerprints and CCTV footage obtained from her home at Gemunu Mawatha, Sri Subhuthipura, Battaramulla.

Addressing a hurriedly summoned press conference at the police headquarters, Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said that seven special police teams under DIG Sumith Edirisinghe and Nugegoda SP Mervyn Wickremesinghe had been deployed to investigate the killing.Melicia had been killed between 6.15 am and 8.15 am while her family members were attending a church service, SSP Rohana said. Although there had been four dogs at home, no neighbour had heard them bark in the morning, he said. Therefore the killing may have been committed by a person or group of persons the dogs were familiar with.

The police spokesman said that footage of three CCTV cameras of the neighbours of the murdered journalist had also been obtained and the investigators expected that they would provide valuable leads to investigations.

Gunasekera’s body was found in her kitchen by her family members upon returning home from church. Her throat had been slit.

Police found parts of a knife and a screwdriver suspected to have been brought to the house by the killer/s who gained entry by removing the grille of a French window.

Police had brought in K-9 assistance to trace the whereabouts of the killer. Rockey, a police dog of the Mirihana police station, led the team of policemen for about one kilometre along the road and police suspect that it was the route taken by the killer after committing the crime. The footages of the CCTV camera fixed by the house owners along this road were recovered by the investigators.

According to the evidence gathered during the preliminary investigations, the police suspect the killer/s had jumped over the parapet wall of the two-storeyed house of the journalist, and removed the grille of one of the windows to enter the house.

Neighbours living in the house opposite the Mels’ had heard her scream and come out to check but had seen nothing suspicious.

Police said that the four dogs had been unleashed in the garden. Thus the killer/s should have been familiar to them, police said.

Police are also investigating to find the whereabouts of some masons who had been working at the house sometime back.

Kaduwela Acting Magistrate Kamal Wijesiri visited the scene and conducted the preliminary magisterial inquiry.

Mel’s father is an accountant/businessman, who owned two factories including one near his residence. But they were closed in recent years after he had fallen ill and his two children, Mel and a younger brother, who is also an accountant, were not interested following in their father’s footsteps.

Armed with a degree from the University of East Landon, Mel joined The Sunday Times Business Desk in 1996 and she soon became the News Editor Business. From there she went to be the founder Editor of the lbo.lk. She also had a stint with the international news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), Colombo as a correspondent. She was working as one of the Assistant Vice Presidents of Fitch Ratings Lanka at the time of her death.

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