Police tracked parcels to nab Karnataka man who killed delivery executive for iPhone

They initially thought Hemanth Naik was killed by the kin of some girl or a married woman with whom he may have had an affair.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Feb 20, 2023 | 9:23 PM Updated Feb 20, 2023 | 9:24 PM

Victim Hemanth Naik (left) and Hemanth Datta. (Supplied)

When the police found the partially burnt body of 23-year-old Hemanth Naik near a railway track Anchekopalu bridge in Lakshmipuram in the Hassan district of Karnataka on 11 February, they were perplexed.

They initially thought that this was a case of some affair gone wrong and probed those angles, but in vain.

It was only when they concentrated on other aspects of the case — specifically Naik’s profession — that they seemed to catch a break.

They pulled the thread till the entire mystery unravelled, and what lay before them was one of the most gruesome cases India had ever seen.

It turned out that this was a murder planned meticulously by a 20-year-old who wanted an Apple iPhone but did not have the money for it!

The burning corpse

Hemanth Datta (20), a resident of Lakshmipuram in Arasikere, stabbed Naik from behind on 7 February afternoon, the police surmised.

Their investigation revealed that Datta had decided to bump off the delivery personnel who would bring the iPhone he had ordered from Flipkart. Because he did not have the money, he ordered it in cash-on-delivery (COD) mode.

Datta slit Naik’s throat and packed his body into a gunny sack, which he kept inside a bathroom for three days, the police said.

In the early hours of 11 February, Datta carried the body in his scooter, dumped it near a railway track, and set it on fire.

The body was still burning when it was spotted by a few passers-by, who informed the police.

The cops rushed to the spot and identified the body to be that of Naik, who had been reported missing since 7 February.

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The investigation and the breakthrough

Superintendent of Police Hariram Shankar told South First that it was a challenging case as it was difficult to ascertain the motive of the murder.

Both the accused and the victim did not personally know each other, and neither had criminal antecedents, he noted.

“We started probing with two angles. One, we suspected that the victim was in love with some girl and her kin could have ‘eliminated’ him. The other angle was that the victim could have been in an illicit relationship with a married woman, whose family could have bumped him off,” said a senior police officer who was a part of the probe.

“The probe was not progressing on both angles. They led the investigating team nowhere,” he added.

And this is where the team changed track.

“It was later that we found out that Naik had to deliver seven parcels on 7 February. He had delivered two parcels and he had gone to deliver the third one when he had gone missing,” Shankar told South First.

The cops collected details of the rest of the delivery addresses from the ecommerce portal that Naik was supposed to deliver for that day, and confirmed that no parcel reached the respective customers after the third delivery.

The police action

A police team rushed to Datta’s house and found not only the rest of the parcels but also Naik’s mobile phone.

“Datta stayed alone at his house, and his entire house was reeking of rotten corpses,” Shankar told South First.

It was then that Datta was picked up for interrogation by the cops. He confessed to the crime. He narrated to the police how he murdered Naik and tried to dispose of the body.

Shankar explained that there was no COD option for new phone purchases, but there it was available for secondhand products. This iPhone cost ₹46,000-47,000, he said.

Datta asked Naik to wait for him at his house while he would get the money. While Naik was busy on his phone, Datta stabbed him to death from behind with a knife and then slit his throat, the SP said.

“We had to rope in a Forensics Team from Mysuru to collect evidence. We also collected the CCTV footage of Datta carrying the body packed in a gunny back on a scooter early morning on 11 February,” he added.

“Datta has been arrested and the secondhand iPhone along with other packages and the victim’s mobile phone have been recovered,” said Shankar.

Also read: Hyderabad police arrest 9 posing as ecommerce employees