News

Authorities allege son wanted to kill his parents

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Neelesh Phadnis, 21, allegedly told a friend he wanted to kill his parents for money days before the Kent couple were found murdered in their Cambridge-area home.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng filed papers Sept. 13 charging Phadnis with capital murder in the deaths of his father Ravindra Phadnis, 53, and mother Surekha Phadnis, 49.

Maleng will have 30 days following Phadnis’ arraignment, scheduled for next Monday, to decide whether to seek the death penalty. Maleng spokesman Dan Donohoe said a decision has not been made yet.

Phadnis remains in custody without bail at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

About 11:30 p.m. Aug. 24 , Phadnis called 9-1-1 to say he found his father dead in a chair in the living room. But he was so calm and matter of fact on the phone, the dispatcher thought the call was a prank, according to charging papers.

When Kent Police arrived at the house, located in the 26800 block of Avon Court on Kent’s West Hill near Federal Way, they found Ravindra Phadnis’ body on a chair in the family room.

Ravindra Phadnis appeared to have been watching TV before he was killed, though the set was turned off when officers arrived, according to police. His feet were crossed on a footstool and a bowl of peanuts sat in his lap.

He was shot in the head from behind and it appears the killer came up behind him unnoticed, police said.

Police found Surekha Phadnis’ body face down on a couch in the living room. She also was shot in the back of the head at close range, police said. According to charging papers, her hands were crossed as if in prayer.

Neelesh Phadnis allegedly told acquaintance Roger Fualaau, who lives in Seattle, that he wanted to kill his parents for money, police said. Phadnis offered Fualaau money and his parents’ house if Fualaau would kill them, but Fualaau told police he punched Phadnis in the mouth and refused.

Fualaau said Phadnis called him between 10 and 11 p.m. Aug. 24 and said he’d done it, but Fualaau told police he thought that meant Phadnis had spoken with his parents and worked things out.

Phadnis told police he had stayed with friends for a few days before returning to his parents’ house Aug. 24. He said no one answered the door, so he went to a neighbor’s house to call them.

He said no one answered the phone, so he walked back to his parents’ house and got in through a back sliding door. He told police when he saw his father sitting in a chair surrounded by blood, he freaked out and ran back to the neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1.

The neighbors told police that when Phadnis came to use the phone a second time, he seemed very calm and said nothing about his father.

Phadnis showed no emotion when officers told him his parents were dead, police noted in their reports, and he didn’t ask for details regarding the murders. Phadnis displayed indifference to the situation, police said.

During questioning, Phadnis told a detective she was the devil and said her head was no bigger than a two-inch space between his thumb and index finger. He said repeatedly he was loaded, but police found no indication he was drunk or high. Finally, he said he was tired and wanted to sleep, so detectives stopped interviewing him and booked him at the Kent City Jail on outstanding warrants unrelated to the murders.

Police found no signs of forced entry or robbery at the Phadnis residence. The back sliding door was closed and unlocked and security dowels in the windows were intact. Purses and drawers with money were found undisturbed.

Police found two guns, neither of which was used in the murders, and a holster for a revolver similar to the type police believe was used in the murders, though the revolver was missing.

Police haven’t found the murder weapon, according to charging papers.

The state crime lab conducted an analysis on the pants Phadnis was wearing when police arrested him and on a pair of bloody boxer shorts found on the floor of his bedroom.

The DNA profile for the blood on Phadnis’ pants matched the DNA profile for Ravindra Phadnis’ blood, according to charging papers. The blood on the boxer shorts was consistent with a child of Ravindra and Surekha, authorities said. Neelesh Phadnis is an only child.

Kent Police responded to the Phadnis residence last March, after Surekha Phadnis called and reported Neelesh Phadnis had an outstanding warrant for a weapons violation and was at their home.

Surekha was extremely afraid of Neelesh, according to charging papers, and said she couldn’t call again when Neelesh returned home because he would kill her if he found out she’d turned him in.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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