(File photo: Prabha with her husband Arun Kumar)
Prabha Arun Kumar, a 41-year-old IT professional, was taking a shortcut through Parramatta park in the west of the city’s at around 9.30pm (10.30 GMT) on Saturday when she was killed.
Family members told Indian media that the woman was speaking with her husband, G Arun Kumar, at the time and he heard her scream for help. “She was walking while talking to Arun on the phone when she said that a suspicious-looking man was following her,” brother-in-law Thrijesh Jayachandra told Indian newspaper the Hindu.
“The next moment he heard her scream for help and then plead with the man not to harm [her] and take all her belongings if he wanted. Seconds later, he heard her scream and say she was stabbed.”
The husband flew into Australia on Monday and was helping police with their investigation. “He’s understandably extremely distressed,” homicide squad commander Michael Willing said.
“Here we have an Indian national who has been in the country for some time, going about her business and ends up being killed in a very vicious way.” Police appealed for help from the public, releasing footage of Kumar walking from Parramatta railway station.
“It’s a horrific crime. It’s a very, very disturbing crime,” Willing added. “We think that she sustained a number of injuries to the neck area with what we believe is a sharp-edged weapon.”
Police said there was nothing to suggest the murder of Kumar, who planned to move back to India in April to be with her husband and nine-year-old daughter, was racially motivated.
“Could this be a random attack? Well, yes it could. It could be a whole range of scenarios … and we are considering all of them,” Willing said.
The dead woman’s flatmate said Kumar had probably not wanted to bother anyone to ask for a lift home after finishing work late and arriving at Parramatta train station at 9pm.
“Because she was working late regularly, she felt bad to ask for help,” her flatmate, who asked to be identified as Sarada, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
Instead she decided to walk, and was attacked near a quiet, tree-lined path, where bouquets of flowers were left on Monday in her honour.
Kumar was found by a passerby shortly after the attack and was rushed to hospital, but she had lost too much blood and doctors were unable to save her. She was just 300 metres (1,000 feet) from home.
“I don’t know how I am going to face her husband,” Sarada said. “She is very close to her husband and her daughter … She talks to them every day, as soon as she finishes work she calls her husband and keeps talking. She has a good family.”
No arrests have been made so far.