Police have no ‘firm suspects’ in murder case

Redmond Police have found no “firm suspects” in the brutal murder of Arpana Jinaga, a 24-year-old software engineer who was strangled to death at her Redmond apartment after a 2008 Halloween party, according to Lt. Doug Shepard.

Redmond Police have found no “firm suspects” in the brutal murder of Arpana Jinaga, a 24-year-old software engineer who was strangled to death at her Redmond apartment after a 2008 Halloween party, according to Lt. Doug Shepard.

Shepard said investigators are working hard to gather evidence and find information that may lead to a suspect. But the reality is that homicide cases can take a lot of time to solve.

“We’re a safe community,” Shepard said. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen in Redmond. We have a brutal murder with no suspect. This one is not going away. We’re not going to put this to bed.

“We still consider it early in the investigation,” Shepard added. “A lot of stuff has not been analyzed yet.”

Shepard said several pieces of evidence have been sent to the Washington state crime lab to be analyzed, but no timeline has been established as to when Redmond investigators will get the results. Shepard pointed out that the state crime lab has a large work load, so results may take weeks, even months, to get back. Shepard said there is one full-time Redmond detective on the case, with several detectives available to help if needed.

“It’s the No. 1 priority in the division,” he said. “We’re not giving up.”

Police responded to the Valley View Apartments in the 8900 block of Redmond-Woodinville Road around 9 a.m. on Nov. 3 after Jinaga’s friend found her dead body and called police.

There was forced entry into Jinaga’s upstairs apartment, signs of trauma to Jinaga and the apartment was “in disarray,” according to Redmond Police spokesperson Jim Bove.

Jinaga, an Indian native, used to phone her parents, who currently live in India, regularly and last spoke to her parents the day before Halloween, telling them that she was attending a Halloween party the next night.

Shepard confirmed that there was a Halloween party the night of Oct. 31, which spanned at least four apartment units, including Jinaga’s. Shepard also confirmed that Jinaga had a heated verbal altercation with a male party goer. Many of Jinaga’s friends said the verbal altercation was race-related and many of her friends believe that the man Jinaga had the verbal altercation with should be a prime suspect.

Shepard said investigators looked into it and he said that the verbal altercation “does not appear related to her death.”

The party ended around 3 a.m. and many news reports from India are saying that the murder happened soon after; however, Shepard said “we cannot establish a time of death.”

When Jinaga’s father, who is the head of the School of Information Technology at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, hadn’t heard from his daughter in a few days, he phoned her friend who lived in the area. He asked him to go check on her.

The friend then went to the apartment, saw the shattered door jam and found Jinaga dead on her bedroom floor. That’s when he called police.

Redmond investigators have interviewed more than 40 people who knew Jinaga, a talented, well-liked woman who received a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University in New Jersey in October of 2007. Soon after graduating, she was offered a job at EMC, a Bellevue software-development company, where she quickly became a “shooting star,” according to her supervisor Muhammad Ali. She was a top-20 winner in a digital controller design contest, sponsored by Microchip Technology Inc., an Arizona-based company. Besides being a talented designer, Jinaga volunteered for several different community organizations and also joined a motorcycle group.

“She appeared to very well-liked,” Shepard said. “She had several social circles. She was very active. She rode motorcycles. She was the type of person you’d want to get to know and hang out with.”

There’s no doubt, Jinaga was very popular. There were memorials held in Bellevue and in India. Both attracted hundreds of people. She has more than 115 entries in an online memorial and there has been outpouring of support for her. Even people who weren’t close to her have shown love and support for Jinaga, whose body was returned to her family in India.

As for the apartment complex where the murder happened, Bove said the community is starting to heal and feel safe again.

“It seems like people are keeping their eyes open, but at the same time they are not letting this (murder) change their lifestyle,” Bove said. “This certainly has opened their eyes that this can happen anywhere.”

Jinaga’s murder is the second one since July, when Melissa Batten was gunned down outside of her Redmond apartment by her estranged husband, Joseph, who then turned the gun and killed himself.

The Jinaga case is much different, because it is unsolved with no suspects, yet Redmond investigators are determined to solve the case.

“We want to be able to bring answers to the family and community,” Bove said. “We are not letting this one go.”

If anyone has any information regarding the murder f Jinaga, contact Detective Greg Mains at (425) 556-2592.