Police turn to profiling unit in hunt for clues on gruesome murder

AMY MAAS
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2013
Shalvin Prasad
HOMICIDE VICTIM: Shalvin Prasad.

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They say he was a family-centred guy, a little naive, but someone who was loving and always preferred to spend time with his family rather than friends.

But Shalvin Prasad, 21, also frequented pool halls and secretly withdrew $30,000, despite knowing his father routinely checked his bank account to help manage his finances.

And along the way, it is becoming clear now, he must have made a connection with a mystery person without telling his family - a relationship that would prove fatal.

Prasad was found burned alive in a small patch of scrub on the side of a dead-end road in South Auckland, just metres from the largely deserted grounds of the former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital. He had driven his Rav4 to a light industrial area of Manukau on Wednesday, January 30. From there he disappeared.

Police said it was probable he met someone, a pre-arranged rendezvous, while carrying the money he had withdrawn from his ASB account in $100 bills that afternoon, and was driven the 27km to Kingseat.

There, somehow, petrol was poured over him and he was set alight and burned alive.

His body was found at 6.30am the next day after emergency services responded to what they thought was a small scrub fire, and made the gruesome discovery.

Police are lost for clues and are turning to a profiling unit for insights into who could have chosen such a callous killing method. The picture police have of Prasad is of a diligent, innocent young man - but a person easy to manipulate or take advantage of.

Family talk of a time when he got lost one night and was found simply sitting in his car with the windows down and lights on, waiting for help.

The night before his body was found, Prasad had told his family that he was going to play pool, but it is suspected he never had any intention of doing that. After failing to return a text around midnight, his brother Pravin and father went looking for him.

"We couldn't find him. Then when we got home, Dad said we might just check his bank account to see if we could pinpoint any of his transactions," said Pravin.

Instead, they found Shalvin had withdrawn the money he had patiently been saving while working in the produce section of the Botany Pak 'n Save the past four-and-a-half years.

Supermarket colleagues were unwilling to talk about his death.

Pravin said he had no idea why his brother would withdraw the money and said it was not unusual for their father to check his transactions. "From the time he started working, pretty much from day one, dad's been managing his bank account. Just for the pure reason that he's growing up and we wanted him to manage his money," he said.

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Detective Inspector Dave Lynch said they could find nothing suspicious in Shalvin's private life, or any indication "why he was targeted in the extreme manner that he was". The industrial area where his Rav4 was found is less than 3km from the pool hall on Cavendish Dr that he frequented - an area where police are now canvassing service stations for CCTV footage in the hunt for clues.

Pravin said his brother had not "acted out of character" recently and had been his usual "loving" self among his family.

"We lived together, we ate together, we sat together, we laughed together, we holidayed together, we were always together," he said. "He always preferred to be with us."

Members of Prasad's Manukau United Soccer Team said football was what motivated him to get out of bed in the morning. They spoke of his punctuality and eagerness to play from a young age.

Team members described him as a "fine player" and "very good goalkeeper". They described him as a shy and innocent young man who became vocal on the field.

Prasad's soccer coach at Botany Downs Secondary, Dip Archary, remembers a "very quiet" but "well-liked" kid with a big smile.

On Facebook, friends expressed surprise that anything so horrific could have happened to such an "awesome guy".

- © Fairfax NZ News

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