UCI Student’s Family Struck by Tragedy
First-year UC Irvine student Shayona Dhanak was immediately relocated off campus and provided 24-hour security after her mother, Leela Dhanak, was found beaten unconscious in front of a neighbor’s home in Anaheim Hills late Monday night, May 21, and the discovery of the severely burned bodies of her father Jayprakash ‘Jay’ Dhanak and sister Karishma were discovered near Concordia University in Irvine on Tuesday morning. Shayona was not present at the time of the crime and was unharmed.
Anaheim and Irvine police, currently investigating the double homicide, believe that at least two suspects were involved, although official descriptions have not yet been released due to varying witness accounts.
According to the L.A. Times, late Monday night neighbor Linda Tuft said her son witnessed a young man dragging ‘something that looked like a rolled carpet,’ which was later identified as 53-year-old Leela, out of the Dhanaks’ home. Another neighbor, Charlie Robertson, said he and his wife Kathleen heard ‘fireworks go off’ around 11 p.m. Upon seeing the Dhanak’s house in flames, Kathleen called 911 and Robertson went outside to find the bruised body of Leela on a neighbor’s lawn.
About five hours later, 20 miles away, at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Irvine authorities were notified of a possible brush fire on a bike path in the William R. Mason Regional Park on University Drive and Ridgeline Drive where two bodies were found charred almost beyond recognition. Several hours later, fingerprints confirmed that one was that of 20-year-old Karishma. Authorities announced on Thursday, May 24, that the second body belonged to 56-year-old Jayprakash, though dental records will be used to confirm this finding. An autopsy on Wednesday revealed trauma to Jayprakash’s body, but Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez would not release details.
In fact, police would not specify how Jayprakash and Karishma were killed and gave little information on why their family was attacked.
Anaheim Police Sgt. Tim Schmidt told the L.A. Times that he did not know a motive for the crime or if it was ‘a random act, a family act, a business-related act