On Sunday, July 1, police in New Delhi, India, found 11 dead members of the same family all at one home. Ten of the people were blindfolded and gagged, with their hands tied behind their backs, and hanging in the courtyard.
Police Officer Vineet Kumar said the bodies were found in the Burari village, which is in northern New Delhi, and most of those people — a 77-year-old woman, her two sons and their wives, a daughter, and five grandchildren — had lived at the residence they were found at, according to Time.
The family reportedly lived in the home, which is owned by a businessman who ran a plywood and grocery shop, for more than two decades.
As this news is still breaking, there are some conflicting reports.
The Hindustan Times said authorities received a phone call around 8 a.m. from a neighbor who used to go for morning walks with the businessman. He saw the door open, became concerned, and alerted the police.
Time reported that the police said the tipster on the telephone told them that some “members of a family have committed suicide.”
Ten of the bodies were reportedly found “hanging from an iron grill used as a ventilator in the home’s courtyard,” and they were all blindfolded by cotton and cloth. The elderly woman’s body was found on the floor inside.
After searching the home, the police issued an official statement about this tragedy in which they said the place had not been ransacked and no valuables appeared to be missing.
Officials did not find a suicide letter, but did find some handwritten notes that point “toward observance of some definite spiritual or mystical practices by the whole family.”
“Coincidentally, these notes have strong similarity with the manner in which the mouths, eyes, etc. of the deceased were tied and taped,” said the police in its statement.
“I believe it must be a case of murder — it is impossible for so many people to commit suicide,” Mahesh Pratap Singh Rathore told the Hindustan Times. One of the bodies was his 40-year-old sister, Tina Chudawat, who had married a man named Lalit Singh in 2002.
“I saw the bodies hanging, stools lying around, and my wife’s aunt sprawled on the floor by the bed. I couldn’t bear watching anymore,” said relative Arjun Thukral, who lives in the same neighborhood as the deceased.
“No father can kill his own son,” added Thukral. “How could a mother be able to kill her own children? I don’t think they committed suicide. These are murders.”
Based on videos from India, Time reported that a family acquaintance said he spoke to one of the deceased people on Saturday night and did not see any signs of stress, and various neighbors said they never saw any discord among the family members who were busy preparing for a wedding.
The investigation is still open at this point and all angles are being investigated, including murder and suicide, as Officer Kumar stated the police “have yet to reach any conclusion whatsoever.”
“I haven’t seen such a crime before,” he said. “We are investigating all possible angles, including suicide, foul play. We can say something about the cause of death only after the postmortem reports come.”