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Indian-American woman kept dead son on ice for Hindu ritual

Last Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014 - 23:30

Houston: An Indian-American woman in Texas kept her 10-year-old son`s body on ice for five days, claiming she was complying with Hindu rituals to preserve it while waiting for her husband to return and perform the funeral.

Pallavi Dhawan, 38, was charged with first-degree murder of her son Arnav about three months ago.
Frisco-based Dhawan described the events in a sworn affidavit sent to police. The six-page affidavit gives details of her son`s medical history, his school and the events leading up to and following Arnav`s death.
The family said Arny had pre-existing medical conditions.

The Collin County medical examiner ruled the cause of death as "undetermined" but "natural disease is most likely".

Dhawan said when she tried to wake her son for school on January 29, he was cold and unresponsive. She said at first she thought her son was faking being asleep to avoid going to school, but when she tried to carry him to take a bath, she realised he was dead.

After checking Arnav`s pulse and heartbeat and trying to perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Dhawan said she went into a state of shock.
In the affidavit, she said: "I proceeded to give (Arnav) his deceased bath according to Hindu customs, dressed him in his favourite clothes and kept his favourite toy next to him and I later put his head on his favourite pillow along with his favourite blanket."

She said she tried to follow Hindu custom by keeping his body preserved using ice cubes from refrigerator until his father returned and could properly lay him to rest.

She called her son`s school, saying that Arnav would not be in class but failed to say why, believing her husband Sumeet had to be the one to make the declaration of death, according to the document.
For `four or five` days, she kept Arnav in the bathtub covered in baggies and grocery bags filled with ice. The mother said that she read him Hindu scripture.

She said that when her husband returned home, she left so he could be alone for a while to settle in before telling him about their son`s demise. On returning, Dhawan said she found police there talking to Sumeet.

"I was immediately separated from my husband, arrested, handcuffed, taken out to the back seat of the police car and they read me my rights," she said. "I didn`t know what to make of it all, so I kept quiet and when asked if I had something to say I said something to the effect that `you would not understand`."

She asserted her innocence, saying she loved her son and would not have hurt him.

"I did not kill Arnav. I did not murder Arnav. I did not drown or smother Arnav. I did not poison Arnav. I did not fail to render aid to Arnav at any time ... Most importantly, I loved Arnav with all of my heart and never would hurt him in any way, and I miss him very much," Dhawan said.

First Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 - 23:30
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